May 21, 2018

Fujifilm XF80mm Macro Review

It's been a while since i owned a macro lens.  The only one i've ever purchased was a Tamron 90mm f2.8 more than a decade ago, long before i ever started shooting for a living.   I was working a stressful job at an automotive dealership and photography became an escape for me.  The flowers and bugs were therapeutic to photograph and i wanted to be able to get closer.  Having only just purchased my first DSLR, a Nikon D70s i had only the kit lens which was an 18-70mm that wasn't allowing me to get close to my subjects.  I still remember shelling out $450 on Ebay for the Tamron thinking i was mad for spending so much money on a lens!

I made a mistake a few years back and i sold the Tamron for some reason.  And since then i've been getting by with a set of extension tubes and my XF primes, mainly the 35mm f1.4 whenever i needed to get close.

A few month back i decided it was time that a macro lens came back into my possession.  I had an idea for a personal project i want to shoot and 1:1 magnification would be necessary to make it happen.  The XF 80mm f2.8 would be perfect.

This lens focus via linear motors similar to most of Fujifilm's modern lenses such as the XF35mm f2, XF50mm f2 and XF90mm f2.  When powered off some of the lens elements are free to slide back and forth which creates a clunking sound.  When you turn the camera on linear motors hold the elements in place which eliminates any clunking noises.  This lens makes a strange noise when powered up compared to any of the other XF lenses with linear motors.  It's hard to describe but if i were to verbalize it it would go something like 'whir whir whir'.  It's kind of odd, really.  In good light the focusing system is fast and accurate and quite silent.  The lens offers a focus limiter switch with three settings; Full, 0.5m to Infinity, and .25m to 0.5m.  Appropriate use of the switch makes a world of difference in use and reduces or eliminates most if not all hunting.  Do pay attention to where the switch is set or you will be wondering why it won't focus correctly for you!  It's most often recommended to use manual focus with a macro lens but i found myself using AF, even at high magnification.  When i used manual focus and rocked my body back and forth to shift DOF i found i was taking about twice as many images as compared to simply using the AF at it's narrowest range via the limiter switch with a small focus point right where i wanted critical focus.  I tried over and over and found the shutter mash AF technique work much better than i could do by focusing manually and rocking.  Try it and see if it works for you.  Who knows.  Your mileage may vary!  In low light you will find that this lens isn't as good as some of Fujifilm's other lenses such as the XF16-55 or XF50-140.  Both of those lenses will run circles around the XF80mm in the dark which tends to hunt at times.  But i doubt many of us will utilize the XF80mm like we would either of the work horse red badge XF zooms.

The lens also offers Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) with five stops of stabilization.  In practice it works very well and to have a viewfinder that is stable and not jumping around, especially at high magnification is very welcoming. 

Out of all of the XF lenses i own this one has the best aperture ring I've used.  You have to use effort to make it turn which means accidentally moving is tough to do.  The 35mm f2 is good, but this one is better!  I wish all of the new lenses moving forward would have aperture rings that feel just like this one.  It offers 1/3 stop increments except from f22 to A where there is no click in-between.

Weather sealing seems almost standard on all recent XF primes and this one is no exception.  The lens uses an extensive system of seals throughout the lens and has a rubber gasket to enclose the lens mount on your Fujfilm camera.

Has anyone noticed that this is the first XF lens not to have labeling around the front element?  Instead the nomenclature is written around the lens barrel towards the end of the lens.  This is a good move which would eliminate any reflections from written letters that may come the use of any sort of screw on filter.  I wouldn't mind seeing all XF lenses like this in the future.

More good news is that the XF80mm is compatible with both the 1.4 and 2X teleconverters!  I haven't tried it with the 2X but i can attest that it performs admiringly with the 1.4 teleconverter.  I could barely tell the difference in image quality between images taken with and without the teleconverter in place.

I'll say that after shooting a few thousand frames with this lens i can confidently say that i'm head over heals in love with it.  Image quality is outstanding, even wide open.  Stop it down just a hair and it rivals, if not surpasses Fujifilm's sharpest lenses pervious to this release, including the XF90mm f2 which is incredibly sharp.  The bokeh is beautiful and the AF system works extremely well in good light and at high magnification.

Enough of the techy BS.  The I'd much rather tell the story of how this lens performs via my photos.  All of these are from a recent family vacation to Florida.  I've three young children which kept me from straying too far from home base on my own.  That suited me fine as i've always found it easy to find subjects with a macro lens in a very small area.  Every photo you see that follows was taken within the confines of the garden of the home where we stayed.  The first set of image were all taken without the teleconverter.  Following is a series with the 1.4 teleconverter.  All images are out of camera JPEGs using either the standard or vivid film simulations from an X-H1.  I used Auto ISO with a limit of ISO 12,800. Very minor exposure adjustments were done to some of the images and three or four were cropped slightly.  Otherwise these should offer you a good feel for what any Fujifilm camera could output with this lens attached.





























































All images from this point onward were taken with the XF80mm and the 1.4X teleconverter.







































Thanks so much for popping by!


Contact me via email at 'scott@roninphoto.ca' or call (709) 639-5335.  I'm located in Steady Brook, on the west coast of Newfoundland, in Canada.

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