Photography News | Issue 34 | absolutephoto.com
Fujifilm Just five years old, the Fujifilm X series has made a significant inroads among pro and enthusiast photographers. We catch up with general manager Theo Georghiades for a quick chat Lens special
Words by Roger Payne
It’s hard to think of another manufacturer that’s been introducing lenses at the same rate as Fujifilmin recent years. Currently celebrating its fifth anniversary, the X series has proved to be hugely popular among photographers who like their camera gear small, light and retro. Products like the X-T1 have really struck a chord and Fujifilm celebrated the anniversary with the launch of the X-Pro2. The lens range has swelled from an initial three primes to a current count of 22 optics if you include teleconverters and XC kit lenses. The range does feature some cutting-edge technologies – you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more effective OIS than the one in selected XF lenses – but there’s one simple defining characteristic that has seen new users flocking to the brand, many abandoning their DSLR kits en route, and that’s image quality. “We have made a name for ourselves over recent years because pretty much every lens we bring out has done amazingly well purely because of the quality it offers,” enthuses Theo Georghiades, Fujifilm UK’s general manager for Electronic Imaging. “The team working on the line-up is the same team that works on our broadcast lenses and other high-end applications. They’ve taken their experience and wealth of knowledge and brought it down to the XF range. “The lenses look great, perfectly complementing the cameras, and I think the value for money is very good as well,” Theo continues. “We’re not the cheapest, but we’re not here to make a cheap range of lenses, we’re here to make the best quality lens we can for the most affordable price. Pound for pound our lenses stack up with any other manufacturer’s optics.” Fujifilm’s X series philosophy seems to have struck a chord with a particular group of photographers and the company has always prided itself on the constant dialogue it maintains between itself and the photographic community. “The system is predominantly built with photographers in mind and I feel that puts us apart from other brands,” explains Theo. “We talk to photographers a lot and, from a product planning point of view, we discuss what the photographer
We felt that offering prime lenses would attract
wants from the system. This means we’re always producing lenses that fit within the existing range and that consumers will want to buy.” Recent additions to the range have seen Fujifilm answer one of the key issues for the line-up; the lack of telephotos. The XF100-400mm f/4-5.6 joined the existing XF50- 140mm f/2.8 to put wildlife and sporting action well within reach, especially if coupled with either the 1.4x or 2x teleconverters. But this is a range that remains true to its prime lens roots with more than half of the range having a single focal length. “We wanted to differentiate ourselves away from traditional DSLR andwe felt that offering prime lenses would attract photographers who really think about how they shoot,” says Theo, explaining the company’s prime-centric offering. “Zoom lenses are very functional, but primes make you think more carefully and help you enjoy photography more – something that had been lost for many years. I was lucky enough to be on the X series product planning panel from an early stage and there was lots of discussion about the X100 having a prime lens. To launch a camera with a fixed lens was a bold move, but it was the right foundation and when we started discussing the X-Pro1, we were confident about going after fast aperture prime lenses.” Fujifilm’s drive to deliver the right products for its ever-growing following shows no sign of abating, either. “We will always look to innovate and push the boundaries on our lens technology,” Theo confirms. “We have a lens road map update coming out very soon.” photographers who really think about how they shoot
XF35mmf/1.4R £429 The 35mm f/1.4 was one of the original X series lenses when it was introduced alongside the X-Pro1 body. It might be five years old but with a focal length of 53mm in the 35mm format, it remains one of Fujifilm’s most popular sellers, being fast, compact and suitable for a wide subject range. Of course, it is optically still in the top drawer with an impressive performance frommaximum aperture onwards. The only key feature lacking is weatherproofing, a feature that is getting more common on X series cameras. XF10-24mmf/4ROIS £769 This wide-angle zoom has the equivalent focal length of 15-36mm in the 35mm format so it is a lens well suited to scenics, interiors and pictorial use where dramatic foregrounds are required. Its minimum focusing distance is 24mm so no problem if you want to fill the frame with a dominant foreground subject. With a maximum aperture of f/4, this isn’t the fastest lens around but it does feature Fujifilm’s OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) system for shake-free results at slow shutter speeds. XF56mmf/1.2 R £769 This lens (equivalent to 85mm in the 35mm format) has proved immensely popular among portrait and social photographers, not just for its incredibly fast maximum aperture but also for its beautiful background bokeh and shallow depth-of-field at wide apertures. Its advanced optical design that includes two ED (extra-low dispersion) and one double-sided aspherical element delivers high optical quality with minimal spherical and chromatic aberrations. XF50-140mmf/2.8RLMOISWR £1159 Encompassing a very popular selection of telephoto focal lengths (76-213mm in the 35mm format) with a fast constant f/2.8 aperture, this lens has proved essential for a broad range of subject matter, from portrait and nature to action and street work. The WR designation means the lens is weatherproofed so makes an ideal partner to the Fujifilm X-T1 and X-Pro2 when shooting in challenging weather conditions. Other headline features include the AF system using a triple linear motor for the swiftest, near silent focusing even in poor lighting and Fujifilm’s OIS for handheld shooting at slow shutter speeds.
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