~updated Mar 8~
With the all hype surrounding Fuji’s recent releases–a new medium format camera, an upgrade to the X100 series, the new X-T20–the news of a 50mm lens went largely unnoticed.
The 75mm equivalent focal length surprised many, as it’s historically not a common pick for lens manufacturers. 75mm is close to the end or start of many common zoom lenses, and a lot of photographers have adapted old ‘nifty-fifties’ on their crop digital cameras, so this focal length might feel more familiar than we thought.
I’ve had a few days to use the new 50mm f2. Is the unusual focal length worthy of the Fujicron line?
If you’ve used the 23mm or 35mm f2 you’ll be in familiar territory. The 50mm is surprisingly light at only 200g, and it’s just a touch longer than the 23mm. It’s small enough to fit into a jacket pocket.
The lens balances nicely on any of the X-series bodies, but of course it shines on the X-Pro2. If you set the camera on a table, it will tip forward to rest on the lens.
Aperture ring has nice clicks, and the focus ring turns smooth. Fuji has really nailed the feel on these–we don’t have to check multiple copies at the store just to find the right aperture ring anymore.
The lens hood is probably the nicest looking of all the stock Fujicron hoods. It add about an inch of length to the lens and is reversible for compact storage.
Without the hood, the tapered lens barely protrudes into the corner of the optical view finder, and doesn’t actually block the frame-lines. With the lens hood on, you might see some frame blockage if focusing at close distances, but it’s not too egregious. Obviously none of this matters if you don’t use or don’t have an OVF.
The lens is weather sealed, so paired with a weather sealed body you can keep shooting in harsh conditions.
It’s as fast as the other two Fujicrons. ‘Nuff said.
~update: In low light the 50 slows down noticeably more than the other two lenses; it’s still faster than any of the older primes~
I’m not a pixel peeper, but this lens is sharp and renders beautifully to my eye.
I don’t see any barrel distortion like the 35. Wide open and close up you don’t get softness like on the 23 (of course it’s sharper when you stop down a bit).
Kevin Lavoie has some additional sample images on youtube.
Should you get one?
In terms of physical characteristics, if you’re a fan of the 23 or the 35, you’ll like the new 50mm. The question then is about the focal length.
75mm equivalent is uncommon, but I’m finding it a useful focal length. Think of it like a longer normal lens. It’d be great for travel when you want a little more pull, for candid portraits, product shots, or even street photography.
Though not technically a portrait lens, the close focus distance and rendering can make for some nice images. The obvious comparison is with the 56mm f1.2. The 50’s smaller size is less intimidating to camera-shy subjects and can make for more natural photos. The shorter focal length can be an advantage too. You can sit across from someone at a table and still get a nice head-and-shoulders portrait. People these days are used to phone cameras, and will often get closer when being photographed; having to back up an extra 2 feet with the 56 can be awkward.
What if you’re a casual photographer, who occasionally snaps a portrait of their friends? The focal length is more comfortable to work with than a 56 or 90, and the DOF at f2 can still provide plenty of subject isolation. With faster AF, half the cost and half the weight, my money’s on the Fujicron.
This is my new go-to lens for product shots. It’s long enough that distortion isn’t an issue, but not so long that I’d need a huge studio to photograph things. For foodies, it’s a little too long to photograph a plate right in front of you. You might also struggle to get a deeper depth of field at dim restaurants.
Is the 50 too long for street? I plan on taking some street photography outings with only this lens, to get a better idea. The trend these days is to shoot with wider and wider lenses, but sometimes details, gestures, or compression can make for an interesting street photograph. This is about as long as you go and still comfortably use the OVF framing. Plenty of street was shot at 50mm, why not 75?
Jonas Rask has some great photos with the new 50mmf2 and plenty more with adapted vintage 50mm lenses that show it’s a fine focal length for street.
I plan on using this and the 23mmf2 as a two-lens kit for short weekend travels. The pair’s light weight and small size is perfect for travel. Having two lenses with a similar profile makes configuring a bag way easier.
These two lenses are definitely enough to make a great travel album. I’ve been shooting almost exclusively with the 35mmf2 for a year, but I always feel like I’m fighting to get the shot–I either want the view to be wider or more telephoto. The 23 can set the scene, and the 50 takes candid portraits and detail photos.
If you drop the notion that 75mm is a ‘weird’ focal length, you’ll find it’s quite versatile. What do you think about the XF50mmf2? Let me know in a comment below!