The Fuji XF 90mm f/2 lens on the left is significantly smaller and lighter than the XF 50-140mm lens on the right.

The Fuji XF 90mm f/2 lens on the left is significantly smaller and lighter than the XF 50-140mm lens on the right. (All the lens pictures in this article including this one were shot with the XF 60mm f/2.4 wide open)

A question I’m often asked by delegates, blog readers and Tweeters is “Should I buy the Fuji XF90mm lens?” My answer is it depends upon what you shoot and how you shoot. Let me explain… If you use a tripod to shoot landscapes then the 90mm is perfect, If you live in California where the sun always shines and you like to shoot hand held portraits out in the open then yes get the 90mm. The 90mm lens is tack sharp, lightweight and has good contrast. If however you like to shoot interior portraits hand held, shoot hand held with flash or work in shady places then the Fuji XF50-140mm lens is the one for you. It is no surprise that the 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses in the SLR world are the preferred choice of most portrait and wedding professionals and the 50-140mm f/2.8 delivers that combination of excellent quality and convenience to Fuji X users.

Fuji XF 50mm-140mm lens compared to fuji 56mm and 90mm lenses

The Fuji XF 50-140mm lens on the left is about the same weight and bulk as the pair of primes on the right. I suggest the choice should be the lens on the left or the 56mm f/1.2 and the 90mm f/2 on the right.

The perfect XF lens line up for hand held portraits and weddings

16mm f/1.4     23mm f/1.4     35mm f/1.4     50-140mm IS f/2.8

This combination of lenses will ensure the best image quality and the lowest ISO. The three primes are two stops faster than the 16-55mm zoom and without IS the zoom has little to offer in return. Those two stops mean the difference between working at ISO 3200 and ISO 800. The primes are lighter and smaller on the camera and this gives a great shooting experience. “What about the 56mm?” I hear you ask. Pop it in if shallow depth of field is your bag. Don’t mistake shallow depth of field for background separation though. If you want a blurred background then the 50-140mm zoom kicks the 56mm into touch. See the caption of picture 10 below for a more detailed explanation.

My perfect portrait lens combination for hand held work.

My perfect portrait lens combination for hand held work. All photographers seem to have different needs, shooting styles, and preferences. What Fuji have done is given us all the choice to select the optics that meet our needs.

A note on the minimum shutter speed for acceptably sharp hand held pictures with non IS lenses. As a rule of thumb I suggest you use 4x the focal length as a minimum shutter speed however you may be more steady than me and get away with 3x the focal length. Obviously subject movement needs to be considered too. Where people are moving I use 1/500th second to get sharp pictures. I usually select 1/1000th second if they are moving really fast, doing sport etc.

These are my safe hand held shutter speeds for directed portraiture (proven via extensive testing)

16mm – 1/125th but I could shoot at 1/60th depending upon subject movement.
23mm – 1/125th
35mm – 1/125th
56mm – 1/180th
90mm – 1/500th but I can shoot at 1/250th at a push but 1 in 3 shots will have camera shake.
50-140mm – 1/125th but I could shoot at 1/60th at any focal length depending upon subject movement.

Shooting my regular portraiture in low light using manual mode with my perfect lens combination above I can set my shutter speed to 1/125th second and forget about it.  I open the lens up and trim my exposure using the ISO. Occasionally I get a bit more fluid movement from my subject and I up my shutter speed to 1/250th second to ensure sharp pictures. For real movement like slow dance I’ll use 1/500th second. If my lighting conditions are constantly changing  like when I’m shooting wedding interiors I switch on Auto ISO and set my shutter speed to A. I’ve set my Auto ISO parameters to give me a minimum shutter speed of 1/125th second and max ISO of 6400.

In the studio I often use flash or continuous light and occasionally I use both. I stick to 1/180th second shutter speed for everything and I can use my 35mm, 56mm and 50-140mm lenses at that speed. (The current X series flash sync speed) The 90mm is not really suitable for my kind of studio shooting.

