Callum McInerney-Riley tries out a medium telephoto prime for Fujifilm’s X system.
Fujifilm Fujinon XF 90mm f/2 R LM WR – Image quality
Many prime lenses lack sharpness when shot at their maximum apertures, but show their true form when stopped down a little. However, images from the 90mm f/2 shot wide open boast impressive sharpness with only a little softness evident in corners. At f/2.8 there’s an improvement in sharpness in both the centre and the corners. Shooting at f/5.6 seems to be the sharpest point of the lens overall, with nice, sharp corners. Further down the aperture range we start to see softness due to diffraction, increasing gradually from f/11 to the minimum aperture of f/16.
Fujifilm corrects certain lens aberrations in-camera, with both vignetting and residual chromatic aberrations removed almost entirely in the camera’s JPEGs. When importing images into software programmes like Adobe Lightroom or Camera Raw, I found the corrections for distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberrations were already set without me even having to check any boxes. In order to see the true characteristics of the lens, images must be imported into Capture One software and all corrections must be marked as off. Our findings show that at the maximum aperture of f/2, there’s around 1⁄2 stop of vignetting, but when stopped down to f/2.8 it largely disappears. Unless users go out of their way to disable corrections, it’s likely that vignetting will never be noticed on an image. As an added bonus, there’s barely any visible distortion.
The 90mm f/2’s true area of interest, however, is to do with the bokeh and the out-of-focus areas it produces. Thanks to its long focal length, large aperture and seven-rounded-blade diaphragm, it creates beautiful bokeh in out-of-focus areas. These are wonderfully circular when shot wide open, and the lens seems even more impressive when you consider that circular bokeh points feature towards the corners too. On stopping down a bit, though, out-of-focus highlights turn heptagonal rather than circular. Despite this, backgrounds generally look smooth and silky, and overall are very pleasingly rendered.
Having used both the Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.6 and 90mm f/2, I find the 90mm renders more attractive bokeh and out-of-focus areas. This is a big achievement, as I hold the 56mm in high regard.
When wide open at f/2 the lens is sharp in the centre, and the corners are only slightly softer. There’s a big jump in sharpness at f/2.8, and not much change in our MTF measurements after that, suggesting the lens has plenty to spare for higher resolution sensors (we tested it on the 16MP X–A1). Best results are at f/5.6, and stopping down further results in progressive softening due to diffraction.
Fujifilm uses software correction to reduce shading in its cameras’ JPEG output, but even when looking at uncorrected raw files, shading from the 90mm is very low indeed. We measured just 0.4EV with the aperture set wide open at f/2, and stopping down to f/2.8 eliminates any shading entirely. Indeed, the chances are that many photographers will find themselves adding vignetting in post-processing.
Medium telephoto primes tend to be well corrected for distortion, and the 90mm plays true to type. Our tests reveal very slight pincushion distortion, even when looking at raw files with all corrections turned off, but at 0.3% it’s unlikely ever to be visible in real-world images.