Review: Fujinon XF 80 mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro

Review: Fujinon XF 80 mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro

I’ve warned you: There will be different stuff on this blog. For example, this post right here; a review about one of my absolutely favorite lenses for the Fujifilm X system.

All pictures are shown in reduced resolution (3000 px on the long side). There is (much) more detail in the full-sized versions.

Fujifilm X-T30, Fujinon XF 80 mm Macro, ISO 250, f 2.8, 1/640 s

Intro

There are quite some reviews about the XF 80 mm Macro out there. So, why am I writing another one?

I regularly check out reviews on lenses I think about buying or that I am interested in. And, universally, they lack the most essential content: Good pictures. Pictures I can relate to, pictures I am hoping to shoot, or pictures I can marvel at. Mostly, because most reviews seem to be written after only a few hours of use.

This review is about the pictures. About the capabilities this lens provides and how it might help you to fulfill your artistic dreams. From two years of intensive use. And hopefully, for some rare visitors, this selection of pictures fills the void in between the soulless reviews for this wonderful lens and awakens the urge to go out and create yourself.

Fujifilm X-T30, Fujinon XF 80 mm Macro, ISO 80, f 2.8, 1/320 s

As all my photography gear, I’ve bought this lens from an online second-hand platform. If you’re not already doing it, I can only recommend to buy used gear. It’s not only cheaper, but also saves resources of our precious planet. All detailed stats for this lens can be easily found online. So far, I’ve used the lens exclusively on the X-T30 body.

Fujifilm X-T30, Fujinon XF 80 mm Macro, ISO 500, f 6.4, 1/500 s, stitched from multiple exposures

Handling

The lens is a delight to use. As for most Fuji lenses, it has an aperture control ring that allows the smooth control from f2.8 up to f16. When turned to the very end, it switches to automatic aperture mode. Furthermore, it has two switches: The first one controls whether the optical image stabilization (OIS) is turned on or off. The second one controls the ‘focus range’ – this determines where the lens attempts to find a focal point (either close, far, or anywhere). The lens comes with a lens hood which always stays attached to my lens during use: In my experience, it not only protects the glass from scratches and rain drops, but it also helps to quickly assess how close you may move to your subject while maintaining focus.

The lens is of very high build quality, feels sturdy, and is weather sealed. While these qualities add to its weight, they are also beneficial when you go out in harsh weather (and you should because rain drops are wonderful in Macro photos). I’ve used this lens without any problems whatsoever in minus 23 degrees Celcius, in heavy rain, in scorching heat, at the salty sea, and at sandy beaches. It has never failed on me and still looks like new.

Rarely, I’ve also attached the 1.4x TC, however, it doesn’t bring much benefits as far as I’m concerned.

Fujifilm X-T30, Fujinon XF 80 mm Macro, ISO 320, f 6.4, 1/180 s

Macro: Insects and Flowers

When shooting Macro I predominantly use the camera hand-held with low aperture values and OIS turned on. For a very limited number of times I’ve required focus stacking; for this, I turn off the OIS and use a tripod. However, in most instances, my Macro subjects are moving (either by themselves or in the wind), which makes it difficult to use a tripod and/or stacking anyway. Also I find that shooting hand-held is way more fun and enables you to quickly react to changes in light or the environment. On rare occasions I also removed the lens hood; for example when photographing butterflies close up as they are easily scared from the approaching lens or its shadow.

In the beginning, I often had the urge to move as close to the subjects as possible (it’s a Macro lens after all, isn’ it?). However, you should be aware that the depth of field gets very shallow when being close to your subject. For example, getting the eyes of a dragonfly into focus when being at the minimal focus range requires an aperture of at least f8. Getting a whole insect into focus (without stacking) is only possible when moving further away from your subject. I also found that moving further away often improves the possibilities for creative and appealing compositions significantly.

Fujifilm X-T30, Fujinon XF 80 mm Macro, ISO 500, f 2.8, 1/1000 s

Shooting people, animals, nature, abstracts, and creative imagery

The lens is also excellent at shooting portraits. However, I will not share any because I’ve mainly photographed my family. While I also own the 56 mm f1.2, I still sometimes prefer the 80 mm for people when shooting outside during hikes as the 80 mm gives a lot of flexibility. Somewhere I’ve read that the lens is too sharp for portraits. While it’s definitively the sharpest Fuji lens I own, it still works wonders for portraits; at least for my taste.

I’ve also shot birds, cows, deer, and some other wildlife with this lens. While I would normally go for the 100-400 mm in these cases, the sharpness of the Macro lens also allows for marvelous pictures of animals within the landscape. In the case of the goose I was lucky enough to get close without disturbing them; additionally, the sharpness of the lens allows a generous crop.

