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.
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.
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.
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 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 …
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