The Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 review

The Fujinon XF 90mm f/2 LM WR was announced last monday alongside the Fujifilm X-T10 (which I wrote about here).

Completing the line up of classic portraiture lenses, this 135mm full frame eq. FOV has been on the wishlist of many portrait and fashion photographers using the Fujifilm X series and its Fujinon XF lens eco-system.

Again thanks to the incredibly kind people of Fujifilm Nordic I have had a chance to spend a few days with this incredible lens, albeit a pre-production model. As many of you might know by now, I’m a street photographer first and foremost, and this lens I feel is for anything but streetwork. Yes, for the occasional street-portrait it’s great, but it’s also heavy to lug around. None the less I have tried to put it into good use in areas that I think might see some use from this classic prime focal length.

XT129912

The 135mm full frame eq. focal length has the benefit of giving your subject some room to breathe and act. Not every model in the world appreciate the photographer getting up close and personal with a 50mm.

DISCLAIMER: The lens used for this review is a pre-production unit, and image quality might not be final. – even though I REALLY do not know how Fujifilm would improve it!!!

Build

The XF 90mm f/2 first appeared at Photokina 2014 as a fatter, bigger, meaner XF 56mm f/1.2. It was in lack of a better term: short and fat! Then shown again at CP+ in february 2015 Fujifilm changed the design of the lens to a taller and slimmer version. This is now the final design that is going into the production model to be released this coming july.

XT119884

Dimensions are 75.0mm x 105mm. It weighs 540g and it has a 62mm filter size just like the XF56mm f/1.2 (and the XF23mm f/1.4). By placing the 56mm and 90mm side by side it’s quite apparent that they are the same width, and and what differs is only the length of the lens.

The size is what it is. It’s physics, and a 90mm lens with an f/2 aperture and 4 motors inside for fast AF cannot be reduced further in size without compromising quality. Some will think it’s too big, others will find it to be quite acceptable. Compare it to an equally spec’ed full frame or even APS-C lens, the XF 90mm will still be one of the smaller options to carry around.

I found that it balanced great on the X-T1, and with the battery grip, it’s just perfect! It’s too large for my liking on the X-T10.

Like I have have come to expect from Fujinon lenses this lens is built to a superb standard. The mount as well as the barrel is obviously all metal, and the focus ring is smooth with just the right amount of resistance. The aperture ring is tighter than on all the previous XF lens, which is a really good thing. You won’t easily knock the aperture to an accidental mis-value.

As the WR marker states this lens is weather resistant, so taking it into the environment with your X-T1 will be no problem. This undoubtedly also adds to the size of the lens, but I LOVE that its there, and I think that ALL Fujinon lenses should be weather sealed. It can even be used in temperatures as low as -10 degrees celcius.

WR - for when you get hosed!
WR – for when you get hosed!

Features

Fujifilm has developed a new Linear motor system for the XF 90mm called the “Quad LM”. This basically means that they put 4 magnets in the focus engine resulting in much higher torque for faster focusing of the large lens elements. In addition to giving faster AF speeds the LM results in a very silent focus system as well. I mainly tested the XF 90mm on the X-T1 with firmware 3.10 and the focus was fast and accurate. Maybe it was slightly faster than the XF 56mm, but if so it was very minute. It certainly was a bit more accurate.  On the X-T10 (and on the upcoming FW 4.0 for the X-T1) the focus is much faster and spot on every time.

The lens has 7 slightly rounded aperture blades, resulting in good looking bokeh even when stopped down. It can focus as close as 60cm, allowing you to really fill the entire frame with e.g. a face. With the extension tubes MCEX-11 or MCEX-16 from Fujifilm you can get really close and use this lens for some macro-work.

XF90mm f/2 with MCEX-11
Up close! – XF90mm f/2 with MCEX-11

Image Quality

Alright. I’ve been avoiding the emotional outbreaks so far. Been trying to keep things sober and objective, but I can not hold it in any longer.

OH MY DEAR LORD! THE IMAGE QUALITY OF THIS LENS!

While Fujinon has hit home-run after home-run with its XF series of lenses, this latest offering is beyond incredible. I mean, the XF56mm f/1.2 is very sharp wide open, and the 23mm f/1.4 and the 56mm APD has incredibly smooth bokeh. The 35mm f/1.4 is magical in its own way. But this….this…. this 90mm is all of those offerings turned into one beast of a lens!!

Full size image - f/2, ISO200, 1/2400s - click to view full size
Full size image – f/2, ISO200, 1/2400s – click to view full size
100% Crop - click to view full size
100% Crop – click to view full size

Fujifilm has created an optical formula for this lens that exhibits close to zero vignetting! It doesn’t even show signs of optical vignetting. This can be seen by the fact that the specular highlights (or bokeh-balls) in the out of focus areas are completely round, even when you move towards the edges of the frame. So your bokeh won’t give you that “Cat-eye” effect at the corners of the frame.

