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Friday, 18 May 2018


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I'm using the 50/2 Fujicron with my XPro2 and absolutely love it. It's good for pics of the kids as it's almost portrait length and the focus is pretty fast. The other lens I would to use for that type of shooting is the 90/2. That's a great lens but it gets a bit heavy and the focal length is a little too long for kid pics.

I own the 23mm, 35mm, and 50mm Fujicrons... haven't gone for the 18mm or 90mm yet, and I may never. The three I have are all superb lenses. I also have the 23mm f/1.4 (which I bought well before the 23mm f/2 was announced), but I don't use it much anymore. I probably ought to sell it.

I find the 50mm f/2 to be a superb portrait lens. Of course it's slightly wider and not as fast as the 56mm f/1.2, but I think the shallow-DOF thing in portraits has really been overdone, so for me the loss of speed is more than made up for by the reduction in size and weight. Optically it's superb and it focuses very, very quickly.

My particular bone to pick with the article is that it repeated as if gospel the goofy idea that the 50mm lens somehow "best replicates human visual perspective." You'll gather that I'm one of those folks who thinks this is pure hogwash -- for many reasons, mostly based on the psychology of vision but also based on common sense. After all, while the 50mm lens takes in about 47 degrees diagonally, my eyes (not all that great anymore) take in maybe 140 degrees. So how are those two even vaguely equivalent? Add to that how the human brain uses the visual information from the eye (combined with past knowledge and some Kentucky windage) to create a visual world which we live within (rather that looking at) and the "normal" angle of view thing comes unglued. Beyond that there is actual mischief done by the very concept when documentary photographers somehow infer that the use of a "normal" lens somehow automatically confers "truth" to the images thus taken, thereby absolving them of the responsibility of critical thinking.
By this time in my rant you'll have recognized that this really pushes my buttons. Sorry. (And maybe I'm just a heretic and this is what heretics sound like.) But this "normal lens" business is not useful and it's time that it died.

There goes another 450 from the photography account. Really I have a separate bank account that is just for photography.

Now I have a question for everyone. I always get the silver lens for the hot, sunny days we have here in California and, for me, they look better.

Does anyone elese perfer the silver finish?

I love my 23/2, light, tiny, and not only is a great on the XT series, it made my X-Pro1 a new camera!
I'm considering the 50 for down the road, but I don't know if I'll ever bite - I enjoy using my actual summicron 50/2(the wee 80's version) and a 50 1.4 Takumar SMC. We'll see if my eyes can keep up with manual focusing.

It's a good length for people; close enough to concentrate on your subject, while allowing you to keep the shot open and a little relaxed.

Fuji has really done a cruel thing - they now have two great choices at 23, 35, and 50/56 - it's hard to pick!

Us old film dogs who have the Olympus Pen F system (the real, original one, not the digital one), have been used to 'crop factors' and equivalent angle of view since the 60's. The 28.95mm Pen F flange to film distance opened up the possibility of shooting almost every other full frame system's lenses. All manual of course. At best crop to 8X10 print size the factor is 1.33X so a 50mm would be closer to 67mm on a full frame at that print size.
Not cropping the factor is 1.44 for a 72mm-e.

(Note in the following when I say 35mm I mean the equivalent APS-c lense.)

Since I've always shot APS-c based digital cameras I read the article to mean the 50mm angle-of-view. Maybe my mistake but it just made more sense to me.

Because the eye is such a dynamic mechanism, as soon as the eye moves it re-adjusts its exposure and focus both chemically and physically, and it does not see a scene all-at-once. The approximate field of view of a human eye is about 95° at it’s largest extent (as when trying to take in a scenic view), to around 3° when focusing in close. Roughly, 75° seems to be an average. It’s the fovea in the center of the retina’s macula region that is responsible for sharp vision. It has a field of view of about 2° to 7°. On average it’s about 3°. That 3° is pretty small; about the size of your thumbnail at arm’s length. The narrowly focused eye rapidly jumps around the field of view. It picks out pieces (we're not quite sure how it prioritizes the pieces) sending data to the brain which puts the jigsaw together. The view around you is constructed in small chunks and the brain rapidly puts together the pieces to form the entire picture “in the blink of an eye.”

