XF Lens system

While the development of a new lens mount enables Fujifilm to design optics specifically for the X-Pro1, the downside of building a lens system from scratch is obvious. Potential buyers of the X-Pro1 have to weigh the risk of buying into a system that initially includes a small lens selection.

The XF lens system is currently comprised of three prime lenses. The lenses are all of a focus-by-wire design with a very long throw between close focus and infinity.

Fujifilm has launched the X-Pro1 with a practical set of three prime lenses, the Fujifilm XF 18mm F2, Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4, and Fujifilm XF 60mm F2.4 Macro, offering (35mm) equivalent focal lengths of 28mm, 50mm and 90mm respectively. These are popular focal lengths with obvious uses in landscape, street and portrait photography. Yet more ambitious plans appear to be on the horizon, as Fujifilm has confirmed an aggressive lens road map with the goal of having a nine lens XF system (including zooms) in place within three years.

Each of the XF lenses have circular aperture diaphragms with round-
edged blades and can produce luscious bokeh, as this example shot
with the 60mm lens at f/4 demonstrates.

In my shooting experience with all three of the new optics, I've been most impressed with the overall performance of the XF 35mm F1.4 (50mm equivalent) lens. Having reviewed the samples I've shot, the lens' outstanding color rendition and very sharp corner-to-corner optical performance stand out. These qualities have made it my 'go to' lens for everyday, general-purpose shooting. The wide maximum aperture opens up a range of possibilities for low light work, too. If you're going to start with just one XF lens on the X-Pro1, this is the one I'd recommend.

The XF 18mm F2 (28mm equivalent), as you might expect from this focal length, displays some noticeable corner softness at F2 and F4, and is more prone to color fringing than the 35/1.4. I don't want to exaggerate these shortcomings, though. Overall image quality from this lens is very good, and at a street price of $600 / £549, it's good value as well. 

This scene was shot with the camera mounted on a tripod at a range of aperture settings. Below this image are 100% crops taken from the center portion and lower left corner (both highlighted in red).
In this 100% crop shot at an aperture of f/4, the image is softer in the corners than in the central area of the image. Click on the image to see the full resolution file. When shot at f/11, you can see an improvement in the image corners. Click on the image to see the full resolution file.
Towards the center of the lens, however, the image sharpness when captured at f/4 (shown here)... ...is virtually indistinguishable from the image shot at f/11, which speaks to the overall quality of the lens.

The XF 60mm F2.4 Macro (90mm equivalent) is an ideal focal length for portraiture. Be warned, though. This is a very sharp lens that even at its widest apertures will expose flaws and blemishes in skin tones. Also, although far from bulky, this is the largest of the current lenses and features noticeably slower AF performance than either of its stablemates.

As with the other two lenses, there is precious little grippable real estate between the aperture and focus rings on the 60mm, which can sometimes make quick, in-the-field changing of these lenses a bit tricky. Also while the lens hood on the 60mm is reversible, the lens cannot be mounted or removed from the camera with it in this reversed position. These are relatively minor annoyances that may bother some more than others.

The 60/f2.4 is a very sharp lens. Portrait photographers may want to actually soften focus a bit in post production for more flattering results, as every pore and imperfection is faithfully rendered by the lens.

Taken as a whole, this initial three-lens offering provides coverage for many of the shooting situations in which a rangefinder-oriented photographer is likely to shoot. The one obvious omission is a 23mm (35mm equivalent) lens. As this is precisely the focal length provided on the fixed-lens X100, it seems safe to assume that Fujifilm is, understandably, concerned in the short term about cannibalizing sales of the older camera. 

Click here to continue to page 4 of our article, First Impressions: Using the Fujifilm X-Pro1