Let’s talk about a second lens that I have ever purchased – 56mm f1.2 lens made by Fuji.
56mm lens is equivalent to 85mm on a full frame sensor. And this particular lens has got a very wide aperture at f1.2. That is awesome in many different ways. First of all, the amount of light this lens can take in is just astonishing. But we will talk about it a bit later on.
· 35mm equivalent – 85mm
· Max aperture F1.2, Min aperture F16
· Number of blades – 7(rounded diaphragm opening)
· Focus Range : Normal 0.7m – ∞; Macro 0.7m-3m
· Filter Size 62mm. Max. magnification :0.09x
· Weight 405g
Now let’s get on to the real review. So this lens has no weather sealing. Meaning that there is no gasket on the back. So if you’re shooting out in a rain or if it’s dusty in the area, this lens is vulnerable. But that’s what happens when the lens is 6 years old. I’ve already mentioned that this lens is 85mm equivalent and it actually has a minimal distance of approximately of 70 centimetres which is really high so definitely not particularly useful for macro photography.
The aperture on this lens works in 1/3 steps and it is electronic like most Fuji lenses. The lens comes with no stabilisation, it is not an issue for pictures as the F-stop lets you shoot at high shutter speeds while maintaining low ISO but for a video that does come as an issue. We fix this by using slow motion settings and shooting a little wider than we would like and then correcting it in post or alternatively – we also use a gimbal.
Let’s get on to image performance. When wide open it is very much centre sharp, slight fall-off towards the corners, it is especially nice for portraits, when you want to keep the natural look without showing any skin imperfections.
If you require more sharpness in the middle or to the sides, stepping down to F2 or F2.8 will give it a good bump. For maximum sharpness across the board F5.6 would be the peak. If you for some reason need to shoot at high f-stop, for example, if you forgot your ND filter for video, then watch out for diffraction. From F11 to F16 it’s more obvious but at no point it is particularly bad. Only really visible when you compare the two pictures side by side.
F5.6 – sharp throughout
Realistically a good picture with slight technical imperfections is still a good picture.
One of the reasons to get this lens is the boheh. The fall-off is just amazing while wide open – it is soft and not intrusive, exactly what you would expect from a lens that is specifically designed for portraits.
But is it only good for portraits..? Well this is a fast prime lens so it can create very intimate close-up clips while maintaining very narrow field of view. We find a good place for it when filming B-roll. Our biggest gripe with this lens is when focusing. It tends to misfocus, is not particularly fast and makes micro adjustments from time to time. It is manageable when doing portrait photography but in video it tends to be very distracting. This does happen more when focusing between two very different focal planes, meaning when you do considerable focus shift. For example, from foreground to background.
On the other hand if you have a smooth pan or following your subject it seems to be reasonably contained. Focusing is also rather loud so if you are planning to include sound in the video, use an external microphone which is directional, like a shot-gun microphone or if you’re able go off camera all together.
However, for manual focusing it is actually pretty awesome, especially if you have an ability to have somebody to pull focus while you’re shooting video. Reason for it is it has a very long and smooth focus throw. It is nicely dampened and just works really well.
So let’s sum it up. While I love using this lens, I also have to be brutally honest. It is a very old lens and it also comes with a price-tag of a 1000 dollars. With the main focus being a portrait photography, it is actually quite hard to recommend for the general user. On the other hand if you have the patience and a need for a fast medium prime lens to do video work, it can produce great results. But not without practice. In our case it is not a primary lens we use but it is still a good support lens. When you really want to isolate the subject as that is where it shines.
I hope you found this useful. Don’t forget to check out the video on YouTube and we’ll see you guys in the next one!
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