Fujifilm’s XF 50–140mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR — a zoom designed for Fujifilm’s X-series lenses — offers the most frequently used telephoto focal lengths, with some serious optics to boot. Providing a 35mm-equivalent focal-length range of 76–213mm (when used in conjunction with the X series’ 1.52x crop factor), and with a minimum one-metre focusing distance across the entire zoom range, it’s ideal for not only capturing fast-moving and distant subjects in the great outdoors, but also for shooting portraits. So, with that in mind, I put the XF50–140mm to the test in the studio with some rather unconventional subjects.
When I first handled the lens, we were made aware of its solidity — weighty and reassuring — which is something that I’ve come to expect from the majority of the higher-end Fujifilm lenses. While it’s certainly not lightweight, sitting at just under a kilo, it balances quite comfortably on the X-T1 with a battery grip attached — and personally, I’ve never had a problem with carrying a little more glass. Give it a go on the X-T10, however, and it dwarfs the body in a combination that’s particularly front-heavy, requiring being mounted to a tripod for any comfortable use. While it’s not the lightest telephoto that we’ve come across, if you compare the Fujifilm camera and lens combination to its Canon or Nikon equivalent, the Fujifilm stands approximately 40-per-cent lighter and smaller overall. So, depending on your viewpoint, the Fujifilm XF 50–140mm marks a definitive departure from the more compact lenses in the XF line-up, or, it's a lighter alternative to the Canon and Nikon’s heavyweight offerings.
Weight aside, the XF 50–140mm offers a tripod mount for ease of handling. Attached to the lens, via a circular ring that can be rotated from landscape to portrait orientation, is the all-brass collar, which allows for well-balanced shooting when working from a tripod or monopod — plus, it doubles as a comfortable rig for carrying about. It doesn’t end there with Fujifilm’s well-considered ergonomics; both the focus and aperture rings on the lens are metal, as is the exterior of the lens body, lending to a high-quality finish and resulting in that oh-so-expensive coolness to the touch. The lens barrel is plastic, a little disappointing, but probably essential in keeping the weight down. The XF 50–140mm’s lens ring is generously wide with a ridged and rubberized ring band — to the delight of the chubby-fingered, no doubt. Smooth in action and without any focus creep, they offer the potential for absolute precision.
In the studio with controlled light, the XF50–140mm worked to it’s finest. It’s got the image quality of a prime, paired with the flexibility of a zoom — a killer combination. Standing out not only for its extreme sharpness, the lens also boasts a near-complete lack of visible distortion, lateral colour fringes, or light fall-off. A camera system is only as good as its glass, and in this case, it’s very good. The lens uses an optical construction comprising 23 glass elements in 16 groups, with five ED lens elements and one Super ED lens element. This greatly reduces the risk of chromatic aberrations — so much so, that I couldn’t find any examples within my test shots. The application of Fujifilm's unique HT-EBC (High Transmittance Electron Beam Coating) to the entirety of the lens surface, ensures ghosting and flare are controlled for sharp, clear images. Also, using the newly developed Nano-GI (Gradient Index) coating technology, which alters the refractive index between glass and air, ghosting and flare are effectively controlled against diagonal light. My edible subjects are captured in immaculate detail, and with striking clarity.
Still, not everyone has access to a full studio set-up, and telephoto lenses have always been the great love of outdoorsmen. So, here’s how the XF 50–140mm fares against the elements: it offers low temperature resistance down to -14 degrees, and boasts a weather-sealed barrel, which keeps out dust and water. The rugged, weather-tight Fujifilm XT-1 is only ever going to be so good without equally resilient lenses to match, which makes me think that perhaps Fujifilm had this perfect pair planned all along.