01. Nothing sums up the medium format look to me more than a calm delicate bokeh reminiscent of an oil painting. Click on this picture to open a full resolution version in a new window. GFX 50s with a pre production GF 110mm lens at f/2, ISO 400, 1/250th second using a monopod.
The Fujifilm GF 110mm F2 lens is the one that a lot of early adopters of the GFX system have been holding out for. The 120mm f/4 macro has been an option from day 1 but the lure of this soon to become available 110mm lens with an extra 2 stops of light gathering and a shorter more compact form has held many people back from buying the 120mm, including me. Now we have a choice and wow what a choice it is. You can find out which one of the medium telephoto primes I’ll be buying later in this review.
02. The Fujifilm GF 110mm f/2 lens with lens hood on the GFX50s camera. [The tripod head is by RRS with a lever lock and the L plate is a $10 universal plate from Ebay and it works perfectly. I only have to change GFX batteries once a day and the retracting D loop on the universal bracket makes the process easy allowing me to swing it out of the way of the battery door in a jiffy. If the soon to be released RRS L plate is as neat and not too bulky I’ll probably get one in due course.] X-T2, XF 90mm lens at f/2
I try to keep equipment posts to a minimum here on Prophotonut because I’m all about the image but when I get some decent new kit to try I’ll do a review and let you know what I think of it. Just for the record I’m independent of any manufacturer and even though I’m an X photographer I am not paid by Fujifilm. I have been leant this pre production
lens to evaluate. All the kit I own including my GFX and lenses has been paid for. What I say here is based on my experience and observations. I’ve posted 16 high res images for you to download so that you can make up your own mind on the image quality and optical characteristics of this lens in a real world shoot.
Click on any of the pictures shot on the 110mm lens in this blog post to open a full resolution version of that image in a new window. I saved the full res images at jpeg quality 8 to speed up download and to save bandwidth. I’ve just run the images through Lightroom in my normal way so they represent my day to day proof output. When any of these pictures get printed I will take them to a more refined state and fine tune the colour balance before re-exporting them from Lightroom. Enjoy…
Location: Berwick Lodge ~ Country House Hotel near Bristol UK
Model: Mischkah Scott
Makeup and styling: Mischkah Scott
Photography and artistic direction: Damien Lovegrove
This first set of shots were taken at Berwick Lodge near Bristol. I was giving a 1:1 training session to a photographer client who flew in from Copenhagen. It was a one day shoot and the brief was to show him how I capture interior portraits using available light followed by a portraits on the street session with and without flash. My client was shooting on a Fujifilm X-Pro2 using my 16mm, 23mm, 35mm, 56mm and 90mm prime lenses. I shot on the Fujifilm GFX 50s using the 32-64mm zoom and the 110mm prime lenses. All these shots were captured with the GFX on a monopod. I mostly prefer to use a tripod but it was not part of the brief and not relevant to the training session.
03. This establishing wide shot was taken on the GF 32-64mm zoom lens. I’ve included it here to show you the behind the scenes of the lighting available to us. All the shots in this sequence were captured using just the available light that you see here. The sun came and went and we just went with the flow of light choosing between low key and high key portraits to suit the ambience.
04. I shot through the chandelier for this first portrait. I don’t normally like out of focus foregrounds but this shot ticks my boxes. GFX 50s, GF 110mm lens at f/2, ISO 125, 1/60th second using a monopod. Click on this picture to open a full resolution version in a new window.
When I was shooting with the 110mm lens at f/2 my client shot with the 56mm lens at f/1.2 alongside. There is very little between these lenses in terms of angle of view and depth of field. Once you know one, you sort of know the other. We shot many other focal lengths throughout the day but I’ve just included my 110mm shots here.
05. Changing viewpoint I showed my client how to use a series of camera positions and picture styles to illustrate the same scene from different angles. It’s what I did when filming television dramas at the BBC and what I did in my wedding photography career too. GFX 50s, GF 110mm lens at f/2, ISO 100, 1/250th second using a monopod. Click on this picture to open a full resolution version in a new window.
06. The GFX coped admirably with the high contrast caused by patches of sunlight and so too did my client’s X-Pro2 once it had been set to H-tone -1, S-tone-1, and Pro Neg S film profile. GFX 50s, GF 110mm lens at f/2, ISO 100, 1/250th second using a monopod. Click on this picture to open a full resolution version in a new window.
