Last month, I received the Fujifilm 50mm F2; it’s a lens that completes the trinity of new F2 weather sealed lenses that Fujifilm have recently created.  The other lenses being the 35mm F2 and the 23mm F2 of course.

When these lenses were announced, I was fairly indifferent about the 50mm option.  I have, and love, the XF 56mm F1.2 lens.  When I used to shoot full frame, 85mm was my “standard” longer focal length and the images I have been getting from my 56mm lens have been superb.

I didn’t think the Fujifilm 50mm F2 would be anything other than a novelty lens, to be honest.  A strange(ish) focal length, a stop slower than the 56mm and with less depth of field options.

However, I have to say, I’m quite smitten by the Fujifilm 50mm F2.  OK, the above arguments still stand when comparing it to the 56mm but it’s a very different lens.
Fujifilm 50mm F2 The Fujifilm 50mm F2 lens (right), compared to the 56mm F1.2 on a pair of X-Pro2’sFujifilm 50mm F2The size and weight difference is very noticeable.

This isn’t a review as such, rather a post about my experiences with the lens.  I make my living photographing weddings and social documentary, so the only qualifications for me when I’m purchasing a lens is; is it worth it and is it good enough.

When I first received the lens, I popped it onto my X-T2 and snapped a couple of quick shots of my crazy whippet and of my daughter as we played a game of chess together.

Fujifilm 50mm F2 X-T2 XF 50mm @ F2 1/2,000th Second ISO 2,500Fujifilm 50mm F2X-T2 XF 50mm @ F2 1/5,800th Second ISO 2,500

What immediately struck me was the incredible speed of focus acquisition…and it’s silent too.  In comparison to its rather more noisy bigger brother, the Fujifilm 50mm F2 is so snappy.

Using face detection, especially with the latest firmware updates, was pretty much faultless and hunting for focus just didn’t happen.

Whilst I really love my 56mm F1.2 and have used it continuously since it was released, it does suffer from a somewhat slower focus acquisition.  In fairness, this is partly down to the huge amount of glass that is shifting around but unless that extra depth of field is needed, or that extra stop of light, I can’t really see me reaching for the 1.2 lens too often in the future.

I nearly always have a camera kicking around.  At home, in the kitchen, my X100F or one of my other X100’s are usually just “there” to use.

It’s rare for me to shoot personal images on an XT2, or actually, an X-Pro2 as usually when I’m with my family, I just grab the X100F and go.

However, for the images above, especially the shot of Rosa playing chess – having the ability to just grab that 50mm gave me an opportunity to shoot close up, with a shallow depth of field that I wouldn’t get with the X100F.

The image of Rosa playing chess was the very first shot I took using the Fujifilm 50mm F2 and it’s already one of my favourite images of her.

Would I have bothered taking a similar image, or even got a similar result, with the 56mm F1.2?  Who knows.

Fujifilm 50mm F2 and Wedding Photography

This is where the little lens has taken me surprise; I’m using it all the time when shooting weddings and guess what?  I’m really enjoying using it.

I’m a documentary wedding photographer which partly means I am generally not shooting portraits etc at weddings.  I do still require a lens with decent reach though and I want to be able to have some “bokeh” fall off that is pleasing.
Fujifilm 50mm F2X-T2 XF 50mm @ F2 1/125th Second ISO 1,600

The above image was shot just a few days ago and using the 50mm lens for the whole day, I found that at the end of the day I’d hardly noticed it on the camera.

Sadly, the same can not be said for the 56mm 1.2 ~ whilst it is a gorgeous lens, compared to this one, it really does feel heavy and cumbersome after continuous use.

It’s worth pointing out however, that just because the Fujifilm 50mm F2 is available now, doesn’t automatically make the 56 1.2 a bad lens.  Far from it.  It’s a sublime lens, and really the only reason I’m using it less is because I have been, frankly, taken by surprise by the 50mm F2.
Fujifilm 50mm F2X-T2 XF 50mm @ F2 1/125th Second ISO 1,250

Silence & Speed

When I’m working, at weddings, or anywhere else really, I’m looking for emotion in the pictures I make.

At a wedding, for example, one of the key times for me as the photographer, is the immediate moments after the ceremony; it’s here that people embrace, hug, kiss and laugh.  And it’s my favourite hunting ground for moments.

never used my 56mm lens for this time of the day.  For a couple of reasons; I found I couldn’t get quite as close as I’d like with the 56mm lens without the risk of people interfering with my image, and also, I just couldn’t react as quick as I would have liked.

I would normally use the 23mm 1.4 or 23mm F2 lens for this segment of the day, but for my last two weddings I have used the 50mm and really enjoyed it.  It gives me a slightly different viewpoint and also allows me to have more depth of field (compared to the 23mm) without the need to get so close.

And as I mentioned, the face recognition system using this lens is just phenomenal.

Fujifilm 50mm F2 lens on the streets?

I love that all street photographers ideas and visions are very different. I don’t personally believe that you need to use a specific lens or focal length to shoot “on the streets”, though I’m very much aware that the general consensus is something around 35mm is the preferred choice.

