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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: