Fujinon 50-140mm f2.8 LM OIS WR: Review

Fujinon 50-140mm f2.8 LM OIS WR

Fujinon 50-140mm f2.8 LM OIS WR

 

For more than 3 years Fujifilm has been producing stunningly sharp lenses for their X-series camera. The 35 mm f/1.4 was one of their first lens and it was so sharp I was sure it was a software trick inside the camera.  Then came the other lens with the 56 mm f/1.2 being the go-to for portrait photographers. But there was still an obvious gap in their lens line up. Sharp or not, there was not a 70-200 mm f/2.8 equivalent lens, that is until now. That hole is now filled with the Fujinon 50-140mm f2.8 and it is amazing.

In this review I will look at this lens and give you my thoughts from the field. By the way, when you see an image marked SOOCEFZR that means, “Straight Out Of Camera Except For Zits Removed”– hey,  my model was a teenage girl. She wouldn’t have worked for any amount of money had I not removed the zits! So there it is, full disclosure. No color correction, levels nothing other than removing a few zits on her forehead and chin. Everything else is as it is. If the image is not marked with SOOCEFZR it has been processed in Lightroom like I do with any other image.  All images are loaded here at 950 pixels on the long side. Click an image to view it in a lightbox for better resolution.

 

f/5, 1/35 sec, at 50mm, 1000 ISO, on a X-T1

f/5, 1/35 sec, at 50mm, 1000 ISO, on a X-T1

Fujifilm Malaysia was kind enough to loan me this lens for my trip to the Philippines. I traveled to the Philippines to attend my niece’s wedding on Dec 3rd. Alou and I were then scheduled to take a few days off with her family in the Philippines and go to Boracay on the beach. But once we saw the possible path of the then super typhoon Hagupit (called Ruby here) we chose caution and decided to stay back in Manila. We visited Bataan instead. Definitely not Boracay, but fun and less stressful than wondering if the typhoon would sweep us away.

f/5, 1/125 sec, at 140mm, 1000 ISO, on a X-T1

f/5, 1/125 sec, at 140mm, 1000 ISO, on a X-T1

 

f/5, 1/50 sec, at 87.1mm, 1000 ISO, on a X-T1

f/5, 1/50 sec, at 87.1mm, 1000 ISO, on a X-T1

So back to the lens.  Let’s start by looking at the build quality. This lens is built solid and is everything we have come to expect from a Fujinon lens. I read somewhere that this lens was constructed out of plastic. That’s not the case, at least, that’s not what the Fujifilm website says, “Both the focus and aperture rings are metal, plus metal is also used on the exterior of the lens body for a high-quality finish.”  As such it feels solid like all the other XF lenses. This lens is also the second one produced by Fujinon that is weather sealed to complement the X-T1 weather resistant body.

I have also heard people say that this lens is large and heavy. Frankly I expected it to be a lot heavier for a continuous f/2.8 lens made of (mostly) metal. It is no featherweight for sure, coming in at 995g (2.19 lb). But compared to  the Canon or Nikon equivalent it is about half the weight and not nearly as big. Remember, this is a 35mm format equivalent of a 70 – 200 f/2.8. Actually, to be fair it is really more like a 75-210mm (precisely 76-213mm). This lens is slated to be, as one photographer I know put it, “One third of the holy trinity of lenses” : 50-140 mm f/2.8 (70-200mm), 10-24mm (16-35mm) and the 16-55 f/2.8 (24-70mm).

Unlike its older brother the 55-200mm, this lens sports a fully internal zoom mechanism. Frankly the 55-200mm fully zoomed in is almost the same length. But why even compare? These two lenses are in different classes. The 55-200mm as good as it is is a toy compared to the 50-140mm f2.8 lens.  The zoom ring on the 50-140mm is a massive 2” wide band of corrugated rubber. There is no confusing the zoom ring with the focus ring as the focus ring is only a quarter of the zoom ring’s width and made of metal. Both the zoom and the focus rings move nicely. Neither feel loose or sloppy–no play in either.

