a new ‘nifty fifty’

Okay, so it’s not a 50mm in the 35mm measure of things but there are many aspects of Fujifulm’s newest X-mount lens that could indeed be described as nifty!

As an owner and user (and fan) of the two most recent Fujinon f2 WR lenses, I was interested in the release of the 50mm f2 WR lens, although I was unconvinced about the focal length (a 75mm equivalent (in 35mm terms)) being the right one for me. This was especially true given the existence of the glorious 56mm f1.2 – one of my favourite medium telephoto lenses on any system. What was appealing, however, was the physical size and the promise of the snappy autofocus already seen in the shorter siblings.

Well, I gave in to temptation and I’m very glad I did as the lens has so far performed brilliantly. This is not a review as such – more my own observations on the lens – and you certainly won’t find anything technical here so it doesn’t really matter if I tell you right now that the lens is fantastic and already has a nailed-on place in my kit bag, alongside my 23 and 35 f2 lenses and an X-Pro2 body. This set up is the ‘core’ of my system. I haven’t sold the 56 and nor will I but this lens has certain advantages over its slightly bigger brother. I think, like a number of people who have used both lenses, they get compared because they are close in focal length but they are designed to do different jobs and there is an argument for each but an equally compelling one for both.

So, to the lens. Well, it’s small – and that’s part of the immediate appeal. In the hand and on the camera, it feels solid and well made, with the (new) characteristic ‘positive’ feel to the aperture settings. The proportions – and this is, of course subjective – look spot on when mounted on the XPro2. Again, it’s a subjective view but there are a number of bigger X-lenses that tend to undermine at least some of the advantage of having a mirrorless system. This isn’t one of them. The physical size, compared to the 35mm is a mere 10mm difference in length. In use, the autofocus is very positive and very, very fast. Right on a par with the other f2s and just as quiet. I found focusing in a variety of lighting (back-lit, bright, dark) to be consistently reliable and I had no lack of confidence that there would be little of no ‘hunting’.

Most lenses can be forgiven a degree of drawbacks in use, provided they are up to the grade in terms of image quality; similarly, a lens like this one, that is such a pleasure to use, would need to be up to the mark in terms of the images it produces. And boy is it up to the mark! I shoot a great majority of my work using available light and the control of that light is important to me. I have always had something of a penchant for shallow depth of field – so control of flare, subject separation, clarity and bokeh were all high on my ‘wants’ list. This lens doesn’t disappoint. In any way. I shot a lot at f2, in a range of lighting situations and the images are sharp, clear, detailed and have that x-factor (no pun) that for me, makes the lens a winner. I think the best way to describe it is in the balance of the detail in the focused areas and progression to – and rendering of – the out-of-focus areas. The last time I had this sense of quality was using the Panasonic Leica 42.5mm f1.2 on the M4/3 system. The images are sharp and punchy where they need to be and subtle and smooth in the areas that require that too. With regard to that focal length. Not quite the compression of a ‘traditional’ 85mm equivalent, but not too far off either. It’s a non-issue for me. In fact, it’s a bonus because it gives different options alongside those of the 56mm.

In summary, the Fujinon 50mm f2 WR is an extremely well made and high-performing compact medium telephoto. The image quality is excellent and the focal length is very useful. At its current price point, it’s great value for money. If you want ultimate image quality and very narrow depth of field (or you find yourself regularly shooting in very low light), then the 56mm f1.2 is very hard to beat. If, however, you are looking for a high quality mid-telephoto prime that’s a joy to use and has superb image quality, then look no further.

All images taken on XPro2 with Fujinon 50mm f2 WR lens. Acros + R jpegs, edited in Lr (exposure, vignette, split tone shadow warmth)

Alec Written by:

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