Thursday, December 18, 2014

First Impression: Fujifilm XF56mm f/1.2 R APD is Insanely Bokehlicious!

Fujfilm X-T1 Graphite Silver with XF56mm f/1.2 APD. 1/2400th sec f/1.2 @ ISO 3200. Classic Chrome jpeg

I'm Japanese and I've never liked the word 'bokeh'. Yes, Japanese are famous for making up words (karaoke, emoji, cosplay, anime), some work, some are just weird. Shallow depth of field sounds a bit too technical for such a subjective 'quality', so someone had to come up with a better word. I guess 'bokeh' will just have to do for now, although I wish the Germans or Italians came up with a term first. Not only am I not fond of the word, I'm not fond of the pursuit of it, as if bokeh is somehow intrinsic to a good picture. In fact, as a street photographer I almost avoid it. I typically shoot F/8 and 1/750th of a second and I focus on composition and the decisive moment. 

When Fujifilm asked if I wanted to review the new XF56mm f/1.2 R APD lens, they assumed I would say no and I assumed I would say no as well. However, after looking at some pre-production images, I was intrigued (check out this link and this one as well). There was something about the out-of-focus area that was... should I say 'bokehlicious?' I wish I didn't type that...

Fujifilm sent me the newest X-T1 Graphite Silver edition last week to review, but asked me to wait until today (December 18th, 2014) for the latest firmware update V3.0 before testing the camera and lens. Yes, I could only stare at this amazing body and lens combo for a week before taking serious pictures with it. Today was the first day I was able to test the lens... and it was pouring rain all day. I also had a couple of meetings, so I could only shoot while going from one meet to the next. I was with Kurt Dahle today (amazing musician) and I was able to take a few images of him while we walked around in Chinatown Vancouver. 

The above and below image are straight out of the camera and has only been modified in size (reduced to 1400 lines of resolution on the shorter side), no sharpening, no white balance, nothing. I was testing the electronic shutter (completely silent, even though the mechanical shutter is pretty darn quiet already) so the ISO was pretty high and aperture was wide open. These pictures aren't anything special but you get to see how this 'apodization' effect works. You can definitely see the vignetting and the smoothing-out of the out of focus area. If you want to nerd out on the technical specs, follow this link to Fujifilm's website, but you can see the results of this pretty cool technology. Yes, I could probably achieve this effect in Photoshop (or Lightroom) as it's subtle enough, but it's nice to be able to get it at the optical level. 

Fujfilm X-T1 Graphite Silver with XF56mm f/1.2 R APD.
1/1700th sec f/1.2 @ ISO 3200 Classic Chrome jpeg
I'll post more pictures from this lens next week, and I'll also do a separate review of the X-T1 Graphite Silver edition with the latest 3.0 firmware update. So far I'm pretty excited to try and shoot with this lens on the street, although this focal length isn't really typical for street photography (except for abstract and artistic photographers like Saul Leiter). I love the challenge though, so let's see what happens. I'm also pretty backed up on my reviews so thanks for your patience. I should be able to catch up in the next few weeks. My X100T review is almost finished, although my YouTube reviews are already posted on my channel here. Thanks again for visiting my blog and happy shooting!

Video Review of the XF56mm f/1.2 R APD lens here

Full Review of the Fujifilm X-T1 here

Video Review of Fujifilm X-T1 vs X-E2 here


  1. The Italian term for bokeh is sfocatura. Pronounced: sfo-ka-TOO-rah. Keep up the great work!

    1. Thanks for the extra info! If any language would have it's own word for bokeh, it would be the Italians!! Thanks for commenting and happy shooting!


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