The aperture ring is, like all the XF lenses, on the barrel where God intended an aperture ring to be. But unlike so many of the XF zoom lenses it is clearly marked from f/2.8 through 22. I get why Fuji didn’t make the aperture ring on the lenses where the f-stops vary with the zoom. But why they didn’t do this on the 10-24mm that has a constant f/4 I’ll never know. The 50-140’s aperture ring is also nice and tight and gives the user the tactile experience of physical clicks between every one third stop.

The tripod comes with both a massive lens hood and a tripod collar. The lens hood is made with a small door on the side that allows you to adjust a screw on the circular polarizer filter with your finger. The tripod collar is different than I have seen before. The jury is still out whether I like it or not. Unlike other tripod collars I have seen or used this collar is permanently attached to the lens with the foot of the collar being removable. There are two screws that attach the foot to the collar. You have to completely remove the screws and either store them loose or screw them back into the lens. Seems like a recipe for losing screws to me! (Kind of like the metal hot shoe plate that comes with this camera that I will lose.) Going back to the collar–I do like the fact that it allows for easy storage of a smaller foot rather than a more bulky ring collar and foot when packing a roller-bag for a trip; so that is a plus. The foot is almost the exact size of a couple of Swiss-Arca plates I have lying around my office. This gives rise to my thought, why doesn’t Fuji just craft the bottom of the collar’s foot into an industry standard mounting plate? Unless they have plans to sell one later. OK China, are you reading this? Get busy and make me a Swiss-Arca type tripod collar foot attachment for this lens.

 

Fujinon 50-140mm f2.8 LM OIS WR with Tripod Collar.

Fujinon 50-140mm f2.8 LM OIS WR with Tripod Collar.

 

Which gave rise to my thought, why doesn't Fuji just craft the bottom of the foot into a industry standard mounting plate?

Why doesn’t Fuji just craft the bottom of the collar’s foot into an industry standard mounting plate?

 

The OIS in the lens’ name stands for Optical Image Stabilization.  As I mentioned earlier, Fuji has a reputation for not only its lenses, but also for making military spec stabilized binoculars. They claim a 5 stop gain in image stabilization. That is huge. I can’t say for certain it is a 5 stop gain but what I can show you are two photos: one taken at 56 mm at 1/10 sec hand-held and the other at 129 mm at ⅛ sec hand-held. Both are pretty sharp for what they are.

f/5.6, 1/8 sec, at 129.2mm, 1000 ISO, on a X-T1

f/5.6, 1/8 sec, at 129.2mm, 1000 ISO, on a X-T1

 

100% Crop

100% Crop

 

f/6.4, 1/10 sec, at 56.3mm, 800 ISO, on a X-T1

f/6.4, 1/10 sec, at 56.3mm, 800 ISO, on a X-T1

 

100% Crop

100% Crop

 

As for the image quality, this lens is right up there with the big boys Nikon and Canon. In fact this lens might just be sharper. But to be very honest with you, testing a lens’ sharpness is very technical and something I will leave to the more tech-centered blogs. As photographer and tech guy Bob Atkins says, “Probably the most frequent complaint or cause for concern about a lens is that it’s not sharp, but what does that mean? Well, unless you’re shooting a static subject with the camera and lens on a tripod, it probably doesn’t mean much. A lot of photographers don’t realize that hand holding a camera (even if it or the lens has image stabilization), isn’t the way to get the maximum possible sharpness. If the shutter speed is high enough and your hands are steady enough, you may get a critically sharp image, but don’t bet on it happening every time.”

So let’s look at this from a practical standpoint. I took a series of images of Jessie with this lens outside in my front yard since I typically don’t shoot in a studio. This is what I found. There is no chromatic aberration that I can see. The lens is sharp as a tack all the way through the zoom. I found this lens to be sharp at f/2.8 but not as razor sharp at f/5.6 and 11. The sharpness fell off at f/22. But I think that has everything to do with the fact that reciprocity set in and so I was forced to shoot at 1/7 of a sec. Yes, the camera was on a tripod, but that is slow enough that any movement from my model would cause blur. With that said, the overall sharpness of this lens is stellar. In fact it might be sharper than the amazing XF 35 mm. As photographer Derek Clark says in his review, of this lens, “it thinks it’s a prime.” And I have to agree.