That may well be true, and whilst I don’t think I’ll be using the Fujifilm 50mm F2 too much while shooting on the streets because it’s so small and light, I can simply pop it into my day bag.  I’d never even consider taking my 56mm F1.2 lens for a day on the streets.
Fujifilm 50mm F2X-T2 XF 50mm @ F2 1/640th Second ISO 200

Shooting from the hip is Easy

And this, of course, is simply down to the size and weight of the lens.  In the image above and the ones below, I use a combination of zone focusing and also AF-C tracking.

I just can’t imagine ever doing that with the 56mm lens.

The Fujifilm X-Series is an unobtrusive system, we all know that, but even so, having a large element lens when trying to shoot close up, in public is going to be difficult.

The Fujifilm 50mm F2 lens probably isn’t going to be telling too many stories as a street photography lens, but if its subject isolation you are after, whilst remaining light and nimble, I don’t think there is a better choice for the X-Series.

Fujifilm 50mm F2X-T2 XF 50mm @ F2 1/8,000th Second ISO 200 Fujifilm 50mm F2X-T2 XF 50mm @ F2.8 1/5,400th Second ISO 200

Whilst not a particularly great image (above), I think it demonstrates the potential of this lens as an option for medium distance focal length with a shallow depth of field.Fujifilm 50mm F2X-T2 XF 50mm @ F2 1/8,000th Second ISO 200 Fujifilm 50mm F2X-T2 XF 50mm @ F2 1/8,000th Second ISO 200 Fujifilm 50mm F2X-T2 XF 50mm @ F2 1/4,700th Second ISO 200

Fujifilm 50mm F2 v 56mm F1.2

When I was at The Photography Show a couple of weeks back, the number one questions I was asked about this lens was “Is it better than the 56mm lens?”.

And you know what, the answer is; yes, and no…..and maybe.

Really, it depends on your need.  For example, I’m not going to sell my 56mm lens and it will still travel with me to every wedding.  Here in the UK, the venues are dark and the weather is often dingy.  I rely on the 1.2 aperture in low light.  The F2 aperture of the new Fujifilm 50mm will not cut it in those cases (even though, as it’s lighter, I can probably get away with a slower hand held shutter speed).

There is something beautiful about the images rendered by the 56mm, especially wide open, that simply can’t be emulated. Those that love to emphasise and use that narrow depth of field are likely to remain true to the 56mm.

However, for me, the only need I have now for the 56mm is when I need that extra stop of light.  I can’t see me using the 56mm 1.2 at all during weddings before the first dance.

In essence, I need both of them, but the Fujifilm 50mm F2 has actually opened up a couple of new angles for me.  I find it much easier to shoot from the hip, and for those that use the XT-2 / 20 and the tilt screen, you will notice a huge difference using this lens to shoot through subjects to tell a story compared to the 56mm F1.2

You can buy the Fuji 50mm F2 right now.  It’s available and pretty reasonably priced if you ask me.  I can imagine people who are setting out on a new journey with the X-Series investing in the three F2 lenses and having a pretty amazing system from the off.

A Surprising Lens

The Fujifilm 50mm F2 really is a Gem.  And I’m not just saying that.  There are aspects of the 35mm F2 that I don’t like and also the 23mm F2.  I’m really not a fan of the 14mm, nor the 16mm for the type of work I shoot ~ so I’m not just pulling a line here.

The 50mm F2 is a brilliantly built, epically quick and phenomenally fast lens.  I love it.

By the way, I still have a few spaces left on my next Wedding PJ Workshop in London, and the Wedding & Social Documentary workshop I’m running with Fujifilm Switzerland in Luassane in May.

Happy Snapping

~ Kevin

  • Thanks for your review, Kevin. I still love the small 23 mm and 35 mm f2 pieces of glas and looking forward to get mine 50mm f2 tomorow!

    Folks, grab a seat at the workshops of Mr. Mullins – he is a great one!

  • Hi Kevin,

    Not sure if you remember me or not, but I actually joined one your X-Pro2 workshops at the photography show. It was incredibly useful and reaffirmed my decision to buy the X-Pro2 at the show. Thank you.
    Pondering which lenses to take home with me, I remember asking both you and Bert for advice; both of you agreed that if you would choose 3 lenses, it’d be the 23mm f2, 35mm f2 and the 56mm f1.2.
    So I ended buying the 23mm f2. But then daringly, I ignored yours’ and Berts’ advice on the 56mm f1.2 and instead took home the 50mm f2! and guess what, it has been pretty much glued to my X-Pro2 ever since.
    My thinking was similar to yours, in that I would end up using it more simply due to the small size and weight. Also for the photography that I do (travel, kids, some street and environmental portraiture), I really didn’t need the extra stop of light, but prefer faster focusing. Not to mention it’s much cheaper.
    My 23mm f2 has barely seen any action. This has also been a real surprise for me, it really is a fantastic lens.

    • Hi Alan – I do remember that conversation. I think up until then was I wasn’t convinced the 50mm F2 was as good as it actually is. I won’t sell my 56mm though – I still need that lens, but I’ll be using it a lot less.

  • Thank you Kevin for the review and also for all your hard work testing and helping to develop new Fuji cameras!

