Are Fuji primes really that good? You be the judge.

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unhappymeal Senior Member • Posts: 1,457
Are Fuji primes really that good? You be the judge.
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I promise this is not off-topic. An interesting question that was raised in a recently posted thread (https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4589204) was that Fuji is beating Olympus and Panasonic at its own game with (relatively) compact, excellent primes at a fraction of the price of full frame. I myself have argued this line of thinking and decided since I have lenses, let's put it to the test.

I set out today with my walking partner (the dog), the Olympus Pen-F with the PL 42.5 f/1.2 and the Fujifilm X-E3 with the Fujinon XF 56 f/1.2 APD. I tossed in the Sony A7R III with the Sigma 45 f/2.8 DG DN just for the fun of it, because it has really pleasant rendering.

These tests were by no means scientific, but a few thoughts came to mind:

1. I think that Fuji has the market cornered on the best manual shooting experience. The shutter speed dial lets you select hard stops and then you can use the command dial to increase shutter speed in 1/3 stop increments up to 2/3 of a stop above or below your selection. Almost all their lenses have aperture rings with hard clicks and the EVF allows you to use a Picture-in-Picture mode with split focusing screen when manually focusing. Having a hard dial to swap between M,C,S is also a fantastic design. It's also really nice being able to look down at your camera body and seeing what your settings are. However....

2. All the manual focus aids are important because the AF motors on their older lenses are dogs. It's been a while since I had a Fuji body and my memory was colouring the shooting experience. The APD filter on the XF 56 f/1.2 forces the body to only use Contract Detect and it's not even close. I had to shoot the Fuji lens in single spot S-AF or C-AF with manual override otherwise it would constantly hunt. The Nocticron focused almost instantly in C-AF. The Fuji also drops from 8 fps to 5 fps if you want to use the AF points across the entire sensor

3. The Fuji setup is lighter, but that's to be expected because the body is 100g lighter. Handling is better on the Fuji because it has a nice little built-in grip and the XF 56 f/1.2 is stubbier. Both have ergonomic/design quirks that make you go "what was the designer thinking?". Fuji has what amounts to a 2mm eye relief point and its Quick Menu/Back Button AF button on the thumb rest. Olympus has that terrible placement of the colour wheel and the front Fn button, the asymmetric strap lugs, and that D-Pad/hot key hybrid that I've come to loathe.

4. I do not like what X-Trans does to foliage, full stop. These are SOOC jpegs that were just cropped a bit in DxO, so you cannot argue it's my post processing.

Anyways, here's the SOOC jpegs. Yes, I know the framing isn't identical, but we are working with different aspect ratios and an impatient dog here.

Fuji X-E3 + XF 56 f/1.2 APD

Olympus Pen-F + PL 42.5 f/1.2 Noct

Sony A7R III Sigma 45 f/2.8 DG DN - so neon green...

Fuji X-E3 + XF 56 f/1.2 APD - The x-trans sensor ruins the foliage in the background

Olympus Pen-F + PL 42.5 f/1.2 Noct

I think the Nocticron is the sharper lens wide open. It also has what appears to be more contrast and what looks like greater separation between the subject and background. The bokeh, as expected, is slightly creamier on the XF 56 f/1.2 APD with no hard specular highlights around the out-of-focus highlights. I guess the APD filter does actually work. My favourite rendering actually goes to the Sigma. Shame about the awful handling on the Sony. Whoever at Sony thought it was a good idea to force you to switch AF modes to manually override Wide Area AF tracking should be slapped in the face.

Next up, I think I'll compare the XF 23 f/1.4 R and Olympus 17 f/1.2 Pro, as well as the XF 23 f/2 WR.

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