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Monday, 03 August 2020


Last weekend I did some metadata digging. My findings matched my expectations, but there were some surprises also:
- My most used lens of all time is the Fuji 14mm. I have north of 10K shots.
- My second most used lens of all time is the Fuji 27mm. More than 8K shots.
- My third most used lens is the 90mm, almost 8K shots.
- Since I switched to Fuji in 2013 (ish) I have more shots with the 14mm than photos with any manual lens since I started photography. This surprised me given that I exclusively shot with manual lenses (a 21+28+50+135 kit) for many many years. The reason for this is unknown to me, but I shoot _a lot_ more with Fuji than with the previous systems.
- I have zoom lenses (including the 50-200) but they are utilitarian tools that I use when I need them. I don't enjoy them, they're just very useful, enjoyment is reserved for the 14, 27, and 90mm.
- The possible exception to the rule is the outrageous, outstanding, excessive and lovely Sigma 18-35/1.8. I got it at a deep discount and it truly is a (small) bag of (very very good) primes. It's huge (for Fuji), it's heavy (for Fuji), but it is fantastic. I suspect it will be a personal favorite in those statistics five years from now.

And after all these years, I am still waiting for my favorite focal length of all time, 28mm-equivalent (I know Fuji already has the 18mm, but I don't like it optically; I really dislike it). But looking at the statistics of my metadata, I can only gather that the long wait has changed me -- my preferences seem to have moved from 28mm-e to 40mm-e, without making a fuss. It's my new standard lens. Personal roadmaps? this is a journey, and perspective (heh) changes with time.

Fuji also has a line of XC lenses, which are often overlooked. They are slower than the XF lenses, and lighter. I used the 50-230mm for several years, and can attest to its fine image quality.


The weight difference is significant -- 580 g vs. 375 g -- so the XC zoom is what you need for travel.

Ha! So in the end you’re a plain ol’ 24 / 35 / 50 / 70-300 guy after all! 🤣

Ok seriously, that’s a lovely line-up. I think I have each except the 14mm (I think I have a 16 and 18.). I think you’ll be self-embarrassed to find that 55-200 a really handy go-to lens in your setting. A couple of years ago I bought the bigger, faster, costlier, but shorter 50-140 f2.8. Yeah, it’s optically very nice but after spending a month on an island with it I honestly wished I had brought the 55-200 instead.

Meanwhile I’ve been selling-off large lots of gear this summer and plowing some of the proceeds into something new for me: a Hasselblad XCD lens “line-up”. For me it’s 30 / two 45s / 65 / 120, plus a smattering of old V series lenses. A bit impractical but great fun!

I just got my first Fuji on Friday. Only the 18-55 2.8-4 for now. I'm planning on getting the 23 f2 and the 16 f2.8. I have been shooting Micro 4/3 for a while now and still plant to for the foreseeable. My favorite lens for that system is the 15mm F1.7.

If you have the 27mm f2.8, keep it — even if you’re not sure right now just why you should.

That's a nice arsenal you have going. It's nice you can put together your personal lens kit with one camera.

As a Nikon person, to put together the lenses I like, at the size/weight/performance I like, I had to purchase two camera bodies.

A D7500 (APS-C) with the 16-80mm and 70-300mm zooms.

And a D750 with the 58mm 1.4 and 28mm 1.8 primes.

Getting to the above set up took many years. I'm in the camp of learning what lenses I liked best long after I had committed to a system, in my case Nikon. And it took a long while to warm up to Zooms, and I'm in the camp there that the smaller sensor works best for me in reaching size/weight/quality equilibrium.

Fun stuff, let us know how you like the 55-200. I use my 70-300, which is actually a Nikon FX (full frame) lens on my D7500 as a 105-450mm-e lens. It's pretty much a "critter lens."

Canon M3 with 22mm, thats it.

Perhaps plan for 32/1.4

Because of the way I learned and then proceeded to photograph, I never needed the highest resolution or the greatest sharpness. I mostly needed to get the shot. My personal lens map usually consisted of a couple of fast zooms and a couple of ancillary lenses (fast 85, something around a 21.)

