Continuing the blog serialisation of my popular X-Pro Series lust/hate/love story:
Part 78: New Meets Old: The X-Pro1 and the 23/35/50 F2 WR Lenses
The ever amazing folk at Fujifilm PT recently lent me the XF23 and XF50 F2 WR lenses (I already have the XF35 F2).
Yes, I’ve a lot of F1.4 lens comparison content planned, I just need some time to draw my conclusion and to crunch the words and all the test shots!
But as I mentioned last time I recently reacquired the X-Pro1, so although I’ve mainly been testing the 23/35/50 trio on the X-Pro2, I couldn’t help myself to also try them on the X-Pro1
I’ve heard it said that WR F2 trio are to the X-Pro2 what the original 18/35/60 were to the X-Pro1.
The irony I’m seeing is that as much as the F2s were designed with the X-Pro2 in mind, I think they’re really beneficial to the X-Pro1, the newer AF motors that these lenses have give the (CDAF only) original X-Pro a rush that would tickle the fancy of Keith Richards, the slightly more contrasty (sic) nature of the F2 glass works very nicely with the lower contrast nature of that first gen sensor, the 16mb output really negates the slight pixel peeping differences between the F1.4 lenses and the F2s and finally, seeing as ‘in the hand’ the X-Pro1 feels surprisingly smaller, lighter and more dainty than the X-Pro2, the smaller lenses pair exceedingly well with its form factor.
One can only speculate as to what the press/public reaction to the X-Pro1 would of been in 2012 had it arrived with the F2 lenses and the latest FW 🙂
As just mentioned: The f2 trinity gives the X-Pro1 a massive kick up the backside in terms of focus acquisition. The 23 F2 should be singled out here for it’s seemingly nigh-on instant focus acquisition in plentiful light (on the X-Pro2, in plentiful light, the XF23 F2 is so fast to focus that you actually wonder if it’s managed to focus at all, it has – you just missed it)
Another boon to the XF23 F2, is that on either X-Pro camera, it doesn’t make the OVF look like it’s run into Pac-Man either
But let’s not talk too much about the F2s today – I want to write about them in terms of comparison to their faster, bigger, more expensive brethren – as this is what you’ve mainly asked me about when I said that I’d be testing the lenses.
I’ll summarise it a little here though:
Whenever you compare two things that do the same job, eg two XF23s, but with different specs and characteristics, it’s always win some/lose some and the F2 Vs the F1.4 lenses are no exception.
But I really liked these F2 lenses on the X-Pro1, some of my favourite images taken during my (regrettably brief) time with the F2 glass were with the X-Pro1.
So on the day that I had to return them (well the XF35F2 is mine – I get to keep that!) I set off earlier than needed, headed into town and told myself: shoot all three
So today I’ll share six images, two from each lens all taken on the same day and give you an overview on each.
Shot with the XF50 (@ F4)
I think the XF50 is a lens is it’s own right (!) it’s sufficiently different to the XF56 and XF60 in terms of focal length and therefore field of view to have its own place in the lens line up and quite possibly your camera bag.
For the sake of labels – if we think of the 56 as portrait glass that can turn its hand to being a general purpose mid length lens; and if we think of the 60 as a general purpose mid length lens that can do a macro – then the 50 is a general purpose mid length optic that can focus quite closely (but is no macro) and turn its hand to a portrait (but forget blurring out the background 56 style)
I did expect a bit more subject isolation from the 50, not so much because F2 is very fast – but that 50 (on APSC) is a quite long but the background is always visible on all but the close shots, it slowly fades away rather than turning into a shallow DOF soup (that people like to call ‘Bokeh‘ which is actually the correct term for specular highlights)
Shot with the XF50 (@ F5.6)
If you’re a little way from the subject, then the Xf50 does a good job of bringing it closer! For my usage the XF50 is a decent street/reportage lens, it’s sharp, fast to acquire a target and easy to get most things in focus whilst allowing you to hang back a bit and chose your shots without you being really close to the scene
Shot with the XF35 (@ F2)
I’ve never been shy about my love for the original XF35 F1.4 and yes – I PERSONALLY prefer it to the XF35 F2. But those of you needing the great AF speed and the WR will be able to make a very passionate case for your preference. I own both. Unlike the 23/23 and 50/56 pairs, there’s not a colossal size and price penalty to help guide your XF35 purchasing decision.
Shot with the XF35 (@ F2.5)
My two XF35 F2 shots show this lens in the element that I like to use it, snatching street scenes at that classic 50mm (sic) focal length.
More on this when I do the full 23 v 23 comparison, but of the two trios, the two 23s are possibly the most different from each other.
Not only do they give a slightly different colour and contrast signature (even when all other factors are the same), but the XF23 F2 is no way a 23mm lens! Maybe about 20 or 21mm. This can be good or bad depending on whether you want slightly more or slightly less in the frame 🙂
That said (and as noted above) the 23F2 is excellent with the OVF, and I was happy with the images it made on the X-Pro1
Shot with the XF23 (@ F2)
Shot with the XF23 (@ F2)
For the two shots above, I walked past an open doorway and this guy invited me in, he was a woodworker very friendly very chatty and his workshop was like a time capsule!
By far my most pleasurable photographical experience yesterday!
So as great as these newer F2 lenses work on the latest Fujifilm cameras (and they really do – if you’re migrating to Fujifilm mirrorless from a DSLR, then these lenses will give your X-Pro2/X-T2/X-T20 an extremely polished and competent feel) I really have to say that they also give the older bodies a tangible performance increase, and a different character to the images
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I’ll keep you updated via social media when I write the full on old lens V new lens comparisons.
(Note from 27/12/17 – the 23 v 23 comparison starts next week)
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