Take a look at the images I have prepared for you. You can clearly see how sharp it is. You can also see the ever so softness at 2.8 and then it breaks down at f/22.1

 

SOOCEFZR

SOOCEFZR

 

100% Crop SOOCEFZR

100% Crop SOOCEFZR

 

SOOCEFZR

SOOCEFZR

 

100% Crop SOOCEFZR

100% Crop SOOCEFZR

 

SOOCEFZR

SOOCEFZR

 

100% Crop SOOCEFZR

100% Crop SOOCEFZR

 

SOOCEFZR

SOOCEFZR

100% Crop SOOCEFZR

100% Crop SOOCEFZR

 

The Eyes Have It.

The Eyes Have It.

 

It’s not a cheap lens. In fact, I think it is the most costly of all of Fujifilm's XF lenses. It retails around $1,599.00. I don’t like the price, but this is a lens that you need in your bag if you are a serious photographer. Sure, you can use the XF 55-200 and if you are comfortable with the slow 3.5 -4.8 speed and like its light weight, then by all means use it. But for those of us who really feel a need for speed and razor sharp images, then this is our lens. Either start saving or sell something because you need it!

 

f/2.8, 1/1100 sec, at 74.4mm, 200 ISO, on a X-T1

f/2.8, 1/1100 sec, at 74.4mm, 200 ISO, on a X-T1

 

f/4.5, 1/180 sec, at 54.1mm, 250 ISO, on a X-T1

f/4.5, 1/180 sec, at 54.1mm, 250 ISO, on a X-T1

 

f/2.8, 1/600 sec, at 90.6mm, 200 ISO, on a X-T1

f/2.8, 1/600 sec, at 90.6mm, 200 ISO, on a X-T1

 

f/4.5, 1/600 sec, at 140mm, 250 ISO, on a X-T1

f/4.5, 1/600 sec, at 140mm, 250 ISO, on a X-T1

 

f/2.8, 1/2700 sec, at 50mm, 800 ISO, on a X-T1

f/2.8, 1/2700 sec, at 50mm, 800 ISO, on a X-T1

 

f/5.6, 1/10 sec, at 50mm, 800 ISO, on a X-T1

f/5.6, 1/10 sec, at 50mm, 800 ISO, on a X-T1

 

f/2.8, 1/300 sec, at 110.6mm, 800 ISO, on a X-T1

f/2.8, 1/300 sec, at 110.6mm, 800 ISO, on a X-T1

 

f/8, 1/13 sec, at 66mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

f/8, 1/13 sec, at 66mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

 

 

 

  1. UPDATE: I completely forgot to add this note on the auto focus. This lens focuses great in strong light or good contrast. If there is one downside of the lens, it has to be in low contrast or low light situations where it had a tendency to hunt. There were more than a few times that it rocked back and forth looking for the focus when I was shooting at the wedding reception. It did make it frustrating at times.

2014 Gift Guide the Discerning Photographer

HolidayGuide

 

Every year I try to create a Christmas Gift List that I think my readers might enjoy. It started out as a list of things I had that I thought others should have as well. But it has since morphed into both a list of things I can vouch for and things I am putting on my own wish list. I wanted to get this out before the notorious “Black Friday”. For those of you that are not American, this is the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday and it has proven to be the biggest shopping day of the entire year.  I think I gave you a real variety – but no fedoras or pipes this year. Sorry. I did manage to add a bow tie , though . They are in general price categories from the most costly to the least. This way if you have a budget you know where to look at a glance. So without further to-do here is my list.

 

christmas-divider- Continue reading

How I modified my X-T1 with Sugru

 

The Sugru rubber make the 4-way selector buttons finally usable.

The Sugru rubber make the 4-way selector buttons finally usable.

This is going to be a short and to-the-point post. I have been using the Fujifilm X-T1 now for a few months and have come to appreciate this camera. I know this sounds nothing like other peoples reviews of this camera. Everyone seems to love this camera but me. For me it has been a love/hate journey. I have never been thrilled with this camera’s form. I liked the rangefinder look of the other X-series cameras. So from the very start, I was disappointed. Continue reading

A few thoughts of the Fujifilm FX56 mm F/1.2 R

XT1_56mm

Fujifilm FX56 mm F/1.2 R

 

This is part two of my thoughts on two lenses that Fujifilm Malaysia lent me this past week. In the last review I looked at the XF10-24mm f/4 R OIS. Today I am giving you my thoughts on the FX56 mm F/1.2 R.

