My first impressions of the Fujifilm 50mm f/2

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Following my recent controversial dilemma over the future of my Fujifilm 56mm f/1.2, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to test both the 50mm f/2 and the 90mm f/2 thanks to the lovely people from Fujifilm. For those who haven’t read the post on the 56mm f/1.2 (it’s here if you want a read), I was really tempted to swap it out for something that was a bit more travel friendly , for example the 50mm f/2. I was also tempted by the 90mm f/2 to replace the excellent portrait capabilities.

For this post, however, we will focus on the 50mm f/2 and my two short weeks with it. Unfortunately, we went off on the back foot as I had just had two weddings booked this year and love the 56mm f/1.2 for weddings; it was almost my decision already made, but let’s give the small goal a shot.

I arranged for the two week rental period to start shortly before my first trip home to see my family in months and shortly before a trip to Scotland for my sister’s birthday. Many golden opportunities to test the lens.

All photos in this article are in JPEG format using the settings defined here!

Fujifilm 50mm f/2

The Fujifilm 50mm f/2 was released in January 2017 and is part of Fujifilm’s range of small, fast and waterproof lenses; the others being the 16mm f/2.8, 23mm f/2 and 35mm f/2.

I purchased the Fujifilm system in December 2016, after which I spent many months thinking about the best lens setup for traveling to Australia. Looking back, I don’t even remember considering the 50mm f/2 or even being aware that it was out. Initially, I opted for the 10-24mm f/4, the 23mm f/2 and the 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8. Even if I had known, I probably wouldn’t have been convinced to add it to my collection.

However, now that I’ve gotten around to playing around with it, I can definitely recommend this lens, especially for travel photography. As always, I won’t go into great detail about build quality and technical specs; it is readily available elsewhere. Here I try to be as honest as possible about my experiences with the lens.

First off, I’m not entirely sure where this lens fits with an essentially 75mm equivalent focal length. I’ve seen a series of Canon users buy the ultra-cheap 50mm lens and then put it straight onto a crop sensor, perhaps inventing that “close but not quite” focal length. I admit it’s a bit odd, but it’s basically a short telephoto lens and actually perfect for getting up close to city streets. This lens will really shine for tighter street and travel photography. It works for portraits too, although some would say it’s not the typical 85mm focal length. Some say that 6mm difference really matters…

Where the lens really shines is with its ultra-fast focusing. I mean, it’s practically instantaneous. I’m very used to the 35mm f/1.4 these days, so I was a little shocked at how quickly this lens could focus. It’s more what you’d expect from a Fujifilm lens, especially since I’m using a five-year-old camera in the X-T2. I can only imagine how fast that would be on one of the latest cameras; probably focuses before your brain even thinks about it.

The lens itself is tiny, a little longer than other Fujicrons (23mm f/2 and 35mm f/2), and really light, so it won’t be a problem for walking around all day. Best of all, if the weather turns bad, the lens is fully weatherproof so you can get soaked with pleasure.

You will have noticed that the 50 mm is an f/2 while the 56 mm is an f/1.2 What also refers, for those who may be new to photography, is the aperture; this is the aperture in the lens (the lower the number the more light the lens lets through to your sensor and also the lower the number the less focus can be). f/2 is not outdone at all. With these modern digital cameras, you can easily increase the ISO or shoot slower shutter speeds to compensate for the slightly lower light-gathering ability compared to more expensive lenses. I found the f/2 shot brilliant and it was surprisingly much sharper than I expected. One thing I don’t like about shooting 56mm wide open at f/1.2 is that because the focal plane is so narrow, you could easily have your nose in focus and not your eyes when shooting. of taking portraits. I didn’t seem to have that problem at all with the 50mm f/2 and like I said it was perfectly sharp without having to go to f/4 for example.

In terms of bokeh it’s the out of focus areas, I’m not one to spend time deliberately comparing whether Lens X is better than Lens Y but as I suggested above it’s is more than a feeling I get. I could look at an image and immediately think ‘no I don’t care’ or ‘that’s crazy’ and there’s no doubt that it’s the bokeh that’s playing a part in that.

So, without getting technical on the shapes and aperture blades, what do you think of the bokeh that comes out of the 50mm f/2? It didn’t blow me away as much as the 56mm f/1.2, but I was very, very impressed. For a half price lens, you won’t be disappointed at all and it really holds up.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to do a side-by-side comparison with the 56mm f/1.2 but, and this is strange, forgive me, the “feeling” was that I just couldn’t get any photos live up to the ‘wow factor’ you get from the 56mm. In my opinion, the image quality of the 50mm, for me, is not comparable, but this lens is not at all designed to replace the 56mm. I can easily see a space in everyone’s collection for both; one for travel, one for weddings and portraits. You have to remember that the 56mm has its downsides, each of which is handled perfectly by the 50mm.

Last but not least is the price; Amazon has it brand new for £409 or check the used market (which I do constantly now) where MPB has it in the UK for just £359. Bargain.

Conclusion

All in all a very good solid and reliable lens. It’s for me? It’s difficult to answer, I would say yes and no if it’s still possible. If I had the spare cash, then yes, I would definitely buy this lens. It is ideal for street photography, for travel photography and is also suitable for portraits. However, my only concern is whether there would be a peek. My standard travel spec at the moment is 16mm f/1.4 on one X-T2 and 35mm f/1.4 on the other. My beloved 23mm f/2 never comes out again, as these two lenses are just an absolute dream to work with and cover everything I need. I know for sure that I would feel like I was missing something if I didn’t have one of these goals.

What I don’t think I’m buying the lens for is to replace my 56mm f/1.2 which was originally my intention. There’s something about this lens that I just can’t get out of the 50mm f/2 and there’s no doubt that with the lack of light in wedding venues here in the UK, I really need that extra light gathering capability of the f/1.2.

If you don’t already have the 56mm f/1.2 or this focal length covered with another lens and are looking for something a little longer from Fujifilm, this lens is absolutely perfect and it will never let you down. It’s a brilliant little compact lens that will get you closer to the action without moving your feet. If you combined that with the 23mm f/2, you’d have a perfect setup.

MAY 2022 – AN UPDATE ON THE FUJIFILM 50MM F/2

As I concluded above, I couldn’t decide if the Fujifilm 50mm f/2 should be added to my camera bag. However, I recently attempted to use the 56mm on the streets of Newcastle and it quickly became apparent that this is exactly where the 50mm would excel. Although I didn’t book any weddings (and I’m not really sure if I should push that side of my photography any further), I kept the 56mm and bought the Fujifilm 50mm f/2 anyway. . It’s safe to say that for street photography and travel photography, the lens comes into its own. I love it. I really like that. Considering the size and price, this lens packs a punch and I’m now convinced it should be in every photographer’s camera bag!

About the Author

Jamie Chance is a lawyer, photographer, travel blogger and father. After many travel adventures, he is now based in Durham, UK. Be sure to check out more of his work and read more of his writing on his website, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. This article was also posted here and shared with permission.

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