Some Notes on My Fujifilm Lens Collection

I promised an email to a friend about my Fujifilm X-mount lenses, but figured I might as well blog about them and include a few samples.

Prior to buying an X-T2, I usually had a general-purpose zoom of some kind (18-200mm) plus a prime or two (35 or 50mm) .

My couple of years with a Fujifilm X100S got me back in a prime lens mood, and most days when I’m picking something to walk around with, I’ll go with a prime. I have a single zoom, and when I’m carrying a bag with a few lenses in it, it’s usually one of them.

When I bought my X-T2, I started collecting lenses in earnest. I think I might sell a few of these now that I understand them all better, so there’s some overlap in the collection.

I’m not going to talk a lot about the technical characteristics of these lenses. To my eyes, they’re all pretty sharp and nice. Whether they’re weather resistant matters to me because I live in Portland, and then it’s down to how well my brain works with a given focal length. As a somewhat shy shooter, I don’t start feeling comfortable with walking around lenses until 35mm or so.

If I had to name a favorite out of the bunch … a desert island lens, I guess … I’d probably go with the 35mm/f2. It’s sharp, weather resistant, small, and versatile. I’ve used it for street, portraits, and landscapes. It’s not as hard to fill as the wider lenses, and the only thing I’ve got that’s tighter is the 56mm portrait lens, which isn’t versatile and isn’t weather resistant.

I guess I’ll do this wide to close.

Rokinon 12mm/f2

I love this lens. It produces really sharp images and it’s fairly small and light. It’s a manual focus lens. On the X-T2 I use focus peaking, which outlines the in-focus parts of the image in red.

My one hangup about this lens is that it’s not weather resistant, so it doesn’t come outdoors much during the winter or in rainy weather.

Camp 18

Fujifilm 16mm/f1.4 WR

Kind of love-hate with this lens. It’s very fast and sharp, but it sits in a weird spot for me. Since it’s weather resistant I’ve carried it around more readily in the winter than the Rokinon, but it’s awfully close to my 18-135 zoom, or 23mm/f2, which are also weather resistant.

Sunset at the Steel Bridge

A quick search tells me I’ve put about 900 shots through it, and I can see where I’m still trying to figure it out. It’s so close to the Rokinon on one side, and so close to the 18-135mm zoom on the other that I’m not sure what to do with it. I’ve got a few landscape ideas I’d like to try out, but I get the feeling I’m going to sell it.

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Fujifilm 23mm/f2 WR

As a 35mm full-frame equivalent, I suppose this is the classic street photography focal length. I like that it’s small, light, unobtrusive, and weather resistant. I struggle a little with filling the frame with it because I’m not fond of getting up on subjects. On the other hand, the 24MP sensor on the X-T2 means I’ve got plenty of room to crop.

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This is the same focal length as the lense on the X100 series. Curiously, I’m pretty happy with 23mm on those cameras because it’s versatile: Landscapes, environmental portraits, general purpose street stuff, etc. But when I’m shooting with an X100 I’m in a different frame of mind, too: It’s a small camera for snapshots. I’m in a pretty informal frame of mind when I’m shooting with it. When I have the X-T2 along, I’m thinking differently and I’m probably carrying a bag with a few other lenses along.

Fujifilm 35mm/f2 WR

Next up from the 23mm, another small, weather resistant lens at the classic 50mm (“nifty fifty”) full-frame equivalent focal length. I think this is my favorite walking around lens. It does a little bit of everything, and I love just carrying it around.

Portland Women's March at the Hawthorne Bridge

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Fujifilm 56mm/f1.2

Hm. I bought this for portraits, and I’ve used it for portraits. I haven’t taken many portraits. It’s fast and sharp. I’ve read people who use it for street photography, but it’s a pretty big lens and I’m averse to taking things onto the street that will read as “fancy and big, it must be serious” vs. “little camera that isn’t serious.”

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Ben

Anyhow, I’m glad I’ve got it even if it doesn’t see a ton of use. It’s a niche lens for a niche purpose. Once I get around to shooting more people, it’ll see more use.

Fujifilm 18-135mm/f3.5-56 WR OIS

My sole zoom. I usually have it along when I’m carrying more than one lens, and I like to have it for travel in situations where I don’t care to swap lenses around. Since it’s weather resistant, I don’t mind taking it all sorts of places.

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Since it’s image stabilized, it’s good for indoor shooting despite being relatively slow.

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The image stabilization is pretty nice. This was shot at pretty high ISO (6400) and very low shutter speed (1/20):

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Not tack sharp, but pretty usable. When I think back to ISO 1600 on my old Pentax K100d, which had in-body stabilization, I’m pretty happy with the results.

I thought 135mm would feel like a compromise, because I had a 200mm zoom for my Nikon D5000. So far, though, I’ve been pretty happy. I haven’t felt limited or frustrated, and when I review what I shot with the 200mm zoom on my Nikon, fewer than a fifth of my shots ever exceeded 135mm. The majority were shot somewhere between 50mm and 135mm.

I had a 50-200mm zoom for my Pentax K100D, and a lot more of my shots were taken at 200mm, but that includes a wedding where I used the long focal length to keep way out of the reception and shoot from the edges. That was the first time I’d ever shot a lot of people, and I was very uncomfortable with the experience. Since then, I’ve loosened up a little: If I’ve been invited to take people pictures, I don’t hang back as much. I also tend to give the subjects a little more room in the frame for a more environmental portrait sort of effect.

Oh, the Lensbabys: Sweet 35, Sweet 50, Edge 50

I bought a Lensbaby Optical Composer plus some lens elements for it. It’s pretty fun to shoot with now and then. They’re all manual, and Lensbaby is a weird shooting experience in general, and it’s not weather resistant, so I don’t play with it much anymore. At the same time, it’s a fun creative toy so I’m keeping it around.

Lensbaby

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