Fuji XF 50mm f2 R WR Lens Review:
Ultra fast glass is always great to have but it can bring its own baggage at times. For one, it can often mean more complicated designs, and more hurt on the wallet. It can also mean a larger lens overall. Sometimes we don’t need the fastest version of a focal length. Sometimes a smaller lens that still has a reasonably fast wide open aperture is more preferable, and of course, it definitely never hurts if we save a little money as well. Fuji, being the good listeners that they are, have released some pretty awesome f2 versions of many of their most popular focal lengths. I reviewed all of them so far, and they are some of my favorite Fuji lenses. Now, they’ve added one more to the f2 range of lenses: the new XF 50mm f2 R WR lens. With a wide open aperture of f2, it’s still plenty fast for most purposes, and while this short tele doesn’t give you quite the same focal length as the ultra fast XF 56mm f1.2, which I’m sure many will compare it to, the XF 50mm f2 is a lot more compact. At $449, it is significantly cheaper than the XF 56mm f1.2 as well, so the question is, is it any good, and can it run in the same circle as the rest of the X Series lenses? Read below, and find out!
Fuji XF 50mm f2 R WR Lens Build Quality:
In terms of build quality, I have to say, Fuji lenses are just getting better and better. My personal collection of lenses include the XF 18-55mm, the XF 35mm f1.4, the XF 56mm f1.2 APD, and the Zeiss Touit 12mm f2. I love these lenses, which is why I’ve owned them for so long but the build quality is just not at the same level as these new f2 lenses.
↑ The XF 50mm f2 in silver with it’s lens hood.
The XF 50mm f2 is no exception. It’s a very solid, well-built lens that’s designed to impress. Gone are the days of the hollow feel we used to get from the first generation lenses like my XF 35mm f1.4, for example. The exterior is made out of metal not just to withstand more abuse but to also give you that premium feel and look. The focus ring is smooth, and I absolutely love the feel of the aperture ring. It glides along smoothly in third stops with its dampened feel. There is some resistance but a nice amount for added analog feel. The aperture ring has a very high end feel to it. Like the other f2 lenses, the XF 50mm is even weather and dust sealed making it a great match for all the new weather sealed bodies like the X-T2, for example. The XF 50mm can also operate in temperatures as low as -10°C.
It also doesn’t hurt that this is actually a good looking lens. The overall design is similar to the other f2 Fuji lenses. It has a little bit of a classic look to it, and in my opinion, the XF 50mm could be mistaken for an older rangefinder lens. It kind of looks like my Leica 50mm Summicron. It also comes in black or silver. I am a sucker for silver lenses, and I have to say, even if you don’t have a silver body, the XF 50mm f2 in silver still looks pretty darn good on one of the black bodies like the X-T2.
Now, here’s probably one of the biggest reasons to choose the XF 50mm f2 R WR lens over say the XF 56mm f1.2: size! Since the XF 50mm is a 76mm equivalent, it may not be an exact replacement for the XF 56mm given that it is an 85mm equivalent but for many it may be good enough considering how much smaller the XF 50mm is when compared to the XF 56mm. At f2, it’s still plenty fast for most purposes. Using the XF 50mm on the street is great simply because it doesn’t even feel like I’m using a short tele lens. It’s compactness makes it feel more like a standard or even a wide angle lens. Come to think of it, I believe it is even smaller than my XF 35mm f1.4. When I was shooting candids with it, no one really noticed the lens/camera combo because it doesn’t have that huge piece of glass in front like the XF 56mm. It has a 46mm filter thread versus the XF 56mm’s 62mm thread.
↑ Top view of the XF 50mm f2 R WR lens mounted on an X-T20.
Speaking of the filter thread, it might be a little inconvenient for those who already own the XF 35mm f2, the XF 23mm f2 or both, since those two lenses I just mentioned have a 43mm filter thread. It does suck if you are planning to share filters but it’s in the design, and the fact that the XF 50mm f2 is already such a compact lens, I can’t really fault it for this. Still, it’s worth mentioning in case some of you do own either or both of those other f2 lenses.
