ATRAX PHOTO by Clifton Beard | Fujinon XF 56mm f1.2 R lens....first impressions

Fujinon XF 56mm f1.2 R lens....first impressions

June 03, 2014  •  1 Comment

This lens had to be a "must have" in the XF range as I love the 85mm equivalent focal length and having an f1.2 aperture is unusual and rather exotic.  It arrived with my X-T1 the other day and has been on it ever since!


Its a big lens by XF prime standards as it still has to cover the APS-C size sensor, but its way smaller and lighter than an SLR lens.  As with most of the XF line it manages to show real quality in appearance and feel but has none of the density of lenses like the Zeiss SLR primes.  It feels made for the X-T1 and balances perfectly.


Here it is with hood mounted.  I can imagine its size being an issue with the optical finder of the X-Pro 1 as it will block off a large area in the finder.


I haven't had much chance to play yet.  I did a quick test chart check to hopefully identify any obvious centering defects but it seems pretty good and will probably be in-spec.


I was always hoping that the lens would be very usable at f1.2 with decent sharpness and contrast at least over the central area of the frame and focus accuracy to make wide open shooting reliable.  Well, so far I have to say I am not disappointed.  The centre seems very decent wide open, while the borders do lag a bit but are still surprisingly good.  Contrast increases with stopping down and so does sharpness, although for real world results this mostly affects the outer areas of the image, the centre being decent enough already wide open.  Even the corners are very tidy by f2.8 and improve further through f4 and f5.6, but overall peak sharpness is perhaps at f4.


AF is reasonably fast though it seems inferior to the 18-55 zoom and about average in the range, with a bit of hunting on lower contrast areas.  Rarely does it fail to focus and if it does misbehave its usually in the outer part of the frame.    Very importantly for such a fast lens, its really accurate!


This lens had to be a bokeh monster and again, so far it has not disappointed.  There may be occasions when Fuji's choice of 7 blades rather than the 9 of many larger lenses makes the outlines edgier but its certainly possible to get impressive bokeh indeed.  Not only is it smooth, but I love lenses like this that fall off gracefully into blur as this adds real perspective to images and is one reason I so love the Zeiss ZF lenses.


Also interesting was how easy it is to reach the 1/4000 shutter speed limit of the fuji bodies in decent light at wide apertures.  I don't worry too much if its no more than a stop overexposed as I often dial in some +ve exposure compensation anyway.


The usefulness of the DR200 mode is interesting as it really lifts shadows on dark clothing or under hat brims.  I was aware of the potential issue in these shots so either over exposed ISO 200 images or used DR200.


I tend to tame the contrast curve at the shadow end by using the adjustments provided in-camera as I found previously on the X-E1 that shadows blocked up too easily and that could lead to noise and reduced IQ when trying to get shadow detail back, so I now tend to over expose slightly and set a gentle contrast curve.  In post processing its easier to darken shadows than to open them up.  I like the files the X-T1 is rendering with these settings as they have a nice pastel appearance that to me looks like a nice colour film suitable for portraits.


Here are a few simple snaps from today that show the lens can deliver fabulous rendering with a subject close up or some distance away.


First image shot at f2 and all others at f1.2, wide open.  Impressive IQ I would say.  I love the Jpg output of Fuji cameras...its stunning and they are the only cameras where I do not routinely shoot RAW.


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Nicolo Famiglietti(non-registered)
I don't have this lens yet, but your review has convinced me that I want one. Thank you.
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