Fujifilm continues to wow us with each new lens, and their latest release, the $1,199 XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro lens, is no exception. I’ve been shooting with the XF 80mm now since its release, and I have to admit it’s only come off my Fujifilm X-T2 once. I don't claim to be a fabulous macro photographer, but I believe this lens has a home in most photographers bag. My beloved XF 50-140mm has, for now at least, taken a back seat to the smaller, amazingly versatile XF 80mm.
The 80mm on a cropped sensor is equivalent to 120mm, which is ideal for a variety of shooting environments. As I eluded to earlier, I'm not a macro shooter, however the 120mm makes for a wonderful portrait lens. When I made the transition from Nikon to Fujifilm, the one lens I did not want to part with was the 105mm Macro. With its 1:1 ratio, beautiful bokeh, and awesome handling, it was my go-to lens for portraits. Reluctantly, I sold it with the rest of my kit several years ago, and I have been waiting patiently for the XF 80mm. The wait was worth it, as I finally have a 1:1 ratio macro lens for my Fuji kit that can go toe to toe with my beloved Nikon 105mm.
Between the nearly five stops of optical image stabilization (OIS) and the max aperture of f/2.8, a tripod isn't necessarily needed in most cases when shooting in a more macro environment. The lens easily focuses on subjects at approximately 10 inches, however to be exact per Fuji the minimum focus distance is 9.84 inches. I've been super impressed with the focus speeds with this lens. Utilizing the focus range limiter really helps the lens not hunt for focus, however on a few occasions the lens would in fact hunt to lock on. This ended up being user error though as I had the focus range limiter set to minimum distances to help with focusing speeds. I have photographed in several dimly lit areas with low contrast and the XF 80mm nailed the focus every time. Comparing the lens' autofocus speeds to other X-mount lenses, I wouldn't say its the fastest. The XF 50-140mm focuses a bit faster, however compared to the Nikon 105mm or Canon 100mm this lens definitely wins in terms of focusing speed.
Fuji’s lenses have always been able to produce razor sharp images, but the XF 80mm has to be their sharpest lens to date in my opinion. The details and micro-contrast are rendered out beautifully in images with this lens. Like many macro lenses, you need to stop down in order to have more of your subject in focus due to the extremely narrow depth of field. When shooting at f/2.8 I did notice a small amount of vignetting in the corners, which isn't a deal breaker for me since that's easily correctable in post. Note too that the vignetting vanishes by f/4. I am thrilled to report that even at f/2.8 the lens is sharp from the center to the corners of the image. The image below was taken handheld, f/5.6, 1/100s, ISO 200, in Fuji's fantastic Acros film simulation and transferred via Wi-Fi from my X-T2. The focus fall off is noticeable, but is gradual and makes the transition less noticeable.
Compared to the XF 50-140mm lens the XF 80mm is smaller in size, weighing in at 1.65 pounds versus the 2.19 pounds. While this doesn't seem like much, I felt a noticeable difference in my bag. Compared to the competition (Canon 100mm and Nikon 105mm), the XF 80mm is roughly the same weight and physical size, no big shocker there. Fuji's build quality in my opinion has been top notch in regards to their glass and the XF 80mm is no different. With a metal body, weather sealing, large rubber focus ring which is silky smooth, and a large plastic lens hood, this lens is built to last. I decided to test out the lens' weather sealing the first week I had it by trekking out in the snow and ice. I shot for several hours and, just as advertised, the weather sealing worked its magic with no harm to the lens.
I extensively test lenses before using them for big shoots, but I recently broke that cardinal rule when the XF 80mm found its way in my kit bag on a large commercial client shoot. Of course I brought my Fujifilm GFX 50S and assorted glass as backup, but I decided to give the new glass a run through and then switch to the GFX if I had any hesitations on the images I was capturing. I'm happy to say that I ended the shoot just as I had started with the X-T2 and XF 80mm, while the GFX stayed in the bag.
What I Like
- Image stabilization is fantastic. Roughly five stops of stabilization.
- Great for portraiture, and smaller and lighter than my trusted 50-140mm.
- Focus range limiter switch allows you to constrain the focus range to between 9.8 inches and 1.6 feet, 1.6 feet to infinity, or for the whole 9.8 inches to infinity range for more responsive focusing depending on the distance to your subject.
- Weather-sealed design.
What I Don't Like
- My lens cap keeps falling off. Odd.
- This is due to my laziness, but I wish the front filter threads were 72mm. I hate having to use step-down rings, or buying specific filters for individual lenses.
- This isn't a fault of the lens but more for Fujifilm to address in what I hope is a future firmware update. Please add the ability for focus stacking in camera, you know, like the competition does.
If you’re a Fuji shooter that’s looking for a great dual purpose telephoto lens, then look no further. Between its ability to shoot razor sharp macro shots and fantastic portraits, this lens will be in my bag for quite some time. I’ve heard a few speak of completely doing away with their 50-140mm, and I’ll say to each their own. That wouldn't be the case for me. The 50-140mm will still have a place in my kit. Whether it be for weddings or events, I know it will continue to get used, just maybe not as much. However, if I’m traveling light and find myself having to choose, the XF 80mm will definitely be in the bag.