The sharpness of this lens is just downright ridiculous. I found myself shooting it wide open all the time. There just isn’t any real advantage of stopping it down for more sharpness. It’s so tack sharp that I have yet to see a sharper lens outside of the Zeiss Otus and Sigma Art eco-systems.

XT127506

The rendering of the image is filled with that illusive microcontrast, that usually is a trait of the more expensive offerings from Zeiss or Leica. The rendering is nice and warm, and it renders skin tones in a very pleasing manner. Especially my daughters skin tone which has some magenta casts can be quite tricky for most lenses. But the XF 90mm really muted those tones, and took a much warmer approach.

The out of focus areas are incredible. The bokeh is really smooth, and shows no signs of soap-bubble formation in the blur disks. It’s perfectly blurred, and incredibly pleasing to the eye. The falloff into out-of-focus areas is nothing less than stellar. Almost medium format-like. I’m so impressed.

Chromatic Aberration is really a non issue with this lens. I shot some chrome bumpers in bright sunlight wide open, and it showed no signs of CA.

Leica Vs. Fujinon

XT119898The last time I saw images like this coming out of a lens, was with my newly acquired Leica Summicron 90mm f/2 pre-asph. See my impressions of it here. So I thought to my self, why not pit the two of them against each other in a little VERY unscientific face-off! I’m not giving you the answer here, but I am including the test and I know which one I like best. Your opinion might differ, and I promise I won’t hold a grudge 😛

Both shots was shot under identical conditions. Harsh sun at 3 ‘o clock in the afternoon. A reflector for the shadows. White balance set manually. JPEGS are straight conversions from RAW when exporting from Lightroom. Absolutely no post-processing work done.  I included B&W conversions which I processed to my liking, but exactly the same for both files. Obviously I tried to manual focus to the best of my abilities with the Leica, whereas the Fujinon is autofocussed. My daughter, while being incredibly patient, turned her head. So setups differs slightly.

Metadata: Both shots at f/2, ISO200, 1/3000s.

So, LETS GET READY TO RRRRRRRR-RUMBLE!!! 

(click images for full size)

What I see above is the Fujifilm being even warmer in the skin tones than the Leica. I like warm skin tones which is why I prefer Leica to Zeiss, which renders even cooler colors. The magenta in my daughters ginger haired skin tones are really well handled by both lenses, but slightly better by the Fujifilm. The highlights are handled much better by the Fujifilm XF90mm, and I even prefer the fall-off into blur from the it. The sharpness is also to the XF90mm advantage.

So this is where I’m at. The Leica Summicron 90mm f/2 lens that I, and ALOT of other photographers before me, praised to heaven and back just a couple of months ago have just been beat hands down by the newest offering from Fujifilm. I know that the Leica is a 30 year old lens, but it is still considered better than most modern designed lenses. That the Fujinon XF90mm can even compete at this level is amazing.

Again, let me stress that the above is my opinion. Yours might differ. But this is my blog so I can cry if I want to 😀 😛

Samples

Samples are as per usual shot and processed in various ways. These are not of of camera jpegs, nor are they RAW files. They do give you an impression of what I feel I could use this lens for. Portraits, Street, Macro and general snapshots. The macroshots was taken using the MCEX-11 extension tube.


Portraiture – click for bigger


Street – click for bigger


Macro – click for bigger


Random Snapshots – click for bigger

Conclusion

The XF 90mm f/2 is the highest performing lens I have ever mounted onto my X-series cameras. I beats all previous XF series lenses in just about every image quality aspect. Its the royal deluxe model of a portrait lens, and if you are a portrait or fashion photographer using the Fujifilm X-series you cannot pass this lens up. For the system it is quite large, but it is what it is.

I’m not even a portrait photographer, but I definitely will add this lens to my arsenal. It really is an amazing lens!

jr050680

88 thoughts on “The Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 review

  1. thanks for this review. Only one remark; you say this lens is completing the line up of classic portraiture lenses, but I still miss a 70mm (or 105mm in 35mm format). I hope that Fuji thinks of this beauty too

  2. Great review, thanks Jonas. I feel a little worried for my bank account right now. This lens and the 16/1.4 would be a nice extra for my current (small) lineup (35/1.4 only… yet). But nice to see you are having fun with all the nice Fuji stuff that you get fron Fuji Nordic 🙂

    1. Hahaha. Tell me about it. The only downside to borrowing and reviewing all this hot equipment, is that I have to return it, and then I’m hooked, and my extreme Gear Acquisition Syndrome sets in. First world problems galore! 😀
      Thank you for stopping by and reading Stephan!