The lenses and camera in Damien Lovegrove's bag

This is the camera and lens lineup in my bag for the next few months. Next summer on my US Road trip I’ll probably be packing the 90mm lens again. I’m using the X-T1 because the X-T10 is currently on a 3 month safari in Africa with my wife Julie and the 50-140 feels fab on the larger X-T1 with it’s third party grip.

Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2

Wow the 90mm is sharp. It feels wonderful on camera and is the perfect partner for the 56mm lens. I shot with it on my recent trips to Dusseldorf, Rotterdam, Copenhagen and Spain and I can say when there’s enough light it is a joy to use. It focusses really close too and this is a real bonus if you like to get right in there to capture babies hands or beauty details. It is a dream to use on the street where the ambient light is plentiful.

Sample images from the Fuji XF 90mm f/2 …

Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2.8 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

01. Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2.8 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

02. Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2.8 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

03. Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2.8 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

04. Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2.8 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

05. Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2.8 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

06. Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 sample image by Damien Lovegrove

Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2.8 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

07. Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 OIS

This is probably the best lens I’ve ever owned. It is beautifully made, robust, smooth to operate, fast to focus and has wonderful image quality throughout its zoom range. It is big however and goes against some peoples reason to pick Fuji x as their camera system of choice but to me it does exactly what I need of a professional, fast, tele zoom lens. I recently took the 50-140 to France and Munich plus I always love using it in my studio.

Sample images from the Fuji XF 50-140mm f/2.8 …

Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

08. Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 sample image by Damien Lovegrove

Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

09. Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

10. Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 sample images by Damien Lovegrove. I was quizzed via Twitter how an f/2.8 lens can have more background blur than a f/1.2 lens so here is my reply… The shot at the bottom, above: This was shot at 140mm setting at f/2.8. The depth of field is about 30cm meaning Chantelle is completely sharp from front to back. The background is super blurred but beautiful too. If it had been shot with the 56mm lens at f/1.2 I would have had to be much closer to Chantelle to match the framing on her and the background will have been busier and more confusing. I’d also have a far shallower depth of field meaning some of Chantelle would have been out of focus. Her hair, tip of her nose etc if I had focussed on her eyes. To get the same 30cm depth of field with the 56mm lens I’d have to shoot at f/2.8. That’s why a lot of fashion is shot on long telephoto lenses. The clothes can be rendered pin sharp front to back and the background can be blurred to keep the shot clean and uncluttered. (It was pointed out to me on Facebook that the 90mm lens would have made a better comparison for this discussion and I agree.)

Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

11. Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

12. Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 sample image by Damien Lovegrove

Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

13. Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

14. Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

15. Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 sample images by Damien Lovegrove

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43 Responses

  1. maurizio

    Great comparative review. I’m looking for a lens for stage photography and I think i’ll go for 50-140

    Reply
  2. peterkasbergen

    I started with the Fuji X system a while ago and thought it would be the perfect moment to switch from my Canon zooms to primes. I got the 23 and 56 and have been happy using them at weddings (together with the 10-24), but I am starting to rethink my decision because of the sharpness and flexibility of the Fuji zooms. Thanks for the insights, even though my wallet is starting to get nervous now… :P

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for your comment. You know the 50-140mm makes sense at weddings. I use it for ceremony shots, milling pictures, bride and groom portraits and the speeches :) Enjoy your photography and keep it fun!

      Cheers, Damien.

      Reply
  3. Richard Simko

    I have just come back from Mongolia. I took the 50-140mm with me as I thought the compression would help with those vast landscapes. I have to say it is big and heavy to carry but quality of the lens is second to none. I was contemplating the 90mm but the versatility won over the size/weight. And I am not primarily portrait shooter. Guess I spend more time in the gym but detail on those pictures is worth it :)

    Reply
  4. david Holliday

    Nice review. Now I understand about 2.8 on the zoom via 1.2 or 1.4 on a prime. I have just purchased the 85mm 1.8g for my DF. Next purchase is the X100T to replace the S. S=stolen

    Reply
  5. KMcS

    I have been a canon shooter for as long as I can remember starting with film. I am strictly amateur. I have been looking at the mirror less camera now for a while. My decision we be Fuji. Just wondering now,if I should wait until the next generation of the X T1?

