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!
First impressions? Well, solid. Heavy. Cold in touch. Well designed and very well done. Everything works and moves smoothly, with nice and comfortable resistance.
But immediately also some disappointment. It is 80mm not 120mm, but I knew it. But there are two serious drawbacks I discovered now.
First issue. How do you set focus in real macro? Very often (most of the time, I would say) manually. And it is matter of fact, that the manual focusing ring works smooth like charm. But very often I look for maximum magnification. So first I set the focus manually at the minimum possible distance and then put the body with lens on focusing rail. But… where is the closest focusing distance on this lens?! The problem is that in fact manual focusing means in case of XF 80mm Macro electrical focusing by wire. Moving the focusing ring we don’t move physical parts, instead we send commands to the motor. And thus there is no hard stop at either end of the focusing range. You can turn the focusing ring indefinitely never reaching any kind of the stop or change in resistance telling you, that you are done. AF-S Nikkor lenses also allow for turning the focusing ring around, but at one place there is a clear change in moving resistance clearly showing the end of focusing range. The only manual focusing aid in case of Fujifilm X is the focusing scale, shown on the body screen. But the closer you are to the minimum distance, the slower the scale changes. So as a result, I never know if I have already reached the minimum possible distance or not. Big disappointment!
And here is a BIG request to Fujifilm: please be so kind and do a custom function for X-T2, allowing to set the lens at minimum focusing distance by pressing a function button in the MF mode. Like AF-L button allows in MF mode to instantly focus. Such option would immediately solve the problem! I simply switch to MF, press the function button and the lens is set at minimum focusing distance!
Second issue unfortunately is not so easy to solve.What’s going on? In most cases I use the macro lens together with focusing rail and tripod. Very often I use also a teleconverter or macro rings and sometimes additionally a close-up lens. As a result, I get quite long set with most of the weight located in front. How does it look like when mounted on the tripod? It looks like this:
The lens itself is heavy. Let’s add close-up lens weight and all this is located in front, with no support. This makes the bayonet and tripod socket to be exposed to quite strong force. I’m afraid of the body to be broken and in addition, such configuration is unstable in terms of vibrations. In such setup vibrations generate more easily and are harder to damp. In my opinion the XF 80mm Macro obligatory should have a built-in tripod foot.
To be honest I have found a solution and it works, but definitely it is not so elegant:
It is not elegant, but at least the center of gravity is located where it should be and the lens does not break the tripod socket of the body. The overall solution quality is improved a bit by the fact that the used cork comes from a bottle of the original, quite good champagne 🙂
Let’s move to the photographing and the picture itself. AF works perfectly. A big advantage is a focusing range switch, allowing to fasten the AF by limiting the searching range. There are three selectable ranges:
- full range: 0,25m to infinity
- short range: 0,25m to 0,5m
- long range: 0,5m to infinity
Manual focusing is nice and smooth – with keeping in mind the issues I mentioned above regarding setting the lens at minimum focusing distance.
A huge advantage of the lens is it’s ability to work with either XF 1.4X TC WR or XF 2X TC WR teleconverters. It means that now I can get magnification of almost 1,4:1 or even almost 2:1 without using close-up lenses! I write “almost”, because my tests shows 1,38:1 or 1,94:1 respectively. And if you don’t do macro, but something in normal distance, it makes the lens very flexible, giving 80mm, 112mm (with 1.4 TC) and 160mm (2.0 TC). For me ability to use teleconverters has two huge advantages: on one hand I’m able to get much better reproduction ratio, on the other hand I’m able to photograph insects with much longer working distance than using just 80mm focal length. Good job, Fujifilm!
In terms of picture quality I can say just this: this lens is worth of every dollar spent.
All the above pictures were taken handhold, with no support. It is clear that optical stabilization works perfectly in this lens. all the above pictures are jpg generated by X-T2, with no other manipulation than downsizing for the WEB.
Time for summary. The lens has two issues. One of them I can solve on my own, the second one can be easily solved by Fujifilm, by adding custom function to set the lens at minimum focusing distance by pressing the function button.
All the rest are advantages. Picture quality, optical stabilization, AF, lens quality – all this is definitely a top class. And it is worth of the every dollar spent. I’m so confident of what I say, that I have just sold my AF Micro Nikkor 200mm f/4. And I have done it with no regret.