Mirrorless cameras come a long way. Not only are the cameras themselves higher end, they also have some serious glass. Here's my Fuji 50-140mm review that aims to take a shot at the fast telephoto arena.
Sometimes what keeps people from changing systems is not the cameras, it's the lenses. If there is one lens I know that shooters will never let go of, it's the Canon 70-200 2.8 (or Nikkor 70-200 2.8). Fuji already made the XT1 to dazzle amateurs and pros alike but now tries to win hearts by offering an alternative to the much beloved Canikon lens: The Fuji 50-140mm.
Coupled with the Fuji 16-55mm 2.8, these two lenses are pretty much everything you would ever possibly want in my opinion. You might want to make it a trinity with the 10-24 f/4 and you have all your bases covered….
This is the first time I will use a telephoto in YEARS, so go easy on me 🙂
Fuji 50-140mm review
When it comes to lenses, I think a quick glance is enough to determine if something is well made or not. The 50-160 looks, feels and weighs premium. It's the looker and got some compliments for it. Since it's on the heavy side, there is a removable tripod socket on the bottom, in order to offset the center of gravity from the bottom of the camera to the bottom of the lens.
The lens is heavy but nor unbearably so. When shooting I tended to hold the bottom of the lens and not the camera itself. The hood does add more bulk, but overall it's compact enough to go on one side of a messenger bag.
Since Fuji cameras are APSC, the lens is effectively a 60-210 f/4.2 (The aperture is 2.8 but renders like a 4.2 on fullframe, see calculator). That's just numbers, here's what it means visually:
On the left are shots at 50mm, on the right are shots at 140mm
As you can expect from a high end lens, the image quality is top notch. I'm leaving you with some full size sample files for you to draw you own conclusions as I am not a pixel peeper but an image maker.
The moment you have been waiting for…..Bokeh! Why have a fast telephoto zoom if not for the Bokeh, right, right? As you can guess the thing gives you exquisite Bokeh. I asked a
victim friend for some test portrait shots and she agreed, Yay! On the left is the Bokeh at 50mm 2.8 and the one on the right is 140mm 2.8:
On the left you can still see the individual strands of wood but on the left it's just a creamy blur. The render of the long end is a beautiful thing!
Using the lens
Using the fuji lens has been both weird and liberating. Weird because I had to go out of my comfort zone (I'm more of a super wide shooter) and liberating because when you deal with such long focal lengths, you can really get intimate without being so close.
Normally when I need to get a close shot of something, well, I use my feet and get closer. I'm all fine with this but the problem is not with me, it's the subject. Many photographers are not used to be at the receiving end of the lens, so they don't know how it feels.
To put it simply, it feels weird. And to have someone entering your personal space with a camera is a bit awkward. The long zoom lens bypasses this issue, it allows you to get close up shots without being uncomfortably close.
This is important because being close makes your subject aware of the camera, therefore affecting the scene. The long lens allows for a more spy like approach. The fun part though is when you show people their images and they have no idea when or where you made a shot.
The lens being a constant 2.8 is just dreamy. It's really a great feeling to be able to have a telephoto when the light starts dropping.
There's usually 2 main elements in a photograph, the subject and the background. I love wide angles because it more or less forces you to include the background and reveal context to the subject's surroundings. But with a lens this long and fast you can have the opposite approach and remove the subject from their surrounding context.
You can just get only the details of the face and blur the background for example, and that allows you to focus only on the subject. In essence it allows you to appreciate the subject for the subject's sake and not it's relationship with the background. Here's an example:
One thing about this lens, when I used it I really felt like a movie director! I think the Bokeh and focal length is to thank for that.
The lens is a WR lens, meaning it's sealed for dust and moisture provided it's paired with the Fuji XT1, the only Fuji camera (so far) that is also sealed. Didn't test this part, but to whom it may concern it might be something important.
What's REALLY impressive with the lens besides the overall quality is the OIS, the image stabilisation. When you look trough the viewfinder with this baby the image appears to be floating, movements are smooth. For those who know, it feels like it's on a steadicam. While you get used to it, there is a little whir sound coming out of the camera, witch I assume is the stabilization.
This is a welcomed feature as the longer and heavier the lens, the more prone to shake. All I can say is WOW. Here's a handheld (!) shot at 1/18th of a second:
Pretty amazing no?
Street Photography (?)
This lens is perfect for jobs, there's no doubt about that….heck, it's aimed at the pro market! But what about something like street photography? I typically use a 28mm or wider for these things and at first it really felt weird to use. I felt awkward in the streets with such a long lens, I felt like I wanted to break free from the thin field of view.
But then I had an idea, why not do cinematic street photography? The lens gives great Bokeh and make the subject pop out of the frame. So I went ahead and shot at the maximum focal length at 2.8.
Afterwards in Lightroom I went ahead and cropped at 16×9 and toned a few images. It's been years since I didn't touch anything longer than 35mm for street photography, and while I had to get out of my comfort zone, the experience has been nothing but pleasant. It's all about getting the most out of what you've got.
The Fuji 50-160mm is an amazing lens. It's beautiful, fast and has great stabilization. It allows you to get very close and personal without physically doing so. If you are used to wider angles, the change is pretty radical, but once you get use to it, the lens is magic with superb performance and creamy Bokeh.
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