Gear Inspiration

James Brokensha: Fujinon XF56mm 1.2 – My Perfect Portrait lens

· 8.September.2015

I have been using the Fuji X system for a couple of years now. I started off with the XE1 as a personal  camera and I ended up bringing it along to weddings to see what it could do. That camera combined with the 35mm 1.4 is personally responsible for me ditching my Canon DLSR’s and making the the full switch to Fuji. That little camera blew me away, its colours, sharpness, lightness, and image quality and the best auto white balance I had seen.

This is a guest post by James Brokensha, portrait and wedding photographer from Devon in the UK.
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As soon as the XT1 arrived I picked one up, making the full switch……well almost. There was one problem in my mind that I was battling with, I couldn’t part with my Canon 85mm 1.8. It was my favourite focal length and extremely good for a non L glass lens and it was my go to portrait lens. Some of my favourite images I had taken up to that point were with that lens so I was reluctant to see it go. I hung on to it for while with a 6D for company. I know now that I was completely wrong to worry, the 56mm 1.2 has replaced my 85mm and then some.

The lens is perfect for documentary wedding photography and I use it in combination the 23mm 1.4. Where I find the lens really shines is in portraiture. Its very sharp wide open and out of focus areas are rendered beautifully. The 1.2 aperture gives you the approximate depth of field as the 85 at f1.8 on a full frame so it’s very nice for isolating your subject. Using the lens on any X series
camera with give you very pleasing accurate skin to nes, very important for me when shooting colour headshots.


A few weeks ago I arranged a location fashion photo shoot with a local model and put the XT1 and the 56mm 1.2 through its paces. I used only the XT1 and the 56mm, no strobes or reflectors. For me there are four elements that need to be in place for a natural light portrait to work. Location, light, subject and of course the lens. The camera body, the megapixels, the memory cards are all
secondary. The lens with define the image that you capture on that sensor. The better the lens, the better the image. For portraiture you’ll hear many things such as 85mm or above for the perfect
focal length but that is subjective. A general rule is the longer the focal length the more flattering for the subject especially the face. The 85mm field of view the XF56mm gives you the perfect balance for a flattering portrait as well as being useful more reportage moments. A lens ideally needs to be sharp to render all that detail in a face and eyes.


A wide aperture is desirable as it allows you to throw that background and foreground out focus, isolating the subject. The XF56mm 1.2 ticks all those boxes. For me the XF56mm 1.2 is the perfect portrait lens, but then I haven’t tried the 90mm yet….maybe later.

For this shoot the 56mm was shot wide open throughout.

James Brokensha is a Portrait and Wedding Photographer from Devon in the UK. He has been professional Photographer for 4 years and is now shooting exclusively with the Fuji X System.

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