What I would kill for would be an equivalent of a sharp fast compact zoom, 60-85. I might even move to a new camera for one of those, if the camera body was fairly compact. A 35-60 would be the perfect complement.

My own experiences with the Fuji 55-200 are...so-so. It's a useful range of focal lengths for a zoom, but personally, I've found this lens to be somewhat lacking in contrast and not particularly sharp. I first used a rental in 2013 for a trip to the Grand Tetons, then bought a used one in 2014 from the Buy/Sell forums at Fred Miranda. That second unit was no more impressive than the rental one. I know there a lot of folks that really like it, but my overall experience of that lens was, "meh". It did virtually nothing for me, and it's the only other Fujinon X-system lens I don't like in addition to 18mm f/2.0. Its not as good as the 100-400 and nowhere remotely close to the 50-140/2.8, both of which are excellent, but obviously quite a bit bigger. I finally sold it in 2018, I think I may have used it all of 4 times in those 4 years.

I just bought a Fuji X-E3 bundled with the 23mm/f2 (35mm on film) lens. I think the best thing to do right now is to familiarize myself with the camera, lens and Fuji system (I like their peak focus confirmation highlights) before spending more on another lens like the 35/1.4 (53mm on film). Is it true that one has good "bokeh"?

I recently finished my roadmap with a beautiful Nikkor N 24mm f/2.8 ai converted manual focus lens. It makes a great 35 equivalent on my D7100 and that's pretty much as wide as I enjoy using.

I did put together a roadmap when I got my DX format DSLR and it helped tremendously to avoid wasting money.

I may put together another one if I decide to get into macro photography as I sometimes ponder doing.

I just bought a Fuji X-E3 bundled with the 23mm/f2 (35mm on film) lens. I think the best thing to do right now is to familiarize myself with the camera, lens and Fuji system (I like their peak focus confirmation highlights) before spending more on another lens like the 35/1.4 (53mm on film). Is it true that one has good "bokeh"?

I know everyone will want to chime in, but I can't resist ;)

My roadmap:

2018-present Leica 28mm f1.7
2000+-present Leica 35mm f2
2014-2018 Zeiss 35mm f2
2009-2014 Canon 16-35 f2.8, Panasonic 20mm f1.7
2005-2009 Canon EF-S 10-22mm F3.5-4.5
1985-2005 Pentax 50mm f1.8

I'm working on my Nikon Z lens lineup. Currently I have the 14-30/4 S, the 50/1.8 S, and I eschewed the kit lens in favor of the 24-70/2.8 S zoom. These lenses cover the focal ranges I work in most.

Nikon is soon to release a 70-200/2.8 S, while splendid from what I understand, it's just too much lens for me, size wise, weight wise, price wise. I would probably only use that one-third Trinity zoom ten percent of the time. What would be ideal would be a 70-200/4, but it's not even on Nikon's roadmap. I'll probably just get the 85/1.8 S and call it a day.

By coincidence, this is something I have been thinking about recently and I came to the conclusion that the kit lens* I have on my X-T100 covers 80-90% of my needs, the 50-230mm nearly all the rest.

Going by the pics I take, which is the important thing, I don't really need anything else. Though I am tempted by the 18-135mm walk-around lens. And maybe a long 3rd party macro lens. And...

* actually I have the 16-50mm kit lens. The 15-45mm that comes with the T100 (why didn't they make it available body-only?) is great optically and has the extra 1/1.5mm at the wide end, but it's a power zoom and I just can't get on with that! Still, I got the kit new and cheap when they brought out the T200, so I can't really complain. And at least I've got a backup standard zoom.

Hey Mike, the thing I don't like about your personal Fuji lens kit is that you don't have a WR lens. My theoretical Fuji kit included the 23/2 WR for shooting in bad weather, and I'd always have the 35/1.4 for speed. FWIW.

[Good point. I also have a 23mm ƒ/2 WR; I just haven't used it much yet. --Mike]

My first digital was a Sony 5n in 2013. Although I then only shot JPEG with kit lenses I very was pleasantly surprised with the image quality compared to that of my Leica M7 and an array of ASPH Summicrons.

