The world’s fastest autofocus lens is here and it looks like a beauty. We take a first look
Fujifilm Fujinon XF 50mm: First impressions
We were lucky enough to be able to try a pre-production sample of the Fujinon XF 50mm F1.0 R WR for a couple of days, but it really only took five minutes of shooting to see that this looks set to be a very special lens. It’s as sharp as it needs to be at f/1, no matter where you place the subject within the frame, and becomes bitingly sharp on stopping down to f/5.6.
Crucially, it focuses accurately without any fuss, and the AF speed is just fine as long as you accept that it’s a portrait lens, and not designed for indoor sports. Despite its bulk, the lens handles perfectly well on the X-T4, although its large diameter means the camera won’t sit fiat on a table.
There’s sure to be a lively debate over this lens’s value proposition compared to the existing XF 56 mm f/1.2 R, which gives lovely results at a fraction of the size and price. But you’ll always pay a premium for ultra-fast lenses. The point is that you should also get premium results, which this lens certainly looks set to deliver.
Back in January, Fujifilm showed us one of the first working samples of its latest and most striking optic: the Fujinon XF 50mm f/1.0 R WR. Now the lens has arrived for real. This super-large aperture, short telephoto prime is designed for wedding and portrait shooters, allowing isolation of the subject against a smooth, blurred background. On the firm’s APS-C cameras, it provides a pictorial effect similar to a 75 mm f/1.4 lens on full frame, in terms of angle of view and depth of field.
This is the world’s first f/1.0 autofocus lens that’s been specifically designed for use on mirrorless cameras. Thanks to the inherent accuracy of on-sensor AF, it promises to be genuinely practical in a way that isn’t always true of ultra-fast lenses on DSLRs. At £1,499, it’s not ridiculously expensive either, especially when you consider that Canon’s full-frame RF 50mm f/1.2L USM costs over £800 more, while also being considerably larger and heavier.
Features and design
Optically, the lens comprises 12 elements in 9 groups, including one aspherical and two ED glass elements to suppress aberrations. Strikingly, the large front element has a convex profile. Fujifilm has deliberately designed-in a little spherical aberration, trading off wide-open sharpness for more attractively blurred backgrounds. This is absolutely the right way to make a fast prime, where real-world image quality is defined as much by the quality of the bokeh as by sharpness. Focusing is achieved by moving the rear elements.
The robust all-metal barrel sports a large, smoothly rotating manual focus ring, along with a slim aperture ring that has nicely weighted clicks at 1/3-stop increments, and controls a diaphragm with 9 curved blades that stops down to f/16. The bowl-shaped plastic hood reverses for storage; in this position it blocks the focus ring, but leaves the aperture ring unhindered.
Weather sealed: The barrel is sealed in 11 places against dust and moisture, and freezeproof to -10°C.
X mount: The lens is exclusively for use on Fujilm’s X-system APS-C mirrorless cameras.
At a glance:
■ Takes Ø 77mm filters
■ 70 cm minimum focus
■ 87 mm diameter x 104 mm length
■ 845 g in weight