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fujifilm 50-140mm Review real world testing
Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f2.8 R OIS WR Review.
What’s it like to use in real life? This is more a personal view of using the Fujifilm XF 50-140mm F2.8 in a real-life situation, rather than an actual review. It’s my experience and initial thoughts after using this lens in the field for a few days on a professional job. I don’t have the time, or the brain frankly, to do a lot of shots of test charts. I feel there are plenty of people that do that rather well already. So why try to compete with them? If you want that, then you may have to look elsewhere. If you want to know what it’s like to actually use in battle, then read on.
I had not ever considered buying a big telephoto zoom for my Fujifilm system before. To me, and I’m sure many others it kind of defeats the point of this lightweight system to then stick a huge lens on the front. I guess I’m talking from a personal photography point of view. I see the Fujifilm X system as fundamentally a lightweight travel solution, where I use primes and have to carry my whole kit all day. Rather than say a commercial shoot where I might be able to work from a vehicle base or green room.
So when I was asked if I would do a last minute commercial stills job for a company I had a history within video the first thing I did was get the art director on the phone. I wanted to know if it was at all possible to use my Fuji gear for the shoot. After talking to him it was quite clear he didn’t want the look you would get from shooting wide and close, as we might do on a typical air to air shoot. He wanted a telephoto “feel” to the images. I needed to be shooting long and pulling the subject to me whilst compressing the backgrounds. It was obvious that my trusty 56mm would just not be suitable for the sort of shoot. I needed some sort of zoom and it would really help to be stabilised. As the other concern was vibration. I would need to be shooting from an aircraft with the door off and the brief was for some “top down” vertigo shots. I knew this meant me having to hang in the airflow and not being able to tuck in by the door as I might usually do. So if I wanted to use my Fujifilm cameras for this job there was only one option, in my opinion, the Fujinon 50-140mm f2.8.
I had a very quick go with Damien Lovegrove’s Fujinon 50-140mm f2.8 before. I squirted off a few frames at a portrait workshop he had run (top bloke by the way). So I knew that optically it was pretty good and both the size and weight weren’t crazy big. It just might work, I thought. But it’s a very different thing working in a warm hotel room with a cooperative model shooting a couple of head shots, to hanging out of a plane doing over 100+mph trying to shoot another aircraft whilst flying over Rotterdam getting buzzed by the local police helicopter.
Biting the bullet.
So, I decided to get a Fujinon 50-140mm f2.8 and attempt the shoot with that and the X-Pro2, also a bit of an unknown for this situation (but that’s another blog post).
I have had a fair bit of experience operating from planes with the door off filming other aircraft. But not doing stills and certainly not using the Fujifilm X system to do so. I think a typical good focal length would be around 35mm. However, as I said the brief really called for long lens feel shots with none of the usual distortion you tend to get with the wide angle setup.
So, I ordered the Fujinon 50-140mm and had it sent out on a next day delivery. As with all these shoots, it was a last minute thing, so I only had two days to source the lens before I was due to travel. When the lens arrived I quickly unpacked it and made sure it focused with the X-pro2. I then wrapped it with some tape to aid the grip when using it with gloves and put it in my thinkTank camera bag ready for the trip the next day.
I had decided to tape the exterior of the lens, as the floor of a light plane can be a bit of a brutal world. There are a lot of sharp metal bits sticking out all over the place. Even if everything is attached so it cannot fly out of the door, it is still quite possible for things to slide around if you are not concentrating during take off and landing. I had some slightly mad looking camouflage tape knocking around so decided to use that. It leaves no residue at all when removed. It looked a little silly, but oh well.
Is the Fujifilm 50-140mm 2.8 any good?
Come shoot day it was pretty humid and I was thankful that the Fujinon 50-140mm combined with the X-Pro2 meant I had a water resistant setup. It’s hard to describe the environment I would be shooting in. Let me just say, it’s not conducive to trying to concentrate or problem solve. The more you can do to prep prior to take off the better.
