One of the very first Fuji 56mm f/1.2 lenses in North America found its way into my hands a few months ago and I’ve been shooting with it ever since as it has become my go-to portrait lens for the Fuji X-Mount system and likely for all camera systems. The Fuji 56mm f/1.2 is both sharp where it needs to be and has a pleasing, smooth bokeh in the out of focus areas helping to nicely isolate your subject from the background. So, how does the lens perform? This portrait was an informal shot made in available light in the middle of a lunchroom of James A. Martin, during a visit to Janelia Farm back in March. The lens grabbed his attention and he came over to introduce himself and to see the camera (Fuji X-T1 and this lens). You can see the razor thin focal plane of this lens when opened wide up at f/1.2, but you can also see how sharp it is within the plane of focus as well as the beautiful out of focus quality or bokeh. Like I said, its the new go-to lens for portraits……
Chettinad, the name reminds one of tasty spicy south Indian food loaded with chilly and peppers guaranteed to set your mouth on fire. Ask most people and they will be hard pressed to point out Chettinad on a map. It does not exist. Chettinad is the name of a `group of villiages sourrounding the town of Karaikudi in the south Indian State of Tamil Nadu. Villages such as Athangudi, Devakottai, and Kanadukathan located in the heart of Chettinad have a large number of traditional homes. The Chettiar community who inhabit this region are a wealthy group of businessmen who made their money in banking, trade and business. Starting around the late 1800’s and early 1900’s their prosperity and fame grew and over time they moved out of Chettinad to larger cities such as Chennai and overseas to Singapore and Malyasia with the aim of expanding their business. Having hear so much about the lifestyle and the homes of the Chettiar community, I decided it was worth a trip to see for myself and make some photographs of a dying lifestyle. Armed with a X Pro1 and a 18~55mm Fuji f2.8 lens I set off. The Fuji X Pro has been with me a short while but I hadn’t really found my way around the various controls. Most pictures were are ISO 400 and for the dark interiors pushed to ISO 1600. I could not hav dreamed of using such high ISO on my now ancient Nikon D100…..
… more pictures by Ashok:
Damien Demolder tests Fujifilm’s new wide-aperture portrait lens for the X series – a lens with a focal length that emulates the legendary 85mm
The Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R is an interesting lens and Fuji is sure to do well with it. It is an important focal length for establishing oneself as a serious camera brand, because it is one that ‘serious’ photographers will want to use – and it has the kind of gaping wide aperture that gets attention and people talking……
I have used this lens to shoot images for the last several mini-reviews, an ongoing commercial project, and a number of upcoming Headfonia earphone/amp reviews. It is tack-sharp, feather-light, and cheap as chips. Wide-open it is slightly sharper than my favourite enlarging lens, the 80/4 Rodagon, which goes used for 150-250$, and which came attached to the not-excellent Horseman VCC Pro. Wide open, it sits at f//5,6, however. At f/5,6, the two lenses are neck and neck. The Fujinon-EX goes for 70$ USD and down. It is slightly wider/larger than the Rodagon, and is easier to handle. Unfortunately, it is built to Fisher Price, not to Rodenstock, standards. It’s not just Fujifilm’s excess use of chintzy plastic parts. It’s their insistence on trying to be clever. The 360 degree rotatable mount lets light in to bounce around the inner lens. I had to pad it with gauze. Secondly, its ‘illuminated’ aperture window lets even more light into the lens. I had to gauze, gaffer tape, and otherwise, patch it. it took me about an hour to get it in ship shape. Its machine quality is poor: parts get stuck much easier than the Rodagon…….
ypically, all-in-one zooms are full of compromises that cut to the core of their quality level. Convenient they are, but at what price? There has been an enthusiastic anticipation of the Fujinon XF 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR zoom because most of us have a trust based on experience and know that if anyone could pull off a decent do-everything lens it would be Fuji. Not that we would expect such a lens design to come up to the optical quality level of the Fuji primes, but perhaps it could approach the level of the top notch Fuji standard zooms, such as the 18-55mm and 55-200mm. With this in mind, I conducted some of my tests by comparing the new lenses performance to that of the other two zooms. I wanted to know whether this lens could be a substitute for both of the others in a compact do-it-all walk-around kit…..
