Several months ago, I bit the bullet and bought a Fuji 50-140mm to expand my lens options. It is definitely a performer, but not without drawbacks.
Drawback #1: it is huge and heavy (for a Fuji lens), but what do you expect from such a large aperture? It’s a constant f/2.8!
However, I do love that it is the same size at all times. It has internal focusing so its size does not change — something that I love in my Canon 70-200. These photos at FujiVsFuji helped sell me on that feature.
Drawback #2: the zoom ring is a little firm for some sports, but is fine for everything else.
- Firm but easy like the XF 18-55mm
- Not as tight as the XC 50-230mm (so requires less effort)
- but still tighter than a Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS which is my go-to lens for sports
Zoom ring travel:
The distance it takes to rotate between wide and telephoto is about the same as my Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS.
The rotation is about 120 degrees (from noon to 4 on a clock). I can turn 90 degrees quickly without relocating fingers, but the last 30 degrees is tough. This is not an issue on my Canon L lens as you can turn it with a single finger, but the Fuji requires two fingers making a full turn require more effort which momentarily takes my some of attention away from the scene, but only a problem with sports and not event photography so far.
The reverse zoom direction between Fuji and Canon is still something that I struggle with during sports which will probably go away when/if my kids stop playing sports and I no longer need the Canon 7D to shoot these.
Drawback #3: With great power comes great responsibility.
If you have never shot telephotos with apertures wider (smaller aperture numbers) than f/5.6 at the far end (which is typical for consumer zooms), then you would be in for a shock.
f/2.8 can give you as little as an inch or two in focus. This is why Fuji (and other manufacturers) have come up with not just facial detection, but eye detection. At f/2.8 (and wider), you can have a nose in focus and neither eye in focus. (Sorry, I don’t have any only-nose-in-focus shots (I see them all the time online), but here are some other examples.)
This gives you great out-of-focus backgrounds and bokeh, but also means YOU have to have what you want in focus nailed. There is no safety net.
The image stabilization motors are noisier than on my Canon 70-200 f/4L IS, but I think you have to be the photographer to notice. It sounds like chatter between two Star Wars robots.
There is a noticeable “clunk” (again, only noticeable by the photographer) when you turn the camera on/off or go to image preview. A similar “clunk” happens when you point down the lens.
The mount is firm except for when you turn the zoom quickly. Then there is some rotation, but this is not the lens — it is the Fuji mount because my other Fuji lenses do this, too, on both my Fuji X-T1 and X-E2.
At a recent event, I used the 50-140mm half the time, and my 18-55mm for wider shots.
Will this replace my consumer-grade XC 50-230mm?
When I am shooting outdoors and traveling light, I like my Fuji XC 50-230mm. It is sharp, small and light, but it is too slow for indoor, low light, event photography (f/6.7 at 230mm) which I do often.
Why didn’t you just get the cheaper XF 55-200mm?
The XF 55-200mm would be the logical upgrade to the XC 50-230mm, but at f/4.8 at 200mm, it is only about a stop faster, and this time, I wanted:
- to avoid the whole upgrade money pit / Gear Acquisition Syndrome that I did with Canon lenses, and instead
- to save my pennies and go straight to what I actually need which was:
- One very portable lens for very bright outdoor travel (got that)
- and one flexible, no-holds-barred tool for low light action.
Why didn’t you get multiple prime lenses?
Primes are certainly attractive with maximum apertures above f/2.8, but I like the flexibility of a zoom. So, for me, the big investment into a 50-140mm constant f/2.8 more attractive. At more than 2 stops improvement over the XC 50-230mm, it would bring shutter speed up to acceptable levels to stop most low light action without the need to change prime lenses which can be quite frequent at fast paced events.
Versus Canon, Nikon, Sony
The 35mm equivalent of Fuji’s 50-140mm is 76-213mm according to Fuji. That makes the 70-200mm the compatible lenses on full frame bodies.
But should we compare the Fuji f/2.8 to the 70-200mm f/2.8 or the f/4 models?
- If you compare exposure, f/2.8 is the same across models
- But since Fuji is an APS-C sized sensor, the actual depth-of-field performance is one stop lower (f/2.8 = f/4).
I don’t have these lenses and bodies to test, but in any case,
- the Fuji sits between the f/2.8 and f/4 models in terms of weight, size and cost,
- and from what I have seen online, the Fuji probably beats or matches the 70-200mm f/2.8 but the Fuji is lighter, smaller and cheaper