Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Fuji 90mm f/2 lens -- a hands on review

This is a lens I have been waiting for to round out my pro-lineup of Fuji primes for the X-T1. It is a very handy focal length in that it is at the beginning of the telephoto range and, as such can reach out to grab close-ups in crowded areas. I am not a wedding photographer, but, if I were, I would consider a fast aperture lens like this a "must have".  Yes, the 56mm f/1.2 is an ideal portrait lens in terms of delivering a natural perspective on the face and excellent control of selective focus with its fast aperture. But there are times when you need to get in even closer and at the same time want to throw a distracting background even more out of focus. A close-focusing 135mm lens is perfect for that.

A 135mm lens is on the short side of the telephoto range, but that adds to its versatility, especially for something like travel photography.

I have become accustomed to the exceptional quality of the new Fuji XF lenses.  It is a major reason I considered moving into a Fuji X-camera system. It will come as no surprise that the new 135mm f/2 offering continues in the footsteps of this tradition. What I did not anticipate was just how exceptional this lens would be. At one point during my testing I switched over to the 18-135mm lens because I wanted to tighten the shot a bit more. Later, when I saw the resulting images side-by-side there was no comparison. The Fuji 90mm images were far superior. My results from this lens rank right up there with my other favorite 135mm lens, the Leica M APO-Telyt f/3.4, with the added benefit that the Fuji has a fast f/2 aperture and is still sharp wide open.

The Fuji 90mm does not have an image stabilization feature, and with a focal length bordering on the telephoto that is going to be problematic. This will be particularly true for photographers working in dimly lit circumstances, like wedding celebrations, where available light photograph is important. Perhaps I am spoiled by the IS abilities of most Fuji lenses, but I found many of my shots, even in daylight, had motion blur at what would be acceptable, hand-held speeds for something like the Fuji 18-135mm lens. I began setting 1/250 second as my minimum to hand hold the Fuji +90mm.

Minimum focus to a little under two feet (1.97') for a 0.2x magnification. By contrast, the Fuji 56mm f/1.2 magnification is only 0.09x, and I bump up against it quite a lot when trying to get in tight on portraits. The Fuji 90 f/2 solves that problem for me.

To give you an idea of what the Fuji 90mm f/2 lens (left) feels like on the camera, it is comparable in size and weight to the Fuji 18-135mm zoom (right), but with a smaller (62mm vs 67mm) filer size. The balance of the 90mm on my X-T1 is very comfortable. 

The Fuji 90mm f/2 R RM WR lens is a weather resistant lens with seven distinct weather seals  placed throughout the lens barrel to protect against dust, moisture, and temperatures as low as 14°F.
A new Linear motor in the XF 90mm has 4 magnets that deliver a very fast, accurate, and silent auto focus.

The lens construction incorporates three extra-low dispersion elements to minimize chromatic aberrations and distortion and a Super EBC coating has been applied to control flare and ghosting for increased contrast and color fidelity.

And now for the fun part. You can download the high res files below to see for yourself the qualities of this lens. Be fore-warned: The sharpness of this lens is incredible. Once you try it and see the results, you're going to have a tough time resisting a purchase. I really don't know how Fuji -- or anyone else for that matter -- is ever going to top this.

This building detail was photographed from f/2-5.6 to illustrate overall sharpness and corner sharpness. Download the high res files of each f/stop using the links below.

Download a high res version of this image by clicking here.

This is a test I do for color fringing by pointing the camera up into some trees with a bright sky behind them, and over-expose the shot by about 1-stop.  Pretty much every lens will have some fringing with this extreme test. The question is: How much? The Fuji 90mm f/2 had very limited fringing, all of which was easily corrected with a few seconds of post-processing. Click here to download the high res version of this file. 

Click here to download a high res version of this file. 

An attractive feature of this lens is that for a 135mm equivalent it can get in really close so it can be used for close-up subjects and tight portraits like those below. 

The bokeh quality of this lens at full aperture of f/2 is exceptional, and, due to it's close focus abilities, you can really throw the background out of focus.

The close focus ability of this lens teases you into wanting to try it out even closer. Here and below I mounted a 16mm extension ring on it. At f/2 its sharpness still comes through and contrasts nicely with the softness of the out-of-focus areas. 

If you are planning on buying this lens, you can help support this site at no extra cost to you by clicking the link and purchasing from one of our affiliate sellers listed below -- and thanks for your support.

A Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2  lens can be ordered from: BH-Photo   Adorama   Amazon  


  1. Tom, Great review as usual. I already want one of these and I have my college Bill Palmer testing one at the moment. I'll include a link to your review. Just a small typo you might want to correct: My 56mm, at least, is f/1.2, not f/1.4. Maybe you have a rare beast?

    Mike www.macfilos.com

  2. Thanks for the heads up, Michael. I consistently make that same stupid typo. You're going to love this lens. It's sensational.

  3. And who am I to talk about typos among *colleagues*... I blame Apple, as usual.

  4. Hi Tom, I'm the Bill Palmer referred to by Michael above. My first impressions are published now, on Macfilos and I am delighted to see that you and I are on the same page with regard to this lens - and I hadn't read your piece first! I entirely agree - this tops the 18-135 at the same focal length and provides OOF highlights that compare very favourably with the 56. It will predominantly be a travel lens for me and it is great to see Fuji producing such fast, compact long primes.

  5. This review just validated my purchasing this lens.
    I would like to know if you know of any food photographers using this lens.

    Thank you for such a comprehensive review!