Although f/2 for a 110mm lens does not appear to be ‘breathtaking’ it is fast enough for sure. What some photographers probably don’t realise is just how small the depth of field is on a high resolution medium format system like the GFX. You will see in some of the shots here (when you open them at full size) it’s not a case of deciding which eye to focus on it’s more like which eyelash and then “should I go for the tip or the base of the eyelash”. Seriously, the 110mm lens is perfect at f/2 for portraits from full length to mid shot (as in picture 01 and 04 above) anything closer and I’d suggest stopping the lens down to f/2.8 or even f/4. All the pictures here were shot wide open at f/2 to best show the characteristics of the lens at it’s widest aperture.
07. We shot low key, calmness as well as punchy vibrant portraits throughout the day. This is just the sort of mood range needed to attract my commercial clients who want me to match or create a feeling or character in their imagery. The shallow depth of field here is starting to look like an effect or fault. I would naturally want to be shooting at f/4 for a tight close up like this on the 110mm lens. GFX 50s, GF 110mm lens at f/2, ISO 100, 1/250th second using a monopod. Click on this picture to open a full resolution version in a new window.
08. A couple of stops brighter and the mood is completely different. A reflection has appeared in the piano too. This is where I explained how important it is to take the control of exposure completely away from the camera. There is a range of 2 or 3 stops of acceptable exposures to choose from for a shot like this and the selection process is creative, not technical. GFX 50s, GF 110mm lens at f/2, ISO 100, 1/60th second using a monopod. Click on this picture to open a full resolution version in a new window.
09. This was taken at minimum focus on the GF 110mm lens. I love this kind of look but what do you think of the depth of field? Is there enough at f/2.2? I think I’d prefer this at f/4 and the great thing is we have the choice. GFX 50s, GF 110mm lens at f/2.2, ISO 160, 1/40th second using a monopod. (I only used f/2.2 because I knocked the aperture dial by mistake. f/2 was my intended aperture) Click on this picture to open a full resolution version in a new window.
10. A useful combination of lenses. The 32-64mm zoom and the 110mm prime.
11. Here they are with their respective lens hoods on. I always use lens hoods. It’s what I’ve always done and I never use UV filters or protectors; they degrade the image and attract flare.
Top tip If you are a head shot portraitist shooting with GFX I’d suggest getting the GF 120mm f/4 over the 110mm f/2 as it has OIS and a super close focus distance. I did find the minimum focus distance of the 110mm a bit limiting at times. The OIS on the 120mm is a great asset because using either of these lenses hand held would normally require 1/500th second as a minimum shutter speed to avoid camera shake but with the OIS switched in on the 120mm that shutter speed can comfortably come down to 1/125th second making the working ISO the same for both lenses wide open. The extra two stops of depth of field with the 120mm will most definitely be welcome on head shots to avoid the unnatural look caused by too shallow a depth of field.
12. I took this in the dining room at Berwick Lodge using just natural light from one window. GFX 50s, GF 110mm lens at f/2, ISO 500, 1/80th second using a monopod. Click on this picture to open a full resolution version in a new window. This medium long shot is perfect at f/2 on the 110mm lens.
13. ISO 8000 was an interesting experience. I’ve never gone there before as I’ve always been a bit worried by going beyond ISO 4000. Anyway, we wanted to stretch the legs of my clients X-Pro2 so we shot through a mirror in a darkened room. Even though there is some diffusion and diffraction caused by the mirror this shot at full resolution holds up really well. I set the noise reduction in Lightroom to a value of 25 – 50 – 0. GFX 50s, GF 110mm lens at f/2, ISO 8000, 1/80th second using a monopod. Click on this picture to open a full resolution version in a new window.
Bristol Waterfront and environs
Model: Mischkah Scott
Makeup and styling: Mischkah Scott
Photography and artistic direction: Damien Lovegrove
After excellent morning coffee at Berwick Lodge I drove us all into the heart of Bristol where I showed my client how to find great ‘studio’ locations on the street. The key to the process is identifying light sources and lighting angles. The next 3 pictures 11, 12 & 13 were taken in the porch area outside a council run attraction called @Bristol. It helps to be known in an area like this to avoid being moved on. I’ve found both Bristol and Manchester to be fabulous UK cities to shoot in.
14. GFX 50s, GF 110mm lens at f/2, ISO 800, 1/100th second using a monopod. Click on this picture to open a full resolution version in a new window.
15. “Let white be white” I said to my client. “A white shirt should not look like a grey shirt. Be brave”. GFX 50s, GF 110mm lens at f/2, ISO 800, 1/100th second using a monopod. Click on this picture to open a full resolution version in a new window.
16. The colour of the painted wall in this shot is the same as in the two shots above 14 & 15, It’s the same wall. I’ve just placed Mischkah in a different position to reduce the exposure of the background. GFX 50s, GF 110mm lens at f/2, ISO 500, 1/200th second using a monopod. Click on this picture to open a full resolution version in a new window.
