Photographers invest in medium format because that larger sensor has more light gathering and bokeh-creating prowess. Yet, look down the list of medium format lenses; the aperture numbers are typically higher than that of full frame. The new Fujifilm GF 55mm f1.7 R WR is one of the widest aperture optics for the GFX system, following the 80mm f1.7. Equivalent to roughly a 44mm f1.3 on full frame, the lens brings a view close to that of human vision, allowing for a bit of background compression and a little creative perspective distortion.
But the best part of the Fujifilm GF 55mm f1.7 R WR isn’t just that wide aperture — the dreamy lens flare pairs perfectly with Fuji colors. Of course, just like one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, one photographer’s dream flare is a pixel peeper’s pet peeve.
Table of Contents
The Big Picture
The Fujifilm GF 55mm f1.7 R WR is easy to fall in love with — that is, if you love flare, bokeh, and dreamy colors. The lens has enough technical savvy to deliver tack sharpness even on the GFX system’s highest-resolution sensors. While the sharpness is modern, the colors and propensity for flare are absolute classics. Direct the lens at the sun and capture dreamlike streaky sunshine that, angled just right, will also create a burst of colorful ghosting spots.
But, the ghosting one photographer loves is another photographer’s terrifying poltergeist. In that case, those ghosting spots can be avoided with a hood and adjusting the lens angle. The only other real downsides I uncovered are expected for medium format — the lens is pricey, heavy, and occasionally slower to focus.
I’m giving the Fujifilm GF 55mm f1.7 R WR five out of five stars.
- Wide f1.7 aperture on medium format
- Equivalent to a 44mm, the lens is a happy medium between getting some background softness and being able to creatively use perspective distortion
- Weather-sealed, metal barrel
- Lovely colors
- It’s sharp, even at 102 megapixels
- Lovely soft flare and colorful ghosting
- Some photographers don’t like ghosting (I’m not one of them)
- Autofocus misses with the fastest subjects heading straight for the camera
- It’s heavy and pricey
I tested the Fujifilm GF 55mm f1.7 R WR lens with the Fujifilm GFX100 II. Both camera and lens were a short-term loan from Fujifilm.
The Fujifilm GF 55mm f1.7 isn’t filling in a focal length hole in Fujifilm’s medium format lens line-up but instead adds another wide aperture option to the line-up. Along with the GF 80mm f1.7, it’s one of the widest apertures available for Fujifilm’s medium format line. The lens brings a 44mm full frame equivalent with an ultra-wide aperture. As that aperture suggests, the lens is designed for bokeh, including 12 rounded aperture blades.
The Fujifilm GF 55mm f1.7 feels like a big sibling to the X line’s 50mm f1. And as a chunkier sibling to my favorite lens, I had no issues using the glass.
The Fujifilm GF 55mm f1.7 R WR weighs 1.7 pounds. It’s a beefier lens, but nothing that medium format photographers aren’t already expecting. Paired on the GFX100 II, I was carrying about four pounds. It was light enough to use for an hour or two without body aches, but use it all day, and you’ll get some bicep and shoulder tone in no time.
The controls on the metal barrel couldn’t be simpler — there’s just the clicked aperture ring, which has a button to lock it into auto if needed. And the focus ring. That’s it, but with a dedicated auto-to-manual focus switch on the camera, I didn’t really miss any controls.
The front of the lens takes 77mm filters.
The WR in the lens name stands for weather-resistant. I gave the lens a good splash and did not experience any adverse effects. I didn’t spot any dust on the sensor or inside the camera lens during my review.
Like most Fujifilm lenses, the GF 55mm f1.7 has a metal lens barrel. Besides feeling great, that should also help give the pricey lens a longer lifespan.
Medium format is notorious for being a bit slower than smaller cameras. Mounted on the GFX100 II, the 55mm f1.7 kept pace with walkers but not runners headed towards the lens. It grabbed onto subjects on a dark dance floor but struggled with dark-colored subjects in backlight. In short, the lens is capable of some types of active events and lifestyle portraits, but once the speed hits a running pace, it’s not the best choice.
The minimum focusing distance on the lens is 1.7 feet, which translates to a .17x macro ratio. With a 44mm equivalent in 35mm terms, I was still able to take some nice close headshots. It’s not a macro lens by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s close enough to use as a portrait lens.
Ease of Use
Using the Fujifilm GF 55mm f1.7 R WR felt much like using an X series lens. I was able to quickly jump right into using the lens. I felt right at home with the aperture dial.