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi KMcS, Good question. You can buy now and get a great camera at a good price or wait 6 months or so and get a better camera for top dollars. It’s your call. I’d get an X-T10 now and then get an X-T2 or whatever it gets called knowing you still have the perfect holiday camera :)

      Reply
  6. Jaco Greyling (@jaco_greyling)

    Hi Damien! Quick one…I have the 56mm and I love it! You’re suggesting that the 55-140mm is more versatile and your choice for hand held portraiture. I’ve got limited funds…and was wondering should I sell the 56mm and buy the 55-140…or just save for thr 55-140 and keep both! I love shallow DOF with body parts out of focus btw…but I also like the longer focal length (I used to be a Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 shooter).

    Any advice is most welcome!

    Jaco

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Jaco, keep your 56 as you like the shallow dof look. Save up for the 50-140. The 50-140 will be just like your 70-200 was (if you used it on a ff camera) but lighter. Same great optical characteristics but better image quality.

      Regards, Damien :)

      Reply
      • John Sweeney

        Hi Damien, Your advice is always so helpful and sound – both here, on the website and in person at your workshops – really learned a huge amount with you in Manchester earlier this year. My query is in view of the size and weight of the FujiFilm 50-140 XF, do you think that Fuji might consider a 50-100 or 50-125 zoom of perhaps the same size as the 18-135 XF, and again with OIS? specifically for portraiture?

      • John Sweeney

        Hi Damien
        Thanks for your advice which is so sound as always. I actually had similar problems trying to view the screen on my XE1 and traded in the 55-200 against a prime XF but given that I have upgraded to an XT-1, your comments about the loupe in bright light resonate and I think that I might invest again. I was thinking back to my old film camera Olympus OM2N in the seventies and eighties – Olympus made a superb 75-150 F4 optic which was great for portraiture and quite compact so that was why I was hankering after an XF 50-100 F2.8-3.5 from FujiFilm! In the meantime I will go with your advice since the results of the 55-200 with OIS speak for themselves.

        John

  7. svenlovesflo

    I guess I am the odd one here…I actually prefer the look of the 90mm…I like the fact that it focuses close…but now seeing your review…I never considered the 50-140…but maybe now I will…how does it handle at shooting sports…I am an avid rugby shooter…I use the 55-200…but I think the 2.8 on the 50-140 might be beneficial…I really do like my 56…and I never intend to kick it into touch . Be well

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Svenlovesflo, I think you are not the odd one here and I too prefer the look of the 90 but the functionality of the zoom. As for sports shooting I’ve no idea.Guys on the forums will know for sure :)
      Cheers, Damien.

      Reply
  8. JW

    Hi Damien! This is a really great review indeed. I own the 14, 56 and 90 mm. Ik like primes because of their really awesome quality, wide apature and light weight. I mostly shoot festivals, concerts and events (along with the X100S) and I find the limitations of not having a zoom challenging in a pleasant way. But your review just made me think. Maybe acquiring this 50-140 and dropping the 56. Waddayathink?

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi JW, Only you can make that decision. Borrow a 50-140 from a friend ;) and see what you think. Thanks, Damien.

      Reply
  9. Dennis Worrell

    Hi Damien
    Always loved your work since dropping my Canon 5d with 24-70 L and grip on my ankle (came off the tripod) and smashed my ankle ouch!! So a smaller camera needed been waiting for the X-Pro 2 have given up on that so plumbed for X-T1 picked up a near new one along with a 14mm and 35mm f1.4 thinking of px’ing them for the new 16mm and 35mm (WR) lens plus the two new zooms.
    Can you tell me/us what third party grip you use and does it extend below the main body.
    Here’s looking forward to alighter kit
    Dennis Worrell

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Dennis, I use an unbranded Ebay grip on my X-T1 but I can’t use the L plate bit because it blocks fast access to the tilting screen ;) Thanks for the compliments, Damien.

