THE XF 90mm F2 – THE MUST-HAVE COMPANION FOR A PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER
Those of you who are familiar with our approach to photography know that our bag contains the XF 14mm F2.8 lens, XF 35mm F1.4 and XF 56mm F1.2 along with the second camera/lens – the Fuji X100S. This setup not only contains one of the finest XF lenses with but also covers 99% of our needs.
Despite our excellent travelling companions, over the last year or so we have been on assignments to photograph people, which required a different approach. There were occasions when we found we could use a bit more compression or a more detailed perspective in our portraits, which only a longer focal length could provide. To fill this gap we have reached on several occasions for the excellent XF 50-140 F2.8 lens. However, we had two problems with this lens. First, it was way too heavy for our liking. Second, the separation of the subject from the background was not as smooth as we wanted. We knew that there was a place for one more lens in our bag – light but well built, turning out photos that were sharp but with a dreamy look.
Therefore, when Fujifilm announced the XF 90mm F2 lens, it immediately grabbed our attention. No, it wasn’t a “let’s get it now” type of reaction! It was rather “let’s see whether Fuji delivers another exceptional lens or succumbs to the ‘it will sell anyway’ mentality.”
While evaluating this lens we asked ourselves some questions: Would this focal length allow us to convey the personality of the subject differently from the XF 56mm F1.2? Would it complement the XF 56mm F1.2 in any way? Would this lens help to peel away the layer of distance and reservation between our subject and us? Finally, would it meet our stringent technical requirements for sharpness, micro-contrast, creamy bokeh, etc?
Here is what we found out:
- The XF 90mm F2 offers a more compressed view than the XF 56mm F1.2, allowing for a different look.
- The 90mm focal length (135 in FF terms) permits us to get out of the way of the subject, so we can observe and shoot from a distance.
- Like the XF 56mm F1.2, the 90mm allows for creative play with the bokeh.
- When shooting wide-open, the bokeh is creamy and pleasing to the eye.
- A precise focus is required while shooting wide-open.
- Edge transitions are gorgeous and ceaseless, allowing for dreamy look.
- The micro-contrast is nicely balanced for portraiture work.
- The sharpness is top notch and on a par with the XF 56mm F1.2 and XF 35mm F1.4.
- Autofocus works much better with the latest update. We played with a face/eye detection function and found it sometimes takes a bit longer than we would like before it locks. We will write more about this in our upcoming posts.
- The lens is well balanced on the Fuji X-T1 with the battery pack. It is heavier than the XF 56mm F1.2 but we didn’t feel tired after a few hours of shooting (the XF 50-140 F2.8 was way too heavy for us).
- The build is excellent and on a par with other XF lenses.
- With Fujifilm’s film simulations, which are tuned to photographing people (beautiful skin tones), the XF 90mm is a great fit.
In wrapping up, we view the XF 90mm F2 as a companion lens for the XF 56mm F1.2. When photographing children and couples with the XF 56mm F1.2 we often needed a slightly more compressed view – this is where the XF 90mm comes in. This new lens is technically superb but most importantly it allows you to convey your subject in a more intimate and pleasing way.
We are adding the XF90mm F2 to our bag as our fourth lens.
Images – Fuji X-T1, mostly JPEGs – straight from the camera, Astia film simulation.
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