The New Standard: 56mm

December 02, 2014  •  Leave a Comment
I am a wide angle guy. Period.
My favorite FOV is more wide than narrow. When I'm picking up a camera, wider lens is always priority. But... When I decide to go longer it is usually normal lens or standard portrait lens.
So what is the exact focal length "number", someone might ask? It all get confusing when you start hopping  from full frame to APS-c and back. But, I won't elaborate or explain about it here.

 This is just another hymn to great lens that Fujifilm made: 56mm/1.2.

My Fuji X kit started recently, see my initial story here. And all of the lenses I got were primes, with the longest lens as 35mm. Than, I felt a need for a portrait focal length and being budget conscious decided to go for Kijiji based great deal on 60mm. I got that one. Like NIB.  Great optical quality. Great files. Great for MACRO. I used this lens few times, but I was left wanting more.Too slow focusing. Too much hunting when focusing. And the biggest "issue" was that I was missing that stop and a change from 2.4 to 1.4 when I was pairing it up with my other Fuji primes (35 and 23) that I use for shoots like this one displayed bellow.  Why having fast (and good) lenses and not shoot wide open when you need/want? Shooting with two xpro1 bodies on a assignment and going back and forth between two, if one body is a stop "slower" than the other, something had to be done.

Of course, 56mm was the obvious choice. I sold my 60mm back on Kijiji with in days for the same great price I got it for, and went for the discounted price of Fuji's November promotion here in Canada. Yes, it was hard to "swallow" the price even with the discount, but a promise of such a fast lens (the fastest since my days with EOS and 85/1.2...) helped with the pain. 

This lens handling is better than that of EOS 85/1.2. Not just the shear size difference. But this lens focuses faster, hunts less. And the results were gorgeous. Keeper after keeper. I find focusing system in my ancient x-pro1 way more usable than my ex EOS or my current Nikon D800. I am afraid even to mention my previous rangefinder type of camera that had manual focus only and optical viewfinder and while very exotic piece of gear suffered greatly of back and front focus with high speed lenses when shooting wide open or close to it (one would never be sure if it is a short coming of archaic film era optics, wrong fine tuning of incompatible lens and body by manufacturer and repair service, or operator person?). Again, for what and how I shoot I find this combo far more successful in amount of usable frames when looking at focus accuracy. And I don't care if  it's because smaller camera sensor, pure optic and physics of it. Doesn't matter! I care when I open the file, what do I see on my computer screen. Simple...

My first shoot was with live subject, indoors. Working with mix of low available light and artificial sources (diva type Cine lights and classic tungsten "hot" lights), working f-stop was 1.2-1.8 range. Focusing points were all over the available diagram of selectable points in x-pro1 viewfinder. No problems! For framing accuracy and speed of shooting I used evf instead my usual choice of ovf. 

Quick review of the work done, shows great results. This great portrait lens paired with relatively old mirrorless Fuji X camera delivered exactly what I expected and more. This was a TFCD type of shoot, but I feel confident just after one "test drive" to use this combination for any upcoming professional assignment or stock shoot.

Out of focus areas of the image show beautiful bokeh as expected, while focused points of the subject show that now famous Fuji definition. Shooting in relatively low light general set up in studio like conditions, there was little focus hunting (far less then with 60mm) and closest focusing distance never was an issue with the style of shoot I was doing. I belong to "old school" of "crop and compose before you press the button" so all images displayed here are as they were captured. The only cropping adjustment I do sometimes is to strait up the verticals or horizontals if I made that mistake while I was passionately concentrating to subject in front of me rather then the edge of the wall or bed post. 

All files were processed in Lightroom with help of VSCO plug ins as a starting point. 

The only gripe I have with 56mm is the hood it comes with. It is still in the original plastic bag in original lens box. It will stay there. I opted for eBay 62mm vented hood and  UV filter (yes, I am one of those who puts UV filter on every lens I own). This way I can pack lens better and hood can stay on the lens at all times. I use the same type of hood on my 23mm. Oh, and it does look much cooler than that OEM plastic crap (even if it "hoods" less flare).

My Fuji kit is now complete. I have no need for any other focal length or zoom (but I will NOT turn down any generous donations from Fuji Canada!). With this last glass, I am TOTALLY sold on this system.

Enjoy the images. Until next time...




































Captured in Toronto, Canada. November 2014. Images displayed are from one of the two X-pro1 cameras + Fuji XF 56mm F1.2 lens.



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