Review: Fujifilm GF 50mm F3.5 R LM WR (The Perfect Walk Around Lens)

If you’ve been looking for the perfect pancake lens for your Fujifilm GFX camera, the Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5 is for you.

Fujifilm’s Medium Format platform has come on in leaps and bounds since the GFX 50S was introduced. The platform now has three excellent cameras to its name, and thanks to the Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5 R LM WR lens, photographers who use the platform have nine first-party lenses to choose from. What makes this lens different from primes that have come before it on the platform? The GF 50mm f3.5 is a 40mm f2.8 equivalent pancake lens that should please street photographers, photo walkers, documentarians, and many more to no end. In July, we got to spend a day with a pre-production model of the lens. We have been eager to see if anything has changed in the full retail version. Check out our full review after the break.

We’re happy to report that not much has changed at all with the GF 50mm f3.5 R LM WR since we had the pre-production version of the lens in our hands, and this is a great thing. In the few short hours we got to play with that version, we came away with smiles on our faces for several reasons. We’re pleased to say we are just as smitten with the lens during our full review period. The 40mm equivalent focal length may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there is no doubt about it, in our opinion, this lens may be the perfect walk-around lens for the GFX platform. Read through the review and check out the image samples to see if you think this lens is for you.

 

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Lovely image quality
  • Super fast to focus, and quiet
  • Lightweight and easy to use
  • Easy to use aperture control and focus rings
  • Weather sealing
  • F2.8 equivalent aperture on the Medium Format platform, so bokeh is quite pleasing
  • outstanding value (under $1,000) for a pancake lens on this platform

Cons

  • The little lens cap for the hood can be a bit finicky at times
  • You cannot use filters with the lens hood in place
  • Colors are a bit undersaturated
  • This lens is very sharp, but not the sharpest on the platform

 

Gear Used

We tested the Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5 R LM WR on the Fujifilm GFX 100.

 

Technical Specifications

The technical specifications for this lens have been taken from our First Impressions post on this lens.

 

Lens configuration

9 elements in 6 groups (includes 1 aspherical element)

Focal length
(35mm format equivalent) – f=50mm (40mm)

Angle of view 
57.4 degrees

Max. aperture
F3.5

Min. aperture
F32

Aperture control, number of blades, step size
9 (rounded diaphragm opening), 1/3EV (20 stops)

Focus range
(from the sensor surface), 0.55m and beyond

Max. magnification
0.1x

External dimensions:
Diameter x Length (approx.)
(Distance from camera lens mount flange)
3.31in x 1.89in (84mm x 48mm)

Weight (approx.)
(excluding the lens cap, lens hood, and hood cap) 335g (11.8 oz.)

Filter size
62mm

 

Ergonomics

Taken from our first impressions post

Fujifilm FUJINON GF50mm

When you first look at this lens, you will be hard-pressed to believe this is a pancake lens. Compared to lenses on other platforms, the Fujifilm GF 50mm f3,5 R LM WR has some heft to it, but once you remember this is a Medium Format lens, and you think about how big other lenses on the platform are, you begin to see just how pancake-like it really is.

The Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5 is nice and light, and it would make a perfect companion for the smaller, sleeker Fujifilm GFX 50R. Weighing in at just 0.73lbs, you can barely tell the lens is attached at all. From the top-down view you see above, you can see the aperture control ring at the back of the lens and the small, but easy to use focus ring at the front.

Around the business end of things, you can see how tiny the front element is. This is of course, about par for the course when it comes to pancake lenses in general, and it really makes you marvel at the incredibly sharp images that this lens can produce even more. The lens is actually very minimalist when it comes to the design. There are no flashy markings on the body of the lens, just what needs to be there, and that’s a-okay with us.

Fujifilm FUJINON GF50mm

As you can see, there’s little in the way of controls on this lens. There are no switches. Just the aperture control ring and the focus ring. The lens hood is quite an ingenious design. Here you can see the metal hood screwed into the front of the lens. It protrudes just a little from the edge of the body, and overall it does its job rather well. The only annoying thing about this design is the small lens cap that fits into the hood, and the fact that you cannot use filters while the hood is in place.

The lens itself is really quite small when placed up against the larger Fujifilm Medium Format bodies. The lens is just 3.31 inches in length and has a diameter of only 1,89 inches. This is, without a doubt, one of the nicest lenses to hold in your hands on the GFX platform. It’s a pure joy to use, and those with either the Fujifilm GFX 50S, the 50R or the GFX 100 will like how it feels on their cameras, and in their hands.

 

Build Quality

 

Just like other lenses in the GF line up, the build quality overall on the Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5 R LM WR is superb. The fit and finish are fantastic. The metal body of the lens feels excellent in the hands. The focus ring is easy to use and is silky smooth when turning, and the aperture control ring gives that satisfying clicky feedback that we have come to know and love with Fujifilm lenses. This Fujifilm lens also has the WR designation which means that it’s weather sealed. While it did not rain during our review period, we can say that you will likely have no issues in some big downpours based on our experience with other WR designated Fujifilm lenses. The Fujifilm GF50mm f3.5 may be small in size for a Medium Format lens, but it’s built just as solidly as others in the GF line up. Treat this lens right, and it will last you a long time.

 

“The fit and finish are fantastic. The metal body of the lens feels excellent in the hands.”