Through the years I determined that there are many factors that determine someone's 'normal' lense. In many discussions of favorite prime lenses you most often hear folks speak of 35mm, 40mm or 50mm. For me the 50mm produces some tunnel vision. Though I shot with a 35mm for years, it was always a bit wide forcing me to step into scenes. With my escape to Fuji I procured a 40mm (27mm f2.8). It was such a wonderful experience that it instantaneously became my 'normal lens.'

In spite of your recommendation to avoid it, I read the article in The Atlantic. Oh, well: I was warned. Lenses do not have perspective. Camera position has perspective, and thus dictates a needed focal length to achieve the framing we want. It makes me wonder what motivated Daigle to take on the subject in the first place.

I wonder how many photographers used "normal" lenses because that's what their camera came with or what provided the best performance for the dollar, and then proceeded to make great art with them, imbuing them with mystical powers to be philosophically divined by ad-copy and free-lance writers for general-readership magazines like The Atlantic. It has always seemed a compromise to me, but it's perfect for taking pictures of groups of people in an environment, which is what most people use them for.

The advantage to a lens about one and a half to two times the format diagonal is that it allows us to take closeups of people from the distance we normally are (or would like to be) when we are visually admiring them, and thus looks "natural", as in familiar, without including the entire distracting landscape. I don't own a camera on which this Fuji lens will operate, but I do enjoy using lenses like that when making pictures of individuals. I'm sure it's a good one.

Thank you Mike for calling attention to the Atlantic "50-mm" article. I dashed off a quick Letter To The Editor of The Atlantic about the factual, technical and aesthetic errors in that article.
I notice in many places the propagation of half-baked arguments and home-brew perceptual science regarding the 'field of view of the human eye' and such is never far away.

The article is mainly rubbish, and written - lifted from the original in a publication called 'Object Lessons' - by "..a doctoral student in media, cinema, and digital studies at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee", who says that the use of the 50mm was carried over from the use of the fifty in cinematography (film-making) when Oskar Barnack decided to use 35mm cinema film in his little pocket camera which became the Leica.

The "doctoral student in media, cinema, and digital studies" doesn't seem to realise that the cinema frame for film was (and near enough is) HALF the size of the frame which Oskar used - because cine film runs vertically, providing a frame 24mm wide and 18mm high; but Oskar used it HORIZONTALLY, and doubled the frame size to what's now the 'standard' of 36mm x 24mm (..or 1.5 inches x 1 inch).

The stills frame diagonal of about 43mm (depending on where you measure) was 'rounded up' to 50mm by Max Berek when he designed the first lens for the commercially available Leica ..and most (all?) lenses continue to be designed by men.

However, it's been found - I have no reference to quote here, I'm sorry - that women tend to pay attention to a wider view than men (thought to originate from women's wider attention while minding children playing near the cave, but men pay more attention to their central vision - while hunting dinner, etc). So a 'normal' lens, for a 35mm stills camera, designed or chosen by a woman, would probably be a 35mm instead of a 50mm.

The article also says "..the 50-mm lens provided the clear, crisp definition necessary for later projection at a larger scale in theaters".

But "definition" (or sharpness of an image) has nothing to do with focal length (e.g; 50mm, 35mm, 75mm etc), but is a feature of how well the lens - any lens - has been designed and made, and the choice - on a cine camera - for the "..later projection at a larger scale in theaters.." would depend on what the film-maker wanted the picture to look like ..wide-angle, 'normal' or long-focal-length to narrow the view and make distant things appear closer!

Unfortunately, this "..doctoral student in media, cinema, and digital studies.." doesn't seem to understand much about cinema, or other media - or lenses - and nor do the people who've published the article.

Such a shame, really.

