Monday, May 18, 2015

FIRST LOOK: FUJIFILM XF 90mm f 2.0 R LM WR FUJINON LENS

Today is the official launch of Fujifilm's latest prime lens, the XF 90mm f2 R LM WR lens! Yes, that is right, after the 16mm f1.4 prime which was launched a few months ago, another Weather Resistant prime lens from the Fujinon is on its way.  

A few days ago, I was given a pre-production copy of this bright prime lens by the fine guys of Fujifilm Middle East in Dubai.

As the announcement came in parallel with the launch of the new Fujifilm X-T10, which I reviewed in a separate blogpost here, I only had limited time with the 90mm lens. So this review will be somewhat shorter than normally is the case.

QUALITY - SIZE - WEIGHT
Sorry I have to repeat myself after the 16mm f1.4 review, but the quality of the lens is 100% in line with prime lenses like the 16mm, 23mm and the 56mm. It is a pro-quality lens which has once again the perfect friction in the aperture and focus rings. 

The length of the lens is somewhat longer than what I expected it to be. In comparison to the 56mm it is about 50% longer (105mm instead of 70mm). The lens diameter is virtually identical to the 56mm and carries the same 62mm filter thread. Thanks Fuji!


Weight wise, it comes in at 540g, compared to 405g for the 56mm. Especially with the Fujifilm X-T1, (with and without a grip) it feels nicely balanced.

As often is the case for a prime lens, it does not have IOS (Image Optical Stabilisation) installed. Are we getting in camera Image Stabilisation in a future X-T2 and/or X-Pro2 Fujifilm? Before this is being picked up by one of the rumour networks, this is my own speculation and is probably only wishful thinking... No inside info here!


The lens hood of the 90mm is large; I mean almost as large as the size of the 56mm lens itself! I know, this will not be your typical walk around lens, but ideally I would have liked to see it being somewhat smaller.

AUTOFOCUS
Before talking about the lens autofocus I need to put in the following disclaimer: the 90mm was mainly shot on the new X-T10 camera because I wanted to kill two birds in one shot. The X-T10 has the "new autofocus" system which will be available to the X-T1 through the 4.0 firmware update (expected release somewhere in June). For more info on the changes to the autofocus refer to todays X-T10 blogpost.

Back to the autofocus of the lens itself: on the X-T10 it felt the snappiest of any of the Fujifilm lenses but that is likely the result of the new update. When mounted on the X-T1 (with the older/present autofocus firmware), it felt as fast as the 16mm and definitively faster than the 56mm. I know..., no academic testing but that was my gut feeling. Beside the autofocus is very quiet; similar to the 16mm once again.  

BOKEH
Obviously this lens is meant to be primarily used as a telephoto portrait lens, so the quality of the out of focus areas (bokeh) is vitally important. Even though, I didn't have any living models around willing to pose, I did shoot a few still-lifes to check the bokeh. As can be seen in the images below, it is nice and creamy, including bright highlights. The next three shots below, are out of the camera jpegs, shot at f2.0.



Obviously the depth of field of a 90mm lens at f2 is very limited; something I often try to use creatively...


SHARPNESS
Sharpness is often the nr 1 criteria to describe the quality of a lens. The Fujinon 90mm does definitively not disappoint here. Just like the 16mm, 23mm and 56mm primes, it is razor sharp and this all the way across the frame. I did not have the time to shoot a test chart, however I believe the images below speak for themselves.

Images were shot as jpegs (all standard settings) with no further image editing.

ISO200 - f 3.6 - 1/1000s

 ISO200 - f 5 - 1/750s

ISO200 - f 8 - 1/210s

The sharpness across the frame is very consistent; typical for all the latest  generation Fujifilm prime lenses. The image above was shot on the X-T10 at an aperture of f 8.

MACRO EXTENSION TUBES
The minimum focus distance is 0.6m. After having played with the 16mm which focusses a mere 0,15m (!), I miss the close focus distance...

As a compromise both the MCEX-11 and MCEX-16 seem to work fine with the new lens. The image below was shot with the MCEX-16 ring with an "estimated" focus distance of about 25-30cm. To get another illustration of the sharpness of the lens, check out the dust particles on the smurf figure by clicking on the image.



WHO IS THIS LENS FOR?
Just like the 56mm prime, the  brand-new 90mm, which becomes 135mm on a X-series body, is a bread and butter lens for serious portrait photographers. It complements rather than replaces the 56mm.

Given the compression of the longer focal length, the lens gives a clear different look compared to the 56mm. I can see fashion and possibly wedding photographers rushing out to get it! For an expected 999,-USD retail price it comes at a premium but that is not unusual for a high quality prime lens. 


BJORN

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