The Fujifilm XF 50mm f/2 R WR is a compact and lightweight prime lens for Fuji’s X-mount camera system. With a full frame equivalent 76mm focal length and a fast f/2 maximum aperture, the XF 50mm f/2 is a fantastic option for portrait, travel, and street photography. This lens is also weather sealed and very well built, making it a great choice for photographers that get outside and are constantly on-the-go.
When I made the switch from Sony’s full frame system to Fuji’s APS-C X-mount system, piecing together a complete lens line-up was my top priority. I first picked up the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/2 (see review) to replace my Sony FE 55mm f/1.8, and fell in love right away. I also wanted to make sure I could replace my Sony FE 85mm f/1.8. The FE 85mm f1.8 is probably Sony’s highest value full frame lens offering. The FE 85mm is razor sharp, lightweight, and a relative bargain at under $600.
At the short telephoto focal length, Fuji has two main competitors, the Fujifilm XF 50mm f/2 R WR and Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2 R. The XF 56mm f/1.2 R initially seemed like the obvious choice for me, but I couldn’t get over the fact that it was twice the weight and much physically larger than the XF 50mm f/2. The XF 56mm is actually heavier and only a little bit smaller than the full frame Sony 85mm. Lightening my overall camera setup and lower cost lenses were the main reasons I switched from Sony to Fuji, so replacing the FE 85mm with the $1000 XF 56mm didn’t seem like the right decision. After much research, I opted for the bargain priced $450 XF 50mm f/2 to fill my portrait lens needs. I gave up a little speed and 9mm of focal length, but saved 7.25oz (205g) in weight, $550 in cash, and .52″x.40″ in size. Do I regret my decision? So far, not at all. I’ve been shooting with the Fujifilm XF 50mm f/2 R WR for a few months now and will share my thoughts in this review.
Construction and Handling
Just like my Fuji XF 35mm f/2, the XF 50mm f/2 begins to impress right out of the box with a premium feel and solid construction. The XF 50mm f/2 is a little longer than the XF 35mm f/2, but is still very well balanced. The solid metal build and sleek black paint of the XF 50mm f/2, gives it the look and feel of lenses at twice the price. The metal manual focus ring is butter smooth with just the right amount of resistance. The aperture ring clicks nicely and doesn’t budge unexpectedly like I’ve experienced with my Zeiss Touit 12mm and Fuji XF 14mm.
The Fujifilm XF 50mm f/2 is weather sealed which is a feature that the more expensive XF 56mm f/1.2 does not offer. I shoot 99% of my photos outdoors, and have never stepped foot into a studio, so this feature might be more important to me than it is for your use. Hiking and backpacking in the dusty deserts of Southern California can be a nightmare with unsealed lenses and camera bodies. The combination of the XF 50mm f/2 with my weather sealed X-T3 keeps out the dirt and dust that used to always spot my Sony sensors.
Fujifilm rates this lens down to 14°F which is another great feature for travel. I don’t usually bring a telephoto along for peak bagging in cold weather, but it is nice to know this lens is up for the challenge should I decide to bring it with me.
The weather sealed metal body of the Fujifilm XF 50mm f/2 houses 9 optical elements in 7 groups, and has 9 rounded diaphragm blades. These blades produce a very pleasant bokeh which you can see in the photo samples below. The maximum aperture of the XF 50mm is f/2, which is quick, but not as fast as the XF 56mm f/1.2. At this focal length, speed is a big deal, especially in low light. I have been in more than a few situations where some extra speed would have been useful, but not enough to justify jumping to the XF 56mm.
The XF 50mm f/2 provides a 31.7° field of view, and a full frame equivalent 76mm focal length. The minimum focusing distance is around 15.3 inches or 39cm. Combine that with a 0.15x magnification ratio, and you won’t be doing much macro, but it is a very capable lens for detail shots of objects close to the front element.
The Fujifilm XF 50mm f/2 has no image stabilization and neither does my Fuji X-T3. When paired with the IBIS of the new X-T4, the XF 50mm f/2 will gain 6.5 stops. I’m really looking forward to picking up an X-T4 for this reason.
The lens hood for the XF 50mm f/2 is large and provides a great deal of protection. This is a very nice upgrade over the tiny lens hood that comes with the XF 35mm f/2. I’ve shot with this lens hood on sunny days outside, and it does a really nice job reducing flares. It also offers a lot of protection to the front element when shooting in crowds or while hiking on narrow rocky trails.
The Fujifilm XF 50mm f/2 has a metal bayonet that is just as solid and sturdy as the rest of the all metal lens. Just like my Fujifilm XF35mm f/2, the 50mm f2 leaves very little to be desired, and gives me a lot of confidence that it will last a very long time.
The autofocusing on the Fujifilm XF 50mm f/2 is on par with the fantastic performance of my XF 35mm f/2. I’ve shot moving subjects in the street, candid portraits of my toddler, and action shots of my dogs with impressive speed and accuracy. The XF 50mm f/2 has a silent inner focus system that uses a stepping motor to achieve these great results. The Fujifilm XF 50mm f/2 also gives users the option to manually focus using its dampened metal focus ring.
Size and Weight
The Fujifilm XF 50mm f/2 comes in at a lightweight 7.05oz (200g) and measures 2.36 x 2.34″. This lens is the same width of the XF 35mm, and only a little longer. Despite the added length, the XF 50mm balances perfectly on my X-T3 and is the most discreet telephoto lens I’ve ever used for street photography.
