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Hands on: Fujinon XF50mm F1.0 R WR review

Is Fujifilm's Fujinon XF50mm F1.0 just a bit of headline-grabbing, or is this a serious lens?

Fujinon XF50mm F1.0 R WR
(Image: © Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

Our Verdict

Having tried Nikon’s hyper-expensive and somewhat impractical Nikkor Z 58mm f/0.95 Noct lens, we weren’t sure what to expect. It wasn’t this! The Fujinon XF50 F1.0 is portable, affordable, practical and produces rather beautiful images. Not everyone will need or want one, but if you are a Fujifilm X-mount user and bokeh fan, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

For

  • Everyday practicality
  • Superbly smooth rendering
  • Efficient and precise autofocus

Against

  • Rather expensive
  • Comparable to f/1.4 on full frame

What should we make of Fujifilm's Fujinon XF50mm F1.0 R WR? Lenses with an aperture of f/1.0 or faster have typically been showcase products designed to be made in small volumes for an extremely affluent and discerning audience. 

The Nikon 58mm f/0.95 Noct is one such example. Much as we love it, the Noct is huge, impractical (no AF) and massively expensive.

The Fujinon XF50mm F1.0 R WR seems to be tapping into the same vibe, but you only have to pick it up and use it to realise it’s a very different lens. It’s not cheap, but it’s not ruinously expensive, either. It’s not small, but it is perfectly portable. And thanks to the provision of autofocus, it’s a lens you can use every day.

Fujifilm already makes a 56mm f/1.2 lens which is cheaper than this one and almost as fast, so what’s the point of the XF50mm F1.0 R WR? It’s not just that the aperture is that little bit faster, but that the lens itself is designed to give a softer, smoother and more characterful rendering.

There is an argument against fast lenses on APS-C cameras, that in terms of depth of field, this f/1.0 lens is roughly equivalent to f/1.4 on a full frame camera, and f/1.4 full frame lenses are ten a penny these days.

That’s true, but it misses the point. The Fujinon XF50mm F1.0 R WR is not trying to convince photographers that APS-C cameras can ‘do bokeh’ too (though that is a good point). Really, this is a lens for Fujifilm X-mount fans who want the best bokeh they can get for their system. 

(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

Specifications

Mount: Fujifilm X-mount
Full frame: No (APS-C)
Autofocus: Yes
Image stabilization: No
Lens construction: 12 elements in 9 groups
Angle of view: 31.7°
Diaphragm blades: 9 (rounded)
Minimum aperture: f/16
Minimum focusing distance: 0.7m
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.08x
Filter size: 77mm
Dimensions: 87 x 103.5mm
Weight: 845g

(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

Build and handling

The Fujinon XF50mm F1.0 WR is a pretty big lens, but nothing like the Nikkor Noct 58mm f/0.95. It balances pretty well on an XT4 body and would be fine on an X-Pro3, too. At 845g, it’s quite heavy for an APS-C prime, but there are plenty of telephotos that are much heavier than this.

It's a sobering moment when you realise that at f/4 the Fujinon XF50mm F1.0 WR is half way through its aperture range. F/4 is wide open on many lenses. (Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

There is an aperture ring with a perfect ‘click’ weighting and a broad manual focus ring – though no focus distance scale. The depth of field is so shallow you would probably be better off sticking to the autofocus unless your subject is pretty static.

Interestingly, the front element has a slightly concave (dish-shape) profile, unlike the convex (bulging) front element on almost all other lenses – we have seen this a couple of times before on ultra-fast primes.

The front element of the Fujinon XF50mm F1.0 WR has an unusual concave profile. (Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

The 77mm filter ring is big for a 50mm lens, but it’s not an uncommon filter size, so if you do want to use filters with this lens it is perfectly practical.

Apart from that, there is very little to say. Even though we had an early sample, the build quality, fit and finish felt first rate. Despite the amazing maximum aperture, it’s an easy lens to handle.

Performance

All the sample images for our hands-on review were shot with a pre-production lens, so the final lens quality may vary. With that in mind, our comments are preliminary observations only, and we have not yet run a production lens through our lab tests.

The 50mm focal length equates to 75mm on a full frame camera, so the Fujinon XF50mm F1.0 WR makes an ideal portrait lens, both for humans and for animal subjects. All sample images shot using a pre-production lens, final lens quality may vary. (Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

All sample images shot using a pre-production lens, final lens quality may vary. (Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

All sample images shot using a pre-production lens, final lens quality may vary. (Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

The autofocus is remarkably smooth, fast and quiet for such a big lens. It needs to be, too, because if you are using this lens wide open, there is no margin for error and the camera and lens have to keep up with subject movements, no matter how slight.

We took all our pictures wide open at f/1.0 – of course! The results were very interesting. Where the existing Fujinon 56mm f/1.2 gives similar depth of field, its bokeh is much more fussy and ‘brittle’. By contrast the XF50mm F1.0 delivers a super-smooth bokeh and a gentle focus transition from sharp to unsharp, a really nice rendering that reminds us of Leica’s classic M-mount rangefinder lenses.

A lens as fast as this really lends itself to handheld night photography, especially if you have a camera like the X-T4, which has in-body stabilisation (which we did). All sample images shot using a pre-production lens, final lens quality may vary. (Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

All sample images shot using a pre-production lens, final lens quality may vary. (Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

All sample images shot using a pre-production lens, final lens quality may vary. (Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

Fujifilm says the designers deliberately left aspherical aberration uncorrected at f/1.0 in order to achieve this effect. It looks from our images as if the outright sharpness at f/1.0 is slightly lower than when stopped down, but we’d swap that for this lens’s super-smooth rendering any day.

(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

Early verdict

The Fujinon XF50mm F1.0 has surprised us somewhat. It’s a lot easier to use than we were expecting, and more affordable too. And its optical design really does appear to have been optimised, very successfully, for super-smooth bokeh and subtle focus fall-off.

It’s true that an APS-C lens won’t match the depth of field ‘shallowness’ of a full frame lens, but the Fujinon XF50mm F1.0 has such a wide maximum aperture that in our book it comes close enough. We look forward to testing a production sample in due course, but right now this looks like a really good lens for bokeh fans, and one that delivers a characterful ‘look’ that’s about much more than just depth of field.

Preorder the Fujinon XF50mm F1.0 WR at Adorama
Preorder the Fujinon XF50mm F1.0 WR at B&H Photo
Preorder the Fujinon XF50mm F1.0 WR at Park Cameras (UK)

Read more:

Best Fujifilm lenses
Best Fujifilm cameras
Best portrait lenses
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  • denniswilliams
    If APS-c suits your photography this is a great 1500£ snapshot lens. Everything folks are saying regarding the OOF rendering at F1.0 would appear to be true, it is sublime. The lens is significantly larger, heavier and will not go unnoticed. Quite the looker.

    If you shoot portraits or any content that benefits from more depth of field (sufficient so the entire face is in focus) and you will more often than not be closing down a bit to f2.8 or f4, the XF 56mm f1.2 has a bit more length - 85 equiv vs, 77- and you save 500£. f1.2 is still quite shallow for those types of shots and unless you have identical images side by side the differences in that OOF area will likely go unnoticed- besides- if your subject is fab your audience won't be dwelling on the background.
    Reply