Besides, I’ve used the lens a ton on a tripod on f8 for abstract patterns in nature or landscapes; likewise, I sometimes whirl it around for some ICM photography – if you’re into this, I also recommend to play around with turning the OIS on and off: it makes a significant difference in the resulting patterns.

Conclusion

In most cases, buying new lenses won’t help you to take better pictures. But in this rare instance, it felt like it did work for me. Not only because of the capabilities of the lens itself, but also because it is such a delight to use, and because it motivated me to go outside and play with it, no matter the conditions and weather.

All pictures from this post:

Dreamscapes

Dreamscapes

Surreal dreams in pink and black
appeal to me, insomniac
part-time, I mime
the creatures of the dark,
embark on voyages into
the mind, without a crew
through untrue realms to leave
behind mankind. 
Retrieve the unconfined
autonomy, the undefined
metonymy
of life.

I like it here,
revere the fear of unknown
years to come, of jointly tears,
of joys alone, of memories in stone
engraved, the best is saved
in our hearts until the end
when we transcend
to afterlife.

17 Dimensions of Summer

17 Dimensions of Summer

Long summer days. I take my bike
through fields of maize, enjoy a hike
through nature which decays and fades
below the sun, without real shades.
Water is sparse, efforts a farce;
records are shattered every week,
the future seems a little bleak.
Some keep silent, some play dumb,
some object, but their effect
seems paltry, like a tiny drop
into an ocean, and they stop
too soon: there is no change.
Another flood, another slum,
1000 dead, and thousands fled,
a joke compared with what's to come.
It will be millions without bread.
It will be billions' awful threat.

Photo Post: P25

Photo Post: P25

Record temperature highs all around, forest fires all over Europe, and an advancing drought that threatens food and energy production – only a small glimpse of what will come.

So, instead of exposing ourselves to the constant stream of news, we enjoyed some of the beautiful nature nearby by hiking the P25 trail near Kleinalmerode. It’s one of the newest premium trails in Hesse and the closest one to our home. Normally, Kleinalmerode is known for its cherry blossom in late spring; but during this time of year we strolled through barley fields, found lots of insects scaling cornflowers, and observed bumblebees exploring the landscape of flowers. It also revived my passion for macro-photography and hopefully I’ll manage to use some more of these long Summer days to pursue photography.

Wallflower

Wallflower

A single flower blooming white,
a lonely bee collecting warmth,
springtime is here, summer is near –
fighting the blight with some delight.

The Unexpected

The Unexpected

Necessary variation,
arbitrary contemplation,
forlorn forest, torn apart,
born in freedom, sworn by heart
to live, to give, inform, restart
what's wrong, what's flawed
does fall apart.
Without definite destination,
ahead a dreaded bifurcation:
What's right? What's left?
And what is left to say and write?
The obscure shadows of the night
do greet the swiftly fleeting light.
Blue flowers sprout across the ground
as doubt vanishes all around.

Bumblebee

Bumblebee

Staying at home is easy; but getting up and doing something – especially these days – requires effort. Excitement helps in doing so. And what is more exciting than spring and the flight of the first wild bees? So I was heading up to one of the botanical gardens to chase some pictures. Not only for the anticipated result itself, bur more so for some distraction from the sorrow. This time around the wait was fruitless. Until: A lonely bumblebee came around. The only one, sluggishly exploring the flowers, interrupted by long rests in the sun light. Excitement faded, work called, and the suffering continued.

Keeping a Clear Frame

Keeping a Clear Frame

Spring, flowers, sun. Finally some motivation to go outside again and search for the most beautiful early bloomers. This year, I could profit from all the scouting I did last year: Besides the botanical gardens and large patches right in front of the town hall, I now know about several other spots: Off the beaten track at the river, hidden deep within in a small forest, and at the outskirts of the city. All of these locations have on thing in common: They are calm, quiet, and you have them for yourself. And, as always, there is lots to learn every time I go outside. The main insight this year so far is quite straight-forward: isolate the subject and have clear edges of the frame. The subject should emerge from within the frame, not from outside. But you can judge for yourself which ones you find most intriguing:

Clickbait

Clickbait

Who doesn’t like Top Ten lists? Admittedly, I couldn’t resist and here is a list of mine, however, it doesn’t contain ten elements. Instead, I have searched the archives for my favorite pictures from the last 12 month – because today it’s this blogs first birthday.


Morning Gymnastics

Two geese, Hometown.

Morning mist & our local pond: A perfect match.


Nestling

A small pine, Harz.

The mystical Harz mountains. One of my early pictures and, until today, probably the best conditions I have ever had in Harz.