  3. Wow..that’s a lens that I’d like to have if I had anything other than the X100T to mount it to! 🙂

    Amazing.

  4. Great article! If your article didn’t convince me to get this lens, your images certainly did. Gorgeous shots! And I was getting ready to pull the trigger on the 56mm 1.2, but then read this. Dang! Thanks a lot for making my gear acquisition syndrome come back.

  5. Judging by your conclusion, I guess you prefer this new lens over the 56 1.2…? Looks fantastic!

    1. Hi Wiggo. It depends. I find it large. For my daily usage I would use the 56mm. But I will end up buying this. If only for those rare occasions where I need to do portrature. It simply is an amazing lens. Thank you for reading.

  6. Great review Jonas!
    Makes me glad that I’ve pre-ordered it, even though I’m not a portrait guy and definitely don’t really ‘need’ it!

  7. Stanning images Mr. Rask I admire your talent! Your images and your review convinced me to get back into photography. Thanks!!!

    1. Hi Ken. Thank you very much. I tried to get as much out of my 3 days with it as possible. And GAS is quite the persistent dissease 😀

  8. I was looking for a reason to sell my remaining 135L and 5d3 body and now you’ve given me one. Thanks for the review!

  9. Shit, I only just bought my X-T1 with the 14, 23 and 35mm and I don’t shoot portraits. Ever. But I still want this lens.

  10. I think the newer 90mm Asph APO F/2 Summicron would do much better then the 90mm Leica you used, I owe bought Leica (film) and Fuji digital XT-1. I think Fujilens are some of the best glass around. But I love my Leica lens also.

  11. (Sorry for my English)
    I really like your website, I am looking for my next lens for my X-E2 (already have the 18-55mm kit + (thanks to you) the Voigtlander 40mm f/1.4).
    I will have my first child in a few months and I don’t know which lens to choose for “baby shooting”, 56mm f/1.2, 16-55mm f/2.8, 90mm f/2 ????

    Great review of the 90mm!!!

    Pffff it’s really hard to make a choice because your samples are always perfect with any lens! 🙂

  12. Pingback: 90mm… 90mm… |
  13. I’m considering this to use for shooting indoor sporting activities (basketball, volleyball), as I find the 55-200 to be too slow for those situations. Can you comment on the autofocus speed in relation to moving objects? Thanks much, and great review!

  14. Lovely photographs, covering street, portraits, scenery and macro…! Bookmarking noW! 🙂

    Happy shooting..
    wish to get on this 90mm beast!! Eee!! 😛

  15. Hi Jonas, Lovely lovely pictures.
    I just ordered a XT1, partly inspired by your reviews. My mind had already been made a few months back but then your reviews of XT1 and the lenses helped seal the deal. Well, actually, I’ll be receiving the kit in a couple of days.

    I have gotten the 10-24 F4 lens along with the body to begin with. Primarily because there were some nice discounts on them. My plan was to use the kit on tour of European cities and use it for architecture, street, and a bit of portraiture. Which other lens should I go for. I had originally planned on the 10-24 and the 35 but dropped 35 coz of lack of funds right now. I will get one more lens before the trip. Which one would you recommend for my needs: 35, 56, or the 90? These are the 3 options I have which fit in my budget as well. 50 – 140 is out coz of that plus weight. Ideally, I would get all three. Maybe someday soon. But I will have to choose 1 for the trip. What would you recommend?

  16. Hello Jonas, love your review! I was wondering, maybe a bit late for such a question, but did your 90mm have a “lose sound” when the lens was off the camera and turned upside down/moved about?

  17. thanks alot i wanna buy it write now so exited !!

    i will upgrade form my fujixe1 to fuji xt10
    i will upgrade my lens xf60mm and x18-55mm to his amazing lens xf90mm

    any recommendation ARE THE FUJIXT10 DESERVE to buy and upgrade my old fuji xe1 !!

    please advise my i hide some money fot this so i did wanna to lose it

    i trust ur reviews

    1. Hi Fatma. The XT10 is a great upgrade from the X-E1, but it might be too small for the rather large 90mm. I would go with the XT1 instead 🙂

      /Jonas

  18. Hi Jonas,I bought the 90mm at Photografica last week and seem to be having problems with nailing the focus. My
    camera is the X-E2 and no matter what shooting mode I use only half of the shots seem to be sharp. When using
    shutter mode I put the speed on 1/500, so no camera shake there! If I use Aperture mode and start with f/4 working
    my way up to f/8-11 the results are still the same, only 50% sharp. I’ve also tried back-button focusing where the
    focusing felt is larger than normal, plus I’ve reduced the size with the command dial. Hopefully you can help me in
    my dilemma. Regards Alan Thomas.

