The new Fujifilm XF 50mm f/2 R WR has finally arrived. The ‘Fujicron’ lens line-up (Fujifilm + Summicron) is almost complete, adding to the existing XF 23mm f/2 WR and XF 35mm f/2 WR (I don’t consider the XF 90mm f/2 R LM WR in the same series although the specs are similar). I had the opportunity to test this lens in conjunction with the new X-T20 body, and I was thoroughly impressed.Much like the XF 23mm f/2 and XF 35mm f/2, the lens is light and compact, the AF is dead silent, and the focus speed is fast and accurate. Many would compare this lens to the XF 56mm f/1.2, but it’s very different. At an 85mm full frame equivalent, the 56mm lens is clearly the beginning of what people would consider a ‘proper’ portrait lens. The 75mm equivalent focal length of the XF 50mm lens is somewhere in the middle between a short tele and a standard lens. Look up the 75mm focal length for the 35mm format, and the only lenses that come up are M mount rangefinder lenses made by Leica and Voigtlander (and a PL mount Leica cine lens). An unusual and not-so-common focal length indeed. How would one use this new lens? How should one use it? I don’t really care what it’s SUPPOSE to be used for; all I care about is how I CAN use it.
First, let’s go over the specs of this new lens:
- 9 elements in 7 groups including 1 aspherical ED lens with 9-blade circular diaphragm
- 10 point weather sealing around the barrel for moisture and dust proofing (-10 deg celsuis)
- fast and silent internal AF driven by a stepping motor
- Super EBC (Super Electron Beam Coating) to reduce flare and ghosting
- dedicated aperture and focus ring, 46mm filter thread with detachable lens hood
- compact and lightweight design at 200g
- MSRP $449.95 USD
First things first, I love the XF 56mm f/1.2 APD. It’s sharp, the rendering is perfect for portraits, and the bokeh is amazing. However, the AF is slow and noisy, the lens is big and heavy. I don’t enjoy taking this lens out on the street. It’s a great studio or event photography lens (weddings, portraiture, product shots, concerts, etc.). On the other hand, the XF 50mm f/2 WR lens is only slightly bigger and heavier than the XF 23mm f/2 lens, so it’s very easy to carry around all day on your X Series body. And unlike the XF 56mm, when attached to a WR body, you can keep shooting in inclement weather. That’s a huge bonus. Use this lens while whale watching, surfing, snowboarding, hiking, etc.
Another unique feature of this lens is the actual focal length. On APS-C, the difference between the XF 56 and XF 50 is only 6mm, but on a full frame camera, it’s a 10mm difference. I noticed it right away when I attempted to use the lens as a tele-standard lens on the street. I knew the lens could handle the speed needed to shoot street, but how was the focal length? Even when taking street portraits, I was at least 2 feet closer to my subjects, versus shooting with the XF 56mm. I often use the XF 35mm f/2 for shooting across the street, but the XF 50mm f/2 crops in nicer and the compression is more obvious. It’s about the limit that I would use for the street without feeling like a creepy paparazzo. Again, the XF 50mm is somewhere in between a portrait and standard lens, and that’s how I found myself using it.
Another way to use this lens is indoors with family and friends. No, you don’t have the speed of the XF 56mm f/1.2, but this lens can focus fast and furious even in low light, and it’s sharp wide open. I would be curious to see how wedding photographers will like using this lens instead of the XF 56mm f/1.2 for indoor use, but I think the trade-off of AF speed and sharp wide open might be worth it. For those who want slightly more telephoto than the XF 35mm f/2 (where you can’t get closer to your subject), the XF 50mm f/2 is a great option.
I also tested the XF 50mm f/2 to take product shots. I enjoy using the XF 56mm f/1.2 for product photography as well, but I like this lens better. Some may prefer the rendering of the F/1.2 lens, but I prefer being slightly closer to my products while shooting. I have limited space in my home studio, so the shorter focal length worked for me. I also found switching between the XF 35mm f/2 WR and the XF 50mm f/2 WR worked out perfectly for me. I could leave all my settings the same and just switch between the two lenses and get the same look.
I don’t have a final conclusion for this lens because I only have a pre-production model. I also wasn’t able to process my RAW files since I was using the X-T20 for the majority of my images, and the RAW profile is not yet available for Lightroom. All images were shot in RAW but then converted in-camera to JPEGs. Once the X-T20 is released I will be able to see the images in all it’s RAW glory. For now, the JPEGs give us a good idea what this lens is capable of. What I can say is that the XF 50mm f/2 R WR lens made it seem easy to get great pictures. I found this unusual focal length very versatile. I could use it for street photography, portraiture, close proximity action (kids playing), and product photography. I am confident this lens will be a powerful tool in the hands of those who know how to shoot at this particular focal length. It’s compact, light, fast and accurate AF, sturdy construction with WR, and reasonably priced. It has all the qualities that the other ‘Fujicron’ lenses have given us thus far. The future looks bright for this lens lineup. If I had a wish list for the next 2 lenses to include in this series, I would say the XF 18mm f/2 WR and XF 14mm f/2 WR. Thanks for reading and happy shooting!