Fuji 56mm f/1.2 APD
Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 APD ASPH for X-mount cameras (metal 62mm filter thread, 14.1 oz./398g, 2.3'/0.7m close focus, about $1,499). enlarge. I got mine at this link to it at Adorama; these links to it at Amazon and at B&H are also great places to get it.
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Sample Image Files (more throughout the review)
Fuji 56 f/1.2 APD at f/1.2. Note darker diaphragm edges.
This Fuji tele has no visible distortion and is super-sharp right out to the edges at f/1.2, has no lateral color fringes and has no visible light falloff even at f/1.2 as shot on the Fuji X-mount cameras.
This 56 APD is only about 2/3 the size of the mostly plastic Nikon 85/1.4G ($1,600 and 20.8 oz./591g) or Canon 85mm f/1.2 L II ($2,000 and 34.2 oz./971g.). This Fuji lens is half the weight of the Canon or Nikon lenses.
APD stands for apodization, which is a fancy name for a clear internal filter that gets gradually darker towards its edges, as you can see in the photo above.
This APD lens adds a non-removable dark-edged filter inside the lens next to its diaphragm. Otherwise it's the same lens as the original the Fujinon 56mm f/1.2. This filter helps improve bokeh wide-open, but also loses some light. It doesn't make this an f/1.2 lens with a smooth aperture edge, it becomes the same as an f/1.7 lens with a smooth, instead of hard, aperture edge.
Apodization is a word that scares kids, and simply means trying to smooth sharp edges. In this case, the dark-edged filter makes the open aperture of the lens smoothly shade from clear to black, instead of in most lenses where the lens' aperture has a sharp transition from clear to opaque at its edges.
This filter has nothing to do with vignetting, as it would if it was on front. It's inside next to the diaphragm.
This 56 APD is a special-purpose lens optimized for the best possible bokeh at f/1.2. If you'd rather save money or get a lens with better low-light performance, the regular Fujinon 56mm f/1.2 is a better choice. You'll see that it has a completely clear aperture:
Regular Fuji 56mm f/1.2 at f/1.2. Note clear circular aperture with no APD filter.
There's a gotcha about this APD filter: it loses light. The lens is marked in orange for the equivalent f/stop. This APD lens only passes as much light as an f/1.7 lens wide open.
As stopped down, the effects of the filter go away since it's clear in the center. By f/5.6, it performs exactly the same as the regular 56mm lens.
Like all Fujinon XF lenses, there is no mechanical manual focus. It's all electronic. There is no manual override; you have to move a switch on the camera to get to or from manual focus mode. In many Fujifilm cameras if you update the firmware, there is an AF+MF option deep in the menus (look in the fifth Camera menu in the X-E2 for instance) that will give instant manual override only if you turn this menu item ON and then it only works as long as your finger is halfway down on the shutter.
All Fuji X-Mount Lenses are extraordinary. What most photographers don't realize is that Fuji has for many decades, just like Canon and Nikon, also made far more advanced optics, like binoculars for the military and for use in space, as well as lenses for motion pictures and television with six-figure price tags at discount. Unlike mud brands like Sigma and Tamron (or even LEICA), Fujinon has loads of experience actually supplying optics that cost more than some people's houses, and puts that same know-how into these lenses.
Fuji X-mount XF 56mm f/1.2 APD. bigger.
Fuji calls this the Fujinon Aspherical Lens Super EBC XF 56mm f/1.2 R APD, or XF56mmF1.2 R APD.
Fujinon is Fuji's brand name for their lenses.
Aspherical means specially shaped lens elements for better sharpness.
Super EBC is Electron Beam Coating, also known as multicoating or HT-EBC coating.
XF is Fuji's line of lenses for their X-mount cameras.
R means approved by Rockwell.
APD means apodization (edge-gradated neutral density) filter permanently installed.
Fuji 56/1.2 internal diagram.
11 elements in 8 groups.
1 element with 2 aspheric surfaces and 2 extra low dispersion elements.
One edge-gradated filter inside the lens near the diaphragm.
Rear of Fuji 56 f/1.2 APD at f/1.2. Note darker diaphragm edges.
