56 and f1.2 ways to spark your X-photography – Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2R

Those of you who know, and even those of you who just look at my pictures will know that I have a thing for shallow DOF, ultrafast lenses and Fujifilm gear. So, of course, when Fujifilm announced back in 2013 that they would release a 56mm f/1.2 lens, I was emmidiately thrilled, psyched, happy and everything in between. The 23 f/1.4 also sparked interest, but I already own the x100s, so I really didn’t need that focal length. I rarely shot portraits of anyone except for my family and loved ones. So why on earth this craving for a fast 85mm full frame eq. lens when all I mostly do is street photography?

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Big lens – just perfect on the X-Pro1

Well. I started photographing using a Canon EOS 400D using only the EF 50mm f/1.4. So I was very used to using the FOV that a 50’ish lens gives me on an APS-C sized sensor. I really tend to miss that focal length. Come 2014 and my troubles are no longer present. I am now spoiled with an ultrafast, pin-sharp, fujinon lens that has blown me away with everything from IQ to build quality. Below I will write a little bit about my first impressions of the lens, since I really have only been shooting it for a weekend.

 

Build

Attaching the Fujinon 56mm f/1.2 lens to your X-Series camera must be just about equal to that feeling a Leica user gets when he/she attaches a 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux to his/her M-series camera. It’s the biggest prime lens in the Fujifilm line-up, and with good reason since it contains enough glass to mould a live size polar bear glass sculpture from! Although bigger than the 35mm it looks amazing on the X-Pro1. It’s like they were made for each other. From what I’ve seen, it’s really too big for the X-E(1-2) cameras for my tastes.

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11 elements in 8 groups (1 aspherical and 2 low dispersion elements)

The build quality of this lens is nothing less than superb. Having a closet full of vintage lenses from Minolta, Asahi-Pentax, Voigtlander and Fuji I can tell you that this lens feels like its been made in companionship with the old Takumars. Its a metal and glass construction, weighing in at just above 400g. The aperture ring is second only to the newest Leica lenses, and the focus ring is the smoothest I have ever used. Manual focus by wire is great on the newer firmware on the X-Pro1. Everything just works.

It takes a 62mm filter size, so I had to invest in a new ND-filter…. (again!!)

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f/1.2 – Aperture ring feels perfect

 

Operation

The autofocus speed on this thing is great. It’s amazing that the amount of glass can be moved around a little quicker than the 35mm f/1.4 which I have always found decent but not amazingly fast. The 56mm will NOT focus as fast as the fujinon lenses with the linear motor eg. the 18-55mm zoom. Focus is VERY accurate. In daylight I have not missed one single focus with this lens, and in darkness I have missed maybe 5. I have taken well over 200 exposures during the weekend, so this is very good. The motor does make some noise when it focusses, but again no more than the 35mm. The minimum focus distance is 0.7 m, which I do not find to be a problem for this focal length.

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62mm filter thread is needed for the large front element

The X-Pro1 needed a firmware update (3.20) to be fully compatible with the lens. I tried focussing before and after updating, and there is a HUGE difference. So if you plan on attaching this lens to an older X-series system, be sure to update.

Image Quality

If I should describe the image quality in one word, it would be “Stellar!” You can get quality glass from Leica, Canon and Nikkor. But NONE of them will give you this image quality for just a measly $999. The center sharpness of this thing is razor-sharp even at f/1.2. Its actually quite incredible. The corners soften up a little bit wide open. Step it down to f/1.4 and they are sharp. At f/5.6 this thing is actually sharper than the 35mm f/1.4 (which actually says quite a lot) When you buy a lens that opens to f/1.2 I would rarely shoot it at any other aperture, so that Fujifilm paid attention to this fact is quite fantastic.

Bokeh is great. Backgrounds blend into blurrylicious mush, and specular highlights look great as they fall out of focus. It gives your images a real sense of depth. There really isn’t much to say. This thing is built for Bokeh!

