Fujifilm's XF 50mm f/2 WR is the third addition in the series that have affectionately become known as the "Fujichrons." These are compact, lightweight, weather resistant, and have extremely fast autofocus. Made up of nine elements in seven groups, and formed in Fujifilm's classicly-styled telescoping design, it is another diminutive lens that should appeal to X-Pro shooters and anyone looking for a tiny addition to their bag. Comparisons may be drawn to the other lenses in this series, and of course the daddy of X System portrait lenses, the 56mm f/1.2. Let's take a look at this lens and then see how it fits into the Fuji line.
Size and Weight
Weighing a mere 200 grams, the 50mm f/2 WR feels almost back heavy on the heavier bodies like the X-T2 and X-Pro2. However, it is long enough that you can get a grip on both the lens and body with your left hand, where it sits comfortably and balances well.
I have found that I actually prefer this lens on the heftier X-Pro2 rather than the X-T2. It seems to fit the body more comfortably.
As with all Fujifilm X lenses, the construction is excellent. As the lens gets both the XF and WR designations, you can be assured that it is well constructed, feels solid, and will withstand a few splashes.
The focus ring is Fujifilm's typical ridged metal design, and turns easily. The focus throw is quite long for a tiny lens like this, making it quite easy to manual focus. The aperture ring has solid clicks that are reminiscent of the 90mm f/2 WR, but with slightly less resistance. These are much easier to feel your way through than many other Fujifilm lenses.
The only thing that feels quite tacky about this lens is the plastic lens hood. The metal hood that comes with the 35mm is much nicer and completes the overall package a lot better.
One more small thing that is annoying, but not a deal breaker: the filter thread. Both the 23mm and 35mm in this series have 43mm filter threads. The 50mm has a 46mm thread. This means that if you're a filter user, you'll either need to invest in yet another step-up ring or another set of filters.
This is where this series of lenses really shines. The 23mm f/2 WR and and 35mm f/2 WR have both had some of the best autofocus performance on the Fuji X System, and the 50mm f/2 is on par, if not faster. In good light, you will see focusing that outperforms some DSLR lenses. Tested against my Nikkor 58mm f/1.4 on the D750, I couldn't notice any difference in focusing speed. If anything, the Fujifilm was a touch faster. You can see videos of those compared through the viewfinder in my article from last week.
As with all Fujifilm lenses, the 50mm f/2 WR does hunt a little before reaching critical focus, but in good light, it is so fast you can barely see it. As you enter low contrast or dimmer situations, you will start to see the lens hunting quite significantly. I have found that indoors it can take around half a second to reach critical focus if you are not in a high contrast situation.
I have also tested it quite a bit for shooting street around Seoul, and it performs excellently. During my experiments, I had the camera set to zone tracking mode, which performed excellently with this new lens. With both myself and my subjects moving, I am able to get around 70-80 percent in-focus images. If I am stopped and my subjects are moving, that number is only limited by human error. The lens performs excellently.
The autofocus motor is extremely quick, but also very quiet. To my ear, it sounds barely louder than the 35mm f/2 WR, which is all but silent. The first time actually noticed the sound was when photographing a sleeping baby. Until that time, I wasn't aware that it made any noise at all. You can be sure that nobody around you will hear the sound at all.
All in all, it is still one of the fastest and quietest on the Fujifilm X System. It is especially good when paired with a new X-Trans III body like the X-Pro2, X-T2, or the brand new X-T20.
In a word: "wow." The images that come out of this lens are sharp, contrasty, and have smooth out of focus areas. In my testing, it was equally as sharp as the 35mm f/2, and sharper than the 56mm f/1.2 at f/2. Edge-to-edge performance seems to be excellent in my tests. Even the corners look quite good wide open, and excellent by f/2.8.
The bokeh is pleasing, with no nervous edges or tearing. With the lens' minimum focus distance at 39 centimeters, it also allows for some extremely narrow depth of field, even with the maximum aperture of f/2. This is significantly closer than its big brother, the 56mm, which focuses only down to 70 centimeters.
The Focal Length
I, like many others it would seem, was a bit confused by the 50mm focal length. This would be approximately 76mm on a full-frame 35mm sensor, which is not a common focal length for a prime lens. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it fit right into my shooting style and fixed a problem I didn't know I had.
Fitting squarely between the 35mm and 56mm lenses for me in use, I have come to really love this lens. So far, I have used it at a corporate event, a couple of food shoots, a portrait session, and as a walk around. In all cases, it has been an adequate focal length for a good portion of my shooting.
Versus the 56mm f/1.2
Here is where it seems everyone is trying to draw a comparison. The 50mm at first glance might seem like a cheaper, smaller, lighter version of the 56mm, but this simply isn't the case. The rendering is quite different to the 56mm, especially in the out of focus areas. The other big difference is in the focal length, which actually feels like a larger difference than the numbers would suggest.
The focal length means that you do need to be quite a bit closer to your subjects in order to keep them the same size as the 56mm, but the 50mm focuses so close that you can actually reproduce subjects larger than you can with the 56mm. This should be evident in the food shot above, which would be impossible without cropping if you use the 56mm.
In terms of out of focus areas, the 50mm is not capable of completely obliterating the background like the 56mm is, but still provides some excellent separation and pleasing bokeh. Check the samples below for yourself to decide which suits your needs. You can also examine the change in field of view through these images.
The 50mm beats the 56mm hands down in terms of sharpness and contrast. Although this may not be what you want if you are looking at a flattering portrait lens, the 50mm is sharper and much more contrasty than the 56mm. Personally, for a portrait, I prefer the fall off and slight softness from the 56mm, but the 50mm is a great all-rounder.
All of this considered, the two are very different lenses with different roles in your bag. If I'm looking for a dreamy portrait, I'm still going to pack the 56mm f/1.2. However, if it's a run and gun situation that needs great autofocus and great image quality, the 50mm will take its place in my bag. Not to mention, it's weather resistant.
What I Liked
- Great build quality
- Outstanding image quality
- Minimum focus distance
What I Didn't Like
- Lens hood
- Filter thread size
Fujifilm have really hit the mark again with this latest offering. It is sharp, fast, and lightweight. If you're looking for an all-round lens that is a little longer than the 35mm f/2, I would highly recommend it. For a pure portrait lens, I would still choose between the 56mm and the 90mm, but this will certainly serve in a pinch. It's minimum focus distance makes it an excellent lens for close-up (non-macro) photography, as well. It is all excellent general purpose lens. Without hesitation, I would recommend you grab yourself one if you're considering it.