Last Updated on 12/23/2014 by Chris Gampat
Fujifilm’s X-system has been lacking a serious mid-to-long range telephoto zoom. The last and only zoom like this that we reviewed was the XF 55-200mm f3.5-4.8, which, given its construction, zoomed externally. It also had a variable aperture, and while it was slightly faster than most comparable zooms, it was still a variable aperture. Now, we have the XF50-140mm f2.8, a dense metal barrel with internal zooming, a big lens hood, and a tripod collar that makes the whole thing look like a spaceship.
With that said, it’s very nice.
Pros and Cons
-Internal zooming keeps things reasonably compact
-Wonderfully sharp images
-Very nice bokeh, if that matters to you
-Tripod collar makes for a good grip
-Prepare to drop serious cash. This lens ain’t cheap.
-Focusing ring moves a bit too slowly
We used the Fujifilm XF50-140mm f2.8 with an X-Pro1.
Courtesy of B&H Photo Video’s listing:
- X-Mount Lens/APS-C Format
- 76-213mm (35mm Equivalent)
- Aperture Range: f/2.8 to f/22
- Five ED Elements & One Super ED Element
- Nano-GI and HT-EBC Lens Coatings
- Optical Image Stabilization
- Triple Linear Autofocus Motor
- Inner Focusing and Zoom Design
- Weather-Sealed Construction
- Seven-Blade Rounded Diaphragm
Let’s go back to the lead image for a moment. This is the lens with all the accoutrements, that is to say the lens hood and tripod collar which add considerably dimensions. You’ll notice that the tripod collar is so large that the camera and lens essentially stand up. The lens is heavy enough that it counterbalances the weight of the X-Pro1, so that it doesn’t tip backwards.
Here, you have a better view of the three rings: focusing at the front, zoom in the middle and aperture at the back. Both the aperture and focusing rings are ribbed metal, while the large zoom ring is texturized rubber.
On the left side of the lens at the back is the Optical Image Stabilization switch and the tripod collar adjustment nob. The tripod mount itself can completely detach from the lens via two knobs, one of which is visible here. The knob directly behind the OIS switch loosens the collar so that you can rotate the camera and lens, should you need to while using a tripod or monopod.
Here’s a slightly better perspective as to how large this lens is relative to the camera. For most of my X-life, I’ve used either the 35mm f1.4 or the 27mm f2.8, both of which are considerably smaller than this lens here, but you’re not buying this lens because you want something small.
This is a weather-sealed, mostly metal behemoth for the X-series with a constant aperture to boot. One of the things we noted in our review of the 55-200mm f3.5-4.8 was that we wished it had a constant aperture. Now, we have that lens at double the price and with 60mm shaved off the front of it. The crop factor gives it an equivalent 75-210mm, which puts it in mostly the same league as other zooms in larger systems. We’re looking at you Canon L and Sony G.
One thing I did notice was that I could hear the lens. That is to say, there was a light humming that sounded like an old modem when I held it to my ear. The Editor-in-Chief assured me that it was the image stabilization hard at work, but even so, it was somewhat strange to hear the elements inside.
Ease of Use
The only thing to get used to is the size. If you’re an X-series user who’s only had face time with shorter primes, this might take some time to get the hang of, and you’ll also need to make sure your firmware is up to date. When I pulled this out of the box, I couldn’t do anything with it because my X-Pro1 didn’t recognize it. So, if you haven’t updated your firmware lately, do so. Otherwise, it’ll be a lemon until you do. There’s also no depth-of-field scale, and while it would be a welcomed addition, its absence isn’t a deal breaker.
The autofocus was mighty quick and accurate, and I can only imagine how well it would have performed on the X-T1. Admittedly, I preferred the AF to manually focusing if only because the focusing ring moved a bit too slowly, though in low light, I found that I was manually focusing much more.
