lens

FUJINON LENS DILEMMA, OR PROBLEM, OR...

From left: The Fujinon 16mm, f1.4; 50mm, f2.0; 35mm, f2.0; 23mm, f2.0; and 18mm, f2.0.

From left: The Fujinon 16mm, f1.4; 50mm, f2.0; 35mm, f2.0; 23mm, f2.0; and 18mm, f2.0.

I'm not sure how it happened. Of course, it started with one lens, the Fujinon 35mm lens which I purchased at the same time as my Fujifilm X-Pro2 camera. Then the desire to go wider, combined with a rebate, led me to purchase the Fujinon 16mm lens. Somewhere along the way I became aware of the Fujinon 23mm lens, followed closely by the Fujinon 50mm lens.

Now I've acquired the Fujinon 18mm lens. That's when I realized I might have a problem. Or more accurately, a dilemma. Even before this recent acquisition, I was looking to pare down my lens lineup. But which one would go. I was leaning towards the 35mm, however, with the addition of the 18mm, does that mean the 23mm is the logical choice to go? 

The Fujifilm 50mm, 35mm and 23mm lenses are all f2.0 and are sometimes referred to as Fujicrons, a nod to Leica's Summicron lenses which also have an f2.0 aperture. I've also referred these three lenses as the trifecta.

The Fujifilm 50mm, 35mm and 23mm lenses are all f2.0 and are sometimes referred to as Fujicrons, a nod to Leica's Summicron lenses which also have an f2.0 aperture. I've also referred these three lenses as the trifecta.

But the 23mm, along with the 35mm and 50mm make up what some call the "Fujicron" lineup, a nod to Leica's Summicron lenses. In this case, the Fujicron lenses are all sharp, lightweight, sturdy and do provide an acceptable range of coverage. I also previously wrote about how the Fujinon 23mm was possibly the perfect X lens, or how the 50mm completed my kit

Before I go any further, I should mention that I've decided the 16mm will stay. I've written about it before and while it is a bit heavy and large for everyday carry, it is absolutely my go-to lens for landscape photography.

Table and Chairs, Memphis, Tenn., 2018. Fujifilm X-Pro 2 with Fujinon 18mm lens, 1/125 @ f5.6, ISO 200.

Table and Chairs, Memphis, Tenn., 2018. Fujifilm X-Pro 2 with Fujinon 18mm lens, 1/125 @ f5.6, ISO 200.

So, what about the 18mm? I love the compact size and it's the first Fuji lens I've purchased that came with a usable lens shade out of the box. On the negative side, it's a noisy lens and a bit slow when focusing as compared to my other Fuji lenses. It also doesn't have the same build feel of the other Fuji lenses, yet it doesn't feel cheap either. Obviously, I need to shoot more with this lens before I make a final decision.

If you're reading this and have an opinion, I'd love to hear it in the comments. And if you haven't realized it yet, I probably won't part with any of these lenses. What's the point? Unless, of course, another lens catches my eye.

DID I FINALLY FIND THE PERFECT FUJI X LENS?

This was the first scene I came across as I found a position near 6th St. on the Mall. The Naked Cowboy is cliché, but that's in Times Square, not D.C. Plus who could pass up the word Trump emblazoned across his Fruit of the Loom underwear.  Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon XF 23mm f2 R WR, 1/90 @ f2.8, ISO 200.

This was the first scene I came across as I found a position near 6th St. on the Mall. The Naked Cowboy is cliché, but that's in Times Square, not D.C. Plus who could pass up the word Trump emblazoned across his Fruit of the Loom underwear. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon XF 23mm f2 R WR, 1/90 @ f2.8, ISO 200.

It has been a little more than a year since I've been shooting with the Fujifilm X-Pro2. It has also been a year since I've been searching for the just the right lens to pair with this exceptional camera.

I originally purchased the Fujinon XF35mm F2 R WR lens and soon realized that I wanted something a little wider. Welcome to my next lens, the Fujinon XF16mm F1.4 R WR. The 16mm is a great lens, very sharp and I've used it many times, mostly while photographing landscapes. But, as I noted when I wrote about this lens, it is just too large and heavy to be my everyday lens.

When I went to the 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama I was about a block farther away, so I knew that I would never get a photograph of the actual swearing in. So I positioned myself close to a screen in order to capture the moment.  Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon XF 23mm f2 R WR, 1/320 @ f5.6, ISO 200.

When I went to the 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama I was about a block farther away, so I knew that I would never get a photograph of the actual swearing in. So I positioned myself close to a screen in order to capture the moment. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon XF 23mm f2 R WR, 1/320 @ f5.6, ISO 200.

Same thing for the Fujinon 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR lens. Again a great lens, but also large and heavy. While I only borrowed this lens, I noted the good and bad when I wrote about it following a visit to Grand Central Terminal. The search continued for that perfect everyday carry-around lens.

Maybe you have guessed by now which lens I've finally chosen. In fact, it was a lens that I shot with for almost two years and loved, I just didn't realize it, or maybe I was in denial. Or maybe I'm just slow to catch on.

