Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 macro review – Closer to completion

Sometimes you just experience something that exceeds all your expectations in every possible aspect. The new Fujinon XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM WR OIS Macro is exactly one of those experiences. I still can’t believe just how good and versatile this lens is. This is so much more than just a lens for shooting macro.

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X-T2 – XF80mm f/2.8

I’ve gotten quite used to the great quality of X series lenses, and during the past couple of years, the added weather sealing and fast AF is making these lenses great tools for the working photographer. The range of lenses is also quite complete, but the macro photographers have had to make due with the XF60mm f/2.4 and extension tubes if they wanted to achieve true 1:1 magnification type macro shots.
With the XF80mm f/2.8 Fujifilm adresses the macro photographers, but they also included all the knowledge of the past 3 years of designing the great X-series lenses into this lens. You can even use the tele converters with this lens, to further enhance its functionality.
Image Quality is nothing less than superb, it has fast autofocus when shooting sports, portraits and general photography, it has weather sealing for ultimate outdoor shooting comfort, and it has a true 1:1 macro function. It even has optical image stabilisation!
I’m not kidding when I say that this lens might be the best lens that Fujifilm has yet made for the X-series system!

Technical stuff

The lens itself is built as a 16 element in 12 groups construction. Within this load of elements there are 3 Low dispersion elements, one “super low dispersion” element (It has something to do with minimising aberrations, but why it’s “super” I don’t know 😛 ), one aspherical element and a floating focus system.

The XF 80mm f/2.8 focuses in two groups. The front focus group and rear focus group. The focus group in use is dependent on distance from subject. Hence you also have a focus limiter switch on the barrel. You can focus full range, from 0,25 – 0,5m and from 0,5m – infinity. The focus groups are held in place and move relative to each other using small ceramic balls in a slide. This ensures that they always focus without any focus shift. Fujifilm also include optical image stabilisation which I found fantastic for added stability when shooting freehand closeups and portraits where I had to dial down the aperture for added DOF.

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X-Pro2 – XF80mm f/2.8 + TC-1.4x

The focus is really fast and precise thanks to linear focus motors. These motors are also used in the 90mm f/2, 50-140mm f/2.8 and the likes, so if you have tried these lenses you know what to expect.
I used this lens for motorsports, kids soccer and street photography. And the autofocus never ever failed. It just locked on no matter what I did!
The linear motor is great for the larger type lenses, and as you can probably guess just by looking at all the crazy stuff included in this lens, it’s not exactly the smallest lens in the Fujifilm line up.

Size and build

The XF 80mm f/2.8 prototype lens was already shown back at photokina in 2016, and the size and build have not been altered much. Hence it it quite large. It’s 13cm long and 8cm in diameter, and it weighs approx 750g.
If compared with the XF90mm f/2 which is 7,5cm in diameter and 10,5 cm long you get a good idea of its size. I definitely found this lens to balance best on the XT2 with the battery grip in place. For the smaller X-series cameras this lens will seem rather large. It is what it is. I would have loved for it to be smaller, but look at the technical specs above, cross reference that with general physics, and you’ll know why this thing can’t be made any smaller. So if you want smaller macro in the X-series, you already have the XF60mm which is quite small.

Build of the lens is great. It’s built in metal, has metal mount, physical aperture ring and smooth focusing ring. In build quality  its closest lens-sibling is the XF50-140mm f/2.8, and if the XF80mm f/2.8 was a zoom lens it would surely have the red label of the other pro-series Fujinon lenses. The aperture clicks in 3rd stop increments from f/2.8 to f/22. It has a 9 rounded blades aperture diaphragm.

Image Quality

Disclaimer. The lens I used for testing was an early prototype lens, and image quality might not be final, but unless Fujifilm has a contract with the image-quality-gods there isn’t really any more magic that can be sprinkled onto the lens. So IQ is probably final. 

Disclaimer II: I’m an official X-photographer. My views are most likely as biased as they come. This being said, I’m an open and honest guy and I speak my opinions. Whether you believe my views of this lens or not, at least you get to see some images from Denmark 😛 

This is what it’s all about, right? Image Quality! I know I say this in most of my reviews, but it’s because it really rings quite true.
The Fujinon lens image quality is straight up amazing!
They have a very solid track record when it comes to creating fantastic lenses for the X-series. In my opinion they have only made a few sub-par lenses.

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X-T2 – XF80mm f/2.8

The XF80mm f/2.8 is at the very top of the line in image quality for the X-series. When shooting and looking at my files there have been times when I thought it was a GFX image, when in reality it was an X series image.
When looking at image quality within the X-series system, I always hold the XF 90mm f/2 as a benchmark lens. The 90mm is simply the best lens in the system. But it is also lacking in some key areas. It has no OIS, and it has a somewhat slower focus than some of the other lenses.
If you look at the complete package that the XF80mm f/2.8 entails, it is already way ahead of the XF90mm in specs. But how about with the image quality?
No, the bokeh of the XF80mm is not as well controlled as on the XF90mm in the corners. You will have some cat eye / swirly effects wide open, but the bokeh is much smoother with the XF80mm than with the 90mm.

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X-T2 – XF80mm f/2.8

The transition from focus to out of focus areas is just gorgeous. Nice and fluid. It looks great when doing portraits. And speaking of portraits, if you’re worried that you won’t get a narrow DOF when shooting this lens, just remember that you can get much much closer to your subject, so when doing a headshot you can easily blur everything but the eyes and nose. I really found this lens great for doing portraits.

Sharpness is incredible. Simply unbelievable. I definitely think it’s the sharpest lens for the X-series. I don’t know what the charts say, and I don’t really care. From shooting this lens extensively I can tell you that it’s so very, very sharp. It doesn’t matter if you’re focusing at minimum focus distance, at infinity or anywhere in between. This. Lens. Is. So. Sharp!

(did I mention how sharp this lens is? 😛 )

Macro

Even though I’m not a macro shooter (at all!) I think it’s probably best if I talk a little bit about the lens in this context. For macro shooting your minimum focusing distance is 25cm. You can attach either the TC-2x or TC-1.4x tele converter to get extra reach (at the cost of f-stops) – You can also use the MCEX-11 or MCEX-16 extension tubes for even closer focusing.
At these distances the DOF is so narrow that I often had to shoot at f/11. At these apertures the OIS is heaven sent for keeping the ISO and shutter speed down while avoiding shaky images. I would LOVE for Fujifilm to include a focus stacking function like Olympus has in some of their cameras!

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X-T2 – XF80mm f/2.8
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100% crop – X-T2 – XF80mm f/2.8

The fast and precise focus engine is quite handy when trying to capture live insects in the field, and I got waaaaaaay more keepers with the XF80mm f/2.8 than I usually get with my XF60mm f/2.4.

Apart from insects and flowers, I often use a macro lens for detail shots of the cameras when I do packshots and editorials for Fujifilm-X.com. In this setting, the fast and precise focus is heaven sent.

Closing arguments

The XF80mm f/2.8 R WR LM OIS Macro is in my opinion the best lens Fujifilm has ever made for the X-series. It’s sharp, it has great bokeh, it has OIS, it has fast autofocus, it has focus limiter and it does 1:1 macro. This lens has it all, and as a result it is very very versatile! The only downside is the physical size, but that simply can not be avoided with all these functions included in a mid-range telephoto lens!

Samples

All the samples below have been postprocessed to some extent. If you want straight out of camera jpeg samples, there are other sites out there for that. With the samples I tried to show how versatile this lens is, so make sure to view the images in the gallery and click them for full size. The quality of this lens is staggering.