Monday, 10 August 2015

Fuji X-T1 | Fuji 56mm f/1.2 | Fuji XF 16-55mm f/2.8

Photo © 2015 Tewfic El-Sawy- X-T1 & Fuji XF 16-55mm f/2.8 
I rarely write up technical posts about the photographic gear I use when traveling, since there are many more photographers better qualified than I am to do so. However, I thought I'd share my impressions on two of my recently acquired Fuji lenses used on my just completed two weeks in Hanoi and Bali.

These two lenses are the Fuji 56mm f/1.2 and the Fuji XF 16-55mm f/2.8. Some months ago, I acquired the former specifically for portraiture, especially for its low-light capabilities and it impressed me as an excellent lens for such a purpose.

And just a few weeks before my traveling, I added the Fuji 16-55mm to my collection of lenses. I much prefer primes to zooms, but I was attracted to this particular zoom lens because it would give me a lot of flexibility when photographing rituals, festivals and crowds.

The Fuji 16-55mm f/2.8 is the first pro-level standard zoom lens for the Fuji's X series of cameras. It maintains a maximum f/2.8 aperture throughout its zoom range, and is sealed to protect against dust and moisture. Having no short zooms during my March self-assignment in Hanoi meant that I had to constantly switch primes and or cameras whilst shooting various religious ceremonies.

This zoom gave me the flexibility I needed, and I used it almost 70% of the time in Hanoi and Bali. I was very pleased by its capabilities (low-light and otherwise), and it 'converted' my X T-1 to a go-anywhere camera when mounted with it. While it has no OIS, it performed virtually flawlessly and its sharpness is commendable. It's a tad large and heavy, so is better suited for the X T-1 with a battery grip. That said, it provides prime-like image quality over a range of focal lengths.

And this brings me to the Fuji 56mm f/1.2 prime lens. I know some Fuji photographers had to consider very carefully the merits of each lens, as these two 'competed' with each other. I have both, and I believe that the  Fuji 16-55mm f/2.8 is as good as the Fuji 56mm f/1.2 in terms of optics. In the zoom, one doesn't have as wide an aperture, so the bokeh will be less pronounced, but the zoom's flexibility ought to compensate for that.

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy- X-T1 & Fuji XF 56mm f/1.2
The Fuji 56mm f/1.2  is the equivalent of a f/1.2 on an 85mm full frame, and my intention was to use it for environmental portraiture and shallow depth-of-field effects. So far, my experience has been that it is truly remarkable at large apertures, and provides a lovely blur in the out-of-focus parts (aka bokeh). At just under $1000, I deem it to be one of the best lenses I've ever had and used.

The question now that I have both lenses is whether the Fuji XF 16-55mm f/2.8 negates the usefulness of the Fuji 56mm f/1.2 . The above portraits of Ms. Nguyễn Vi are almost similar in quality., and one could argue that having the zoom lens is enough. I have yet to decide on that, but I also know that the low light capability of the prime lens is an important consideration for my type of photography.

For those who like that sort of thing:

The photograph's settings using the Fuji 16-55mm f/2.8 are: 1/320, 800 iso, f/2.8 and spot metering.
The photograph's settings using the Fuji 56mm f/1.2 are: 1/3200, 800 iso, f/1.2 and pattern metering.