I second Sean. I use the 50mm on my X Pro 2. It's a great lens. I have all three of the newer F2 lenses + the 18mm F2. They are the only ones I use now. I wish they would make a 27mm F2.

I read the article mentioned. Being kind, I'll only say I thought it needed better research and a writer with better understanding of basic photography. I don't recall, was it ever mentioned that the 50mm was ONLY normal for the 35mm (or "full frame digital") format? It seems to me the writer didn't really know that there are other formats out there and they all have different lenses considered normal.

As for the 50mm Fuji, I recently bought one, barely used...almost new. I fiddled with it for a day or two to make sure it was working properly and then I actually took some pictures with it. Pretty great, IMO. It's certainly the sharpest lens I've used in years, maybe ever. But it also has the smoothest transition in tonal changes I've seen, if that makes any sense to anyone. I'm a poor articulator, I know. It's just a damn good lens.

As for the focal length, prior to buying the Fuji I was never impressed by 75mm. 'Course I had never used a 75mm so I had no real basis for my opinion. But this Fujicron turns out to be pretty useful. After using it a while, I realized that it fits within my range of "normal" focal lengths. Usually, I consider the 50mm (equiv.) to approximate my field of vision for distant subjects and the 35mm (equiv.) to approximate my field of vision for near subjects. The 75mm (equiv.) seems to approximate the actual size of subjects as my eyes see them. Okay, again, I know I'm a poor articulator. Suffice it to say, the Fuji lens just seems right when I look at a subject with it.

I wish Fuji at least offered a nice optional metal lens hood for the 50mm like it does for the 23mm and 35mm models. That despite the rather lofty price for those hoods. As for filters, I always use a UV for protection but nothing else. That is except for once or twice an IR or ND filter. Funny how tripods and filters kinda dropped out of use when digital came along.

All lenses have been ab-normal to me since they abandoned the depth of field scale. I don't care if the human eye doesn't perceive depth of field, I want it back.

God, I love it when your throwaway comments send me to my computer.

From the National Geographic stylebook:

Abbreviated mm, no period.
In text, usually spelled out as a noun or adjective, although may be abbreviated as an adjective in some
standard uses:
a caterpillar 25 millimeters long
a ten-millimeter-wide line
but 16-mm film
7.7-mm shell

In photographic data, film and lens sizes are often written without a hyphen:
35mm film
200mm zoom
Either style is accepted as long as it is consistent.

Note that in text, a hyphen is preferred, while in photo data, is can be either way.

The New York Times Lens section will sometimes use the hyphenated form, as in 50-mm, and sometimes, with a space with no hyphen, as in 70 mm.

I never found much use for 50mm on APS-C. When I owned a 28, 50 and 85 (for the good ol' KM 7D) my stats showed that, of the photos taken with those primes, 45% were with the 28 and 45% with the 85. The 50 was too short or too long for most anything I wanted to shoot.

BTW, the way I've heard the whole "human vision" thing is that if you shoot with a FL equal to the diagonal of the sensor, then make a print, if you view that print at a "standard" viewing distance (equal to the diagonal measure of the print) then the scene in the print occupies the same FOV that that portion of the scene did when you took the picture.

That explanation pleases the mathematician in me, but I doubt that I've ever looked at more than a handful of images in my life at a distance equal to the diagonal. (My eyes won't focus close enough in most cases !) Still, for whatever reason, I'm partial to 28mm on APS-C and find even 35mm a bit "tight".

I own and use all three of them (23,35 & 50) and to me they are very good lenses indeed. Just like the others (or may be even more so) the 50mm draws beautifully, by which I mean that the transition from in focus to out of focus areas is not abrupt but very smooth, and that contrast is pleasing - subtle black&white prints never become dull. The only downside I can think of, is that focusing manually feels a little indirect (small wonder, 'cause it is an indirect operation). And I have nothing against plastic lenshoods provided they're black, and this one is (and retrofits on the lens when not in use - love that). Great tool(s).

