Continuing the blog serialisation of my popular X-Pro Series lust/hate/love story:

Part 43: The X-Pro2 Review: The XF56 F1.2R APD: Part2

Continuing the tale of my experience with the XF56 APD lens, that Fujifilm were kind enough to lend me.

Last time (click here if you missed it) I spoke about my enjoyment of shallow DOF photography and how I think it’s a great look for a applicable scene.

But also I spoke about how I PERSONALLY FEEL that it’s contrast and not necessarily sharpness that makes images ‘pop’

Of course, shallow DOF has many more factors than a big wide aperture, focal length and subject distance play a big part.

This was my big attraction to the 56 APD, the APD (apodization) filter. Which is after all what the lens is about 🙂

If you want to read more about apodization in general, then (not surprisingly) Wikipedia has a page on it, which you can read here

But, like I said last time – I wasn’t interested in the APD to look at bokeh balls or to compare favourably/unfavourably to the regular 56 (although it would of been nice to have been able to do this). No. I wanted to use the lens as a standalone product, and see what exactly it could offer me in terms of a ‘look’ within my images.

Sadly; there was no way I can afford to buy one… So when the opportunity to borrow one for 10 days from Fujifilm came up, I jumped at it.

On the one hand, borrowing something you want, but can’t have might be a way to introduce great frustration into ones life… but on the other, maybe I wouldn’t like it and it would get the lust out of my system… But MOST importantly, physical things are great – but so are experiences, so there was no way to pass this opportunity up.

The day finally arrived when I could pick the lens up from Fujifilm. I was asked to turn up “between 14:00 and 17:00”

I think I got there at 13:59 😉

Before we get into my experiences with the optic, there’s a little technical stuff that I need to get out of the way first.

Remember my diagram of what the APD filter looks like from the last article?

Well having a whacking great APD filter in the lens does have an impact on other parameters.

If you look at the cover shot for this article (also shown above) you’ll notice that the aperture scale has additional stops marked in red

These stops represent the light loss caused by the APD filter.

Because the filter gets lighter towards its centre, the light obscuration is at its maximum at the edges.

What that means in simple terms:

Basically when you select (say) F1.2, YOU GET F1.2 AS AN APERTURE VALUE* but you only get the LIGHT VALUE of F1.7

Because the APD lightens towards its (clear) centre, the amount of light being blocked decreases as the lens stops down (ie the F number gets higher), until >F5.6 at which point the F stops return to their regular light gathering abilities

*It’s important to make this distinction, because some people like to claim that the DOF (depth of field) is affected by the APD filter. This is incorrect.

The amount of light is decreased by the APD, the amount of what’s in focus is not.

So, where was I?

Oh yes – so I picked up the 56 APD and by about 14:12 I was out shooting with it. 🙂

My very first impression was that compared to the 18/27/351.4/60 primes that I mainly shoot with, it was a monster!!

Even on a X-Pro2 (not really a tiny camera) the XF56 APD is a big lens. But I think the overall package looks ok, it doesn’t look unbalanced. It’s a hefty combination though… If your X-Pro2 wears the OEM handgrip and the brass ‘thumbsup’ grip, then the 56 APD will take the weight to over 1kg (maybe 2.4lbs?)

Hardly FF and a professional sports zoom weight, but you’ll notice it.

My loan lens had clearly seen a lot of action… it had marks and dust etc, I don’t begrudge it this, but equally I’m not sure that I can really comment on ‘as new’ build – especially as I had no idea how it was treated before I borrowed it.

The aperture ring was quite loose, but in my experience aperture rings vary quite a lot between XF lenses… I’ve had 3 brand new XF18 lenses in my life, and the ring has varied between each of them.

So, there I was – somewhere deep in the business area of Vila Nova de Gaia, armed with my X-Pro2 and a borrowed XF56 APD.

Of course when we get a new body or lens, we (ymmv) seem driven to shoot pretty much anything we can to try and get a feel for the new item.

One of my very first XF56 APD shots:

Edited from RAW in LR CC

Not the most exiting shot you’ll ever see 🙂 but like I said… a ‘new’ lens (or camera) leads one to shoot pretty much anything…

Now the next shot I’m going to show, is a little more interesting (it is, promise – bear with me)

100% SOOC Jpeg (ok re-sized for web) Acros: NR-3 / Sharp -1 with Highlight/Shadow Tone both set to -2

Firstly this is a LITTLE more interesting because it has a human element.

But in terms of the 56 APD it’s interesting (IMO, ymmv) because my SOOC Jpeg settings are LOW contrast. This is Highlight/Shadow Tone both set to -2, which makes a very, very flat SOOC Jpeg.

So this a reasonable shot for accessing the native contrast of the lens, because; as I said, it was the contrast and it’s effect on rendering that attracted me to this lens.

As you can imagine….

I spent my entire time with the XF56 F1.2R APD shooting (virtually) no other optic.

I took the X-Pro2 and APD with me, pretty much everywhere. I took a lot of pictures 🙂

So next time, we’ll be dialling back on the words (well maybe, I do go on a bit) and ramping up on the images.

See you then!

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