Getting back on point, in addition to the compact size, the XF 50mm f2 isn’t all that heavy. It’s the first characteristic that I notice about it. In fact, weighing in at 200g, it’s only 20g heavier than the XF 23mm f2. That’s quite amazing if you think about it. The weight of this lens, especially for this focal length, is just about perfect. It feels like a high end product, and it balances nicely with the Fuji bodies. It’s not too heavy or too light, and there’s none of that front heaviness we might normally get from a short tele. This balanced feel isn’t just with the higher end Fuji models like the X-T2. I was reviewing the X-T20 while I was reviewing this lens, and it felt great on the smaller body.
To top it off, I actually love the design of the lens hood that is included with the XF 50mm f2 R WR lens. For those who have not read my past Fuji reviews, I haven’t always been a fan of all the lens hoods that have been included with the Fuji lenses. However, the one included with the XF 50mm is perfect for it. Yes, it’s only plastic, and it doesn’t have a fancy, classic look to it or anything like that but the important thing is it’s very functional. It’s very compact. It’s nicely proportioned with the lens. It works, and it never makes the lens look overly huge.
↑ The lens is very proportional to the lens.
Fuji XF 50mm f2 R WR Lens Autofocus:
As for focusing capabilities, the XF 50mm f2 R WR lens follows in the same tradition as the previous two f2 lenses in having very fast autofocus. In fact, I shouldn’t even say very fast. Blazingly fast is probably better. Personally, I think this is one of the fastest autofocus lenses in the X Series system so far, and I do not say this lightly. It was so fast at times that it felt instantaneous. It didn’t seem to matter where I was in the aperture range either. It even did excellently in low light. Only in very, very dim lighting did the lens have to search but only for a little bit, and this is not out of the norm. We’re talking maybe half a second at most but keep in mind that this is shooting at very low light. This is light that is low enough that you probably won’t be getting a great picture. Overall, I had absolutely no issues with the autofocus system. It’s just about perfect, which is something we couldn’t even say about Fuji just a few years ago. It’s amazing how far Fuji have come in such a short amount of time.
Now, autofocus speed is great but accuracy can sometimes be even more important because let’s face it; what’s the point in having a fast autofocus system if it isn’t accurate, right? Well, in addition to the autofocus being fast, it is also very accurate. The XF 50mm f2 R WR lens will just lock on to a subject with its blazing speed, and then snap! You get the image. There’s no fuss, misstep or any issues. There’s no drama. The autofocus system overall was such a non-issue that most of the time, it wasn’t even a thought or concern in any way in my mind.
The accuracy, and autofocus speed of the XF 50mm f2 R WR lens are seriously impressive but the icing on the cake is the autofocus operates silently as well. You really have to try hard to hear it. If you’re at a venue where silence is key, this is the lens that you want by your side. Along with its compact nature, the silent autofocus is also great for street photography.
Fuji XF 50mm f2 R WR Lens Image Quality:
As for image quality, this might be the shortest section in this whole review because quite frankly, the XF 50mm f2 R WR lens produces absolutely superb images, and there’s not much more that needs to be said. If you ask me, this lens is truly something special. For one, it is sharp…bitingly sharp. Images taken at f2 are tack sharp in the center. Sharpness actually hold up quite well all the way into the corners at f2 with only a minimal loss of detail. If you’re not pixel peeping, I doubt you would even see any detail loss. It’s very impressive. Stopping down by just one stop doesn’t change too much because the quality is already so good at f2. By f4, things are pretty much near perfect.
↑ Taken at f5.6 with the X-T20.
↑ The XF 50mm f2 produces nice, sharp, and contrasty files. This was taken at f8.
↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the image above.
↑ This lens is also tack sharp at f2.
↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the image above. Keep in mind that this was taken at 1250 ISO as well.
↑ Here’s a photo taken at f4.
↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the photo above.
But sharpness isn’t the only reason why the XF 50mm f2 R WR lens is such a great lens. The images it produces are contrasty with excellent clarity, and the XF 50mm f2 renders colors absolutely beautifully. Photos have a very organic feel to them. They have depth. I have to say, this lens absolutely shines on the new X-Trans sensors in cameras like the X-T20 or X-T2. There’s definitely some magic happening here. The XF 50mm f2 does vignette at f2 but it’s nothing out of the norm, and truthfully, I feel it adds a bit of mystery to the image. Stopping down to just f2.8 reduces vignetting significantly, and by f4, it’s practically gone. In terms of flare, I found it to be highly resistant to it because as you can see here, I don’t even have a photo with any flare in this review. If I try hard enough, I suppose I can get this lens to flare but then again, what lens wouldn’t if forced to in the right conditions? In my normal use, I had no issues with flare.
↑ This lens has beautiful color rendering. This was taken at f2.
↑ This was taken at f8.
↑ Here’s a photo taken at f11.
↑ This was taken at f8.
Fuji XF 50mm f2 R WR Lens Bokeh:
As for bokeh, try as I might, I couldn’t get the XF 50mm f2 R WR lens to give me anything bad. I know, it may sound kind of weird when I say I’m trying to get this lens to produce something bad but this is a review. In addition to finding the lens’ strengths, I need to find its shortcomings as well. Also, we all have different tastes, and maybe what I think is good isn’t your cup of tea. With that said, the bokeh that is produced from this lens is quite pleasing to the eyes in my opinion. I tried several particularly difficult backgrounds to see if I could stump this lens or at least get it to produce something that was unpleasant in the background but it never took the bait. There are no weird shapes or anything distasteful in the background. The bokeh is buttery smooth in every way…absolutely beautiful, and very fitting for this lens. For an f2 lens, it really does an amazing job just melting the background away.
↑ The bokeh is nice and smooth. This was taken at f2.
↑ Here’s another taken at f2.
↑ Here’s one more shot wide open. Tree branches blend in so smoothly and melt away.
Fuji XF 50mm f2 R WR Lens vs. XF 56mm f1.2 R Lens:
I did not do a direct comparison between the XF 50mm and XF 56mm. I probably should’ve, since I own the XF 56mm f1.2 R APD lens, so I can easily access it but truthfully, I was having too much fun with the XF 50mm f2. But I’ve owned the XF 56mm f1.2 APD for a long time now, so I do have experience with it. I thought I’d share some of my thoughts, since many who are considering the XF 50mm f2 will likely look at the XF 56mm f1.2 as well. To me, the XF 50mm f2 can be a good alternative to the XF 56mm f1.2 but I don’t really consider it a direct replacement.
↑ There is definitely a big difference in size between these two lenses.
Both these lenses are great; you’re getting top image quality from both. But the differences are greater than what would appear at first glance. For one, while it may not seem like there’s much of a difference between a 76mm equivalent and a 85mm equivalent, in practice, it sure feels quite a bit different. I use the XF 56mm f1.2 APD a lot, and I definitely felt the change when I started using the XF 50mm f2. I felt myself having to get noticeably closer to my subject, for example. It actually took me a long time to get used to the XF 50mm f2.
These two lenses also render quite differently, especially if you’re talking about shooting them wide open. The XF 56mm f1.2 is such an amazing portrait lens. It has the ability to be insanely sharp when you’re focusing on your subject but then also throw the background into a beautiful blur. With the XF 56mm f1.2, you know that you’re going to get that super, dreamy portrait look. The images can be epic to say the least. With the XF 50mm f2, you’re going to get smooth looking bokeh, but it won’t give you that same magic wide open.
However, the XF 50mm f2 R WR lens is an easier lens to live with on a daily basis. The autofocus, for example, feels light years ahead of my XF 56mm f1.2 APD. It’s also smaller in just about every way. For example, the XF 56mm f1.2 uses a 62mm filter while the XF 50mm f2 uses a 46mm filter.
