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DPRTV Fujinon XF50mmF1.0 Review: “Unique Bokeh Rendition, but use Standard Electronic Shutter, as First Curtain ES Distorts Bokeh”

The Fujinon XF50mmF1.0 R WR is overall enjoying very positive reviews.

Sure, there are always those, who might not be familiar with such an extreme lens, so they go out and shoot at f/1.0 at a bright sunny day in super high contrast scenes and then complaint because it shows some fringing or because you can’t work without an ND-filter.

Or when reviewers say the bokeh is not good, and then it turns out they used electronic first curtain shutter, which distorts the look of the bokeh (as you can see from the image above). You should always use the standard electronic shutter (or mechanical shutter) if your goal is to get nice bokeh.

So, some of the “flaws” reviewers notice, are actually not issues with the lens, but faults of those, who use a radical fast lens with the wrong settings in the wrong conditions.

It’s clear: if you go for such an extreme lens, you better know about photography and how to handle specialty lenses like this one.

One of those guys, who know how to master such a lens, are Chris and Jordan from DPRTV, who now have published their hands on review of the Fujinon XF50mmF1.0 R WR.

You can see the video and read a summary down below.

Video + Summary

Shooting in Bright Day

  • at a bright day, you can easily get in too much light, and mechanical shutter can’t get fast enough to hold on that much light
  • often they use electronic shutter, but NOT “electronic first curtain shutter” because that can distort the look of the bokeh. You are better off using the standard electronic shutter
  • ND-filters are useful, too

Handling and Autofocus

  • when you get your hands on it, it’s actually not that big. It does not feel that large and bulky. Not that bad to manage
  • focus distance 70cm, so can be a problem to shoot close ups of your baby for example. But with a lens like that he wants to do more full body or half body shots anyway.
  • autofocus motor has to push a lot of glass. You can feel the motor moving. For studio and portraits, no problem, AF holds on just fine. But low light weddings, journalism, candid shots, street photography, autofocus will be border line, you’ll get some missed shots
  • AF can’t keep up with faster action and sports
  • AF can be erratic when using eye AF. Jumps between eyes and sometimes even to the background. A large majority of images are in focus on the eye, but not all.

Bokeh

  • Bokeh: wide open it’s very smooth, no onion rings, no soap bubble formation, very clean, very beautiful, transition from foreground to background is beautiful. You get cats eye at f/1.0, but largely disappear at f/2.0. At f/2.8 you can see a bit of polygonal shape in the bokeh rings, but very minor
  • Overall this lens is made for shallow DOF and very desirable bokeh

f/1.0 challenges

  • usually lenses that are that wide (of all brands), tend to have a lot of optical compromises
  • in case of the Fujinon XF50mmF1.0 you can see longitudinal chromatic aberration (pink and green cast) even at f/2.8 and f/4
  • in backlit situation, normally a lens like that exhibits a lot of flare, but amazingly the XF50mmF1.0 is very clean. Just a slight loss of contrast, but no ghosting and well controlled flare. No worries, even with light hitting right the front element, very impressive for a portrait lens

Sharpness

  • not very sharp wide open. At f/2.8 it becomes really sharp
  • center to corner sharpness is very consistent at all apertures, which allows to experiment well with different compositions
  • it’s a portrait lens, and you often are going to soften things anyway if they are too sharp

Let me repeat at this point, what Jonas Rask said in his XF50mmF1.0 first look, and that we reported in our XF50mmF1.0 live blog here.

The images coming from XF50mm f/1 R WR has those exact same undefinable traits that makes me love my XF35mm f/1.4 so much. The sharpness that is sharp, yet not overly sharp. A flattering kind of sharpness that seems more rounded, organic and less digital/clinical.

[…]

You know that “magic” that everyone is referring to when talking about the old XF35mm f/1.4? […] The focus on making a character lens instead of a “perfect” lens. And that is EXACTLY what the XF50mm f/1 R WR is. A lens full of character, but not a perfect optical creation.

Now, Fujifilm can easily create clinically perfect sharp lenses (just look at the XF80mmF2.8 for example), but evidently this time, considering the goal of this lens, they decided that creating one with a special character was the smarter way to go.

Also, having a lens that you know basically performs equally well from center to corner at all apertures, gives you indeed the peace of mind to freely experiment with your composition.

Video

  • Jordan was shocked to find out that there is no visible breathing with the XF50mmF1.0, hence the 50/1 is a very interesting option if you want to have super shallow DOF in your video.
  • Jordan can see many people grabbing this lens just for cinema applications

XF50mmF1.0 or XF56mmF1.2?

If Chris would own the 56/1.2 already, he’d probably not upgrade. But there are some reasons that he can see some would favor the XF50mmF1.0 over the XF56mmF1.2. And they are:

  • Unique bokeh rendition, incredibly clean
  • shoot in direct sunlight and don’t get flare
  • if you are looking for that full frame thin depth of field

FujiRumors Conclusions

As a big lover of the XF35mmF1.4, I understand what Fujifilm was trying to do with the XF50mmF1.0, and hence not having a clinically sharp lens wide open ain’t anything that would bother me. It’s more than sharp enough anyway, plus it has that 35/1.4 character that Fujifilm explained here.

And while autofocus probably ain’t yet the best, this can be significantly improved via firmware update, and a recent firmware for 11 X series camera bodies already went into this direction.

So the only other “negative” I take out from this review, is the chromatic aberration, although I would have been surprised, if a radical fast lens like this one would not struggle with LoCA in certain conditions.

If I buy this lens, it’s for the bokeh (and these 4.5 reasons here)… and it ticks all boxes!

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