The Fujicron on the "Leica M" of today. The silver-lens-on-black-body
was a classic "look" on old rangefinders.
Speaking of lenses, as I was in the previous post, don't forget that the avidly anticipated "Fujicron" (that's what they're calling it, out there on the wilds of the Internet) ships on January 16th.
You might want to preorder now.
"-Cron," if you're new to all this, is the traditional Leitz—now Leica—suffix meaning an ƒ/2 lens. The 35mm Summicron was traditionally the optimum, the top, lens of choice for a film Leica rangefinder.
A few Leicaphiles here and there are whimpering that the XF 23mm ƒ/2 WR—that's the Fujicron, and it's a 35mm-equivalent in angle of view—is not quite Fuji's sharpest lens. Really? You worry about that? Every lens is sharp enough these days. I almost long for the days when there were real sharpness differences in lenses...differences you could detect without fastidiousness, pixel-peeping, and dedicated tests. It's harder than ever being a lens nut these days. They're all just too good.
For example, I read a review of the new "pride leader" lens from Canon the other day—the show-the-world EF 35mm ƒ/1.4L II ($1,649)—that concluded it was marginally better than the Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 Art lens ($899)...because you could see slight differences if you looked closely in the extreme corners at the widest aperture.
That's where we are? Making distinctions based on vanishingly small differences like that? It's always fun and gratifying to own whichever lens nourishes your enthusiasm, and I'm not against the Canon or any other fine lens. (Quite the opposite—my tagline used to be "you can never spend too much money for your lenses.") But the hope that such qualities will distinguish actual pictures is probably imaginary now.
Makes me a bit sad, actually. It was so much fun back in the dimly-remembered days of yore to actually see lens quality in pictures without the present-day magnifying glass of pixel-peeping.
Now we pick lenses based on different criteria. Color fringing (fixable in post). Bokeh. Size, weight, and handling. Physical features like weather and water resistance. All the things, in other words, that make the new Fujicron absolutely perfect on the X-Pro2.
If the Fuji X-Pro2 is the Leica M of this millennium—not a stretch by any stretch—then the Fujicron is the ideal normal-lens for it. Perfect mates. Match made in heaven. Get in line!
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
John Camp: "I hate to say it, given my current satisfaction with my GX8s, but that may be the prettiest combo of camera and lens I've ever seen. I'm not sure 'pretty' is a good enough reason to spend money, but it's definitely one reason you might. If it was a 4:3 aspect ratio, I probably would."
Bill Poole: "Having owned Leica M cameras and loved the 35mm ƒ/2 'Cron, I was quick to order the ƒ/2 Fuji lens, black version, earlier this year. It is now part of the three-lens set for my X Pro2 with the ƒ/2 35mm and the 27mm ƒ/2.8 pancake lens (which is really very wonderful and compact and pretty much the exactly right focal length for many situations.) To fund the purchase of the ƒ/2 lenses, I sold the ƒ/1.4 versions of the same lenses. Were those 'sharper?' I don't know—the 35mm ƒ/1.4 is a brilliant lens. But to me the trade off for the 'right-sized' primes for the X-Pro form-factor was worth it, and the lenses are very solid performers.
"This lightweight combo is very Leica-like in size and use and has left me in the hard-to-comprehend position of not hungering for a new camera or lens—the first time that has been the case in many years."
David Lee: "As we all know, you never, ever put a chrome lens on a black body. You can put a black lens on a chrome body but not the other way around. Basic Leica knowledge. Having said that, I love my X-Pro2. My M's are collecting dust."
Harry Teasley: "As a Leica user, you want to call your setup a SLOBB: Silver Lens On Black Body. Just FYI. But more seriously, since when is 35mm 'normal'?"
Mike replies: Harry check out this graphic from DPReview's Canon EF 35mm ƒ/1.4 II review:
I meant that a 35mm is the best "main" lens on a rangefinder or rangefinder-style camera...we actually polled this once, years ago, at C&D magazine, and the 35mm Summicron beat out the 50mm Summicron as the most used and most owned lens. It is indeed more accurate to describe it as a "moderate wide angle" though.
Andre Y: "I've tried a few of those lenses on the list, and I think many of them tend to be very good lenses for a very specific thing, with a couple of notable exceptions. Here are my impressions of four that I either own or have shot extensively.
"The Sigma 50–100mm ƒ/1.8 coupled with a Nikon D500 makes for one of the best stage photography systems you can get: focus is fast and accurate, and works across every focus point, performance wide open is good, and the focal lengths it covers is perfect for either shooting from the wings or from the first few rows of seats. Its flaring character leaves a bit to be desired, but its focus breathing and non-parfocalness is a non-issue in that application. It is heavy and somewhat awkward to hold, so be sure to do your pushups!
"The Nikon 105mm ƒ/1.4E is definitely the best short telephoto Nikon has ever made. It has very low levels of longitudinal CA and is very sharp across its frame, along with very nice bokeh too. You do pay though: it's large, heavy, expensive, and slow to focus. It's the ultimate example of Nikon's dual-personality lenses: wide-open for flattering portraits and stopped down great landscapes.
"The Nikon 19mm PC-E is the mechanical apotheosis of Nikon's tilt-shift line. We finally get to change tilt and shift axes without disassembling the lens, and the controls are mechanically less fiddly and more secure than before. Optically, there's not much more one can ask from this lens: it is very good. Its large bulbous front element does make me very nervous whenever I remove its lens cap though. It goes without saying that this is lens is highly specialized: if you need to ask whether you need it, you don't.
"The sleeper in that group is the Tamron 85mm ƒ/1.8. It does everything well, and has no real weakness. One might carp about its slight focus shift, or size compared to other ƒ/1.8 85mm lenses, but there's little else to talk about. It actually focuses faster than the Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, has much less color fringing (the non-correctable longitudinal kind AKA bokeh fringing), and the vibration control even works, though it will visibly reduce your microcontrast. Sharpness is about the same as the Nikkor, but more even throughout the frame, and the lens has a pleasing character both in its out-of-focus and in-focus areas.
"It's really been an embarrassment of riches for lenses in 2016."
Mike replies: Wow, those are some great thumbnail mini-reviews Andre. Thanks!
Abhishek: "I bought this combo in black the first day I could and replaced my X100T. Weather sealing played the biggest part in that decision. Living in Vancouver, we get a lot of rainy days and now I can freely walk around with this delightful combo with no worries of it dying in the drizzle. It is perhaps the first compact sealed combo around. Something overlooked by most other manufacturers. I've been waiting a long time for this!"
Carsten Bockermann: "I wholeheartedly agree that 'Fuji is the new Leica.' More than nine and a half years ago, when you wrote about the Leica M8, I commented 'To continue the Leica tradition of small, fast cameras with truly excellent lenses, I think we need a new system designed from scratch.' Fuji has built exactly that."