Well, let’s get this underway shall we? I recently woke up one morning and, as I’m sure happens to all photographers, had a wild idea to trade in the Fujifilm 56mm f/1.2. Now that lens is absolutely beautiful but there are drawbacks (as I explain here) and I was genuinely about to force it out of my life forever. Thankfully, I paused and, very gratefully, the lovely people at Fujifilm sent me the 50mm f/2 lens as well as the 90mm f/2 lens to test drive.
I’ve already posted my review of the 50mm f/2 which you read here if you’re interested. Long story short, that little lens was really good and would be perfect for travel photography. However, it didn’t do enough to convince me it could replace the 56mm f/1.2 though it could very easily sit alongside that legend in my camera bag. Definitely one for the future (read: if I had spare money).
All photos throughout this post are JPEGs using the settings set out here!
Fujifilm 90mm f/2
Now, let’s get to the business of talking about what you came here for. I planned my two week review period to coincide with a visit back home to see my family as well as a trip up north to the Scottish Borders. I wanted to put this lens through its paces in a range of situations to see whether it has any place in my camera bag and whether it would be a good replacement lens for the 56mm f/1.2.
The 90mm f/2 is a telephoto lens and was, until very recently, the longest prime lens on offer from Fujifilm. If we’re talking full frame equivalent, you are looking at 135mm. Personally, I have no experience of using a 135mm prime lens so I was really excited to see if my love for primes could extend to this offering from Fujifilm. The 135mm focal length has always been renowned for portraiture and, probably more specifically, head shots. If I was to sell the 56mm f/1.2, I’d want something a little more than the odd portrait and headshot from this lens. I wanted to see whether or not it would fit into my travel set up and my wedding set up.
When travelling I love a high quality prime lens permanently attached to my camera that can deal with a range of scenarios. You never know what is around the next corner when lost in a new city and therefore you need to be covered for all bases. You’re probably thinking, well Jamie, taking a 90mm lens onto the streets is a bit of a silly idea. You would be correct but I wanted to see what I could create with it and whether I could keep it attached to the camera without wanting to immediately switch to my preferred walk-around lens, the 35mm f/1.4.
Well, as expected, the 90mm is long. This is a lens that you would bring out for half an hour or so if you were specifically aiming to capture a few street portraits or get some compression (eg making those mountains look huge in the background).
I did however really enjoy using the lens when wandering the streets of Edinburgh and I absolutely loved the images I captured. I really enjoyed the challenge. Now, for travel, I already have the 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 and, whilst I was considering selling that too, I will definitely keep it. Whilst it will never offer the sharpness or image quality of the 90mm f/2, it is relatively the same size (not including the zoom obviously) and doesn’t feel too different in terms of weight. That extra reach as well as being much more versatile really appeals to me. Thinking about it, the 55-200mm is really an underrated lens; I love it. The 90mm f/2 does offer the benefit of weather resistance over the 55-200mm but I think I prefer a telephoto zoom lens for travel photography.
Given that I only had the lens for two weeks, I didn’t get chance to test it out in terms of portraits at any weddings. However, it’s almost guaranteed that this lens would create some insanely beautiful images. I think as a general purpose lens throughout the day, I would imagine it’s a little too long. The reality is that it makes the 56mm f/1.2 seem so versatile and that is definitely, in my opinion, the better lens to cover all bases.
As I alluded to above, the images that this lens creates are out of this world. There’s nothing else that can be said other than this has to be the sharpest lens that Fujifilm offer. It’s absolutely unbelievable even when shot wide open at f/2. Some of the images I shot during my brief time with this lens have already become some of my all-time favourites. Obviously, my words can only go so far but hopefully the images throughout this blog post will do this lens some justice.
Not only is the sharpness and image quality absolutely perfect, the 90mm f/2 has extremely quick autofocus even on the X-T2. Considering how large (and heavy) the lens is, I didn’t expect the autofocus to be as quick as it way. I did have a few issues in terms of continuous auto-focus. I missed most shots when I had my little dog Chester running straight towards me. I wouldn’t say this was anything to do with the lens, probably more due to user error and perhaps due to the older processor in the X-T2. I have no doubts that, when combined with someone who regularly uses continuous focus and the 90mm f/2 is on one of the latest cameras, capturing fast moving objects (including puppies) will be a breeze.
One thing that I would say about this lens is that it doesn’t have any image stabilisation. Of course, not a problem if you are using one of the latest cameras such as the X-T4. However, I noticed that, when the light starts to fade, a few of my images were blurry even when using a shutter speed of 1/250. That’s probably the only real negative that I could find with the lens and, even then, it’s so slight. I can imagine it may cause a few issues in darker wedding venues for example but increasing your ISO to maintain a higher shutter speed isn’t such a terrible thing anymore with modern cameras.
There is no doubt that this lens produces some of the highest quality images I have seen from Fujifilm. The images are crisp even when shot wide open at f/2 and, for portrait photographers, this is a MUST-BUY lens. You get plenty of physical room between you and the model meaning that the fall off between the in focus and out of focus areas is beautiful.
Personally, would I add it to my arsenal of lenses? In a dream world yes, of course. In reality however, I find that the 56mm f/1.2 is much more versatile for my needs both in terms of travel and weddings. I am very grateful to Fujifilm for letting me test out the 90mm f/2 as well as the 50mm f/2 and, in a way, it has rekindled my love for my 56mm.
I appreciate that I may not be ultimately purchasing this lens but I still very highly recommend it! It is 100% one of the best lenses that Fujifilm produce and, if you are thinking of adding it to your camera bag, you will not be disappointed in the slightest. If it was for image quality alone, everyone would own this lens; it is beautiful!