The 55mm lens isn’t stabilized, so any stabilization is going to need to come from the camera body. This isn’t a deal breaker for a non-telephoto lens, and including a stabilization system would have undoubtedly increased the lens’ size and weight.
I love modern sharpness, but I want a lens that still delivers lovely flare. I want a mix of modern, gorgeous images with an homage to film colors and flare. That’s exactly what the Fujifilm GF 55mm f1.7 R WR does. The lens delivers eyelash-level sharpness mounted on the 102-megapixel GFX100 II. But direct the lens at the light and start geeking out over the Hollywood-level flare and ghosting. That mixes with a 44mm equivalent focal length that dabbles in just a bit of background compression with just a bit of perspective distortion for some really great character.
Photographers are drawn to medium format for the light-gathering capabilities and bokeh-blasting goodness. While the GF 55mm f1.7 isn’t a long focal length, the bright aperture and medium format system leave plenty of room for bokeh, even stepping down to help out the autofocus. For the most bokeh, get in close to the subject and watch the magic happen.
Points of light are rendered to soft, round bokeh balls. Bokeh only has a minor shape change towards the edges of the frame, occasionally looking a bit more oblong or, if you’re really pixel peeping, showing a slight point from the 11 aperture blades more than the perfectly rounded balls at the center.
Photographers choose Fujifilm for color. The GF 55mm f1.7 doesn’t mess with Fujifilm’s biggest asset. Colors are rendered beautifully without being oversaturated. I didn’t spot any chromatic aberration that would ruin that reputation. Just dial in your favorite film simulation and shoot.
Extreme backlighting will make those colors more challenging to capture, however. To backlight with great colors, blocking part of the light with the subject is ideal. As with any camera system, the quality of light plays a big role in the colors.
While the lens is sharp enough for pixel peepers, the Fujifilm GF 55mm f1.7 also oozes character and ghosty goodness. The sun is rendered into soft, streaky flare — which is really the best kind of flare. Slight changes in how the lens is angled or what’s blocking the sun will vary between the two types of flare. The lens will either grab streaky sunlight or really aim at the sun, streaky flare with colorful ghosting spots. The ghosting spots are really worthy of Hollywood cinema, creating either green and orange arcs or, occasionally, full circles. If you’re afraid of ghosts, just snap on the hood and adjust the lens angle as you shoot.
The GF 55mm f1.7 R WR has enough resolving power to keep up with the 102 megapixels on the Fujifilm GFX100 II. Close-up portraits were eyelash sharp. Subjects placed in the corners still had crisp edges without a noticeable drop in sharpness.
Extra Image Samples
From day one, The Phoblographer has been huge on transparency with our audience. Nothing from this review is sponsored. Further, lots of folks will post reviews and show lots of editing in the photos. The problem then becomes that anyone and everyone can do the same thing. They’re not showing what the lens can do. So we have a section in our Extra Image Samples area to show edited and unedited photos. From this, you can make a decision for yourself.
Who Should Buy It?
Fujifilm GFX shooters who love dramatic lens flare should buy this lens. The Fujifilm GF 55mm f1.7 R WR blends modern sharpness with stunning lens flare and colors. Meanwhile, the f1.7 aperture capitalizes on the bokeh potential of medium format. The sister lens to the 80mm f1.7, the 55mm lens is a happy medium between the background compression of a longer lens and the ability to create a bit of fun perspective distortion without being too wide.
If you hate colorful ghosting spots, you may want to skip this lens. Another reason to skip is the size and price. The pancake-sized Fujifilm GF 50mm f3.5 R LM WR is much smaller and more affordable, but it isn’t quite as sharp, and the aperture is not as wide.
LensRentals lists the following Fujifilm GF 55mm f1.7 R WR tech specs:
- Angle of View: 52.9°
- Autofocus: Autofocus
- Brand: Fuji
- Compatibility: Fuji G
- Filter Size: 77.0mm
- Focal Length: 55.0-55.0
- General Dimensions (ø x L): 3.7 × 3.9″ / 94.7 × 99.3mm
- Weight: 1.7 lb. / 780 g
- Hood Included: Yes
- Image Stabilization: No
- Item Type: Lens
- Max Aperture: 1.7
- Maximum Magnification: 0.17x
- Mfr. Model Number: 600023613
- Minimum Aperture: 22.0
- Minimum Focusing Distance: 1.6feet
- Mount: Fuji GF
- Groups/Elements: 10/14
- Diaphragm Blades: 11, Rounded
- Sensor Size: Medium Format
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