Protected

Bee in action, Hometown.

Looking forward to the time of the year when nature is coming alive again.


The Dream

Toad on migration, Harz.

Also in the Harz mountains, in one of the most remote regions. I was quite excited when we saw a single toad on our hike. An hour later there were so many that it became difficult not to step onto one.


Prospects

Rofanspitze, Alps.

A perfect sunrise.


Delicate

Poppy flower, Hometown.

One of my goals for this year: Photographing more poppies!


Closing the Circle

Sunset ICM, Hometown.

Spirals in a sunset, warm and cold swirling around each other, as night greets day.


Duck

Duck, Hometown.

Not much else to say here.


Triplet

Three dead spruces, Harz.

It took longer than expected to find this composition of trees during the first snow of the winter.


Parabola

Birch tree catching light, Hometown.

A single birch tree catching the first rays of light in front of the dark forest.


Travellers

Geese, Hometown.

The geese at our local pond during autumn: Every morning flocks of birds start off into the unknown.


Group Picture

Birch trees, Solling.

This makes me wanna photograph more woodlands; unfortunately, fog is rather rare around here.


Rising Clouds

Woodlands, Harz.

Perfect conditions as far as photography during noon goes. Rising clouds and snowy spruces came together.


Companion

Sandpiper, Denmark.

Cuddly, fluffy, tiny.


Lines

Retreating waves, Denmark.

First and only time so far that I have photographed the ocean; looking forward to going there again.


Backlit

Common Blue, Bavaria.

There are many variations of this picture in my archives. This monochromatic one has become one of my favourites.


Aspirations

Three eucalyptus trees, Madeira.

Besides birches, I fell in love with eucalyptus trees: their red bark in contrast to the green leaves and the shape of their branches is wonderful.


Mountain Ranges

Rofan mountains, Alps.

The colors and mood of a sunrise in the mountains cannot be communicated with photos.


Delicate Connections

Water droplets on grass, Hometown.

Two single droplets of water and fine spider webs form an abstract imagery.


Approach

Soldier beetle, Hometown.

Patience, patience, patience. I am looking forward to the day where I can sit and wait in nature as long as I want, without obligations waiting around.


Ordered Chaos

Beech trees in fog, Hometown.

Our local woodlands in late Autumn. I had been waiting for fog for a long time and when it finally arrived, I spent a whole morning outside exploring new paths.


Simplicity

Blossoms of a cherry tree, Hometown.

One of the simplest shots one could make.


Fairytale

Woodlands ICM, Near Hometown.

One of the (very) few times we got snow this winter. We explored some woods close by for the first time as the morning sun unfolded.


The Conversation

4 geese, Hometown.

Four geese on a landing stage enjoying the first rays of warm light, chatting about the happenings of past week.


Cold White Christmas World

Winter, Harz.

Starry night, cold air.


Commander

Group of trees, Madeira.

It were definitely the harshest conditions I shot in this year: Rain pouring down, wind sweeping across the land.


Seagull Portray

Seagull, Madeira.

The palette of colors and ocean in the background is what makes me like this one.


Crooked Heart

Highland cattle, Hometown.

Finding piece in a single picture.


Falling Into Place

At a levada, Madeira.

25 springs are welling right next to this waterfall. A special place and, sadly, quite crowded because of it.


Reminiscence

Sunset, Brocken.

Compositionally quite boring; but a special one to me, because it was a delightful evening trip with my parents.

Oscillations

Oscillations

One of the last exercises in an introductory course to programming I teach is to implement a straight-forward approach for modeling population growth over discrete time steps with a logistic growth function: The population x of a species at time t+1 is determined as x(t+1) = r * x(t) * (1-x(t)) where x(t) is the population at time t, and r is a fixed reproduction parameter. The choice of r influences the long term behaviour of the resulting time series – thus, the growth of the species population; for example, for r < 1, the series tends towards zero – the species goes extinct. However, for r > 3 the series oscillates – it exhibits a periodic behaviour (for some values of r the series even becomes seemingly random without a fixed period, see e.g. here). The length of the period depends upon r, but it never reaches an equilibrium; like a pendulum, swinging around its only stable position in the middle. Like life pulsating between non-steady positions, but never reaching a balanced state.

Oscillations are present constantly. The term (1-x(t)) models the environmental restrictions that prohibit unlimited growth. Restrictions which prevent us to come to a rest. The fantasy of a steady state is a futile one. There are times where a stable position seems in reach; until external restraints pull us back into another direction. At the moment, it’s the direction of work; and hence, photography and blog posts are somewhat neglected. Winter already fades again, making way for summer. Left are only some solitary pictures of oscillating camera movements and colorless nature.