7 rounded blades.
Round until about f/4 and 7-sided beyond that.
Stops down to f/16 in 1/3-stop clicks.
Clear filter with darker edges near diaphragm.
When used on the X-mount cameras with their 1.52x sensors, it sees the same angle of view as a 85mm lens sees when used on a 35mm camera.
When used on the X-mount cameras in their 1:1 square crop mode, it sees the same angle of view as a 200mm portrait lens sees when used on a 6x6cm (2¼"square) medium-format camera. This is about the same as a 105mm lens sees when used on a 35mm camera.
See also Crop Factor.
Angle of view
DC coreless AF motor.
No external movement as focussed, so no air or dust is sucked in.
2.3 feet (0.7 meters) in normal or in Macro modes.
Maximum Reproduction Ratio
Metal 62mm filter thread.
Fuji 56mm f/1.2 APD included hood.
Plastic bayonet-mount hood included.
2.88" diameter x 2.74" long.
73.2 mm diameter x 69.7 mm long.
14.140 oz. (400.9g), measured, lens only.
(The regular 56/1.2 weighs 14.050 oz. (398.25g).)
Fuji specifies 14.3 oz. (405g) for both.
10 September 2014.
Included neutral density filter.
8x (3 stop or 0.9 D log10) neutral density filter so you can shoot at f/1.2 in daylight.
Front and rear caps.
"Lens wrapping cloth."
Box, Fuji XF 56mm f/1.2 APD.
Inside the micro-corrugated cardboard box are black pulp-formed cardboard holders for the plastic-wrapped lens and hood. A small folded tray of microcorrugated cardboard lies on top to hold the manual and lens wrapping cloth.
Fujifilm Model Number
$1,499, 2014 September - 2015 January.
When I get a lens as this to review, it makes my life much easier since there's much less to say other than to try to find new superlatives.
Autofocus is moderately fast, and it's very accurate, especially at f/1.2.
It's not always sure; in other words, some times it will hunt and give up. AF is not this lens' strong point.
Fuji's focus system is closed-loop, read directly from the image sensor, so it automatically compensates for any mechanical errors.
Open-loop systems of DSLRs and LEICAs can't compensate for these errors and sometimes have focus errors (offsets) which we don't have in the Fuji system. Bravo!
Bokeh is exquisite. I've never seen better soft, smooth backgrounds that just melt away — while the subject pops out in ultra sharpness:
56mm APD bokeh at f/1.2. Camera-original JPG.
I've not seen better bokeh, but I have seen plenty this good. Here's Nikon's 85mm f/1.4G at f/1.4 on full-frame, which is about the same:
Honestly, I don't think any pro has shot lenses this short when soft backgrounds are needed, except for shots in catalogs trying to sell these lenses. 85mm portrait lenses are an artifact of 1950s rangefinder cameras; today we shoot longer lenses instead. Focal length has far more effect on background defocus than f/number, and edge characteristics and diaphragm blades have nearly no effect except in sales literature.
For the best bokeh, shoot a long lens like a 300/2.8 or 400/2.8. Here's the same shot (from farther away of course for the same subject size) shot at 400mm at f/5.6 on full-frame. The background is at least as soft, and more importantly, you can see even less of whatever's back there because a 400mm lens blows it up so much bigger. A 56mm or 85mm lens sees too much of the background, regardless of how soft it may be.
Canon 100-400mm IS L II bokeh at 400mm at f/5.6 on full frame.
Distortion, as shot on the X-E2 which may be correcting it automatically, is completely invisible, whoo hoo!
Fuji XF 56mm f/1.2 APD for X-mount cameras.
Ergonomics are great! It feels great to have a real metal lens in my hands. The only other real metal lenses made today are almost exclusively from LEICA; Nikon and Canon have been churning out mostly plastic since the 1980s.
The dedicated aperture ring is also mandatory for real photography, but absent on most other brands of lenses.
A whine about the aperture ring is that it needs a deeper detent or an easily-released lock at A, otherwise it's easy to knock it to f/16 by accident.
It's also silly to have all the third-stop clicks. We need the full stops more deeply detented so we can feel them with our eyes closed.