The next step was Sony A7 and shooting RAW. There is so much potential in the full format RAW files that I find myself mainly using only two fixed focal length lenses, a 20mm and an 85mm, both 1.8. My two zoom lenses are gone and the 35mm and 55mm are in semi retirement.

Getting on the Lens Merry-Go-Round at times can be fun or at times an obsession that takes up too much time. Right now with absolutely no commercial photo activity going on talking about it soothes the need to buy more. Years ago, with great discipline, I limited what I would carry by fitting what I would use in one of three bags.
Bag #1(my favorite) Lowell Pro Sling Bag with Olympus EM1, 9-18mm f4-5.6, Panasonic 14-45 f4-5.6, Panasonic 35-100mm f4-5.6.
Bag #2 middle size Temba bag no more than 10 lbs. total. Sony a77, Sigma 10-20 f.3.5, Zeiss 16-80 f3.5-4.5,(My workhorse) Sony 50-200 f4-5.6
Bag #3 Large Temba bag. Sony a99 with all the f2.8 zooms and a couple of fast primes.(The assistant carries that one)
Bag #2 gets the most professional use now and has been used on numerous fashion, showroom,and large volume catalog assignments. Moderate zoom lenses are better than you think and no AD, Stylist or Owner, ever told me my shots are too soft. Save your money for a good printer and then you really see which lens are keepers and which to get rid of.

Can't fault any of your choices Mike. I was lucky to get a good copy of the 18-55 which is just too useful to let go, but those three primes are my favourite by far.

The 55-200, or at least my copy, is definitely sharper than my Nikon 70-200 f/2.8, which cost and weighed a whole lot more. It's one of those modest workmanlike gems, and in a different league to any of the 70-300 Nikon equivalents I used.

I'm traditionally a prime guy, but with my Z6 I've been trying to work almost exclusively with the modern generation of high quality zooms. Currently my bag holds a 14-30, 24-70, an adapted 70-300 and a 50.

I tend to shoot with a few specific FOVs, I'm sure due to my prime background. I have hotspots at 20, 24, 35, 50, 85, 105, 180 and 300. The latter two are rarely seen with any of the others, when I'm shooting long that's generally all I'm doing.

I'm sitting back and watching what happens with Nikon. I wouldn't be surprised if my ultimate four lens kit is 14-30, 24-105, 100-400 and 50. Time will tell.

The 55-200 Fujinon is a lens I still hang onto but really should sell. These days I am using the X-Pro models and I prefer smaller prime lenses with them. The 55-200 is definitely a decent lens but I also have a 70-300 VR Nikon that doubles on both FX and DX bodies, making it more versatile for my uses.

I actually use the Nikons a lot more than I thought I would when I added them to shoot alongside the Fujis. I went a little nuts buying lenses for the Nikons and I now have a ton of Nikkor glass, old and new. Generally, both systems have duplicate focal lengths but I use zooms more readily on the Nikons than on the X-Pro model Fujis.

My main lenses for the X-Pro models are the 16/2.8, 23/2 and 35/2. Then there are the 14/2.8 and 75/2 filling out both ends but they are not used as much as the other three lenses. I also have the ƒ/1.4 versions of the Fuji 23mm and 35mm as well as the 32mm/1.8 Zeiss Touit. What can I say? I shoot mostly in the normal lens range which for me is 35-60/75mm equivalent.

Ha... “Bokuse: overuse of bokeh”... wonder what negative bokeh would be called? There should be a whole definitive vernacular on it by now...

Here’s a few Bokeh definitions that might clarify things?

Noun, is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. Bokeh has been defined as "the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light".

Verb; overuse of bokeh

Adjective; The amount of bokeh

Noun, Adjective; The quality of bokeh, used in conjunction with a modifier.

Noun; unintentional bokeh

Noun, Adjective; Gross overuse of the technique progressing to ostentatiousness

I think that you will find the 55-200 a great lens Mike. I have many exhibition prints made with my copy. It is a bit less sharp at the long end but still very good. I have the 50-140 f2.8. It's a bit sharper but much bigger and heavier and needs the 1.4x converter to cover the same focal lengths. It's OIS is better than the 55-200 though. It is more flare prone than the 55-200, which seems almost immune.