Pictures

As per usual I have attached a myriad of pictures ranging in many different shooting situations. All the Black and whites are straight B&W jpeg’s with added +1 highlights and +1 shadows in cam, and then added clarity in LR. The colour photographs are Velvia jpeg’s processed in LR in various ways. All of the below pictures are taken at the widest aperture of f/1.2 – All shots of the lens is taken with the Fujifilm X100s

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Conclusion

I tend to get very exited about new stuff, so I am always overly exited about the things that I review on this blog. With that in mind however, I can safely say that this is the single greatest performing piece of photo-tech I have ever owned.

A bokeh monster for the X-Series. Sharp as a razor, and built to last.

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Bokeh monster
jr050680

29 thoughts on “56 and f1.2 ways to spark your X-photography – Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2R

  1. Congratulations Jonas! Nice images as always… I have been anticipating the release of this lens since it was announced. Now that its finally here, read reviews and seeing what it is capable of, like many others I am impressed and expected the lens to perform incredibly well. However, there is no way for me personally to justify owning it based on cost and the fact that I feel I can get and have gotten similar results if not better with legacy glasses. In my opinion, the only difference is the AF which I have absolutely no need for as I am used to MF lenses and prefer that method of working to AF lenses.

    I know in your hands you will produce fantastic images with the lens, can’t wait to see more images from you!

    Enjoy and thanks for sharing!

  2. Great shots Jonas. I like your style. Very simple. We call it no-nonsense-photography. I own the XE1. Together with the 18-55 and the 1.4-35 mm. Next purchase will be the XT-1 and 1.2 56mm. What Leica? FUJI is the name.

  3. Hey :)! I love the way your photos are rendered. The colors are just amazing. The black and whites are fantastic. I shoot with a fuji too and I’d like to ask if you can share how you edit your photos, especially how you deal with the smudging in fuji raw files. Thanks and have a nice day 🙂

  4. Your photos are stunning. Every single one you’ve shared he today I’ve loved from the composition to the clarity. Would this lens fit on the x100? Another question is how do I update the firmware on the x series?

  5. Hi,

    great site, good review, just bought this lens and love it to bits. Would not think it would do so well wide open. Why you are shooting jpg’s considering the gear you are using puzzles me… Not really shot jpg’s since the time of the fax machine. Primes rules!

    All the best
    Espen Haraldsen
    Norway

    1. Hi espen.

      Its a glorious lens isn’t it? Thank you for reading. I don’t actually shoot jpgs since I got my xt1. I really couldn’t get that Fujifilm look out of my raws. That was until I bought vsco film 04. Now I only shoot raw 🙂

      /jonas

  6. I use the 50mm and Leica R 50mm summicron currently on my Fuji XT1 each having there characteristic look and being about a 75mm moderate telephoto. Reading your article seeing your pics encourages me to add the 56mm Fuji, extending the reach a bit, have the extra speed and frankly there are situations where one may autofocus is called for.. thank you

  7. Thanks for this review, great pictures too.

    But regarding the image quality: My Nikon 85mm 1.8 G on my Df (equivalent to the 56mm 1.2 on APS-C) is at least as good as the Fuji on my X-Pro1 and I would say the Bokeh is even one step up from the Fuji as the bokeh balls are more even.

    Plus is costs 290 Euro used, has a weather sealed bajonet and a noiseless silent wave motor…

    So while I love my X-Pro1 I really think Fujis lenses are way overpriced…and sometimes a bit overrated IMO. They are great lenses for sure, but there are fantastic lenses out there which are not hyped as the Fujis and still are better.

    So is my Nikon 35mm 1.8 G is every good as my beloved Fuji 23mm 1.4 (which is a 35mm 2.1 equivalent).

    But the Fuji lenses are so much more gorgous for sure.

  8. Hi Jonas, thanks for this review! I’m a relatively new X-T1 owner getting ready to add some lenses to my kit. I’ve got the 60 and the 35, and I’m looking at adding the 23, 56 and 50-140.

    My question for you is, now that you have the 50-140, when do you reach for the 56 1.2, and when do you reach for the zoom?

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