For the past one and a half year I’ve used Fujifilm as my primary walkaround camera system, using it alongside my Nikon gear. With the small and handy 35mm F2, well-rendered 56mm 1.2 and flexible 16mm 1.4 taking turns mounted on my XT-2.
As I have a strong preference for telephoto the Fuji 90mm F2 has always been on my radar ever since I first got my XT-1. It’s flattering reviews all over the Internet are hard to miss.
(All photos on the article has been edited in Captured One 10.)
The first thing that struck me was how light the lens is in relation to its length. It looking much like a enlonged 56mm 1.2 it’d be easy to imagine the weight to translate similarily. But the lens is overall fairly light, especially compared to the equivalent 135mm F2 lenses for full-frame cameras, with my experience with a Samyang 135 F2.
Rendering and image quality turned me off slightly. Though mostly for two reasons; me coming in with way overblown expectations and also – against better knowledge – expect it to render and perform like a 135mm F2 on full-frame cameras. Images do turn out sharp, overall well corrected – at the expense of what some might call character-giving optical flaws.
Autofocus performance for AF-S was OK. While quite fast it’s no speed-demon. Again, I was coming in with overblown expectations from reading tons of essentially hysterical reviews praising the lens.
Talking sharpness is boring and something given perhaps too much focus in many other reviews, much thanks to being something you can test and quantify, so I’ll keep it brief. Modern lenses go from very sharp to super sharp, with post-processing often being used to make very sharp images turn super sharp.
This lens is sharp. Slightly sharper than the 56mm 1.2.
One of the qualities of the lens I never think I heard a reviewer bring up is the solid minimum focus distance with decent magnification. It’s minimum focus distance being at least 20cm shorter than my old Samyang 135 F2 made a big difference and makes the lens much more flexible. At close to the minimum focus distance at full aperture it’s also quite easy to completely smush the background.
Out of focus backgrounds are rendered well with background highlights or ”bokeh balls” rendered quite round and smooth even close to the extreme corners. Only gaining a slight [American] football-shape in the uttermost corners. Sharpness transition is unintrusive and looks fine.
Observations The floating elements in the lens is causing a clucking sound when it’s not powered on and rocked about. Harmless, but could be a slight distraction and something that takes away from the otherwise quite solid exterior build.
Autofocus – AF-S The autofocus performance of the lens is OK. Some seem to describe it at blazing fast or instantaneous. But comparing it to real fast lenses like brand-name 70-200 2.8, 300mm 2.8 or even the Tamron 90mm 2.8 VC – it’s no speed demon, while being adequately fast in good light. In dim light the autofocus risks of being reduced to a crawl due to limitations in the current Fuji cameras.
Autofocus – AF-C/Tracking I seldom use anything except AF-S on the XT-2, but I wanted to give the tracking a shot and brought the 90mm F2 to an airsoft game. Conditions weren’t ideal with rain and moderate light. But despite that I was surprised how well the combo performed despite me being ill-experienced with AF-C/tracking use on the XT-2.
Most of the photos I shot in continuous-high were sharp enough and the photos that turned out out of focus I’d be willing to blame on my perhaps sub-optimal settings or handling. Many photos I shot in long sequences looked kind of out of focus and dull in the viewfinder, but turned it sharp when reviewing them. Odd how that works.
Finally Fuji got the aperture ring tightness narrowed down. Out of the Fuji lenses I’ve tried this has the best aperture ring, with solid clicks and good resistance. Much better than the borderline dreadful ring on the 56mm 1.2 or just a bit too loose ring on the 16mm 1.4 – and slightly better than the good ring on the 35mm F2.
Fuji found a good balance with this lens between performance, price and weight. The relatively tight minimum focus distance is also a great bonus. For portraits the 90mm F2 and 56mm 1.2 perform quite evenly from an image quality perspective, with different working distances and light sensitivity.
For primary Fuji shooters who has the slightest interest in medium telephotos the 90mm F2 is a given. The only real competitor would be the more expensive, bigger and less well-rendered 50-140mm 2.8.
Using this lens on the XH-1 and future sensor-stabilized cameras Fuji is releasing should make for an excellent combo further improving its versatility.