      Reply
  10. Den

    The XF90 is unique in the FUJI lens line-up for being at it’s sharpest at F2.8 (all other Fuji lenses peak at F4).
    From F4 onwards the 50-140 is actually sharper at F5.6 and otherwise equal to the XF90.
    If used in a studio environment between F8> F16 there is no discernible difference in sharpness between both these lenses.
    The XF90 is very desirable but not very practical. The equavalent 135mm F2 Canon is one of those lenses that most users ended up selling in my experience.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thanks for your tips Den. I was one of those Canon shooters to sell my 135mm f/2 because of camera shake and focussing errors.

      Kind regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
  11. Martin Fjo Vítek

    Damien Thanks for the great comments. I love XF 56, but I have already had the opportunity to take pictures with the XF lens 90 and this enchanted me. My opinion is based mainly on the level of feelings, but if XF 90 had something extra. Not just incredible resolution and an amazing drawing the image, but the image of the 90 XF is beautifully plastic.

    Reply
  12. jeff19681

    Damien, If you were going to buy the 56ml lens or the 56APD lens, which one would you go for?
    The APD is a couple of hundred pounds dearer.
    Is there much difference in quality for the extra money?
    I shot portraits, and have just read your views on the 50-140. I may be persuaded after your review.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Jeff,

      56mm non APD is the one for me. I want the extra light and I like the bokeh as it is. I don’t shoot out of focus specular highlights, I like my backgrounds low contrast and my foregrounds high contrast. If the pricing was round the other way I’d pay the extra for the non APD.

      Damien.

      Reply
  13. Sanjay

    Hi Damien. I have followed your work for about a year now and there is always something new to learn. Thank you for all the inspiration.
    I shoot a lot of portraits and 56 is my go to lens however I use an adapted Canon FD 80-200 f4 L for shots that require tighter compression. Most of my portrait work is outdoors in good to great light. I have been thinking of replacing the adapted Canon with an autofocus lens to speed up the process. The first option that comes to mind is XF 55-200 because its very similar to the Canon FD that i use, and a pre owned lens can be had for less that $400, however I have also been thinking about the 90mm. Is there a tremendous sharpness difference between the two? Coming from heavy Canon L lenses, 50-140 is not a consideration due to bulk and weight.

    Thanks.
    Sanjay

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Sanjay,

      Thank you for your kind words. The Fuji 55-200 is sparkling and I’d go for that because of the OIS alone. It is about the same weight as the 90 and is far more versatile. I hope this helps,

      Damien.

      Reply
  14. Axel

    Great comparison and stunning pictures as always, Damien!
    I’m looking forward in seeing a Fuji 16mm portfplio/gallery on your webpage soon!

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Axel, Thank you for your kind words. I’ll be rebuilding my online galleries completely in April. The 16mm is a fabulous lens and one I use a lot. Kindest regards, Damien.

      Reply
  15. Den

    ‘The 90mm is not really suitable for my kind of studio shooting’ Damien, please explain your reason. Being restricted to 1/180 shutter hand-held with flash wouldn’t be a problem due to flash duration I would have thought? Or is the focal lengh just too long for full body shots in your space.
    Would you say the XF90 is suitable for outdoor flash work given the 1/180 flash sync limit too?

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Den,

      The 90mm forces me too far back from my subject for all but big close ups. I like more intimacy in my work hence preferring the 56mm. The 180th flash sync will be a thing of the past if the rumours are true. All Fuji X cameras from the X-Pro2 onwards will be 1/250th. I/250th is still too low for me to hand hold the 90mm and nail every shot especially if 24mp is coming in. I have to use that lens on a monopod most of the time. The 50-140 lens has stabilisation so no worries there.

