85mm is probably my favorite focal lengths in photography, it's the one I constantly keep adding to my collection. When I made the switch to Fuji I told myself that I wanted to replicate my previous setup, the 35mm and 85mm focal length (FF Eqv.), this may sound like a rather simple task, but with Fuji's lack of dedicated lenses, and my limited financial resources I had a tough time mentally figuring things out.
Initially, I was just going to take advantage of the Fuji's focus assist feature and use vintage glass, I owned the Helios 44-2 and the image quality it offered was suitable enough for my needs. This wasn't until I went on a shoot with a friend of mine in the woods of Westland. I was using the XF 18-55, Fujifilm's kit lens and I really like the face detection feature. It locked right on! I found myself switching between this lens and the Helios, the workflow with the kit was just way easier. At that moment I knew for serious sessions I needed this feature, but at a faster speed.
When I saw that some retailers decided to extend Fujifilm's instant rebate program I tried to talk myself out of purchasing this lens. The reason I switched to Fuji was to steer away from GAS, so dropping $849 on this wasn't in my budget plans. However, as a counter-argument, I told myself that compared to the Canon version this lens was a steal at $849. After 2 minutes of going back and forth, I went for it, next day shipping and all.
When the UPS driver finally dropped off the lens I was beyond excited. I went to Best Buy and purchased some cheap filter to ensure the glass didn't get any marks on it, and then I went to Amazon to purchase a B+W filter, because... I wanted name brand one.
I took the lens on its first shoot that same week. It was freezing cold outside, about 9 degrees I believe and it was bright as ever, of course, I wanted to shoot wide open, but this seemed impossible without an ND filter. When my subject stepped inside I was able to finally stop down and really test out its true powers. Of course, we'll get into optics later, first let's talk about the build quality of the lens since that was my real "first impression".
- Lens type
- Lens construction
- Focal length (35mm format equivalent)
- Angle of view
- Max. aperture
- Min. aperture
- Aperture control
- Stop Size
- Focus range
- Max. magnification
- Filter size
- External dimensions
XF56mm F/1.2 R
11 elements in 8 groups
(includes 1 aspherical and 2 extra low dispersion elements)
Number of blades: 7 (rounded diaphragm opening)
1/3EV (20 stops)
Normal: 27.5″/0.7m – to infinity
Macro 27.5″/ 0.7m to 10′/3m
73.2mm diameter x 69.7mm length
The lens is massive, at least for what I had in mind for a mirrorless shooter, it's constructed of all metal and focus ring is smooth as butter. It's the biggest prime lens in the Fujifilm lineup thus far (XF 90 is now the largest prime), and it's exterior is a looker! The front glass is beautiful, it looks amazing mounted on my X-T1, but I believe it may be a bit cumbersome for Fujifilm users who are working with the X-Pro 1 or X-E series... none of my business though. The lens itself isn't too heavy if you're a Canon shooter you can compare it to the 85mm f/1.8 lens, which I think is around 425g. Despite its well-built exterior, the lens itself is not water sealed, so just a heads up for all you pro shooters out there who take pictures near water.
The hood is extremely long, I naturally shoot with one just because I like the added protection it gives my front element (even though I use a filter). It will also protect your image from any stray light. Unfortunately, it's made out of plastic, but I guess a metal hood of this size would be a bit much. The lens takes a 62mm filter size, so make sure you purchase one when you add the lens to your cart.
My first time using this lens was in freezing temperature. I'm not sure if my camera was cold or if it was just a user error but the focusing was damn slow. In low light I would expect this, but not in daylight with single point AF. It haunted, perhaps it was because I was shooting wide open, but that theory went out the window when I saw the ending result. Once locked in the focus was very accurate, the lens did a great job using the face detection mode, and was even able to recognize the face when other objects were in the way. The images were sharp, especially considering many of them were at f/1.2. The only downfall I can say about using it wide open is that after I auto focused I found myself adjusting the focus ring a tad bit just to ensure the eyes were in focus. I guess I can't expect the lens to know exactly where I want to focus, but I found myself doing this more times than not.
The lens didn't produce a super thin DOF, in fact, it looked as if it was shot at f/2 or maybe even f/2.8, the bokeh was there, but it just didn't appear to be as shallow as competitors in the forefront. I tested it wide open on a Coke bottle and the fall off wasn't as apparent as a friends Nikon 85 f/1.8. Unfortunately, I don't have the images to show a comparison, but I'm hoping you all take my word for it.
One of the biggest issues I had using my Rokinon 85mm on Canon was the focus distance, I had to be pretty far to get anything in focus, especially at f/1.4, the Fuji has this problem, but not nearly as bad. I believe the minimum focus distance for this lens stands around 0.7m, which isn't bad for this focal length.
I had high expectations for this lens, it's the most expensive prime I've ever owned and... it's worth every penny. The rendering from this lens is brilliant, I love the colors, the creamy bokeh and just how beautiful it makes everything look. When you compare the glass to its competitors it's considered a steal for this level of image quality. Again I'm not someone who crops at 100% or looking someone who looks at sharpness from corner to corner, I just know what looks good and this glass LOOKS GOOD!
When shot wide open it tends to have less fall off, leaving more of the foreground in focus. This works great for portraits, as I'm able to shoot at f/1.2 and get both eyes in focus, however for someone who planned to use this non-portraiture style work then please take note of my findings.
The bokeh on the lens is very creamy, leaving a lot of the background visible, yet blurred out. I find this effect rather pleasing, but I've seen many who would prefer the background to be completely washed out... Can't please everybody.
Fuji's XF 56mm is by far the best lens I ever owned, at times the slow focus speed gets to me, but that's expected at f/1.2. It's beautifully constructed and produces amazing bokeh. For the price nothing matches its quality, it's the ultimate portrait lens, and should be in any serious photographers kit.
The Fuji XF 56mm f/1.2 is available for purchase at Amazon.
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