When in Japan I go to Yodobashi Camera to play with camera gear and buy some Hifi accessories. This time I played with the Fuji XF 56/1.2 WR.
I owned the XF 56/1.2 R but later exchanged it for an XF 90/2 WR. I kind of miss the 56/1.2 for portraits that’s why I put the new XF 56/1.2 WR on my camera to give it a try.
All images are taken wide open and are completely unaltered except that I resized them for web use. The light in the store is rather ugly and white balance is far too cool but I didn’t want to change the image in any way to give you an idea how the lenses work. Lenses? I also tried the Sigma 56/1.4 briefly to see if you can get away with a cheaper and lighter lens. Later more.
The lens looks different from the old one and I prefer its design. Also the new aperture ring style and lock mechanism and WR doesn’t hurt either of course. And I think it is even sharper wide open than the old one though this is a bold statement as I can’t shoot them side by side anymore but have a look yourself. This is a 100% crop of the image above. Looks really sharp to me.
FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (56mm, f/1.2, 1/300 sec, ISO160)
FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (56mm, f/1.2, 1/350 sec, ISO160)
FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (56mm, f/1.2, 1/420 sec, ISO160)
FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (56mm, f/1.8, 1/160 sec, ISO160)
FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (56mm, f/1.2, 1/280 sec, ISO160)
I think it is sharper than the old lens but I’m sure that Bokeh is better. I checked on Fujis website and found our that it is their first lens with 11 aperture blades so Bokeh should be better. Fuji managed to replace the old version and the APD version at the same time. Regarding Bokeh this lens is now a better match to the XF 90/2 WR which has an excellent Bokeh.
If you think that the Bokeh in my sample shots isn’t nice you are correct but keep in mind that this is the worst case scenario. A well lit extremely busy background. I doubt that anyone would chose sales shelves as a background for a portrait. I think the Bokeh is excellent and extremely close to what I got on my full frame Canon when I used the Sigma 85/1.4. That is impressive and I think Fuji also “replaced” their own Fuji 50/1.0. I tried this lens on an earlier trip and while I could see its potential I think it is far to heavy, AF is slow and contrast is low wide open. The new Fuji XF 56/1.2 WR is of course much lighter and has a better contrast wide open. But what about its AF?
Here comes the bad news: The AF of the new lens is quiet but it is still slow. I think it is very much the same. Again I can’t compare anymore because I shot the old 56/1.2 with the X-Pro1 and later X-Pro2 and the new 56/1.2 WR now on my X-Pro3. The only thing I can say is that I was not impressed with the AF speed. AF is reliable but that was also the case on the old lens but AF speed has not improved much if at all. So everyone who hoped that the XF 56/1.2 WR would finally offer fast AF forget it. The Sigma 85/1.4 wasn’t a fast focuser on my Canon either. But this is a portrait lens so it shouldn’t be a big problem.
What about the Sigma 56/1.4? Below you can find some samples. The Sigma is significantly lighter but built quality is not on the same level either. And there is no aperture ring which is a non-starter for me. And of course subject isolation and Bokeh is not at the same level. I also think that contrast wide open is a little lower but that is not necessary a bad thing for portraits. Sharpness wide open seems to be very good.
The Fuji is clearly better but at a price. It is always expensive to get those last 10-15% no matter if we talk about photography or audio. Only you can decide if you are willing to spend that extra money that gets you excellence.
So here is my final verdict: The Fuji XF 56/1.2 WR is excellent and a real improvement of the older version. Sharper wide open, better Bokeh and WR. A no brainer if you plan to purchase the lens. I think Fuji has already discontinued the old lens. But if you have the opportunity to get the old XF 56/1.2 R for a good price it is a much tougher call. A good copy can be had for about half of the price of the new lens. If money is tight I would recommend to get that.
And the Sigma? It is even cheaper than the old lens from Fuji second hand. I would still prefer the old Fuji because of aperture ring, build quality and image quality.
I don’t shoot a lot of portraits anymore but I still consider to get a XF 56/1.2 WR. It really is that good.