I replaced the 23mm f1.4 with the f2 version and wished I hadn't. Keep your f1.4, it has a beautiful rendering. the 14mm is just outstanding. I see one of your readers thought the 35mm f1.4 too perfect. i wouldn't say that about my example. It has character but it is a little soft in the corners until f2.8 is reached.

My lens road map is now equivalent to whatever Pentax releases that is a home grown lens :)
My bag at the moment has the following - Zeiss 25 Distagon, 31, 43 & 77 Limited's, 2 Macro's 50 & 100, and the 3 big DFA*'s 50/1.4, 85/1.4 and the 70-200/2.8 zoom. The Zeiss will probably be replaced with the upcoming DFA21 Limited and the DFA* range will get 35/1.4 in all probability (but on the road map it could be anything from 24 to 35). Depending on my mood I will either go light with the 3 Limited's or dual macro's and the zoom. The Limited's put me into a different frame of mind than the DFA*'s and vis versa. They are also very different is use and rendition.
You could say my personal road map is finished and it is with the exception of a couple of outliers in focal lengths namely the 150-450 zoom and tracking down one of the fabled 200/4 macro's. They are nice to haves, but invariably nice to haves end up in the bag. Pentax land is a fun place to be right now, just waiting on new stuff to arrive to enhance whatever is there already in the parallel lens streams (Limited's for emotional rendering, DFA*'s for at best of class performance).

I seem to have fulfilled the lens road map I never knew I had. This spring I had an opportunity to buy two Pentax lenses, the FA 31 Limited and the DA 50-135. Immediately they became my favorite pair. The DA is designed for a crop sensor, but it covers FF at 50mm and gives an eq. 77-210 on APS-C. The sharpness on from both is incredible, so I have oodles of enlargabilty. I'll keep something longer (300/4), wider (12-24) and a macro. These five are probably all I'll ever need.

What I would really like on a Fuji body is a 40mm-e 1.4 I know Fuji will never make one, does anyone else? Back when 35mm fixed lens compacts were hugely popular, 38~42mm ruled, including some at f1.8 - my Olympus 35SPs are 42/1.7, and good performers.

If I found a decent, fast ~40mm-e I would probably sell my X100-F and get an XPro-3


I came from the Nikon world over to Fuji in 2017.
The first lens I bought was the 56mm 1.2 with the X-T2.
Soon after I bought the 23, 35, and 50mm f/2's. I recently traded the 23 f/2 for the 23 f/1.4. I ended up not using the f/2 version because it is soft up close and wide open. I like the f/1.4 because it will let me do the closeup/wide open thing.
I have way too many other Fuji lenses and two bodies. Happy camper.

My lens roadmap is close to yours, except I might spring for the Fuji 50-140 2.8 for indoor events. It’s heavy but in those situations I don’t mind. It’s also a decent portrait lens. I only need two more lenses, not bad! I’m sure I won’t feel any lens urges after that...

My challenge is that I really need two sets of lenses, with zero crossover between the two.

The first is a hiking set. That pretty much has to be the 10-24 and 55-200, to minimize weight and maximize useful range.

the second is a selection of small primes for fun shooting, as I prefer manual focus for this, I’ve been acquiring some 7artisans lenses, which I’ve found to be cheap and surprisingly good. I’ve got their 12 and 25mm lenses and will get the 55/1.4 next, rounding out with their 35/1.2 and m mount 75/1.25.

I do currently have the delightful xc35 and some old Nikon’s which I adapt as needed, they’re fun and give me some nice telephoto options when needed

For me now just three lenses: 7-14 f2.a8, 12-100 f4, 100-400 f4-6.3. First two Oly, the latter PannyLeica. Add to that the EM 1 Mk I and the EM5 Mk II. Both use the same battery and everything fits either into a small Manfrotto backpack or the small Manfrotto shoulder bag. Oh, and the Oly 25 f1.8 because it is so tiny and great for low light.

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