Light falloff is completely invisible, even at f/1.2, as shot on the X-E2 which is probably correcting it automatically.
Even shooting white walls wide-open at f/1.2 to exaggerate it, it's still insignificant.
There's no problem with vignetting, even with several stacked filters!
The filter ring doesn't move.
The all-metal filter ring is a pleasant surprise compared to the plastic rubbish from other brands.
Shooting directly into the sun, one will get a dim blob on the opposite side. Other than that, no more ghosts. See also Sunstars for more samples.
There are no lateral color fringes as shot on the X-E2.
it doesn't get very close:
But it is super sharp:
Crop from above image at 100%. If this is about 6" (15cm) on your screen, printing the complete image at this same high magnification would result in a 50 x 30" (125 x 85 cm) print!
This is a 60-year-old wristwatch.
Rear, Fuji X-mount XF 56mm f/1.2 APD. enlarge.
The Fuji XF 56 1.2 is built much better than anything from Nikon or Canon today. It's built as well as LEICA lenses, with much newer technology.
It's all anodized aluminum, not cheesy plastic.
All parts are anodized aluminum.
None; in-finder only.
None; in-finder only.
Engraved and filled with paint.
Front ring, laser-engraved.
Laser engraved on rear of lens barrel.
Rain seal at mount
Noises When Shaken
With those caveats, the Fuji XF 56/1.2 is among the sharpest lenses I've ever tested. This lens is super-sharp out to the edges even at f/1.2 as shot on the 16MP X-E2, and Fuji's claimed diffraction compensation (lens optimization) really does keep it just as sharp at f/16!
If you can't make a sharp photo with this lens, you're doing something wrong.
It's ultra sharp and contrasty wide open at infinity, however at a few feet (a meter) and closer it has lower contrast at f/1.2. In other words, there is some spherical aberration at close distances which will put a slight veil over the still-sharp image core below. Stopped down it's always sharp at every distance.
Here is its rated MTF at f/1.2. It appears slightly better than the regular Fujinon 56mm f/1.2 which has the same optics because the dark-edged (APD) filter attenuates the rays from the periphery of the f/1.2 aperture, which are the softest. In other words, the dark-edge filter effectively stops this lens down to f/1.7 where either lens is sharper than at a true f/1.2.
I saw a little spherochromatism, called color bokeh by hobbyists. This means that out-of-focus highlights might take on slight color fringes.
If you do see anything, background highlights may be fringed with green, and foreground highlights might be tinged with magenta.
This goes away as stopped down.
Sunstars at f/4, 14 January 2015.
Sunstars at f/5.6, 14 January 2015.
Sunstars at f/8, 14 January 2015.
Sunstars at f/11, 14 January 2015.
Sunstars at f/16, 14 January 2015.
The rounded 7-blade diaphragm makes no sunstars at large apertures, however it becomes straight as stopped down and can make exquisite sunstars on brilliant points of light.
The Fuji XF 56mm f/1.2 APD is a special lens. For most people, the regular Fujinon 56mm f/1.2 is optically faster for use in low light, focuses faster, costs less, and has bokeh almost as good. Remember that while the APD lens has blur circles with softer edges wide-open, the regular f/1.2 lens really is f/1.2 and has larger blur circles. As my samples at bokeh show, it's not that big a deal.
The only advantage to this lens is when used at f/1.2. When stopped down it's identical to the regular 56mm lens, but you're still paying the higher price and have slower autofocus.
If you've found my research here helpful, my support to run this ad-free website comes from when you using any of these links to it at Adorama, at Amazon or at B&H when you get yours, or when you get anything at these links to approved sources. Please always use these links when getting any of your gear so I can continue to share what I know; it's what supports me. If you take the chance of buying elsewhere (or especially at retail), remember that Fuji doesn't seal its boxes. Unlike a bottle of milk, a CD, DVD or Blu-Ray which is sealed, buy your 56mm lens elsewhere or at retail and you'll not only cheat me out of the work I've done here to help you, you run the risk of getting a lens that's a customer return or been used for store demos. Never buy at retail.
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14 January 2015