Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR: Keen & Versatile

 

With the Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR, Fujifilm brings a quintessential workhorse to the X-series lineup. K Madhavan Pillai puts it to the test.

Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR

Fujifilm’s XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR is the company’s answer to the archetypal full frame 70-200mm telephoto zoom (76-213mm, in this case, to be precise). It complements Fuji’s standard zoom, the XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR, and is meant to provide a versatile, high-end option for their X mount APS-C mirrorless cameras. Considering this, the XF 50-140mm also stands as the only option of its type for the X series user, including from other lens manufacturers.

Features
From the outside, the XF 50-140mm is a good-looking but understated lens. Most of its features lie within its engineering and design. The XF 50-140mm uses 23 glass elements in 16 groups, including five ED and one Super ED lens elements for reducing aberrations. Various element surfaces are specially coated using several advanced technologies, to ensure optimal light transmission, and to reduce flare and loss of detail caused by diffraction.

The XF 50-140mm is sealed against dust and water, and can operate down to -100C. It features a ‘Triple Linear’ motor (the first of its kind) for speedy, accurate AF. This is a stabilised lens. The OIS (Optical Image Stabilsation) is equipped with a new gyrosensor and algorithms that eliminates drift, especially at low shutterspeeds, and boasts 5 stops of correction. The tripod collar has a knob for its rotation and locking. The shoe segment of the collar can be removed for comfortable handheld use. The filter diameter is a comfortable 72mm.

Handling
The appeal, and Fuji’s own design philosophy for the X series, precludes the use of small primes, with good reason. Small block lenses go well with the smaller, rangefinder-styled X-Pro and X-E cameras, or the X-T series. The XF 50-140mm seems quite large and felt disbalanced on the X-T10 (on which I tested it). It would feel better on a X-Pro camera with a hand grip attached.

That said, the lens is all metal, finely milled and reassuringly built. Both the focus and the zoom occurs internally, so there is no rotation at the front lens element or a change in the length of the lens on zooming. The zoom ring is broad, encased in rubber and ribbed. The aperture ring, from f/2.8 to f/22, clicks firmly at 1/3rd stop intervals, and includes an A setting for aperture priority.

While designed perfectly well, I was not very happy with the fly-by-wire MF ring. The rotational heft is a lot and it takes almost three full rotations to move across the focus range, making it difficult to use. The lenshood is deep and serrated on the inside. A tiny window can be slipped of off the hood to access rotating filters. While it clasps firmly in place, it can get lost when slipped off. I would have preferred for it to slide deeper into the hood rather than off it.

While the DOF is not narrow while shooting wide open at the 140mm end, it provides a reasonable level of separation. The blurring is pleasantly smooth. Exposure: 1/125sec at f/2.8 (ISO 400) Photograph/K Madhavan Pillai

Performance
Large aperture f/1.2 or 1.4 primes also have another advantage. A larger aperture, by one stop, acts to negate the DOF and ISO quality advantage that a full frame sensor has over APS-C. In the case of the 50-140mm, the maximum aperture of f/2.8 on the APS-C X-T10 behaves like f/4.2 on a full frame sensor. In other words, to get the same DOF effects as a 70-200mm f/2.8 on a full frame DSLR, the XF 50-140mm would need to have a maximum aperture of f/2. That said, blurs and DOF are a function of the print size and viewing distance. Besides, a wider aperture would have made the lens larger and heavier. This is the stand-off that a buyer should be aware of.

Optically, Fuji has done it… again! Sharpness, corners to center, across the zoom range is superb at f/2.8. It peaks at f/5.6. Distortion and fringing are very well corrected in-camera, and are barely visible around the edges of highlights, even in RAW. Flare is controlled extremely well too.

AF performance is another highlight of this lens. Not only is AF silent, it is as quick as the best lenses in its category, including its full-frame brethren… very impressive indeed! The Optical Image Stabiliser is easily effective 3 stops down from the focal length’s reciprocal shutterspeeds.

Conclusion
The XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR is priced at Rs 1,59,999, which is a rather steep price, considering its full frame equivalent f/4 lenses are priced almost 40% lower. Of course, that may not be the fairest of comparisons. There is no denying its performance capabilities. Beside, this is a unique lens even among other APS-C mirrorless camera manufacturers. And, as mentioned before, if you need a lens of its kind, it is the only available option.

FINAL RATINGS
Features
OIS, f/2.8 fixed aperture, optics, AF speed
18/20
Performance
Super sharpness & AF, no visible aberrations
33/35
Build Quality
Sturdy, good weathersealing
24/25
Ergonomics
Good zoom ring, MF ring issues, large lens
11/15
Warranty & Support
Two year warranty, limited service in India
3/5
MRP Rs. 1,59,999
OVERALL 89%
VALUE FOR MONEY 3.5/5
Who should buy it? Professionals and event photographers who need speed, versatility and image quality.
Why? Apart from its excellent optics, build, and AF, there are no equivalent choices for the X-mount.
Tags: better photography, Fujinon, Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR, June 2017, K Madhavan Pillai, Lens, Review