Physically, the lens is very good to hold. It has a solid high-quality feel with smooth and useable short throws for the zoom. The high-quality materials used in its construction results in a great robust feel, whilst giving a good compromise between build quality, size and weight. It fits in the hand really well and at 995g it isn’t as heavy as you may expect when you get going with it. The tape I had added worked like a dream making the barrel really grippy, also an added bonus was it would prevent scratches to the exterior of the lens whilst it got thrown about in the chaos of a door off air to air shoot. I did around 4 hours total air to air shooting using this lens. But by about ten minutes in I knew it was the right choice for this type of work. Due to the way many of the shots needed to be composed to work on double page spreads with text and graphics, there was plenty of having to hold the camera upside down and lots of using the screen on the back to compose. At this exact moment, I was thankful that the X-Pro 2 does not have a flip screen. It would have probably been torn off in the airflow.
The dimensions and weight of the lens felt perfect for this style of shooting. In a weird way as I found myself thinking this lens actually feels rather small up here in this big sky. During the aerial shoots over the next couple of days, the 50-140mm didn’t miss a beat. It was a joy to use. The focus was snappy, the OIS worked well and the size was just perfect.
What is weird is, before I spent two days flat out with it I have to admit I didn’t want this lens at all. I was thinking perhaps I can send it back after the two-day shoot. But now I would find it hard to part with it. Sure it’s not going to be coming with me on a trip to India doing street and travel. But it’s a great asset to have on the shelf, should you be asked to do a wedding or some portraits for example. I started the week not really wanting the lens in my kit and am now sitting here at the end loving it.
Yeah, but is it sharp?
Um, well let me just show an image and you decide.
Value For Money?
The Fujinon 50-140mm f2.8 lens costs around £1200/$1400, which may seem like a lot, but if you compare it to comparable alternatives from other camera makers, it really isn’t that expensive at all, especially given how well the lens performs.
Fujifilm 50-140mm Verdict
Although it may seem expensive at first, Fujifilm has given us a robustly built lens capable of delivering amazing image quality. This Fujinon 50-140mm telephoto is a very sharp lens. It also has a complete lack of any visible distortion, light fall-off or colour fringe issues. The optical image stabilisation works like a dream, I had no issues with motion blur and next time I will relax my shutter speeds and be braver as I know the system works.
From what I have seen so far the images this Fujifilme XF 50-140mm lens puts out are on a par with the full frame 70-200ish f/2.8 optics available. It just happens to not only cost less but it’s lighter too. I guess if you want to know if I would recommend it, then the answer is a definite yes.
For more images from that day click here
Specifications from Fujifilm website
Type XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Lens configuration 23 elements in 16 groups (includes 5 extra low dispersion elements and 1 super extra low dispersion element) Focal length (35mm equiv) f=50-140mm (76-213mm) Angle of view 31.7° – 11.6° Max. aperture F2.8 Min. aperture F22 Aperture control
Number of blades : 7 (rounded diaphragm opening)
Step size : 1/3EV (19 steps)
1m – ∞ (whole zoom position)
Max. magnification 0.12x (Telephoto) External Dimensions : Diameter x Length* (approx.)
* distance from camera lens mount flange
ø82.9mm x 175.9mm (Wide / Telephoto) Weight* (approx.)
*excluding cap, hoods and tripod collar foot
995g Filter size ø72mm
If you are interested in what sort of camera plane I use and how it’s rigged then watch the video from a different shoot I did in the USA below.
fujifilm x-100 the greatest camera ever made?
Sometimes a product comes along that has the power to change your life. The Apple iPhone comes immediately to mind. Sure, others were years ahead of Apple with the whole ‘touchscreen phone with full internet browser’ idea. But how did Apple succeed where so many others had failed? It’s simple really. They just did so many things right, that’s how. So much so, that we can forgive some of the iPhone’s shortcomings, such as the terrible battery life. My old Nokia lasts 30 days on standby, remember those days?
So when it comes to the Fujifilm X-100 series of cameras it has the same feeling for me. They just got so much right with the X-100s/t.
I was out of the stills game when the original X-100 came along, but nevertheless, I had felt the waves it created shortly after its release, even on the distance shores of the video world where I now resided. I had heard whispered voices talking about it being more than just a pretty face and sure, it had its problems, but was a revolution nevertheless and was worthy of forgiving. This was no folly, it was a serious professional tool.