    1. Hi Allan.

      Sounds like you have a dodged copy. I would get it checked over at Photografica. They will get in touch with Fujifilm Nordic for a solution. It’s NOT how this lens should perform. Make sure you bring them some examples.

      /Jonas

  19. help —- i sold my D800 with alot of gear.. u can see my work at http://www.Aztian.dk

    but i was looking to get the 35mm or 56 or 90mm i am normal use to FX but after reading this i am more into 90mm in anything. 35 is like 50mm in FX and 56 is like 85. in FX but i like the 50mm in FX but i am portrait photografer for the most and i take walks on the street when i am bord .. can anyone help me out! 😮

    1. Wow! I think I may just get this lens. I just sold all my Nikon gear and so far the only thing I miss is the TTL and Creative lighting with advantages. I have the 18 mm, 60 mm ,and the 18-135 mm. I am considering selling back the 60 as it is really slow. So like you I am somewhat confused as to what to keep. I would like to get as many water resistance lenses as possible so the 90 seems like a really great choice.

    1. Hi man. Two completely different beasts! I wouldn’t trade my 35mm for the 90mm, but that is simply because I donut shoot much portraiture to begin with 🙂 – If I did, I wouldn’t hesitate a trade. /J

  20. I am a fan of fashion photography and I’ve been contemplating on to what lens to start with my Xt-1.. And there you go, just showed everything in detail. I will entrust my decision from your review… *wink

  21. The reason I switched to Fuji is this lens. I am a portrait photographer (not by profession) who used to have a 135mm on a full frame setup. I loved when Fuji announced the arrival of this lens and when I finally tested it. It was a bliss 🙂

  22. Excellent write up.
    I just asked my wife to choose a pic from two and guess what? She picked the one on left! She is non technical and not a camera user.
    Please keep up.

  23. Tha thanks for the review, Jonas. I’m curious to know under what conditions you most often use this lens now that you’ve been shooting with it for a while. Seems like it’s really meant for bright days and fast shutter speeds. I don’t have the steadiest hands, and I’m leaning towards picking up the 50-140 for my serious portrait work over this combined with the 56 – for now. I’m curious to know what the slowest shutter speed is that you can handhold this at? Do you have any other advice I should consider about these three lenses?

  24. Any thoughts on the omission of OIS? That’s more “is it missing it?” than “why Fuji didn’t..”

  25. Thanks for the great review of the 56 F1.2 and 90 F2! Impressive shots, well done.

    Which lens would you finally recommend for portraiture and some landscape work? I look for shallow DOF, great bokeh an IQ.

    This would be in addition to a 35 F2 (street and portraiture) and 10-24 F4 (for travell and landscape). Thanks for your advice.

    Urs

  26. Dear Jonas. I have come across two or three postings of yours before and each has left me with the the impression you do not show the equipment on review to its best advantage. Curiosity took hold of me to see if your Photographs had changed, that is, showing the lens or cameras on review with what they can really produce. But once again I notice your ‘Arty’ or personal style steal the show and I fail to see the point you are trying to make. Your photographs certainly do not indicate the potential for the photographic equipment you spruke. Try drawing or painting.
    Yours respectfully Juri Runcis.

  27. I really enjoy your reviews. I love my x100 and x70 and now I’m ready to ditch my Sony A7ii for the X-T2, the 90mm is one of the lenses I’m picking up. Im interested in getting an extension tube as well. Does the MCEX-11 or MCEX-16 give you closer focus? I want as much reach as I can. Why did you select the 11? Do you know if the image quality is better on one of them compared to the other?
    Thanks!

  28. I bought the xf90mm based heavily on your review. The image quality is superb. Couldn’t be happier. I am concerned about the clunk sound that happens while I walk, turn the cameral on/off, or playback an image, but not enough to give up the lens. I just hope it doesn’t cause problems.

  29. just acquired the xf 90 f2… you’re right on all counts… upon acquiring and took initial pixes…
    this is what photography’s about…asides a great lens

  30. HI Jonas,

    I have a Minolta CLE and an XPRo2, is it worth buying the Leica 90mm F/2 you previously reviewed over the Fuji? I don’t need the AF. I just want to know if it’s that much of a loss to go with the Leica (as to have the option of also shooting 90mm with film.) with respect to image quality. I’d be paying ~800$ (though the 90 f2 Fuji goes on sale occasionally for 749$)

    Thanks

    -Tushar

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  32. Really beautiful pictures. My 56mm is my main lens because frankly I have not used a better lens and didn’t think a lens can be better, guess until I saw what people are saying about the 90mm. These gorgeous pictures on your blog, especially the beautiful close-ups, convinced me to satisfy my GAS.

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