 

Ease of Use

 

The Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5 R LM WR is a very simplistic, and therefore, a very straightforward lens to use. If you have spent time with any new Fujifilm lenses, you’ll know that apart from the aperture control ring and the focus ring, there’s little in the way of controls on the body. Simply put the lens on your camera, power it up, point, acquire focus, and shoot. It’s really that easy. If you would like the camera to control the aperture, you can twist the dial to the prominent red A on the ring, if you would like to be in control just simply select the aperture you would like to use. If you want to use filters with this lens, you’ll be needing filters in the flavor of 62mm. Just remember, you cannot use filters on this lens with the screw-in lens hood in place.

 

Autofocus

 

The autofocus performance is excellent. The Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5 is one snappy customer, and it will not leave you wanting more when it comes to focus acquisition times, or when it comes to tracking performance. Not only is this lens incredibly fast to find focus and lock on, but it is also very, very quiet too when compared to another GF prime lens; the Fujifilm GF 63mm F2.8 R WR.

The GF 63mm even when used on the GFX 100 was loud, it would hunt, and was that much slower overall when it came to finding focus. Whether you’re in excellent, good, or low light, the GF 50mm f3.5 is fast and has virtually no issues with hunting.  This is one of the many reasons why this lens is such an excellent lens for photo walks, street photography, event photography, and documentary work.

 

Image Quality

 

Fujfiilm GF50mm F3.5

This is what you’re all here for, to find out what the Fujifilm GF50mm f3,5 R LM WR can do when it comes to the image quality. I’m happy to say that you will not be disappointed in the slightest with this lens. The Fujifilm GF50mm f3.5 is a stunner in almost every area. Images are sharp, there’s little to no distortion, and you’ll find no vignetting. This pancake lens is a joy to use. Perhaps the only bad thing about this lens is that it seems to produce slightly muted colors. Let’s take a closer look.

Bokeh

If you’re a bokeh fiend, you’ll be quite happy with the out of focus areas that the Fujifilm GF50mm f3.5 can produce. Is the bokeh the smoothest, or creamiest we’ve seen? No, it’s not, but it’s still pleasing to the eye none the less. With an effective aperture of f2.8 when compared to full-frame options, the GF50mm isn’t ultra-fast, but it can still produce some beautiful subject isolation when you’re close enough to your subject. There is really very little to complain about here.

Chromatic Aberration

Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5

Another win for the GF50mm f3,5 is when it comes to chromatic aberration and distortion control. There are nine elements in total inside the lens, and one of them is an aspherical lens. The elements and coatings on the glass combine very well. During our time shooting with the GF 50mm, we did not notice any chromatic aberration, nor did we have any problems with distortion.

Color Rendition

This is one area where we wish the Fujifilm GF50mm f3.5 performed a little better. At the end of the day, it’s not a deal-breaker simply because you can bump up the saturation all you want during post, just know that images straight out of the camera will be a little lacking in the color department. The scene above in person is beautiful and vibrant, but here you can see the colors being muted. They still look nice, but they lack the punch that was present. The result was the same across various white balances too. If you buy the Fujifilm GF 50mm f3,5, the saturation slider during post will be one that gets moved to the positive side of things by a few clicks. Be sure to also shoot in the Velvia color profile mode.

Sharpness

If we are to continue to pit this lens against the Fujifilm GF63mm f2.8, sharpness is one area where that particular lens outshines the GF 50mm f3.5, but honestly, it’s not by a considerable margin. Don’t get us wrong here, the GF50mm is very sharp, and there will be very little in the way of complaints from photographers who use this lens, but there is a slight difference between the two. At the end of the day, it’s not worth splitting hairs over.  You’ll be plenty pleased with the sharpness of this lens.

Captured with the GFX100, and the Fujifilm GF50mm f3,5 at f22.

The lens is nice and sharp out towards the edges at f3.5, and you’ll get full corner-to-corner sharpness by f5.6. Diffraction starts to come in to play when you start shooting around f22, but even then you’ve nothing to worry about. Shoot, be happy and enjoy your images.

Additional Image Samples

Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5

Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5 R LM WR

Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5 R LM WR

Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5

Fujifilm FUJINON GF50mm

Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5

Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5

Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5

Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5

Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5

Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5

Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5

Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5

Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5

Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5

Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5

Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5

Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5

Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5

Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5

Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5

 

Conclusion

Likes

  • It’s swift to focus
  • The lens is nice and light
  • It can resolve incredible amounts of detail
  • Bokeh is really quite pleasant
  • The autofocus motor is whisper-quiet

Dislikes

  • The tiny lens cap for the hood
  • You can’t use filters with the hood in place
  • Slightly desaturated colors

Users of the GFX platform finally have an excellent light lens that they can tote around with them all day. The Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5 R LM WR is a fantastic pancake lens that was a delight to use on the GFX 100. I can only imagine it being even more fun to use on a camera like the GFX 50R that’s much smaller and lighter than the GFX 100. We had a lot of fun using this lens as a walk-around lens, and we’re sure that other GFX users will enjoy using it for photo walks too.

The insanely fast focus speeds make it great for street photography and documentary work, and it makes shooting events easy too. While the color reproduction might be a little subdued straight out of the camera, this is no reason to shy away from this lens, in fact, this and the fact you cannot use filters with the hood in place are the only negative things we have to say about it. The Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5 R LM WR is one of those lenses that you can slap on your camera and just leave it there. You’ll get amazing results with it, and it will not hamper you in any way thanks to its small size and overall performance. Couple this with the fact that this is a sub $1000 lens and you have a winner on your hands.

The Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5 scores an impressive four out of five stars. If you own any of the Fujifilm GFX cameras, you should definitely add this lens to your collection. We’re sure that you will find this lens attached to your camera more than others, and at just $999, it’s an absolute steal. If you’d like to add one to your GF lens library, head on over to Amazon to pick one up.