Continue reading

A few thoughts of the Fujifilm XF10-24mm f/4 R OIS

Fujifilm XF10-24mm f/4 R OIS

Fujifilm XF10-24mm f/4 R OIS

 

Last week my friends at Fujifilm Malaysia loaned me two of their latest and greatest lenses to play with and asked me if I would share my thoughts. I have been waiting for these two new lenses probably more than any of the other lenses in their entire lineup. The two lenses are the XF10-24mm f/4 R OIS and the XF56mm f/1.2 R. On a cropped sensor, such as the two cameras I am shooting with – the Fujifilm X-E2 and the X-T1 – they represent a full frame focal length equivalent of 15-36 mm and 85 mm respectively. I recently bought the X-T1, but I do not plan to review the X-T1 as it may be one of the most reviewed cameras on the planet, to date. It definitely is the most reviewed Fujifilm camera till now. Continue reading

The Popup Flash: A Pro Tool?

f/7.1, 1/8 sec, at 14mm, 1000 ISO, on a X-E2

f/7.1, 1/8 sec, at 14mm, 1000 ISO, on a X-E2 rear curtain sync

I came close to titling this post as “Pro Sho – Who says?” I have read so many Facebook posts, blog posts and Twitter tweets about what a “pro-camera” should have on it that I am ready to scream. At this point I could get all esoteric and say, any camera you make money with is a pro-camera. This is true, but that is not really what we are talking about. I think I want to be a little less obtuse and more to the point. When I say “pro” I am talking with the same mind set you might have when you go into a hardware store as ask for pro tools. These are tools that can be abused and often have more “horse power” or specialized features. The same goes with cameras. In my view a pro-camera needs to have very little for this classification. Just as the pro-drill needs to be able to take hours of constant use and abuse so must a pro-camera. It would need to be able to survive a high shutter count and would need some sort of metal alloy body construction to help it buffet physical abuse. That’s about all I would say that it would have to have. After that everything else is just rhetoric or personal opinion. Continue reading

A Podcast: A conversation on the Fujifilm X System with Piet Van den Eynde #02

Piet and I checking out the menus of the X-E2 and X-100s.

Piet and I checking out the menus of the X-E2 and X-100s. © René Delbar

 

Last year after the Rajasthan Photo Trek, Piet Van den Eynde and I decided to take a few minutes to talk about our experience with the X-series cameras in the field. Piet is a brand ambassador for Fujifilm Belgium, an Adobe Lightroom Guru and an e-book author with Craft & Vision. More importantly he is my co-leader of the Digital Trekker Photo Treks. Last year after our first Photo Trek together Piet and I thought it might be fun to do a podcast about the Fujifilm X-Series gear we used. You can listen to that conversation HERE. That podcast turned out to be one of my most listened to podcasts and quite a few people had asked for a sequel… So, always eager to provide the content that people want, we though it might be fun to do this again… sort of a part two. This year, after the Photo Trek was officially over Piet and I huddled under a blanket together – no really it was the only way to deaden the sound in our cheap concrete day-rooms – and recorded this podcast. We talk about the latest gear and how we have been using the X-system since our last podcast. I hope you enjoy this conversation. Continue reading

Review: iBattz Mojo Refuel Battery Case (iPhone 5)

iBattz Mojo Refuel Battery Case

iBattz Mojo Refuel Battery Case

One of the great things about using an iPhone (or any smartphone, for that matter) is that you can do so much on the phone from email, photography, graphic rich games, navigation using your GPS and so much more. The problem is that all of these tasks create a huge drain on your battery. By the way, while Apple doesn’t publish their battery specifications, doing a quick Google search reveals that the iPhone 5 has a 1440 mAh battery, iPhone 5S a 1570 mAh battery, and the 5c 1507 mAh battery. These are not huge. Comparatively, the Galaxy S4 features a 2600 mAh battery. To combat this lack of power, many companies are offering power banks and cases. Continue reading