I'm sure many of us, if we could, would own a "Mike approved" cherry picked sampling from all the camera makers, even if that means we end up with too many 35-50mm lenses. I have to learn not to click on your links to check prices, especially when my last purchase is almost paid off.

While the Fujicrons mate very nicely with the X-T series, they were specifically designed for use with the Fuji X-Pro series so that they intruded minimally into the optical viewfinder, thereby recapitulating the classic Leica trio of 35, 50 and 75mm primes. Smart move by Fuji.

I had the 23mm f/2 for most of 2017; it was quite a nice lens; quiet, fast, weather resistant with aperture rings that had just the right amount of resistance. It also made absolutely killer "sun stars".

I don't know about the 35 or 50mm Fujicrons, but the 23mm is a contrasty little devil, more so than the tonally neutral Fuji 23/1.4, and considerably more contrasty than the 23mm f/2 on the X100F, which has the softest tonal curve of the three, and therefore, the most dynamic range during editing.

Turns out whenever I needed a 23mm prime, I always reached for that dynamo, the little Fuji X100F, which, at f/2.8 or higher, produces some of the highest image quality I've seen from any camera.

So, in December last year, I sold both my 23mm primes: the 23/1.4 went to a budding young photographer who fell in love with its exemplary image quality, and the 23mm Fujicron went to well-renown documentary & street photographer, Rick Rocamora*, who needed it to rebuild his X-Pro street photography kit after it was stolen on his last photo trip.

*-Rick Rocamora is one of the leading documentary photographers of our time. TOP readers are highly encouraged to read his beautiful documentary book, Blood, Sweat, Hope and Quiapo: Rosalie S. Mosende's Story all of which was shot with a Fuji X-Pro 1. TOP readers can get it here using Mike's Amazon affiliate link: https://amzn.to/2IRCDHu

The best thing about the Atlantic article is that it links to a much more interesting article by Roger Cicala, "The Camera vs. the Human Eye," from Petapixel, Nov. 2012. That one really IS worth reading! Among other things, it answers the following question:

"If the focal length of the eye is 17 or 24mm, why is everyone arguing about whether 35mm or 50mm lenses are the same field of view as the human eye?"

The answer is very interesting and speaks directly to Jim Richardson's comment above.

I always thought 50mm is considered "normal" because when you look through the viewfinder the scene is neither magnified as its is with a tele lens, nor compressed as it is with a wide lens compared to how one views the scene without the viewfinder. So, of course the scene is cropped in terms of field of view, but the magnification is neutral. You can quibble about whether it's 50, 55, 45, or something else, but the idea makes sense to me.

I have this lens and like it but have not completely adapted to this focal length yet. I am much more comfortable with my 35mm f/1.4 (purchased long before the f/2 existed).

I just got the 23/2 to round out my Fujicron trio: 23/35/50. I'm relatively new to Fuji mirrorless. Gateway model was the superb X100T and the oddball TCL X100 conversion lens two years ago. Followed up with a barely used graphite XT1 and new black XT1 this fall. Earlier Fujinon fast primes and zooms lent an awkwardness to the smallish XT1/2 and X-Pro 1/2. The smaller, lighter Fujicrons gave practically nothing away optically and brought back to the system the compact goodness that makes it unique. That 50/2! More reach, workable telephoto compression, and all the portrait lens functionality you'll probably need. For street shooting, candids, and environmental/documentary style work, the 50/2--like the other two Fujinons--shows what a MILC system can deliver.

I like the little Fujicrons, especially the 50mm, easy enough to say since I own all five of them (18, 23, 35, 50, 90). The 50mm makes a great combo with the 18mm or the 23mm and an X Pro 2 for walk-around use, travel, and everyday carry. I use it at work a fair amount, too. It's a little short for headshots, but I've used it for that, too, just remembering to take a step back and not fill the frame. (As an aside, the XP2 and the 50 make a great portrait combo, very light, small, and not intrusive. Much less intimidating than, say, my Canon 1Dx with the 85mm f/1.2.)

