I recently picked up the new Fujifilm XF 56mm F1.2 R lens to stick on the end of my trusty little Fuji X-E1. I decided to put it through it's paces in a real world situation, by shooting a model test entirely with this lens. Click through to read my quickie review...
My model for this test was Sacha Beliaeff, a new face from Distinct Model Management here in Dublin. This was Sacha's first ever photo shoot, so we'll forgive him this one time for keeping his hands in his pockets for most of the shots. He did a great job for a complete newbie though.
I shot this test as I would normally shoot. I was not shooting for this lens review, so there are no charts or specs, or 100% crops to pixel peep at here. I was impressed with the results I was able to get out of such a portable camera + lens combo, so just thought I'd share my opinion from a working photographers point of view, as well as a selection of my favorite images from the shoot.
I'll try to keep this short.
NOTE: You can click on the images to re-size them.
BUILD QUALITY & HANDLING
- Good solid lens. Feels like it's built to last and has a satisfying weight to it. Although it is quite large for the camera system it's designed for. It's bigger and heavier than the camera I'm using it one. I have a feeling that this lens was designed for use with Fuji's flagship cameras (X-T1 and X-PRO1), which I'm sure it would feel a lot more balanced on.
- Lack of weather sealing is a shame, given the price.
- Aperture ring is nice to have, but doesn't have enough resistance between clicks. It's very easy to overshoot your intended aperture.
Do you like the lighting in the shot above? I used the exact same technique that I spoke about in my "Mixing Flash and Ambient Light" tutorial.
SHARPNESS & IMAGE QUALITY
- This lens is exceptionally sharp. Even at f/1.2 it 's usable, which is quite astounding. It's certainly much sharper than my Canon f/1.2 lenses, which cost significantly more.
- Acceptably sharp from f/1.2 to f/2. Get's very sharp at f/2.8 and up. f/8 is razor sharp.
- Being a short telephoto, there is very little distortion.
- Vignetting is controlled well throughout the aperture range.
- Chromatic aberrations are present in extreme high contrast situations. An above average level of performance here.
- Bokeh / out of focus areas are rendered with a pleasing creaminess. Maybe not up there with the likes of the Canon 85mm f/1.2, but not far off.
- Auto focusing is quick and accurate in ideal / well lit situations.
- The lens really struggles to achieve focus in dimly lit situations, but what lens doesn't have this problem?
- The lens has a tendency to focus in and out before locking on in certain situations, which can be frustrating.
- I have no use for for the continuous focus mode, so I haven't even tried it with this lens.
- Manual focus ring has a smooth action. It's a focus by wire system, but it works surprisingly well on this lens.
- Lack of focusing distance scale might annoy some people.
The two shots above are good examples of how the new Fujifilm 56mm lens handles a little bit of flare. Quite a pleasing look when controlled properly. Which reminds me. The included lens hood is very well made. I'd say it's better than most of the hoods that came with my Canon lenses.
Experimenting with some slow shutter speeds and movement on the streets of Dublin.
This is actually a few images stitched together. I shot a single full length portrait of Sacha (in portrait orientation), then shot a few frames around him and put them all together later in Photoshop.
I bring my little X-E1 pretty much everywhere. I love the quality of the images, and how light and portable it is. Up to now I've only used the 35mm f/1.4 lens that came with the camera. I love that tiny little 35mm lens. It's a great all rounder. It's pretty good for environmental portraits, but oftentimes I find myself wanting to get in a little tighter with some more compression and less of the wide angel distortion of the facial features. That's where this new 56mm lens comes in.
It took what seemed like an eternity for Fujifilm to finally deliver this lens (I think it was originally announced as a f/1.4 almost two years ago). But now that it's here, it definitely does not disappoint. It delivers where it counts. Quick, accurate AF and sharp. Really sharp! I would rank this lens above my Canon 50mm f/1.2 L, and it's significantly cheaper.
But really, the main draw for me here is having a small, light weight camera system that I can shoot pro work on. Imagine turning up to a shoot with a just a little shoulder bag for your camera and lenses. Right now my Canon gear lives in a big heavy roller bag, and it's starting to see the light of day less and less.
I think this lens will be a game changer for Fuji. I'd imagine there were a lot of portrait shooters (like myself) who were on the fence about seriously adopting the x-system as a viable option for professional work, due to the lack of some decent portrait worthy glass. This lens is a huge step in the right direction. Now, if they could just give us a 90mm f/2 or similar, I think I would be 100% sold.
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