In terms of optical quality, I don’t really want to talk too much about that, since I have not done any direct comparisons. I will say this though: Both these lenses are very sharp, and I think it would be difficult to see much of a difference between the two unless you are viewing images from both zoomed in at 100% in a direct comparison. Both these lenses will produce top tier quality. As for their wide open apertures, I’ve actually gotten extremely sharp results from both lenses. But I think more attention needs to be paid when using the XF 56mm f1.2 wide open because with such a shallow depth of field, sometimes even the slightest movement on your part or even say the model’s could cause a slightly off focused image.
Overall, this is how I look at these two lenses. The XF 56mm f1.2 is more of a specialized tool. When you’re after that perfect portrait with all the trimmings, for example, you pull this lens out. What the XF 56mm f1.2 produces is pure magic. It’s an awesome, AWESOME lens. For the days you may not need that f1.2 aperture, the XF 50mm f2 R WR lens is probably a lens that you will want to carry instead. XF 50mm f2 is more of an everyday lens, not that that’s bad or anything. I mean it in a good way. It’s weather sealed, and it’s so compact that there’s no reason to ever leave it at home. Because of its size, and it’s blazingly fast autofocus, it’s also great for street, and it balances beautifully with the Fuji bodies. At f2, you may not have the same dreamy effect as the XF 56mm f1.2 but it’s still plenty fast for most purposes. It will still produce beautifully blurred backgrounds. Of course, this doesn’t mean that what I say here is true for everyone. For example, while I consider the XF 56mm f1.2 a more specialized lens, I bring it everywhere with me, and sometimes treat it like an everyday lens. It would just probably be more convenient if I owned the XF 50mm f2 for the days when I’m not looking for the XF 56mm f1.2’s unique rendering or its f1.2 aperture.
Fuji XF 50mm f2 R WR Lens Pros And Cons:
Fuji XF 50mm f2 R WR Lens Pros:
- Very well-built.
- Ultra compact.
- Lens hood compliments the XF 50mm f2 quite well.
- Blazingly fast autofocus; one of the fastest in the Fuji X Series line.
- Superb image quality.
- Ultra sharp.
- Beautiful, smooth bokeh.
- At $449, this lens is a steal.
Fuji XF 50mm f2 R WR Lens Cons:
- The XF 50mm f2’s 46mm filter thread might cause some inconvenience for those who own the other f2 lenses, since those lenses use 43mm filter threads.
Fuji XF 50mm f2 R WR Lens Verdict:
In my opinion, the XF 50mm f2 R WR lens is one of the best lenses that Fujifilm have released so far. For what it is, for what it’s designed for, and for the price, it’s really hard to find any reason not to recommend it. Think about it: this is a 76mm equivalent f2 lens that is more compact than a lot of standard lenses out there. In addition to its small size, the image quality is also fantastic, and the f2 aperture makes it fast enough for nearly everything you can throw at it. The autofocus is also insanely fast, and the XF 50mm f2 is weather sealed. To top it off, all of this can be bought for $449, which quite frankly, feels too good to be true. In comparison, the XF 56mm f1.2 is $999, and if you want the APD version, it’ll set you back $1,499. There’s definitely a big price difference, and while the XF 50mm f2, and XF 56mm f1.2 have characteristics that make them each distinct, if you’re looking for a lens around the focal range of the XF 56mm, the XF 50mm f2 can still prove to be a great alternative.
↑ This was taken at f2.
↑ This lens’ autofocus is fast. It is great for street work. This was taken at f2.
↑ This was taken at f8.
↑ Here’s one last one taken at f2 to demonstrate the bokeh.
Personally, I think the XF 50mm f2 is worth every single penny, and then some. It’s just about the perfect short tele. I highly recommend this lens; in my opinion, there’s no need to look any further, if all the qualities that I’ve mentioned in this review are what you’re looking for in a short tele for your Fuji X Series camera.
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