    Ok quick question. Will your default combo for weddings now be the 23mm f2 and 50mm f2?

    • Thanks Salihin – as these new F2 lenses are coming along, I’m not sure I have a “default” combo to be honest. The last two I shot with a X100F and the 50f2. I like this combination, especially at summer weddings.

      • Kevin, would like to see those weddings – with the x100f and the 50f2 🙂

  • You had me at; “Last month.” Shot both my weddings on the Fuji system at the weekend and having played with the lens on one of your camera bodies back end of last week, could certainly see why and how it would be a very useful addition to the kit bag! Brilliant review as ever Kevin.

  • Arnold Attard

    If you want the performance of the 56mm AND the 50mm, for half the price of the 56mm, I suggest the NIKKOR 50mm f1,2 AIs Manual lens on the X-Pro2 or X-T2, superb Bokhe and incredible resolution. Works wonders with focus peaking and is literally two lenses in one. On top of that the frame management and aperture possibilities can in many cases replace the 35mm f1,4.

  • Great photos Kevin. I agree that this is a fantastic lens, though I did find it took a while before I could ‘see’ things at 50mm. I wanted this lens particularly for indoor portraits of our grandchildren, even though I already have the 18-55 and 50-140! I haven’t been disappointed and am loving it so far. I’ve just done a blog post with a few of my first grandchildren pics and came to the same conclusion as you. This is a real gem of a lens. Thanks for the blogs, always enjoy reading them.

  • Stefano

    Hi Kevin, you make me wonder :)… I’m gonna have a wedding with full Fuji for the first time and i have xpro2 and xt1, with two lenses 23mm f2 and 56mm. I have thought to put the 23 on the xpro2, as probably I’m gonna use it more than the other, but the 56mm on the xpro2 works better also for the new firmware. On the other hand the xpro2 offers more pixels so if j have to crop , using 23mm, i have more options. What do you think? Thanks a lot for everything

    • I’d probably put the 56 on the XP2 as it’s going to be faster for you than on the XT1. The 23mm will be fine on the XT1. Enjoy.

      • Stefano

        thanks a lot Kevin, you are great 😀

  • I love my 50mm f2. I am one of those guys who invested in the f2 lenses. The only one missing is the 23mm f2, which I might purchase in 1 or 2 months from now. These three lenses and my XC 50-230mm and the upcoming 8-16mm will be everything I need for my photography (mainly landscape but also some portraiture). The Fujicron series is a perfect prime replacement for the kit zoom. Now Fuji only has to release a cheaper 16mm f2 version to complete the replacement kit.

  • Lukas

    Hi Kevin, thanks for a great review. Will the lens work well with the “old” X-Pro1? Cheers, Lukas

  • nicolas barla

    Hi Kevin, i love your works.
    I’m from Uruguay in south america
    I have a xpro2 and will go to buy a lens for portrait of my family, baby… pets… wife…
    Which lens do recommend me? 56 or 50 ?

    thank you .

    ps : you works are greats

    • Thanks, Nicolas. If you don’t need real low light work (maybe you use flash), then I would go for the 50mm F2.

  • Hi Kevin,

    I recently purchased the 50mm F2 to compliment my 23mm f2. It is a bit strange coming from the 56. I’m still on the process of learning the strengths of the 50 so I could get my self ready for my very 1st wedding gig in a week. Hope you could post more articles about this wonderful baby dynamite. I’m enjoying the form factor of both 23 and 50 and it’s easy to do reportage style on these 2 which is the style i’m most comfortable with (as I’ve followed and admire your work for a very significant time)

    All the best!

    Ariel
    Manila, PH

    • I’m using the 50 lots these days so I’m sure there will be more posts soon 🙂

  • Sam L

    Hi Kevin,

    A big fan of your work and the way you shoot.

    My favorite Fuji lens is the 35mm f/1.4. That lens is practically welded to my camera. Looking back at my Lightroom metadata, about 80% of my edited photos were from the 35mm f/1.4 for the past 1.5 years. This lens with the Fuji X-T2 is such a lightweight combination and it’s usually the only thing I bring for my family outing.
    When the 35mm f/2 came out, I thought I would have loved that lens. But it hardly seen the light of day. The size and weight is negligible compared to the f/1.4. The only benefit is the water resistant. My f/2 will ultimately be sold.

    When Fuji announced the 50mm f/2, I had zero interest. It is such an oddball focal length for me. It’s sort of not wide enough and not telephoto enough. When I shoot portrait, I use the 56mm f/1.2 or 90mm f/2. However, after stumbling into your two articles and seeing the result, I gave up and just plopped down the cash to buy one today. I’m eagerly waiting for it to arrive.

  • Avinash

    Only one question I have if you have a 35mm f2 is it worth getting 50mm f2

    • Yes, I think so. 50mm is a great portrait length.

    • I do own the 35mm f2 and the 50mmf2. Even though I use the 35mm f2 more I would still get the 50mm f2. Especially if you are shooting more portraiture. The 50mm f2 does have a very pleasing look and is ridiculously sharp. The 35mm for cramped spaces and the 50mm for more open spaces.