I have been a photographer for more than 40 years and have read more nonsense about normal lenses than I care to remember. And about the perspectives of different lenses.
My simple conclusion is this. When you take a picture of a scene in front of you with a normal (50mm) lens on 'normal' 35mm full frame camera, and print it on normal size paper, about 8x10 or A4 or magazine page, and then look at it from normal, arms length distance it indeed looks normal. It looks just like the actual scene in front of you. That is why it is normal.
And I suppose also because Max Berek decided to build a 50mm lens for the first Leica, because it was at the time the easiest one to make good enough.

The 50mm is the last lens that I have added to my 'collection' of Fujicrons and I never originally intended to buy all three but with some spare cash in my pocket I grabbed one and am I glad I did! The 23mm and 35mm are great lenses but this one even better. Coupled with my X-T2 it's proved to be a great lens for candid portraits of the family as well as getting closer to nature than I do with my wider angle lenses. I'm not the best at describing lens qualities but the contrast this lens provides is 'just right' for my taste, it is very sharp and the focus falls off beautifully. So much so that it has turned out to be my favorite Fuji lens.

I bought the 50mm Fujicron earlier this year. It’s the first 50mm autofocus lens I’ve ever had. My other fifties are of the Pentax genre including a couple Takumars and an M. I have proved to myself that the Fuji is every bit as good as the Taks and also as good as the FA 43. It doesn’t have the f/1.4 bokeh of the Taks but the Fuji’s bokeh wide open is as good as any of the others at f/2. The autofocus is so quick-hardly perceptible. All in all, I think its a very lovely lens and ranks right up there with the legendary Takumars.

I use it on the X-Pro 2, along with the 35 and 23 Fujicrons. The 35 really sings on the street. This is as close as I will ever get to having a Leica kit.

Photoshop can't remove glare put a polarizing filter can. Photoshop can do a pseudo graduated filter, but getting it correct, or close, in camera is better. Neutral density filters still help when you want a slower shutter speed or a wider aperture under bright light. Id bet landscape photographers or those you photograph shiny objects, like cars, on regular basis frequently use filters.

Now you have a token filter comment, and I return you to your regularly scheduled lens posts.

[Thanks Mike! --Mike]

Regarding the "legendary" Leica Summilux-M 75 f1.4, I am lucky enough to own its cousin, the "fabled" Summilux-R 80 f1.4, that I use on a Leica SL. The R version shares the same optical design but is larger, less expensive and has a shorter minimum focusing distance. Believe me, the magic of this lens is not a myth. Shot at f2 or lower, it produces utterly gorgeous portraits with the legendary (there's that word again) Leica glow. I am in the process of selling all my other tele-portrait lenses, as they now seem superfluous.

[Yeah, I really loved that lens. "Awesome" is not hyperbole. --Mike]

Three things that I would like to say. Firstly, do they really call them Fujicrons in the USA? Or is that some kind of Leica joke? Over here they are Fujinons.

Secondly landscape photographers use polarising and nd filters routinely. I had a polariser attached almost permanently while in Tuscany last week.

Thirdly I used to have the 23mm f1.4 but traded it in for the f2 when that became available because of the size and weight advantage. I have regretted it. The f1.4 is the better lens in my opinion.

Finally - oh damn, that's four things! I do think that the whole "normal" focal length idea as well as the concept of the "normal" viewing distance for a print is one of those ideas that was invented by someone many years ago and has been constantly repeated since but has no basis in fact at all.

"vaunted (fabled, legendary, pick your adjective)" but please, please, don't pick iconic, that overused, abused, cliche of the century.

Regarding Ilkka's comment: I wonder if anyone has done a really carefully-controlled experiment to test how reliably people can distinguish between different (models of) lenses of the same, or equivalent, focal length? Such an experiment is probably quite hard to do, and very hard to do without convenient get-outs for people who think they can tell: you'd have to work with very controlled lighting and subjects so there will always be the suspicion that you could distinguish, just not in these particular photographs.