At the time I hadn’t read any reviews or even watched any youtube videos about it. I had no use for, interest in, or indeed time to dedicate to taking still images. I was now a full time television videographer/director and had been for over a decade. My stills days were long gone.
It was by chance then that I found myself back in 2014 with a day off whilst on assignment in Oregon USA, in between shoots, I was due to fly to Wisconsin and film for a week the following day having just wrapped on my latest video. I had been doing ok, working hard and had some money to spend. So thought it was time I spent some of that hard earned cash on me and treat myself to some objet d’ar. Some desirable thing, that might be fun to own.
Before long I was browsing for local camera stores on my iPad whilst kicking back at the hotel. I checked if they had a Fujifilm X-100 (at the time I didn’t realise that it was now the updated x-100s). So on nothing more than a whim, I walked downtown and soon found myself buying a stills camera, the first stills camera I had bought for around 8 years since getting a Canon EOS. That old canon was only used as a B-Cam for video and I had never taken any stills with it. This was different, this was a camera only for stills. Something I had not done since pre-digital.
All too soon I found myself meeting up with the rest of the crew at a coffee shop with my new purchase, a Fujifilm X-100s, leather half case and spare battery. What I didn’t know at the time was that this little camera was about to change my life. Chuffed with my little treat I felt a warm feeling inside, but that could have just been the coffee.
Before too long we were off, rushing to the next shoot with me trying to attach the strap that came with the camera whilst in a moving car on the twisting roads of Oregon, not an easy task believe me. We then flew to Wisconsin to begin the week-long shoot for the next project. During that week the little Fujifilm X-100s did not leave my side and in between shooting the video stuff I was able to play a little and take some of my first images.
The marvel of the viewfinder was the first thing that struck me. That’s how little research I had done, I had no idea it had the optical/electronic hybrid finder, a real eye opener figuratively and literally. Its nothing short of amazing. Plus, it was fun having this old fashioned but handsome little camera round my neck. People would start up conversations about it, it was weird the amount of interest it caused. The next thing to strike me was how well it could handle mixed lighting conditions, the images were great. There was so much to like, but a lot to get used to. Chief among which, was the fact I only had one focal length, we are spoiled in video with zooms. This was one camera, one lens and you had to use your feet to zoom. I was also missing shots I might have taken with other cameras due to the lens restrictions. But weirdly I was loving the challenge and quickly pre visualising shots with the “35mm” lens of the X-100s. What I started to find was having only one focal length wasn’t quite as restrictive as it might appear on paper. In fact it didn’t feel restrictive at all, It was liberating.
As I shot more and more that week the strangest thing occurred to me, I was seeing potential stills shots all over the place and wanting to capture them. I was wanting to make images again. I was loving stills photography once more. This was entirely down to this little FujiFilm camera! It had reignited a fire in me that had long been snuffed out (or so I thought). I wanted more.
I was able to sneak in a few days in the Arizona dessert for a few more test shots and a little road trip before heading home. On returning to the UK after the USA trip I found I needed more, so I retrospectively read as many reviews and write-ups about this little electronic wonder as I could get my hands on. It seemed I wasn’t alone, a number of other “old fart film photographers” like myself, seemed to enjoy using this simple little camera.
The feature set suits my shooting so well. Just the fact that Fuji has gone to the trouble of fitting it with a leaf shutter is a reason to buy one just on its own if like me, you want to use fill flash in broad daylight situations. But added to the fact they then included a built in 3 stop Neutral density filter to help as well was just perfect.
Before long I had discovered the Fujifilm Instax SP1 Printer so was wanting a way to connect my camera to this printer whilst in the field. So as soon as the replacement for the X-100s was released with an integrated wi-fi solution I had to buy one. Yet again Fujifilm had made a camera that I actually wanted to buy.