      Kind regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
      • Den

        Damien, with all the leaked improvements and extra resolution promised on the X-Pro 2 – do you see a compelling reason for continuing with the XT-1 ? (Only the tilting screen seems like a deal breaker – form factor aside).

      • Damien

        Hi Den,

        Yes the X-T1 has a bigger, better viewfinder, tilting screen and the viewfinder is in the perfect place for me (I’m left eyed). The X-T1 has better ergonomics too in my opinion. The X-T and X-P cameras are quite different. Both lines will get the new sensor at some point. The extra resolution would only be needed for big prints.

        Kindest regards,

        Damien.

  16. Kourosh

    Hi Damien,
    Thank you for your insights. I just purchased the 50-140mm and I’m wondering what’s the smallest messenger bag I could get that would fit this with the body attached. I notice that you use the ThinkTank series a lot – do you think the Retrospective 7 would fit the bill for XT1 + 50-140mm attached or would that bag be too small?

    Reply
  17. Nathan Smith

    Damien, I really enjoy these reviews (and your fantastic photographs). Fuji has given us so many choices, depending upon individual shooting styles, etc. Some people are “prime only”, others love their zooms. As a people and wedding photographer I use both.

    My only suggestion is for those shooting mostly weddings, the Perfect 4 lens setup you suggest above might be “more perfect” by spending just $200 more (or £149) and substituting the 16-55mm f2.8 instead of the 16mm f1.4 prime. Yes, if you are shooting models in abandoned warehouses the 16mm f1.4 might be better :) . But for weddings, especially outdoor ceremonies or indoor receptions with flash (bounced of course), the 16-55mm zoom would give you 16, 18, 23, 35, and 55mm focal lengths, plus everything in between. 16mm even wide open at f1.4 doesn’t give you super shallow depth of field, and with the 23mm f1.4 you could get close to those shots. And the 16-55m f2.8 gives you an amazingly sharp 16mm f2.8 lens, even wide open.

    I shoot ceremonies with the 16-55mm on one body and the 50-140mm on another, and sometimes even carry a 3rd body with either the 35mm f1.4 or the 23mm f1.4 around my neck. I’ve had a number of wedding ceremonies that lasted about 5 minutes, where you really don’t have time to change lenses. Moving indoors to a reception, I use the 16-55mm with bounced flash (when needed), and keep an f1.4 prime on a 2nd body.

    But yes for portraits and fashion, that 16mm f1.4 could be useful, especially if you have time to change lenses.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Nathan,

      Thanks for your suggestion. I love to have a lighter lens on my camera and I love shooting primes. I move more and my composition improves as a result. I’ve spent many years shooting f/2.8 zooms on Canon and Nikon and primes on Hasselblad/ Phase One and now Fuji. The 16mm f/1.4 is amazing and my go to w/a. I’d be happy to use this at f/1.4 (that’s my default setting) and at 2 stops faster it is perfect for dark churches, interior receptions and evening parties etc. I’d have that over an f/2.8 zoom any day. I’ll be taking the f/2.8 16-55 to America on my road trip for two weeks where in the deserts and canyons it will be far better suited than my non weather sealed primes. It will be bright in the deserts too so no problems there. The great news is we have a choice and what suits me might not suit someone else. Maybe we have too much choice. Kit should not be the topic of conversation, photographs are what counts. What kit was used to take them is immaterial most of the time.

      Cheers, Damien.

      Reply

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About The Author

Damien Lovegrove is a world renowned portrait photographer specialising in making women look fabulous. “I’m inspired by beauty and as I have matured as a photographer I’ve learned to see beauty in just about everyone and everywhere. It’s not what I look at that matters to me, it is what I see. I love people and I suppose women in particular. I love their mannerisms, fashion, style and beauty."

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