Black Box Week No. 1 – The Fujifilm Fabulous Fifty

Black Box Week No. 1 – The Fujifilm Fabulous Fifty

This week is brought to you in black boxes – some of them contain lenses, come contain cameras, and some contain secrets…

No need to be secretive today. We have a goodly supply of Fujifilm prime lenses…the 50mm F:2 R WR is today’s selection, and if you are a Fujifilm street or people shooter, this column is for you.

Fujifilm X cameras have APS-C sensors in them – the X-trans variety. If you are looking for a standard lens you get to choose a 35mm f:1.4 or a 35mm f:2. Likewise, if you are looking for that little bit longer lens for portraiture, you can get two 56mm f:1.2 lenses or this new 50mm F:2 lens. I’ve used ’em all at one stage of the game or other, and here’s the way they sort out:

 

a. The 35mm lenses are truly universal. The older f:1.4 is a little slower than the f:2, and a little noisier in operation. It is just a little sharper sometimes, but apart from the fact that you can squeeze one more stop out of it, there is not really anything to fight about. The f:2 looks very neat on the various bodies.

b. The 56mm lenses are big and heavy…and expensive. Their out of focus areas are extremely soft and the focus area at full aperture is disconcertingly shallow. You can do marvels in dim places like stages with them, but the weight is a factor.

c. The new 50mm is the longer version of the 35mm f:2 and is very fast to autofocus. It is solidly-built without having the mass of the 56mm, and does not intrude as much into the field of view of the X-Pro 1 or X-Pro2. This may not sound like much if you are a person who always uses an electronic viewfinder, but I assure you it is a factor when you use the optical option. You need to choose your lenshood with care with any of them – no good just screwing on some leftover from the back of the drawer if it is going to occlude half the viewfinder.

I’m not a head shooter with cameras. I tend to go for full-length shots. Were I to do so, however, I would deliberately choose the 50mm f:2. As you can see with the close face shot of Legless Lou, the sharpness is excellent. In this case the aperture was 5.6 – the sharpest point for many lenses of this type. Wider starts to lose focus on the further eyelashes.

Of course, I tried it on the die-cast models as well. 50mm lets me get back to allow light into the set, but the DOF is starting to become shallow compared to the 35mm or 27mm lenses that Fujifilm also make. I’m pleased to see that the Greyhound bus and the F-86 Sabre did just squeak into focus if I got back far enough. It does make the tail fin of the F-86 stand right up tall.

The 50mm f:2 is available in either black or silvered finish to match the two general choices on X bodies. It is still focus-by-wire but the movement of the focusing ring is smooth and well-damped. It is a class feel for a class lens.

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