The XF50 and the XF56: Part Two – Comparing the Non-Comparable

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Following on from last week’s article, (which you can read here) this week we continue to look at the XF56 and XF50 lenses from Fujifilm

Last week I made the point that I didn’t consider the 50/56 to be direct competitors, by contrast the 23 and 35 pairings have strengths and weaknesses. There are some elements that you might very well consider worth the extra cost (eg aperture), and some that you can’t believe that Fujifilm are giving you such performance in the cheaper product (eg focus speed)

The 23/35 pairing are perhaps a little like choosing a model of car, then deciding which spec you want.

The 50/56 combo is a little choosing between two different models of car, size and cost may guide your hand – in either direction!

Let’s start off with the glaringly obvious!

As per last week’s and this week’s cover shot.

The 56 doesn’t just command a premium over the 50 from your hard earned cash.

It’ll demand a lot more space in your camera bag to!

Which ever angle you approach it from, the 56 is a waaaaay larger chunk of lens than the 50

But just because the 50/56 cousins are not the same focal length, it doesn’t mean  that we can’t compare them in similar environments and see just how well they suit X-Pro usage.

Of course, you may very well have a different Fujifilm camera, and this comparison should also be of use to you. But as an X-Pro range shooter I tend to focus on that usage case.

So on with the show  🙂

Anyone who’s read any of my lens articles before will know that I like to see just how much software is at work in producing the images we get out of the camera.

The camera itself provides corrections for the Jpegs and pretty much all the RAW convertors do too.

This is no drama, and certainly not a Fujifilm only feature, all the camera manufacturers do this these days!

But like seeing your favourite singer live, and coming to the conclusion they must use a LOT of auto-tune in the studio for the album recording

I like to see what my lenses “sound” (sic) like live.

So let’s take a look at the 50/56

XF50mm at F2

With all the software corrections turned off, we see where the price has enabled Fujifilm to cut (well bend  🙂 ) some corners. You’ll notice as well that there’s a bit of a vignette going on.

(The irony no? The manufacturers develop software to remove the inherent vignette, and often the photographer puts it back in again in post!!!!  🙂 )

XF56 at F2

At F2 the XF56 is showing where the extra money went, to the lens design team rather than the software coders  🙂

XF56 at F1.2

It’s a bit unfair comparing one lens wide open and the other stopped down 1.5 stops, so above is the XF56 wide open at F1.2. There’s a  mild vignette in there, but still the optical performance is stellar

Unlike all the other mirrirloess users, us X-Pro gals and guys have an extra requirement when it comes to our lenses.

What’s the incursion into the OVF framelines look like?

Well let’s take a look. (All shots taken with NO hood attached)

XF50 min

At the closest focusing distance, the XF50 leaves us a decent amount of room around the framelines, which of course means that…

XF50 max

…at maximum focusing distance the framelines are no where near being interfered with by the lens

XF56 Max

At maximum focusing distance the framelines don’t quite touch the XF56, but you might need to pan a bit if you’re waiting for something to wander into the frame from the right. Which or course means….

XF56 Min

…..yup! at minimum focusing distance the XF56 breaches the framelines. But it could be worse, it’s not as bad as the XF23/1.4 (because the framelines are smaller and the OVF magnification is at the highest setting)

Worse still is the XF16. That makes the framelines look like the chicxulub crater  🙂 and unlike the 56, you can’t work round it by using the lower magnification setting on the OVF.

No surprises so far. The bigger XF56 is bigger on the camera, and the extra cash you spent in store gets you an optic with less native distortion and vignette.

Equally of no surprise is that as per the other F2 WR lenses, the XF50 has that wonderful, tactile clicky aperture ring and a better AF speed.

But what about the images we might like to take with each lens?

Are there any significant shortcomings by saving a wad of cash and going for the 50?

Well, as per the 23/23 test, I got in an attractive young model and asked her to pose for me.  🙂

You can have a sample of that below, but we’ll take a closer look at these and other test shots next week.


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