Specs and Stats
Dimensions: 2.36 x 2.34″
Weight: 7.05 oz / 200 g
Filter Thread: 46mm
Focal Length: 50mm
Aperture: f/2 – f/16
View Angle: 31.7°
Minimum Focus Distance: 1.28′ (39 cm)
Image Stabilization: None
As much as I love my Fuji XF 35mm f/2, it isn’t without its shortcomings. In my use, I found the center to be a tad soft when close focusing at f/2. I also found the corners and edges to be soft until stopping down to f/5.6. The Fuji XF 50mm f/2 is much better in both areas, and I’ve been really blown away by the edge to edge sharpness.
Shooting wide open at f/2, the Fuji XF 50mm f/2 is already razor sharp in the center of the frame.
To evaluate corner and edge sharpness, the images below show the bottom left corner of a topo map. Shooting wide open at f/2, the corners are a tad soft, but the edges look really good. By f/4, the images are sharp across the entire frame.
It’s tough to test for vignetting with Fujinon lenses since the RAW files and jpegs are processed with a built in lens profile that removes it. I’ve read that you can remove these profiles with editors like Iridient Developer. As a photographer that is already using Lightroom and Capture One, I’m going to pass on a third piece of software and just live with the built in corrections.
Autofocus on the Fujifilm XF 50mm f/2 is fast, accurate, and silent. This lens also works very well with the face recognition mode on my Fuji X-T3. When shooting street portraits, candid shots, or events, I don’t always have time to set a focus point, so this feature is critical. The accuracy of the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/2 in my experience has been superb.
Shooting people in motion is pretty straightforward, and most modern lenses have autofocus that is up to the task. To really test autofocus, I like to track and shoot faster moving objects. I’m fortunate to have a lightning bolt of a dog that will sprint around all day until I get enough shots. I don’t shoot sports or cars, but am very confident that the XF 50mm f/2 could cover both provided you’re close enough to the action. Paired with my X-T3, the hit rate with this lens on my sprinting dog was really impressive.
I see bokeh in two ways: It’s either a compliment to the photo or its a distraction. I’m not interested in onion rings, cat eyes, aberrations, or astigmatisms, and steer clear of technical evaluations of bokeh. To get a good test of my compliment vs distraction evaluation, I’ve selected a few sample photos with busy backgrounds. In these photos and others, I find that the out-of-focus area compliments the subjects nicely, and the quality of bokeh very pleasing. The 76mm full frame equivalent focal length helps provide a shallow depth of field, and the smooth bokeh of the XF 50mm separates the subject from the background very cleanly. Even when shooting outside in demanding lighting with distracting background artifacts, the bokeh is pleasant enough to keep my eyes focused on the subject.
Real World Performance
Looking at real world photo samples is what ultimately influences my purchasing decision on new lenses. It’s important for me to see how a lens performs in situations that are similar to how and where I shoot. I also like to see photographers post photos using a style of shooting I’d like to learn from. As a landscape photographer that spends most of my time on hiking trails, it helps me a lot to see photographers of street, studio portraiture, real estate, etc., talking about how the quality of a lens compliments their style of shooting. I’ve learned a great deal from these reviewers and am very grateful that they take the time to share their experience. For that reason, I want to cover my personal experience with the Fuji XF 50mm f2 in the situations I’ve used it most: travel, documentary, street portraits, posed portraits, and handheld low light. Obviously there can be a lot of crossover in these categories, but I will address each one separately below.
Most reviews and online inquiries about the XF 50mm f/2 seem to be focused on portraiture, so I’ll begin my performance review here. I’ll start by repeating that I do absolutely no studio work, and the only portraits I take are candid shots of family, friends, and strangers. For my use, the XF 50mm f/2 performs extremely well. Having a razor sharp center wide open really helps in low light and when maximum speed is needed. The 76mm full frame focal length equivalent really helps separate the subject from the background, and the bokeh is smooth and distraction free.
Most street photographers recommend shooting with fast 35mm and 50mm lenses (23mm and 35mm on APS-C) for their speed and versatility. I really like those focal lengths as well, but also enjoy shooting with wide angles and short telephoto lenses to get a new perspective. The XF 50mm (76mm) gives a very different look than the street photos I’ve taken with my XF 35mm f/2. Short telephoto lenses give a very intimate look of individuals and moments from the street, telling a very different story than a wider angle would tell. The XF 50mm f/2 is a very sharp lens at the center wide open, and sharp from corner to corner at f/4. There are times when I’m shooting in low light that I wish I had more speed than the f/2 provides, but the size and weight of the XF 50mm is more important than the extra speed of the XF 56mm f/1.2.
Travel and Landscape Photography
The focal length of the XF 50mm f/2 is a bit too long for what I usually shoot while traveling, but I’ve been able to capture some pretty nice shots with perspectives very different than what I usually come home with. The edge to edge sharpness is really nice for open landscapes and temples, even though I have to dial in and focus on smaller sections of what I’m seeing.
Low Light Handheld
I’ve used the the Fuji XF 50mm in a lot of low light settings and have found the maximum f/2 aperture just fast enough to get the job done. I’m really looking forward to testing this lens on the X-T4 to see how/if the extra 6.5 stops expands on what I’m able to do when available light is limited.
The Fuji XF 50mm f/2 has proven to be a fantastic portrait and travel lens. The solid metal build remains compact and lightweight, making it a perfect second lens to bring everywhere I go. The images I’ve captured are sharp throughout the frame, and the colors are true Fuji. My only real critique of the lens, much like the XF 35mm f/2, is that I wish it was just a little faster. Luckily, the XF 56mm f/1.2 is an option should the need arise. For $450, the Fuji XF 50mm f/2 offers a lot of value and is a lens every Fuji shooter should take a close look at.