Mr. Big – The Fujinon XF 50-140mm review

Happy new year everyone! I hope you had a great start to 2015. I know I did.

Before I get down to business I’m going to do a shameless plug for my new 365 days project. I never did one of those, so I guess 2015 will be the year. I hope to finish, but we’ll see. Life has a tendency to be less cooperative sometimes.

Anyways head over to the365.squarespace.com if you are curious to see if I will follow through.

So! That 50-140mm eh? It’s been out for a little less than a month now, and I think we can all agree on that it’s been one hell of an anticipated lens. Just before christmas, Fujifilm Nordic was generous enough to let me try out this lens during the holidays. The gear addict in me was thrilled, while my rationality was going “meh!”

I’m first and foremost a street photographer. I use primes. I use wide’ish to standard’ish primes. Not long telezooms. I appreciate a small kit, not a big one. But with that being said, I know there are MANY photographic disciplins that simply require a lens such as the 50-140mm.

Equivalent to a 70-200mm on a 35mm camera this lens is just what any pro photojournalist want. For a lot of wedding photographers the 70-200 is an absolute workhorse, and it is the lens that brings home the cash. So for the Fujifilm X-system to evolve into a more pro oriented market segment this lens is absolutely necessary!

After 14 days with this lens a few key points stand out for me

a) This thing is so amazingly sharp at all apertures and focal lengths that it’s not even funny. It’s as sharp at f/2.8 as my 56mm at f/2.8. This is crazy! Nothing less!

b) Build quality is outstanding

c) The OIS is very good.

Build and Design

For a small mirrorless system this lens is big. There’s no way around this. It’s a matter of physics. If you want an f/2.8 aperture at 140mm it will require a glass diameter of a certain size. If, on top of that, you want OIS and a quick AF motor, and it WILL be big. But compare it to its 35mm world equivalent 70-200mm you save roughly 40% in size and weight.

If you want this on your X-T1 you should get the battery grip. It makes the camera balance with the lens much better.

The build is fantastic. It has a nice heft, the focus ring is super smooth, as well as the zoom ring. The aperture ring clicks perfectly. The tripod stand can be loosened using 2 screws. That solution sucks. Fujifilm should have designed something better. I just leave it on and turn it 90 degrees to the side.

There’s a small ample amount of noise coming from the lens when the camera is turned on and during operation. I suspect it has something to do with the OIS or the focus motors. You have to put your ear within millimeters of the lens to notice.

The AF is mostly great and fast. It locks on, and is quite precise. I tested it on my running kids, and it had no trouble keeping up. But when the light gets tricky or low, it does hunt at times, which actually caused me to miss some shots. I had an editor sample, so maybe this is corrected in the final retail version.

Image Quality

This is where this lens totally blinds you. Be prepared to be amazed at how sharp this is. The image quality from this lens is simply astounding. It’s as sharp as the sharpest prime so far in the Fujifilm X system, the 56 mm. And that is even wide open at f/2.8 vs. a stopped down super-prime. It’s quite incredible, and when I first loaded the files from the studio session with my daughter I was just staring at the files for a couple of minutes. It really is tack sharp!!

The session was a dual light setup using a 40 inch shoot through as primary, and a small softbox  from below off camera using the FlashQ trigger.

Below is a 100% crop of the last image in the series. Shot at 140mm f/2.8 at ISO200 and 1/180s

100% crop. Shot at f/2.8 the detail is remarkable
100% crop. Shot at f/2.8 the detail is remarkable

Bokeh is rendered quite pleasingly as well. Specular highlights are mainly structurally smooth, and it renders very smooth backgrounds. Of course at 140mm at f/2.8 you will achieve very shallow DOF and great scene compression.

Harsh scene with christmas lights. Yet the booked is quite pleasing. 70mm, f/2.8, 1/80s
Harsh scene with christmas lights. Yet the bokeh is quite pleasing. (it was snowing, so a little drop on the front element can be seen in the specular highlights)
70mm, f/2.8, 1/80s

Center is tack sharp throughout the zoom range. Edge sharpness starts to deteriorate from about 80’ish mm up until 120mm. And then it gets better. Still very, very, very sharp though.

The OIS is fantastic. You can literally hand hold this thing at 140mm at 1/50 and get sharp results free from motion blur. It really is quite good. So even after dark this thing becomes VERY useful.

Shot handheld at 140mm at 1/80s. f/2.8
Shot handheld at 140mm at 1/80s. f/2.8

For studio use this lens is quite useful as a very sharp and versatile portrait lens. And until Fujifilm launches the 90mm f/2, it’s the only option for that 90mm (135mm in 35mm eq) focal length that so many loves for portraits.

Samples

As per usual these samples have been processed in Lightroom 5.7 using different settings. They were taken using the X-T1.

