Lately I travel in the business much and the camera becomes my handy notebook. And it was the same this time. Fujifilm X-T3 and Fujinon XF 18-135mm – luggage limitations forced me to take only one, lightweight body and one universal lens. On the video and pictures, you can see Sopot.
At the beginning, there was no macro lens for Fujifilm X. Then one half of the macro lens has appeared, namely XF 60mm with reproduction ratio of just 1:2. Because of that, the macro photographers either didn’t take Fujifilm X into account, or, like me, used third party lenses with converters, like AF Micro Nikkor 200mm f/4. Suddenly, Fujifilm management promised a real macro lens. Initially rumors were about 120mm, but soon it turned out to be 80mm more probable. We were waiting long time, new dates and deadlines suggested by oracles were passing, and finally it is! So long promised and even longer awaited real macro lens for Fujifilm X!
After several months of use, I have got already quite well crystallized opinion about this lens. In assumptions, it is a macro lens. But focal length of 60mm in case of APS-C size is rather a short tele – I would say it is one of the portrait focal lengths. But I don’t do portraits – I do macro, so my opinion about this lens is an opinion about tool to photograph small objects, from the relatively small distance, for maximum reproduction ratio. And what about the reproduction ratio? Unfortunately it is not 1:1 – it is 1:2 only. Not good for macro lens.
First attempts to shoot infrared with Fujinon XF 10-24mm F4 R OIS have shown clearly that this lens is totally useless for such kind of photography due to very visible hot-spot at the center of the image. For the time being I was limited with use of XF 35mm F2 only, until the XF 23mm F2 has appeared on the market.
Beautiful, Sunday afternoon, I took my X-T1 IR with Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 and went walking in the wood. body was set to write RAW + black & white jpg.
Yes, IR! It means that he body has been prepared for infrared photography in the factory!
In the previous article, I have described use of the AF Micro Nikkor 200mm f/4 D ED for macro photography with X-Pro2. I use it this way because as per today, there is no real macro lens in the Fujifilm XF portfolio. But there is something what resembles a bit the macro lens (sorry, Fuji 🙂
This “something” is the XF Macro 60mm – a “macro” lens, giving 1:2 magnification and focal length of just 60mm – too short for work with living insects for instance. But I decided to give this lens a try – reaching maximum reasonable magnification I could potentially get with this lens. So I added three things to the lens.
What you can see above, are X-Pro2, Fujinon XF Macro 60mm, extension ring 16mm, extension ring 11mm and the 1.4x teleconverter. Theoretically, the teleconverter is incompatible with the Fujinon XF Macro 60mm. The teleconverter has front lens protruding far to the back lens of the Fujinon, so any attempt to mount one with the other will definitely lead to destruction of one or the other or even both. It is important to mount first the teleconverter on the body, then both extension rings and finally Fujinon. This way extension rings make space necessary to keep the protruding front lens of teleconverter in a save distance from back lens of the Fujinon. Some examples of use of this setup you can see below.
The above pictures were taken with maximum possible magnification – first the lens set to the maximum magnification and then focus achieved by moving macro focusing rail. So what’s this maximum magnification scale? Let’s see:
The above picture shows so called “millimeter paper” – the distance between two lines is 1mm. Let’s count: we can see 18mm horizontally. The sensor is 23.6mm long. So simple calculation says that the maximum magnification scale is 1.31:1. Quite nice, I would say.
Unfortunately this setup has it’s drawbacks. Let’s leave aside poor AF performance or sometimes AF not working at all – this is natural and I prefer manual focusing, using macro rail. But what is really an issue is big light falloff – flash is a must. But as we know, today Fujifilm doesn’t offer too much in this range. I was using tiny Fujifilm EF-X20 as this is the only flash for Fuji X-Pro2 I currently have. I have added a simple diffuser made of white windscreen washer bottle, installed above the lens. But I would definitely prefer two off-camera flashes, with wireless control. And the second thing – Fujinon XF Macro 60mm has the manual focusing ring. But this ring doesn’t have a mechanical connection to lens groups, instead it works sending electrical signals to the body’s CPU which in turn commands the motors inside the lens. I don’t like such thing in macro lens, where I usually use manual focusing, because turning the ring I have no idea if I have already reached the extreme setting or not. And one more thing: geometry. The above picture shows clearly the barrel distortion, which in this case has almost no meaning, but also field curvature and sharpness falling towards edges, what makes hard setting focus correctly for entire picture.
Despite the small issues, in my opinion the Fujinon XF Macro 60mm is still a nice lens – but someone who wants to achieve magnification bigger than 1:2 and photograph living insects, he will not have easy life.
For many years, my format of choice to write photographs has been RAW. Exclusively RAW. And then development on the PC. Partly due to the desire to write picture with most complete data to be able in the future to get maximum quality final pictures. Even if this “getting maximum quality” stays in the category of good wishes. Partly due to the fact, that my cameras so far didn’t process shots the way I would be satisfied. So there is nothing strange in fact that just after I started shooting with X-Pro2, my search for best RAW (or RAF) developer for files written by this camera has also started. Everybody rate Iridient as the top developer.
He was waiting, waiting and finally went away. Three have come instead. Or even four. The new ones are quite sexy, beautiful, shapely and… sharp! So who has gone? AF-S Nikkor 300mm G ED VR II. And who have come?