An X-series telephoto zoom with a constant aperture? What a dream! The lens consistently produced stellar image quality that made me with I didn’t have to send it back. Image quality was consistent throughout the zoom range. Whether it was portraiture, architectural or street photo, the 50-140mm performed better than I could have hoped for. Think of it as a souped-up version of its variable aperture sibling. Granted, it comes in 60mm shorter, but that’s no great trouble. The lens would have been longer and heavier had Fujifilm made it 50-200mm.
Ah, the wonderful world of bokeh at f2.8. With seven rounded aperture blades, the 50-140mm f2.8 renders bokeh very nicely, which makes it great for portraitists, wedding photographers, and folks who hold bokeh as one of the essential elements of an image.
Oh my, as Takei would say. This lens is tremendously sharp, both wide open and stopped down. With good light, it sings, and even as the good light goes away, it manages to stay on point, thought that has as much to do with the X-Pro1’s capacity in low light as it does the lens’s design. I’d wager it does even better with the X-T1.
The XF50-140mm f2.8 isn’t the punchiest with colors. The 35mm f1.4 is a fan favorite here at the Phoblographer, and we even preferred that in terms of color rendition to the venerable 56mm f1.2. That is not to say the 50-140mm doesn’t render colors well. We just find that Fujifilm’s primes handle color better than their zooms, though it’s safe to say that this lens does far better than the 55-200mm f3.5-4.8.
Color fringing isn’t a problem with this lens. During the course of the review period, it wasn’t something that even crossed our minds. The 50-140mm f2.8 colors within the lines.
Extra Image Samples
-Internal zooming keeps it reasonably compact
-Fixed aperture ensures stellar performance throughout the zoom range
-The focusing ring moves a bit too slowly, but there are more moving parts
The Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f2.8 is Fujifilm’s first serious entry in the telephoto zoom arena. Fast aperture primes have been Fujifilm’s bread and butter up until this point, and the XF55-200mm f3.5-4.8 was just a toe in the water. The 55-200mm was a swell lens to work with, but it left us wanting more, namely a fixed aperture. Now, we have it, and with the crop factor, it’s comparable to the standard 70-200mm f2.8 across the major manufacturers, without the white body.
The 50-140mm f2.8 has every design aspect that has distinguished Fujifilm’s X-series from the competition, and it’s the first real sign of Fujifilm’s commitment to broadening its reach, to making it a well-rounded system. It’s a major boon for folks looking to do sports photography who might’ve felt left out by the lack of telephoto zoom options where a constant aperture is a must. It’s also a major plus for portraitists who want a little variety in their focal lengths. And hey, it’s weather-sealed, too, which means that there should be no excuses for your not shooting in rain, sleet or snow.
This lens is, however, a significant investment. At $1,599, it’s one of those purchases that’ll put the rest of your “t0 buy” list on hold for a while. Neither the camera nor the lens makes the photographer, but certain types of photography command certain types of gear. Ultimately, it’s about creative vision, and that vision is made possible by proper tools. If you’re an X-Series shooter and you find that you’ve been needing a telephoto zoom, this is the lens to move up to.
As Fujifilm’s lineup expands, what should hopefully be next is a fixed aperture version of its 18-55mm f2.8-4. That’s the kit lens that wowed us with the X-E2, and it’s one that could definitely benefit from a fixed f2.8 throughout the zoom range. That will help position Fujifilm’s X-series as a great choice for photojournalists, too. The lenses you’d most likely find in a photojournalist’s kit is 24-70mm f2.8 and a 70-200mm f2.8 because those cover the range of possibilities for any news event. Given how dynamic news events can be, a photojournalist can readily compromise on aperture.
Fujifilm has proven that it can make variable aperture lenses better than the competition. Now, it needs to prove that it can make fixed aperture zooms that can go toe-to-toe with comparable options from the major manufacturers. We’re sure they can do it. This lens is a strong step forward.
All things considered, we award the Fujifilm XF50-140mm f2.8 five stars out of five and our Editor’s Choice Award.