I have an uncomfortable suspicion that the result will be like fine wine, hifi, and other similar things: people, even experts, will, in fact, not be able to tell in many cases, but will remain convinced that they can, science notwithstanding. Apart from anything else a great chunk of photographic culture is built around obsessing over fine distinctions between lenses, and that can't be allowed to fall even if those distinctions are not usefully detectible by humans.

I personally, as the owner of a slightly alarming number of good 50mm-equivalent lenses, including at least 4 fast 50mm M lenses, find the prospect that I probably can't distinguish between them most, possibly all, of the time slightly alarming.

(Of course I am restricting myself to 'good' lenses here: it's going to be pretty easy to tell the difference between a modern highly-corrected lens and some 1930s uncoated triplet with most of the front surface abraded away, in the same way it's easy to tell the differnce between vinyl and CD. The hard step here is admitting that the 'worse' lens may in fact be artistically better: as with vinyl there will be endless spurious argument about how it is somehow technically better because, somehow, it is not OK to admit that technically better is not the same as perceptually more enjoyable. No-one wants to admit that the 'Leica glow' is optical imperfections any more than that the 'warm vinyl sound' is distortion.)

I never saw the need for a "normal" (50mm) lens in 35mm format. I prefer bracket that focal length with a (35mm equivalent) of 35 and 85.


Doesn’t ‘normal’ just mean that there is zero tele- and zero wide-angle effect? I could not find any scientific clarification, but there must be a way to calculate the absolute neutral focal point of a certain format. For comparisons I always use the diagonal of the image, which equals the cross-cut of the image circle. I am not sure if that is exactly the ‘neutral’ image as we see it. However, the standards 43.3mm for full frame, 21.6mm for m4/3, 27.3mm for APS-C and 79.2mm for 6X6 (80mm on my Rollei) are related and this makes more sense to me than all these comparisons of angles of view of lenses to the human eye.

And let us be grateful that photographs are usually rectangular and sharp from corner to corner en don’t have the shape and reproduction of what we perceive.

I'm surprised I didn't see any comments that described a normal lens the way I learned it way back in the 1970s from a book that was old then. It has to do with print size and viewing distance.

The same basic description is in the Wikipedia entry for "Normal Lens" and is quoted, "A normal lens then, is one that renders a printed (or otherwise displayed) photograph of a scene that when held at 'normal' viewing distance (usually arms-length) in front of the original scene and viewed with one eye, matches the real-world and the rendered perspective." (Credited as Pirenne, Maurice Henri Leonard (1970). Optics, painting & photography. University Press, Cambridge [England].)

In other words, if you make a reasonably sized print such as 5x7 or 8X10 and hold it at around an arms length the size relationship of foreground and background elements will be the same as if you were looking at the scene. You can also think of it as the field of view you would see if you held an empty picture frame of that size at a normal viewing distance.

When you make larger prints the viewing distance becomes longer or the "normal" focal length becomes shorter. For instance, you can shoot with a 24mm lens and make 48" wide prints that look normal when viewed from about 3 feet.

When you do the math you find that for an 8X10 at 14 inches the "normal" lens is roughly the diagonal of the film frame, or 50mm for 35mm film. Since that was a common print size that's why it became known as a normal lens.

I go away from TOP for a few days, and what happens? Mike writes about my second favorite lens in my second favorite FOV.

Back in the day I was always a 100-105 guy, but when I got back into M mount rangefinders about 15 years ago I found even a 90mm was too long for my direct view comfort. This led me first to the C-V 75/2.5, later the Leica 75/2.5 and now their spectacular 75/2. Great lenses all.

A year or two back after giving a digital Leica M a try but finding it lacking I settled on the X-Pro2 as a good, practical, affordable direct view substitute. I have accumulated the three Fujicrons and like them all, plus their 14/2.8. I usually sally forth with the three Fuji lenses that are a direct replacement for my usual M 21 - 35 - 75 kit.

Fuji really did it right with the Fujicrons, and I have to say the 50 is the best of the lot.

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