I ordered the Fujinon XF 27mm pancake lens at the beginning of April when Fuji was having their latest round of lens rebates. Unfortunately, the lens has been backordered since that time and I wasn’t going to have it for our trip to Vancouver. Since I was hoping to use the XF 27mm in Vancouver as a general purpose, walkaround lens, I decided to rent one. Having read numerous reviews, including this one at photozone, I knew that the XF 27mm was a well regarded lens amongst Fuji X users. Now having spent a week with it, I must admit that I too am quite impressed with this nifty little lens. In fact, the XF 27mm was on my X-T1 most of the time during our trip. I only switched to the XF 14mm or XF 35mm when I needed to go wider or wanted images with a more shallow depth of field. Essentially, I used the X-T1 and XF 27mm combination in the same way I normally use the X100S…..
On Saturday 26th July 2014 I travelled to Nottingham to attend a workshop run by local photographer Karl Bratby. The workshop was to be called “Shaping The Light” and be in his studio and based around learning to use natural and studio flash to get the most of of your images. A lot of the top professional photographers use only one light to create their images and when done correctly can produced stunning results and this is what Karl was going to be teaching us. Karl’s studio was absolutely amazing, based on the top floor of an old converted victorian factory it was surrounded by huge glass windows with oozes of light flooding in. If Carlsberg did studios then this is what they’d come up with. Along with myself there were 5 other photographers taking part in the day and after everyone had arrived and we had all made our introductions Karl put us to work. This wasn’t going to be one of those workshops were everything is set up for you and the model put in place and you just push the shutter, oh no right from the word go Karl asked us where we thought in the studio had the best natural light coming through and told us to grab some props and compose a scene…..
As soon as I heard about the release of this lens I knew I wanted to purchase it. When I was shooting Nikon the lens I used the most was the 24-120 f/4. It was the perfect walk around, travel lens. I actually used it to shoot and entire wedding and it worked great! This week I had been checking various websites and my local camera stores to no avail as I knew it was going to be released by the end of this month, July. Opening the box I was greeted with the same Fuji quality as my other lenses. The zoom is smooth, the aperture ring feels perfect and the lens has a nice weight to it. I believe it weighs between the 56 1.2 lens and the 10-24 f/4 lens with the 10-24 f/4 being the heaviest. This is a lens I could easily walk around with all day. The range of 18-135 is a very wide range. Here are two pics, the first being taken at 18mm and the second at 135. Quite a difference!………
Sadly, this review starts on a slightly negative note…. The first weather resistant lens released from FUJIFILM is a canon, when zoomed all the way to 135mm the lens becomes surprisingly front heavy and is sadly a little ugly, no matter which X series camera body it was slapped on (XPRO1, XM1 and XT1). Also, the lens feels and looks very plastic. Unlike the prime lens lineup with all metal exterior shells, this one is made from a smooth engineered plastic, which does come across as a little cheap. The weather sealing suggests this lens is intended for the adventure enthusiast, however in our opinion, a plastic exterior does not portray rugged durability. On paper the focal length 18mm (wide) to 135mm (telephoto) looks like great value, and it is probably fair to say this lens is going to be popular for travel photographers. Although a little vulgar, it is more affordable than stocking a range of primes to get the equivalent coverage……..
About a week ago Fuji’s new telephoto zoom lens found its way to me. I had little opportunity to photograph with it, but at least I was able to record a number of test images. As always, I have made a comparison with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III to see how close the Fuji comes to a full-frame camera. Mechanically the lens makes a good, solid feel. The housing is made of a mixture of (few) metal parts and (mostly) plastic. All controls and also the mix of materials are virtually identical to the well known standard zoom. Two switches are used to activate the image stabilizer and auto iris. Three adjustment rings allow the setting of aperture, focal length and focus point. The aperture ring snaps as tight as the one in the standard zoom and the 35mm lens. It runs better than the somewhat loose ring of 14mm wide angle. The zoom ring is quite stiff. At least the lens doesn’t extract by itself when directed to the ground or sky. Speaking of ground: When the (switched off) lens is tilted from horizontal direction downwards, one can hear a distinct clicking sound. Probably a loose part of the image stabilizer. When switched on, the noise does not occur. Not so great is the lens hood. At least in my lens, this monstrous piece of plastic fits very tight into the socket. I have a downright fear to break it when turning…….