Conclusion

The Fujinon XF 50-140mm WR OIS is an incredible lens. It’s as sharp as the sharpest primes in the X-system, and it renders gorgeous out of focus areas. It’s incredibly versatile, and it will most definitely serve as a daily workhorse for many photojournalists, event photographers, wedding photographers and the likes. While not a lens I would add to my setup, this is definitely one of the best lenses currently available from Fujifilm.

jr050680

23 thoughts on “Mr. Big – The Fujinon XF 50-140mm review

  1. “But compare it to its 35mm world equivalent 70-200mm you save roughly 40% in size and weight” not exactly, I depends on what characteristics you are comparing. This monstrous Fuji is about the same weight as a full frame 70-200 f4 Canon or Nikon, and in terms of the ability to do selective focus, there is no weight saving. Let me put it another way, to achieve the same degree of background blur that the Canon at f4 creates, you’d have to shoot at 2.8 with the Fuji. The only weight saving is the body. Same goes for a Canon 85 1.8 vs the Fuji 56 1.2 (I have both) with these, I need to shoot at least one stop wider with the Fuji to achieve the same degree of background blur. In the case of the 85 canon VS the Fuji 56, they are almost the same weight, and the Canon is half the price. Don’t get me wrong, love my Fujis, but Fuji needs to keep the size of their new lenses down. The 23 1.4 is another monster TOOOO big Fuji, keep with your vision of small and compact, and give me the 23 from the x100 in an x mount.

    1. You are absolutely correct if you are talking aperture only in terms of object separation. But there’s also another point to aperture, which is light gathering capability. A 2.8 lens on crop gathers the same amount of light to the sensor as a full frame 2.8 lens on a full frame sensor. So at dark hours, the 2.8 will still give you lower ISO, higher shutter etc, than the “same sized” f/4 full frame version 🙂
      Thats why micro 4/3 has great advantages in their 0.95 lenses being so small.

      Thanks for reading.

      /Jonas

      1. Sure, this is true, but if you build a full frame sensor with the same technology and the same amount og megapixels, every pixel will have more than twice the surface area of the Fuji pixels, capturing more than twice the amount of light per pixel. This means that even though you have to double the ISO with the full-frame f/4, the performance wilö not be any worse.

  2. I purchased this lens just before Xmas & quite simply it is superb. Yes it is quite large but it is a joy to use, it has a wonderful quality feel about it. There will always be a difference between apertures due to the C size chip & crop factor. But overall this is a superb lens equally as good as the Nikon f2.8 equivalent & the F4. ( I have owned & used both lenses before moving to Fuji) I mainly use Prime lenses but there are time when I require A Tele zoom & this lens fits the bill. Enjoy your New Year.

  3. Great images and great review. I had originally purchased the 55-200 after deciding the 50-140 was just too heavy for me. I didn’t want to carry the equivalent of my Nikon 70-200 2.8VR. However, the 55-200 had a slight wiggle when mounted on my X-T1 so I returned it. I think i will wait until the 50-140 drops a couple hundred dollars then I might spring for it even though it’s much larger than I wanted for my Fuji, AND the 55-200 was just so tack sharp..

  4. Hello and thank you for the review. I enjoyed the read. You stated “While not a lens I would add to my setup,” why is that??? I have an X-T1 and am wanting to buy one lens and this might be the one for all around shooting but you last statement has be thinking….

    1. Hi Sean. Thank you for reading the blog.

      The statement simply refers to the fact that it does not fit my shooting style. I need small primes that doesn’t attract too much attention. And this lens, however incredibly brilliant & versatile, is simply too big. That is why I will never add it to my inventory 🙂

      /Jonas

    2. It’s just too big and heavy. I use Fuji X because of size and weight. I’m just not a long lens guy. If I do want to use a longer lens, I use one of my Canons.

  5. Excellent review. I enjoy your blog. I am about to purchase a new lens for portrait and outdoor/indoor shooting. Now, after you had your hands on thr 56, 50-140 and 90 mm lenses – which one could you recommend? I am using 35 prime, 18-55 kit lens and the 55-200. I`d like to have soft backgrounds, reliable focus and excellent image quality. I know this is a difficult question, but sure you can help me to find the proper solution.
    Thx!

  6. Hi there.

    What do you think about image quality when comparing this lens with 90mm? I have 90mm and im thinking to ditching it for 50-140mm because of the range and OIS.

    Does 50-140mm suitable for traveling?

    My friends suggest me to keep 90mm and take 18-135 or 55-200 instead.

    Really love to hear your insights.

  7. Hello. I had the 50-140 for several months last year and enjoyed it. I sold it simply because it wasn’t a 70-200. Even though it has its strengths, it’s not the traditional 70-200 that I was used to.
    My question is this. Shortly after months of using this lens on my xt1, my camera stopped reading lenses. It would power on but acted like it had no lens no matter what lens I put on. It was sent in for repair and they eventually replaced or adjusted the metal mount.
    Is the 50-140 too heavy for the small frame of the xt1? Did it somehow degrade the integrity of the metal mount and it’s electronic leads over time?
    I’m not saying that this is truth, but it is a concern that I’m having.
    And I’m curious if anyone has experienced a similar problem. If not, it might just have been an untested fluke with my xt1.

    Thank you.

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