X-Pro1 + 56 x 11 A New Gateway?

Or put slightly less cryptically….

My little story of 11 days with the XF56 F1.2 and the X-Pro1.

As you may know, I’m a huge proponent of the original 3 primes. I truly feel that what they lack in spec (against some of the newer lenses) they make up for in size, weight and price – whilst really not giving up that much in terms of IQ.

That’s very easy for me to say! I own the 3 original primes (and the 27), so my sentiment makes me happy!

I written previously about the XF18 (click here) and the XF27 (click here) – I’ll get round to the 60 and 35 in due course!

But, what happens if you pair the oldest X body with a newer lens?

Can the X-Pro1 cope? Is the camera any nicer to use? Is the IQ significantly better?

I was keen to find out!

I’ve ALWAYS had a soft spot for the 56. A great many images I’ve seen from it possess -to my eye- simply stunning rendering. Sharp but smooth and satisfying, the 56 in the hands of others, seems to offer a level of satisfaction not dissimilar to a iced fruit smoothie on a hot summer’s day (it’s about 35 deg C today [95F in old money], hence that analogy !!!)

I’ve recently taken a trip to England (you can read about my previous trip to the UK here) and this provided me with an opportunity to pick up a 56 and put it through it’s paces on the X-Pro1.

When it came to IQ, not surprisingly (it is a highly rated, expensive piece of XF glass after all!!) I was very pleased.

Let’s see some shots!

The Tap

PERSONALLY, I think there’s a shallow DOF rut that every photographer goes through when they get a very fast lens… I mean you didn’t pay all that money to “F8 and be there” did you? So I think there’s a little rut where everything has to be shot wide open…. Suddenly even the most banal scenes take on a pixie dust enthused magic as you continuously delight to the thrill of the most shallow DOF you’ve every had!!!

So here’s an outdoor tap! I’d love to tell that the tap is a metaphor for humanity, the potential of water is the flow of time & life, the out of focus area represents the uncertainty of life.

But I can’t – because that’s nonsense!!!! It’s a tap.

So really the tap represents the trap of shooting everything with shallow DOF 🙂

Careful

Out in the field and the lure of F1.2 is still strong. Let’s be honest here, this would’ve looked a bit better stopped down!

The House by the Lake

Finally I found the aperture ring and discovered that it turns 🙂 This is F5.6

Parklife

Here at F1.8 we get (in my opinion) a nice level of subject isolation, and in B&W a moody image.

Medow

Again at F5.6 we get a broad DOF, lots of detail, nice X-Pro1 colours. Be honest though… suddenly this (and the previous F5.6) image looks a bit Fujifilm XF generic, don’t you think?

Densely

Back to F1.2 and you can see some of that shallow DOF ‘magic’

So as someone who owns the XF60, what did I think of the XF56?

Well if you go to the excellent Fuji Vs Fuji website, you can read a in-depth comparison between the two, and you can do that by clicking here

I really did LOVE the 56. But ultimately I didn’t really like it.

“Whaaaaaaaaaaaat” I hear you say?

It’s a great lens. The IQ/out of focus areas/bokeh are sensational. The images it produces are beautiful.

But the thing is…. Once it’s stopped down to the same apertures that the 60 operates at, the (in my opinion) real world advantages of the 56 over the 60 dissipate very quickly.

I’m sure that pixel peepers would argue with me…. but sincerely, at normal viewing levels it’s a muchness

Also, (and this is a bit crazy) despite only being 4mm longer, the 60 tangibly seems to bring the subject closer, also I think PERHAPS the 60 renders a slightly warmer image.

The 60 also has the ability to focus closely (combined with being a 1:2 “macro”) whereas the 56 can only focus to 0.7m (27.5″) at its minimum distance. Being able to get closer than 0.7m is a bonus for me. (Maybe not for you!)

The 56 is also quite big and heavy.

My X-Pro1 felt really quite unbalanced (even with the metal handgrip) with the 56 attached.

The cost of the 56 is also quite high (especially when compared to the 60)

So I enjoyed VERY much my 11 days with the 56.

If I took a lot of portraits then it would be an easy purchasing decision.

At wide apertures, with a static subject the 56 is an AMAZING lens.

Mum!
My Mum!

There are many ways to judge whether a shot is successful or not. But when it comes to shots of people (where the recipient of the photo is the subject), I think there’s only one truly valid maxim: does the subject love the picture you took of them?

In this case my Mum was delighted with this shot, so job done! (And sincerely, usually she hates pictures I take of her!!!)

But away from its talented zone of wide open portraiture….

…..sincerely, I found the 56 (IN REAL WORLD USAGE, NOT 400% PIXEL PEEPING) to be a big and heavy and expensive 60.

Which is hardly a criticism, but when one already owns the 60, and DOESN’T do a great deal of dedicated portraiture, then FOR ME; I found the 56 to be a little surplus to requirements.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a better lens than the 60, but not in leaps and bounds and the 60 is more versatile (and quite capable of portraiture work in its own right)

It’s like I’ve said before; it’s like I said at the start of this article….

As you may know, I’m a huge proponent of the original 3 primes. I truly feel that what they lack in spec (against some of the newer lenses) they make up for in size, weight and price – whilst really not giving up that much in terms of IQ.

So at the current time of writing (July 2016) I won’t be adding a XF56 to my Fuji stable at the moment.

Not while I have the 60 anyway.

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