Addendum: The XF56 APD Vs The XF56R Part One

A while back Fujifilm Portugal lend me the XF56 APD.

I wrote a 4 part review of this lens which you can read by clicking on these links:

Part One ¦ Part Two ¦ Part Three ¦ Part Four

But recently, due to a bit of mix up, Fujifilm ended up re-lending me the APD (it was supposed to be the 50 F2 WR) and I’m delighted to have my hands on the APD once again.

When I reviewed the APD, I really wanted it to be a stand alone look at the lens, I know people are interested in comparisons (I am too!) but it seemed like nearly every review of the APD concerned itself with how it stacked up against the regular 56, and as interesting and important as that it is (and it is!) – I really wanted to treat it as ‘just’ (sic) a lens.

Besides I didn’t own the regular 56 at the time, so a comparison was tricky 🙂

However, as you’ll know if you’ve been following – I recently updated my ‘trinity’ of core lenses to be the 23/35 F1.4 and the 56R (the 56R denotes the regular, non-APD 56 ~ I’m going to be typing “56” a lot today, and I’m already bored of inserting the word regular in front of it, so from now on 56R and APD, ok?!)

You can read about my trinity choices here and my joy of shooting with them here

Now I truly felt for the APD back when I had it before, but when the time came to put my (limited) money where my big mouth was, the funds simply didn’t stretch to the APD, and let’s be honest – the APD has a few limitations.

The APD component restricts the amount of light entering the lens, sure they might both open up to F1.2, but the APD offers less light transmission, meaning that the amount of light entering the lens is actually equivalent to F1.7. The APD lens also focuses slower than the 56R, as it’s (claimed by Fujifilm and why would they fib?!) only able to utilise the slower focusing CDAF pixels on the sensor.

Plus even second hand, I was able to find a 56R significantly cheaper 🙂

I was so delighted to have the APD back, that I just wanted to shoot with it 🙂

One of my personal favourite shots was taken with the APD when I had it last time around:

The Street Performer

And I wanted to see if my APD memories were truly apodization coloured or merely rose tinited!

So I immediate set out to reacquaint myself with the APD

Joined at the Hip

Yup, just as I remembered it!! Razor thin DOF with a smooth transition into the OOF background

Never too Cool for Ice-cream!

This charming couple kindly took a moment out of there ice cream to pose for a shot

But before I started suffering from buyers remorse with my 56R, I had to be a little more subjective about the differences.

There’s more to lens testing than running round Porto shooting street, and I wanted to examine (to the best of my abilities and opportunities) some of the claims made about the differences between the two lenses…

Starting with one of my own….

Last time I wrote about the APD I made a pretty decisive statement

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.

This was something I wanted to validate

I also wanted to look at some of the claims made about:

Contrast
Sharpness
Focusing speed

The actually differences are subtle, but very tangible… So just to get the ball rolling, here’s 2 similar images, shot with each lens:

I hope that you’ll join me next time for some detailed analysis of these and other shots (I won’t leave you hanging – the top one is the APD)

This will be a three part addendum to the original four part APD review. So I hope that you’ll enjoy what might just be the longest 56APD review going!

See you then!

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This addendum is split into three parts. This was Part One.
Click here for Part Two and here for Part Three

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