As usual the good folks at Fujifilm Australia gave me couple of gear to try during my recent visit around Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. During my last trip to Vietnam and Sri Lanka I grew a tremendous liking for the Fujinon XF 90mm F2.0 R LM WR as a portrait lens. However when Fujifilm released the Fujinon XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM WR OIS Macro, my wallet started to worry once again. I fell into the pool of confusion which is frequently visited by Fujifilm GFX 50S and Fujifilm X-T3 along with the ‘kind’ words of my better-half when I last purchased a Fujifilm X-T2. Gear loans apparently save lots of marriages. The Fujinon XF 90mm F2 vs Fujinon XF 80mm f/2.8 dilemma is well recognised as an outbreak and every other Fujifilm fans out there were already affected by it. Photography is an expensive hobby, and travel photography is even costlier as we often end up without a penny for a foot spa. Even if Im a millionaire I still cant carry all the lenses I got or afford to buy to everywhere I go. As I never owned a Fujinon XF 90mm F2.0 as it was loaned to me by Fujifilm during the couple of occasions it was needed, I took this opportunity to tryout the Fujinon XF 80mm f/2.8 to make a final decision on which lens to own or to nag Fujifilm for next time I need one.
Fujinon XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM WR OIS Macro Vs Fujinon XF 90mm F2.0 R LM WR
Disclaimer- This is a battle for the best for my own field of work. Both of these lenses are excellent performers and deserve a big round of applause. But only one can score gold here.
There are enough extensive comparisons and reviews done on these lenses which are readily available online. Some of them are done in a controlled spaces while others are in more practical environments. My photography work with Fujinon XF 80mm f/2.8 falls within the latter. The lens was used not for the purpose of a review but as required to make images for my portfolio during my travel. I love these focal length for portraits, and I always felt that I use it more often than I use my Fujinon XF 56mm F1.2 R. My ultimate question is - If I can afford either one of it, which one should I choose ? - I will answer it at last. I will post some of the pictures taken with it at the end and in-between.
Before we move-on Here are some pictures I took in Vietnam with Fujinon XF 90mm F2 R LM WR
So the immediate differences/similarities in the photography field with Fujinon XF 80mm f/2.8 compare to Fujinon XF 90mm F2.0 are as follow. I will also give a star rating to each feature in a Travel and documentary photographers perspective - on how importantly I will consider such features in my photography genre. I will talk about the main reasons I choose either one of it in relation to the Fujinon XF 80mm F2.8.
1. Weight and Dimensions- Fujinon XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM WR OIS Macro as its name implies is approximately 200g heavier and bit more bulkier than Fujinon XF 90mm F2.0 R LM WR. It means If you travel with couple more lenses as you would due to the love factor with Fujinon lenses then it will add up to the final weight of your camera bag and in my experience bigger the camera bag lesser the photography experience. It is pretty easy to overlook just the 0.2kg, however long hikes for landscapes or day long street photography means at one point you will start to notice every extra grams you are carrying.
Rating - 3/5
2. Auto-Focus speed- Bad copies of lenses, crooked fingers, poor techniques and poor contrast aside, if I pick up both lenses and shoot a scene in similar ideal conditions, I will choose Fujinon XF 90mm F2.0 for its auto- focus speed. This difference is apparent due to the different physical mechanisms involved in each lenses. For a static portrait pose there wont be much difference in the end results, however if the subject need little more tracking then I feel Fujinon XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM WR OIS Macro is lagging behind the Fujinon XF 90mm F2.0. Rating - 4/5
3. F2 vs F2.8- No explanations needed with this one. Even if we neglect the 10mm difference the larger aperture of Fujinon XF 90mm F2.0 R LM WR (F2) means it is the ideal choice for the serious portrait works. With that lens the bokeh are better and has more nicely spread background butter. However as Fujinon XF 80mm f/2.8 has optical image stabiliser (OIS) in contrast to Fujinon XF 90mm F2.0 it will have more advantage with handheld shots with low shutter speed. This is more useful in low light photography. But with Fujfilm camera bodies with excellent noise control I rather crank up the ISO and eventually the shutter speed and will happily settle with F2. Rating of 4/5.
4. Fujinon XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM WR OIS MACRO - I used macro feature during my tour to shoot the details of arts/architecture in numerous temples I have visited, and various food I ended up eating. But if I reflect on that experience, it was never a true macro work, rather only a closeup work with little bit more extra reach and handheld with the help of OIS. Of course travel and documentary photography involves some percentage of closeup works which I think could easily be done with Fujinon XF 90mm F2.0 with its closest focusing distance of 60cm. Even when I try to push myself to do true macros I was reluctant to carry on with it, partly due to the fact I never had the interest in it and other reason is OIS didn't have much benefit as to achieve good end to end focus I had to increase the iso significantly to keep up with the large aperture value and thus the higher shutter speed for handheld shots (Unless the snail is sunbathing). One option is to use a tripod to take sharp images and of course spending time with focus stacking is out of question with my tight schedules as usual and the last tiny spider never stood still. But for a serious macro photographer or even a food photographer I think this is a hard to beat deal. Rating - If you do macro- 6/5, if you hardly ever do it- then maybe 1/5 for having that feature.
5. Sharpness- Both lenses are sharp. I don't believe in ‘Tact Sharp’. But if anyone coins the words ‘Brilliantly sharp’, then both of these lenses are stellar performers. You wont go wrong with either. At this stage you should factor in other differences and decide which one is best for you. Rating - No practical difference. Both of them are super sharp. I will consider other features.
6. Color- With Fujinon XF 80mm f/2.8 I accidentally changed the camera setting from RAW to JPEG and shot with it for sometime. The results were amazing and the color rendition was amazing too. Im yet to commit this mistake with Fujinon XF 90mm F2.0, however as a well known fact with any Fujifilm lenses, I won’t be surprised if the colors are great.
Rating- Similar performance. Do I need to worry about color if Im shooting RAW. Yes of course you can change the colors later. But accurate color rendition will make your photography life easier and also will do the justice to the actual scene.
7. Chromatic abrasion, barrel distortion and all those blah blah- Im not bothered, neither you need to with these lenses.
Fujifilm is well known to regularly update its lens lineup. So what is best today wont be the same tomorrow or at-least at the next photokina. Of course being a new lens Fujinon XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM WR OIS Macro will expectedly should have better features, but when it comes to photography there are many other elements which play a part other than just pixel peeping or GAS (The infamous Gear Acquisition Syndrome). If you can afford to buy both lenses then you wont be reading this post. However many of the users are in the same group as Im now in. So to make things easier for all, I would happily settle with Fujinon XF 90mm F2.0 R LM WR for now which is the best practical choice for me as a Travel and documentary photographer. But if Im a macro shooter then the choice is obvious. However I will end up across a fine thin line to cross if Im a wedding/event/food photographer as closeups/macros are essential part of these genres in which case I would go with Fujinon XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM WR OIS Macro, as Im sure I will be carrying another prime with F1.2/F1.4 for those creamy pictures.
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