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.