17. We had lunch at the Pitcher & Piano bar in Bristol and after lunch we went upstairs to the top bar to take a few pictures (with permission of course). We explored the Acros film simulation options and settled on Acros without a colour filter variation. GFX 50s, GF 110mm lens at f/2.2, ISO 500, 1/500th second hand held. Click on this picture to open a full resolution version in a new window.
18. This reflection shot was captured in camera outside The Bristol Hotel on the waterfront. The bokeh of the 110mm lens really comes into it’s own in locations with depth. It is uncomplicated and beautiful without swirls, doughnuts or other aberrations to distract the viewer. If I told you how I created this in camera I’d have to kill you. It’s a Lovegrove special :) GFX 50s, GF 110mm lens at f/2, ISO 320, 1/250th second using a monopod. Click on this picture to open a full resolution version in a new window.
19. GFX 50s, GF 110mm lens at f/2, ISO 320, 1/250th second using a monopod. Click on this picture to open a full resolution version in a new window.
20. A walk along the waterfront in Bristol takes you to the railway sidings where this brake car resides. This was lit with natural light. Notice that both of Mischkah’s eyes are in focus yet the timber panel just behind her is nicely out of focus. GFX 50s, GF 110mm lens at f/2, ISO 250, 1/320th second using a monopod. Click on this picture to open a full resolution version in a new window.
Fujifilm GF 110mm f/2 lens review
I love the weight and balance of this lens. The simplicity of design and uniformity really appeals to me. The lens barrel is the same diameter as the zoom and that feels good in the hand. It’s rare for me to get a buzz from a new lens these days yet the 110mm f2 delivers that buzz. The images it produces are so alike to the XF 56mm f/1.2 that I immediately felt at home with it. I could predict the angle of view and where to stand to get the shot straight away.
Autofocus on the GF 110mm f/2 is as fast as the GF 63mm f/2.8 and is as accurate as you would expect but it’s not as fast as the super quick GF 23-64mm zoom lens with it’s internal focussing elements. I needed to make the focus area tiny to pinpoint the part of the eye to focus on so bear in mind if you want to make the most of the shallow depth of field with this XF 110mm f/2 care must be taken with focus zone placement prior to exposure. When I’m on a tripod I use the 425 focus point option on the GFX.
The GF 110mm lens has a wobbly core, there are floating elements that you can feel wobble when you tip the lens. Once the lens is powered up the wobble is gone. This is just like the XF 90mm f/2 prime lens for the X series. Don’t worry though because the 90mm lens is the sharpest XF lens I own and has been fine travelling with me all around the world, kicking around in my camera bag. I expect this 110mm lens to be just as robust.
The GF 110mm looks good and is sharp, even wide open. The bokeh is gorgeous so what is there not to like about this lens? Nothing! It looks and feels solid yet not overly heavy like the MF lenses of the past. I weighed the 110mm lens in at 1012 grams and the 32-64mm zoom at 898 grams on my kitchen scales. This is a fine lens that will form the backbone of many a portrait photographers kit.
21. The 110mm lens is a comparable size to the 32-64mm zoom and just a bit heavier. They feel like perfect partners in my camera bag and left me not wanting more on this shoot. I’ll be testing the 23mm lens next as I think it will be perfect for the big landscapes in my forthcoming adventure in the USA. [The lenses are shown with Xume magnetic filter holders and as well as magnetic filters I use metal lens caps on all my GF lenses]
110mm or 120mm?
The decision about which of these lenses, the 110mm f/2 or the 120mm f/4 OIS to buy is less clear cut for me than it is for some photographers. I tend to shoot most of my work wider than a tight head shot so the f/2 of the 110mm will come in handy to provide focus separation. I got to shoot with a prototype 120mm back in November 2016 to put it through it’s paces and I like the excellent OIS on that lens; However I tend to use a monopod or tripod for all of my work with the GFX so perhaps the OIS is less important to me. Both lenses are tack sharp so there’s no image quality decision to be made. Knowing that there is a medium telephoto lens on the roadmap plus the fact that I’ll probably be adding it to my kit helps me with my decision. Which is…
I’m going to buy the GF 110mm f/2.
Both the 110mm f/2 and the 32-64mm f/4 are about the same size and they take the same 77mm filters too. That’s a good bonus.
22. The Fujifilm GF lens roadmap as published on the 19th April 2017 shows a telephoto prime lens is due in mid 2018. We can only speculate as to what it might be but it would be great to see a 200mm f/2.8 (160mm) lens in the lineup. A teleconverter is on the timeline too. What about a a mid wide prime. Should we ask for a 28mm f/2.8?
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Please feel free to comment on these shots or ask questions about GF lenses, my training events or photography in general.