The 23mm allowed me to capture this moment between two first time inauguration attendees while moving in the crowds.  Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon XF 23mm f2 R WR, 1/300 @ f2.8, ISO 200.

The 23mm allowed me to capture this moment between two first time inauguration attendees while moving in the crowds. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon XF 23mm f2 R WR, 1/300 @ f2.8, ISO 200.

Whatever the case, the lens, of course, is the Fujinon XF23 F2 R WR. For two years, I used that focal length on my Fujifilm X100S. Street photography, landscapes and everything in between, that was my go to lens. Of course, it was the only lens, since it is fixed on the X100S.

The point is that not given a choice, I found that the 23mm (35 equivalent) was the perfect lens. So for the past three weeks, starting with the inauguration, I've only used that lens and I've fallen in love all over again. It's small, light and seems to be the perfect focal length to capture both wide overall establishing shots and the up close and intimate shots.

The only negative, and it's the same negative that I had with the 16mm lens. Why can't Fuji just provide the right lens hood when I make the purchase? In both cases, I've purchased the upgraded lens hoods; the LH FX16 and the LH FX35-2.

The final photograph I made that day was of Barack and Michelle Obama leaving D.C. aboard Marine One. Once again I was looking for crowd reaction to the scene happening on the big screen. Although there is some disagreement, my opinion is the crowds weren't as big as in 2009, but this is the kind of situation, crowds, fast-moving and with plenty of action, that I like, and the 23mm was the perfect one lens for me that day.  Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon XF 23mm f2 R WR, 1/200 @ f6.4, ISO 200.

The final photograph I made that day was of Barack and Michelle Obama leaving D.C. aboard Marine One. Once again I was looking for crowd reaction to the scene happening on the big screen. Although there is some disagreement, my opinion is the crowds weren't as big as in 2009, but this is the kind of situation, crowds, fast-moving and with plenty of action, that I like, and the 23mm was the perfect one lens for me that day. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon XF 23mm f2 R WR, 1/200 @ f6.4, ISO 200.

These are pricey upgrades and cheaper options are available but don't be fooled. In the past, I've recommended some of the less expensive lens hoods, but for the 23mm, like the 16mm, these hoods are very different and while overpriced, are worth it. As a bonus, the LH FX35-2 will fit both the 35mm and 23mm lens. 

Lens hood issue aside, the 23mm is very sharp and in my opinion the best all around lens to pair with my X-Pro2 for a wide range of photography. The 16mm and 35mm are by no means obsolete but are no longer carried with me every day.

TOO BOLDLY GO... NOT A REVIEW OF THE FUJI 16MM LENS

Best Western Space Age Lodge in Gila Bend, Arizona. Fujifilm X-Pro2, 16mm 1.4. 1/70 @ f2.0, ISO 200.

Best Western Space Age Lodge in Gila Bend, Arizona. Fujifilm X-Pro2, 16mm 1.4. 1/70 @ f2.0, ISO 200.

Two photos, two locations, one theme, and one lens. I had originally thought this post was going to be a review of the Fujinon XF 16mm f1.4 lens, but I'm not quite ready to write that yet.

It's not that I'm disappointed with this lens. In fact, it is tack-sharp, solidly built and deserves its place in the Fuji premiere lens lineup, but I just haven't used it enough to really write a proper review. Perhaps I will never use it enough to write that review. And that's the issue.

Typically, before making a lens or camera purchase, I borrow the piece of equipment and try it out. If I had done that before aquiring this lens, I would have realized that the Fujinon XF 23mm 1.4 would have been a better choice for me. 

Too big. That was my first impression when attaching the 16mm lens to my X-Pro2. I'm so used to carrying this camera around all the time while not drawing attention to myself, that this lens with its 67mm front element and even larger lens hood made the camera front heavy and made me feel very conspicuous.

Too wide. Is that really possible? I had become so accustomed to shooting with the Fuji X100S and its fixed 23mm (35mm equivalent) and the Fujinon XF 35mm F2 (53mm equivalent) on my X-Pro2 that I found myself lost in the frame.

Restored USS Enterprise model on display at the Smithsonian Sea Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Fujifilm X-Pro2, 16mm 1.4. 1/60 @ f2.0, ISO 1000.

Restored USS Enterprise model on display at the Smithsonian Sea Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Fujifilm X-Pro2, 16mm 1.4. 1/60 @ f2.0, ISO 1000.

Too much. Not cost, in fact, I was able to purchase the lens for $699 during a promotion. Perhaps the real issue I need to work through is how many lenses do I really need? The joy of shooting with Fuji for me has been the simplicity, one camera, one lens, in a form factor that does not draw attention and allowed me to be very creative.

For me, the reality is that the 16mm (24mm equivalent) borders on a specialty lens, whereas the Fuji 23mm (35mm equivalent) or the 35mm (53mm equivalent), can be a one-lens solution. Or, maybe having to change lenses just feels like I'm at work shooting with DLSRs.

Perhaps this has turned out to be somewhat of a mini review after all.