So here we are today, I’m still loving the X-100 series camera from Fujifilm, its pretty much as near perfect as its gets for me. Sure as with anything, it could be improved. However, the feature set is amazing, the lens is sharp, the sensor is good and the viewfinder is about the best money can buy. It has actually changed my life by restoring the passion for photography I had 20 years ago. Coupled with the fact it looks wonderful and is a total joy to use, its hard not to love this camera.
But is the Fujifilm system right for your needs? Click HERE to listen to the podcast.
Fujifilm X-100t and why it's still my favorite
I love the Fujifilm x-100t. I have only just had a chance to review the set of images I made in Italy last year at the Rimini Lambretta Centre opening. Armed with just my Fujifilm x-100t and a flash on a coiled cable I just floated around grabbing some shots of the people attending for a few hours. The X-100t is a joy to use like this, that high-speed flash sync sure does come in handy in this situation.
If you would like to know why I think this is one of the greatest cameras ever made then why read Fujifilm X-100t to read more?
Fujifilm X-Pro2 First thoughts and reaction.
My decision making is a rather different process than it was in years gone by. What was important to me a decade ago may no longer be as relevant. But that’s a story for a podcast maybe and I shall just skip to the end and say that I am now using the X-Pro 2 from Fujifilm as my primary stills camera. After loving the idea of the X-pro1 but feeling that it came up a little short in detail when printing at around 50 inches high and added to the fact that the body was a little slow I knew that if Fujifilm ever did update this camera then frankly I was going to buy it and start getting back into photography seriously. Well here we are, I was able to get my hands on a pre-production X-Pro2 for a days shooting with a Fuji X photographer and then was invited to London for a pre-launch model shoot day with Fuji and Calumet. It was at this event one of the Fuji guys suggested I pre-order an X-Pro2. I went home and did exactly that.
Above is the 5th frame I took with my brand new X-Pro2 and the Fujinon 56mm f1.2. It’s a jpeg straight out of the camera.
I have to say on viewing the spec sheet prior to getting some hands-on time I was a little underwhelmed and was considering jumping ship and buying a Sony A7r II as I wanted to start shooting some shots for an exhibition and needed to print big. However, after dragging in some of my early test shots into Lightroom I could see the new sensor gave way more detail and feel confident that it can print big enough for my needs. I will keep you posted when I have done a test print.
A full review is in the making, so check back soon for that. In the meantime, you can read my Fujifilm X-Pro2 in action review or if you want to know more about why I use the Fujifilm X system click here for a podcast all about it.
Image and branding have always been important but maybe even more so today than ever. But its one of those things that you can never really be happy with and is never finished in the true sense of the word, it’s an evolving beast.
I really needed to get the proverbial ball rolling on this blog, so sooner or later would have to address the logo. I really loved my old Rollieflex 2.8, but may have never even bought one had it not been for a chance meeting with a legend. After bumping into Martin Par (Magnum) one day in an arts centre (I used to do this a lot as he was an account customer at the camera store where I had worked ) many, many years ago and chatting over a pot of tea before taking in an exhibition together. The conversation soon turned around to equipment, as a fresh-faced snapper I asked his advice as to what camera I should get and without any hesitation he answered “Rollie 2.8, make sure you get the 2.8, you cannot go wrong”. I went straight out and sourced a very tidy 2.8 F and jumped on a plane to Venice to try it out with some B&W roll film and a Weston master V light meter.. that’s how my love affair for that camera begun. Fast forward some 20ish years and I find myself still loving the design of that old twin lens reflex camera. So it only seemed natural since that’s where it began, so it should return…
So here is what I came up with.
Branding is always a challenge and something that needs to be nurtured and adapted as time goes on, not neglected and allowed to rot.. So time will tell if this remains.
So, here we are my first blog posting. I guess I should tell you about myself. I have just decided to start recording what I get up to from week to week. Prior to this blog there is no record really. That’s a bit of a shame and something I intend to change.
Starting out as a film photographer back in the 90’s and eventually working in television as a location lighting cameraman and director for over a decade has meant gaining a huge knowledge of lighting and story telling. I have been traveling the world making TV programs for the past 10 years working all over for all the major broadcasters. Having left television and film making, I now dedicate my passion for story telling in my stills work.