I recently wrote about acquiring my lens “trinity” (which you can read about here) basically having given the matter a LOT of thought, I’ve settled on the XF 23, 35 (F1.4 variants) and the 56 as my personal de facto choice
But there are other choices!
I know many of you highly rate the later, smaller, quicker AF lenses, namely the 23/35/50 F2 WR variants.
Fujifilm have agreed to lend me the 23 and 50 (I already have the 35/F2), possibly “next week” – so I look forward to testing them, but hopefully I don’t like them too much… I’d hate to want to buy them all 🙂
Is there anything specific you’d like me to examine on these lenses?
I’ve had a few requests via Facebook, but keep them coming – drop me a line or a comment.
So on to this week’s article.
For this week I’m going to be show casing a few shots taken with my existent trinity. I must say that I’m very happy with these lenses!
Let’s start off with the XF56. A portrait lens, so it should be used for portraits only right? No – don’t be daft!! A useful 85mm FF equivalent and a very fast aperture makes this lens really quite special. Combine it with a ND filter for daytime use and enjoy the shallow DOF.
Of course the aperture can be stopped down… after first getting this lens it may take a few days of wide open shooting, before you want to stop it down!! But I assure you, it can be done 🙂
F1.2 can be a tricky aperture to nail focus, the DOF is infinitesimal at close distances, and sparse at longer range.
Stopping it down a bit can really help get a shot, this is F2
But when all’s said and done – there’s nothing quite like native shallow DOF to get subject pop and isolation (it can be faked in post, but needs to be done very well) and the 56 at F1.2 exhibits (to my tastes) a wonderfully shallow DOF. (Not quite as organic as the APD version, which I tested a while back and you can read about here)
Next up, the XF23F1.4 this optic has been a bit of a revelation for me, I was never the world’s biggest ’35mm FF equivalent’ fan. This is REALLY starting to change for me.
Being quite wide (23mm is 23mm no matter what size sensor it’s sitting in front of) you’ll need to be extremely close to the subject to throw the background into any sort of blur… But the excellent IQ of the XF23F1.4 still has a way of making the subject pop out.
This is shot at F1.4, certainly no 56F1.2, not even a 35/1.4 🙂 But it works for me!
Stop the XF23 down a bit and it becomes a formidable street tool. I shot this at F2.8 and on the one hand it’s avant garde (THAT’S A JOKE) study of street life told in transparency and reflections, it’s also what happens when I got bored waiting for my bus to arrive 🙂
Stopped down to F5.6 and the XF23 offers a lot of detail, this is a fairly severe crop, yet contains the details that I wanted in the frame. At F5.6 the XF23 is a useful zone focusing tool, but I have to recommend using the EVF to pre focus it, those zone focusing marks on the lens barrel are small, and the focusing ring (once disengaged from the focus clutch) is a bit to easy to knock out of place for my clumsy hands! (YMMV)
That just leaves the 35F1.4.
This is my desert island lens. This is my prise from my cold dead hands lens – I LOVE the 50mm FOV (yes I realise that 35 on APSC is about 53 or thereabouts)
My first XF series prime, and I’ve loved it and used relentlessly for over 3 years.
If I lose or break it, I’m immediately buying another, if Fujifilm discontinue it without a meaningful replacement, I’m buying a box fresh spare (or leaving Fujifilm altogether in disgust – JOKE /sorta)
I’m spoilt for choice of shots to share with the XF35F1.4 (I have had it by far the longest to be fair)
Like the 56, it doesn’t have to be wide open to make the image look pleasant – this shot is F2.
That said, and this is HIGHLY subjective, but to my tastes – you open the 35 up to 1.4 and the images that can be achieved have a special glow. It’s not a magic wand, after all a shot of a mobile phone on a table, but with a shallow DOF is still just a shot of a phone on a table – but if you’re shooting a shot that would greatly benefit from the glow that a shallow DOF generates, then the 35 F1.4 seldom disappoints me
[Speaking as someone who’s preference is for colour photography, you’ve had a good run of black and white there 🙂 ]
By F2.8 the 35F1.4 isn’t making the subject pop as much as it’s giving a smoother transition into the back ground.
By F5.6 (as you’d expect) pretty much everything is in focus, even when the main subject is at a mid distance from the camera
If you’re already quite far from the subject or if the subject is pretty much everything then F8 can be your friend
So, I do have to say – I’m really loving and using my trinity.
But I’m excited to try the newer 23 and 50. The two 35s (F1.4 and F2) are RELATIVELY close in size and weight.
But the 50 will be a lot smaller and faster to focus than the 56, the 23F2 will be a lot smaller and lighter (with less OVF blockage) than the 23F1.4
Fujifilm have said “next week” (it’s not an exact science… and I’m certainly not pushy when they’re doing me a solid) for the loan equipment, so I very much look forward to trying these newer lenses out….
For me though – the bar has been set rather high by the incumbent incarnations of these focal lengths.
So time will tell.
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