Much to the excitement of the Fujifilm community, Fuji released their XF 90mm f/2 WR in the middle of 2015. Many a voice hailed it Fuji's best yet, and pixel-peepers rejoiced. Some claimed it had the nicest bokeh from a Fuji lens yet, and others the fastest autofocus. Just how good is this latest prime offering from Fuji?
Since selling my old Nikkor 135mm f/2 DC, I have craved a 135mm focal length. I always put off getting one again because of the size and weight and the sluggishness of the autofocus in the case of the old Nikkor. Canon has a great alternative, but I don't own a Canon body. Naturally, I was quite excited to see what the new Fuji could do. So, let's dive into it.
Size and Weight
The first thing you'll notice as you heft the 90mm up to your eye is that it is long and heavy, with the hood making it even larger. Sure, the 16mm and 56mm were big for Fuji primes, but the 90mm is almost 50% longer than either. It is also extremely heavy for a fixed lens on this system, weighing in at 540 grams, which is 135 grams heavier than the 56mm and 165 grams heavier than the 16mm.
It's still a full 275 grams less than the old Nikkor that I owned, and that makes me take it out more than I did with the Nikkor. By the time I had two or three lenses in my bag, I would often leave the 135mm at home because I didn't want to add the extra weight, especially when shooting for myself. Now, throwing the 90mm in with 2-3 other Fuji lenses is a non-issue.
The Fujifilm 56mm f/1.2 next to the 90mm f/2
Build and Feel
It may seem heavy and large for the Fuji X system, but once mounted on the X-T1 or X-T10, your hand slots under the long lens comfortably and supports the weight of the lens and camera quite easily. It actually feels very well-balanced compared to the zooms on the system.
Build quality is excellent. It is at least on par with the high-end primes, if not better in terms of feel. The aperture ring has audible and tangible clicks at each stop, making it easy to know exactly how far you have turned it. The body is all Fuji's usual metal and feels great in the hand.
Weather-sealing is also a plus when paired with a weather-sealed body like the Fuji X-T1. I just took this lens for a one-month trip through the dusty countryside villages of Myanmar and had no worries shooting it at a dance in the middle of a dusty field, or while wading waist-deep into a river to make a portrait of a boatman.
Shooting and Handling
For you manual focus lovers, you'll be right at home with the tension in the focus ring. It's well-damped and reasonably stiff, yet not too much. It is a joy to manually focus, unless you get sweaty hands in the summer; then you'll be wanting some rubber to grip. Even for haters of the focus-by-wire system in mirrorless cameras, this will surprise you. It's responsive and almost there with physical manual focus. We're going in the right direction with this one.
However, the autofocus is where it really shines. Fujifilm's new Quad Linear autofocus motor is really something special. The lens is silent and the quickest of any Fuji prime to date. There is no laggy focus or back-and-forth hunting like the older lenses; this lens simply does what it is told — a first in my experience from the Fuji primes.
Sharpness & Out of Focus Elements
As you would expect from a 135mm prime, the out-of-focus areas are stellar wide open, and the sharpness is about as good as it gets. Fuji's primes are great to start with, but this one takes sharpness to another level. From f/2, the sharpness and contrast are fantastic, and after f/2.8, you're really only gaining depth of field by stopping down. Bokeh is great all the way through for everyday shooting, but see below for how the seven-blade aperture affects the shape of out-of-focus pin-lights.
A quick comparison between f/2 and f/5.6
Here are some quick and dirty examples of the bokeh-balls to see how the aperture renders out of focus pin-light sources. You'll notice that it only takes one stop before our beautifully rendered circles lose their shape and start to glow at the edges. Honestly, this doesn't bother me, as I very rarely shoot in these conditions.
What I Liked
- Size and Balance
- Autofocus speed
What Could Be Improved
- Bokeh takes on the shape of the aperture very quickly when stopped down
There really isn't much to complain about here. This lens is spectacular. If you like the focal length, pick one up. It is sharp, accurate, renders beautifully, and focuses fast. It really is a fantastic lens. Pick up your copy here!