The Journey to X: the XF 56mm f/1.2 WR

There are many factors that have influenced my leap to the X series.  I’ve already touched a bit on the ‘feel’ and the user experience, but I think the XF 56mm f/1.2 is a major player in influencing that decision.

I’ve always been a sucker for a fast prime, and I had read rave reviews about this beauty.  I was not disappointed in any way.  I picked this one up from Wex in late 2017 to go with my X-E3.

My first impressions of this lens were mainly around size – it’s easily twice the size of the 23mm f/2 – it’s a chunky, solid lump of metal and glass. And that’s not a bad thing, because it is a beautiful chunk of metal and glass.  It’s not quite perfect – but it is nonetheless, a fabulous piece of kit.

I think it’s fair to say this lens accelerated my journey to X.  I have often found that there are certain lenses that just speak to me from a photographic level – in that they suit ‘me’ perfectly.  They are perfect fits for the way I see things, want to frame things and want to shoot things.  The classic example for me in my previous kit was the Canon 135mm f/2 L lens.  I lusted after that piece of glass for a long time, and it genuinely brought great happiness to me from a photographic point of view.  It had the clarity, the crispness and sharpness, and the fantastic ability to separate subject from background beautifully.   And that’s really what I found in the Fuji 56mm f/1.2.  All the boxes – ticked.

The interesting thing for me is that I found the 56mm a really natural fit for my style, and it’s my most used lens to date on my Fuji kit.  With the APS-C ‘crop factor’ in the Fujifilm cameras being around 1.5x, the 35mm equivalent is 84mm.  Now, I’ve never owned an 85mm (FF) lens, so it’s interesting to me that I fell in love with this particular lens so easily – it didn’t match my previous kit, but clearly it gave me something I had missed out on in my Canon world (although my beloved 70-200mm f/2.8 did cover this range).

The images it gives me appeal for three key reasons  Firstly, it gives me a beautiful, buttery smooth bokeh when used wide open.  And anyone who knows me, knows that’s massively important and appealing for me.  I didn’t plump for the APD version of this lens, but it’s something I might consider further down the line. I love a beautiful blur and this lens certainly delivers for me there.  Box ticked.

The second thing that I really love is that gorgeous separation between subject and background.  It was one of the key things I loved about my Canon 135mm – box number two ticked.

The third thing is the sharpness – it’s really good wide open, it’s razor sharp stopped down.  And I mean so sharp, crisp and detailed, you could cut your fingers on the images.  It’s astounding.  This is a real marriage made in heaven with the X-H1 too – the textures, details and tones coming out of that combination give me great joy. I love it.  Box three, strike.

So I think there’s only a couple of little bug-bears with this lens.  One, I’ve heard a lot of grumblings about, and that is the aperture ring is a bit on the loose side.  I’m not sure if this is something that can be adjusted, but I’ve seen it’s definitely a common complaint amongst other Fuji shooters.  It’s a little too easy to accidentally change your aperture without realising – it needs a bit of tightening and that more reassuring click. It’s not a big deal, but just a little bit of an annoyance.  The other flaw I find in the design is because the manual focus ring is so deep, there’s only maybe 5mm of solid metal to grip onto before the aperture ring – which makes getting the lens off and on the camera a little clumsy at times as there’s not much to grab onto and twist.  There’s many a time I nearly drop it, which could mean a nasty accident out in the field one day.  The only other fault I can find with this lens, is probably purely my copy, and that’s that I find the black coating seems to be wearing easily compared to my other lenses.   There’s quite. a few little silver patches on the lens now.  Again, not a problem in any real way.  Maybe it just goes to show how much I’ve used this lens in the last year?  Perhaps a sign of regular use is a sign of a good thing.

Try it.  I didn’t look back.

So that’s it for my thoughts on the XF 56mm F/1.2 WR.  There’s a few images here to go with the post, but I’m travelling currently – so I’ll update this gallery soon with some more examples.


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