Natural Light Fujinon XF56mm f1.2 Portrait

Despite moaning that I find the XF56mm f1.2 a little long for easy use in cramped Japan, I really do love the results. Here’s one more, from a set taken for this year’s nengajo (New Year cards).





Fujinon XF56mm f1.2 and XF16-55mm f2.8 Bokeh Comparison

Following along from yesterday’s post, here are four photographs, in two sets of two. Each set has one photo with the 56mm f1.2 and one with the XF 15-55mm f2.8, in that order. All are wide open, and the XF16-55mm is at 55mm.

Not overly rigorous in execution, but it does give you an idea of what to expect with a headshot and a background around 90 – 100 cm away. It’s the kind of thing I would be interested in, so hopefully some will find it useful.

_DSF0035 _DSF0025

Bear in mind too, these are children’s heads filling much of the frame, so the shots are reasonably close / tight.

_DSF0047 _DSF0048 All arrived at via Capture One Pro, Lightroom & some VSCO tweaking.

Fujinon XF56 f1.2 vs XF16-55 f2.8 – Yuzu and Mikans

So, on a paying job yesterday, along with my X100s & TCL-X100, I took out a Fujifilm X-T1 and two Fujinon X-Mount lenses, one a prime and the other a zoom.

To get the mouthful out of the way, the lenses were the Fujinon XF56mm F1.2 R and the XF16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR.*

I have written before how I love the 56mm, for its beautiful rendering and its narrow depth of field and smooth bokeh. I stand by that. I also stand by my previous observation that, in places without much room to move, like much of Japan, it can often be too long.

Tight head-shots never seem to be a problem, but pull back for shoulders or more, and you often end up out of room. Again I kept bumping into things or running the risk of falling off things.

And that’s where the 16-55mm f2.8 proved itself. The flexibility of focal length and reasonably fast and constant through the range f2.8 where a real winning combination. This lens gives a fairly wide angle right through to a classically nice portrait focal length. A very useful and practical range. I think the 56mm f1.2 gives better portraits, but only because it can squeeze that extra bit of isolation out of a scene. In terms of daily flexibility, the zoom wins.

If I where in the need of a fast X-Mount portrait lens today, I really don’t know which I would buy. My heart goes with the 56mm f1.2, but the thinking part of my brain says 16-55mm f2.8.

See, you can compare apples and oranges, or in the case, yuzu and mikan. Both photos below with the 56mm f1.2. First at f5 and second at f1.2. Don’t worry, more practical photos to come.

_DSF0186 _DSF0191

* 84mm equivalent and 24-82.5mm equivalent

Along For The Ride – the XF 16 – 55mm f2.8

As well as taking an X-T1 & XF 56mm f1.2 R out today, I took along one of the new-ish XF 16 – 55mm f2.8 R LM WR lenses. Still on my way home, so nothing to say about the results yet, but it was very good to work with. Smooth, fluid, fast and hassle free.

Depending on the visual results, the question now would be, how much extra out of focus-ness does the difference in stops give, because the 16 – 55mm was just so versatile.

Stay tuned.

Why I’m Buying Neither A Fujifilm X-T1 Nor A 56mm f1.2: A Mini Review

Recently I had the use of an X-T1 and XF 56mm f1.2R lens for two days. I even shot a portrait session on the first day with it, in conjunction with my X100s. 

You shouldn’t really walk into a portrait session with a paying client and try to use a camera you’ve only had in your hands for 30 minutes or so. But I did. And it was fine.

Now, while I am a primate, I’m not the kind of monkey that spends all day picking nits, so I’m not going to go into those often very personal things that also often don’t really matter. The fundamental point I learnt is, you can pick this camera up and get on with it. End of story. So, now for the middle.

What I liked about the X-T1 – just about everything. I didn’t make use of any feature not also found on my X100s, so I can’t speak to those. It worked just fine for the most part. Kinda like a big brother of the X100s, so nothing much to say there really.

That big viewfinder screen is totally, absolutely, completely, utterly, freaking delicious. So much so that it deserves this paragraph all on its own.

The only thing that gave me pause was that old bug bear, focus. Occasionally it had a little trouble locking on. When it happened, it was mildly frustrating. It didn’t overly bother me, just as it doesn’t on the X100s, but if someone was coming from the blindingly fast responsiveness of a mid to upper end modern dSLR, then I can imagine it might be quite annoying. I do though, suspect that a lot of this hinges on the photographer’s personality.*

I also had some focus issues with the 56mm f1.2 lens, but simply because I was insisting on using it with as narrow a depth of field as possible. At times I was squeezing it down too far for the specifics of the situation. That really comes down to experience and practice – neither of which I had going in. Common sense too, which I also apparently lack.

However, as much as I like the stunning results, not to mention the ability to throw the background further out of focus, I’m not going to buy the lens. That negates the body too. Why though, since they would seem natural choices, given that I spend so much of my time doing portraiture? _DSF0055 1

Space. That’s the main reason. Japan doesn’t have a lot of it to spare and I found myself constantly bumping into things as I backed up to frame. It became both frustrating and annoying. Not really the lens’ fault, just the situation.

This happened in all the places I used for the portrait session; the hotel room, the hotel lobby, on the street and even, surprisingly, in the park. It also happened the next day at my home, where I also do a lot of portrait work. It really caught me out, as I didn’t anticipate this being an issue at all – it never even entered my wildest dreams that it might be.

That’s it really. Not much else to say. Being a rangefinder orientated kind of person, I’m expecting to get all excited and tempted by the X-Pro2, if and when it turns up. That will probably lead me to reconsider the 56mm again too, as it really does give sweet results.
We’ll see…


*It is easy to find comments of the likes of “I need a camera that responds super fast / I can’t deal with a camera this slow / for my work I need a camera that focuses faster than this / etc.” To which, I typically think ‘really?’ along with ‘get over yourself.’ It’s not the speed that bothers me – after all, when I came of photographic age, I had to manually focus and wind film on. It’s more that I expect something is about to happen and it doesn’t. It’s a subtle distinction, and I’m not sure I’m making it effectively. So, following Homer Simpson’s sage advice, I’ll just give up.

World’s Briefest Fujinon XF 56mm f1.2 Review

Right lens, wrong country.*

When I shot film with rangefinders, I basically had two lenses** – a 35mm for in Japan, where the space is tighter and generally more limited, and a 50mm which I tended to use in the countryside or overseas.***

I did a portrait session today using a Fujifilm X-T1 body and Fujinon XF 56mm f1.2 lens. I’ll go into more detail later, when I have the time (awfully busy from today onwards for several weeks).

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However, the take home was – love the lens, but indoors and even out, I kept backing up into things and running out of space.

S’all for now. Later or sooner, I’ll be back.

* I was going to end it there, hence the title. However…

** not really. I had four – also a 25mm and an 85mm, but seldom used either

*** can you see now why I think the X100(s/t) and TXL-X100 are the best-est ever-est?