Fuji primes for landscapes, any advice?

Started Jul 31, 2014 | Discussions thread
dzeanah Regular Member • Posts: 340
Re: Fuji primes for landscapes, any advice?
3

It's up to you. However, I'll offer my opinion. Note that with the following images I've used a burned edge or vignette because I like the way it draws the viewer's eye into the photo; it's not an artifact of the lens.

35mm Lens

This is a bread and butter lens. It's the "normal" lens, because the perspective looks, well, normal. It's also pretty fast, so it can do well in lower lighting:

If you see a composition, this is a good lens to start with.

18mm Lens

If you read reviews this one looks terrible, because it's merely a very good lens as opposed to being regarded as superb. The rest of the Fuji lens lineup is outstanding, so this one looks bad in comparison. What one should do is compare this with offerings from other manufacturers.

The problem with the 18mm lens is that traditionally, from the 1953 Leica M model lens line up and onward, the standard 35mm film lens range was a 50mm normal lens, a 90mm "tele" lens, and a 35mm "wide." The 18mm corresponds with a 28mm lens in the 35mm world, which feels a touch too wide for some folks who learned the other focal lengths back in film days. But when the X-Pro-1 came out Fuji didn't want it to compete with the X100, which sports a 23mm lens (which corresponds with the 35mm angle of view in 35mm,) so we had this as an option.

It's a good lens, and it's lightweight, but many of us are "upgrading" to a heavier and larger 23mm because it's faster at f1.4, and because it matches the way shooting film for decades made it think about a moderate wide. The lens itself does great.

23mm

I moved to this from the 18mm, but I haven't really used it yet so I can't share anything.

60mm Macro Lens

This serves as the traditional "tele," being about the same angle of view as the 90mm lens on 35mm, and it is a 1:2 macro lens. I often call it a "90" because that's how I see it.

This is the same ridgeline shown above, and the comparison between the two should give you a feel for how much the 60mm can bring the subject closer.

Now, here are a couple more photos. I got these goofing off last weekend. They're nothing special, and I've given up on them as quality images, but I thought they were fun. Excuse the poor processing.

Here's a dude I saw on a tree. He saw me approaching and posed. The 60mm maxes out at about 1:2 magnification on its own, and this was as close as I could get. I shot from a tripod, but didn't have a macro rail for fine tuning:

Now, here's the cool thing. I zoomed to 100% view on his face, and I saw my reflection:

That's not something I thought I'd ever see, and while the quality of this image is "meh" this might tell you something about the sharpness of this lens for close-ups. It's an outstanding optic.

14mm Lens

This is great. It's wide. You can go wider, but this isn't bad at all.

This corresponds with about 21mm in the 35mm world, which is a special place. somewhere between 20mm and 24mm is that lens that looks wide, but not disturbingly so to the viewer. This can look natural, and can make for striking compositions.

OK, enough of the fun stuff.

Here's the honest advice:

  • Most of your landscape work is going to be shot at f8 or so. Not smaller than that due to diffraction issues, and most lenses are sharpest about 3 stops down from maximum aperture. You don't want to spend more money and carry more weight if you're just going to use it while hiking.
  • The last point means the 18mm is better for your use than the 23mm, and the 60mm wins over the 56mm. It's not an issue of quality - they're all good. It's an issue of size and cost. The 56mm excels for people photos wide open, but most landscape folks won't use it that way very frequently. This also might argue for the 27mm over the 35mm - it's small, but I have no experience with it.
  • The 18-55mm lens isn't expensive and it performs really well. And it replaces three prime lenses.  The primes are probably sharper, but since you'll be shooting at f8 anyway that doesn't matter a whole lot. You can save weight and effort going with the zoom instead. (I don't like zooms, but that's a personal thing.)
  • The 14mm is a winner, but the wide zoom is a good choice too. It's also a very good performer, and it's more flexible. Neither is a bad choice, really. I went 14mm, because zooms make me lazy - I take better photos if I have to work harder.
  • I find that a tripod lets me shoot at lower shutter speeds, but it's also a compositional tool. Mounting the camera makes me slow down, look at the overall composition, and I do better work. Plan on using a tripod, and get an arca-swiss compatible quick release to make this actually usable. I used to always use the expensive RRS plates, but for the X-T1 that's arriving tomorrow I bought something from Sunway Photo off Amazon for reasonably cheap.

That's all I've got right now.

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Derek

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