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.

Hidden Gems

Hidden Gems

The internet is large and most content is shallow. Navigating clickbait, fake news, and social media is exhausting. But sometimes, it also yields something precious, something that is a worthwhile the investment of time, or something that evokes true emotion.

For me, this is mostly the case when someone has mastered his or her art and excels in what they do, such as these three hidden gems I found recently:

Photo Post: Panic

Photo Post: Panic

I’ve been bouldering a lot (on plastic) recently and it feels great to be back in form! But the last time climbing is a looooooong time ago. At least until last Sunday morning, when I finally managed to squeeze in a short climbing session with my long-time friend and climbing partner. Everything is different outside: Bad footholds, fragile sandstone, and being on a rope high above the last clipping point. Sometimes, a slight fear of falling creeps into the mind. Sometimes, even the good footholds seem tiny and slippery.

Basically, it’s the same as with my current work project: It feels a little insecure, but you keep pushing, little by little, one move at at time. Take a deep breath, do secure movements, calm down, climb high. And luckily, in climbing and in life, there are people who catch me if I fall. Thank you.

Limbs

Limbs

Spreading from a common body, reaching out in search of light, intertwined but solitary, a mutual goal but separate journeys. All supporting a common trunk to be alive, to support a life, to stay alive.

Long-term deep emission reductions, including the reduction of emissions to net-zero, is best achieved through institutions and governance that nurture new mitigation policies, while at the same time reconsidering existing policies that support continued emission of GHGs (high confidence).

TS. 6.1 – Technical Summary – WORKING GROUP III CONTRIBUTION TO THE IPCC SIXTH ASSESSMENT REPORT (AR6)

It’s all there. A multitude of pathways to reduce emissions. Many branches, a common goal: Keep the planet habitable. It requires systematic change in all sectors: energy, housing, transport, industry, land use, food production. All of the pathways that limit warming to ‘acceptable’ limits have one thing in common: they require change right now. Or to be more precise – the required change should have begun 2 years ago, or 10 years ago, or 20 years ago. But still, nothing changes. Since this last report has been released, several countries have released their new plans to drill for even more oil and gas. Business as usual; the trees will get chopped down, leaving limbs scattered around the corpses.

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.

Photo Post: Perturbation

Photo Post: Perturbation

If finding an exact solution is not possible, perturbation theory provides a framework to build upon a known solution for a simpler problem. The resulting perturbation series can then be utilized to approximate the solution to the original, more complex, problem. If a simple picture does not work, perturbing it might result in the emergence of previously non-existent forms that produce structure. Thus, the more complex procedure while taking the photo can result in pictures of greater simplicity.

Implementing Conceptuality

Implementing Conceptuality

You can start with action.

A good friend.

Motivation is the beginning. It entails action, which gives positive feedback and, in turn, boosts motivation. Without motivation, there is no action – it’s a (sometimes vicious) cycle.

Or is it? I got reminded recently: the cycle can start anywhere.

I have been ill at home for two weeks. The internet showed me some ad of an artist who photographed plain paper. Admittedly, it looked quite boring. I had no motivation, but I started with action.

Step 1

Paper ready. Tape ready. A white kitchen table, a north-facing window. No idea what to do. The first hundred pictures are absolutely unusable:

Step 2

I figure out that pointing the camera down doesn’t work in this setup. I thought it could be nice, but it isn’t. Photographing at a slanted angle with respect to the light, together with a darker background, seems more interesting. Still, there isn’t happening much in the next series of tries:

Step 3

I already had the aperture wide open, but I didn’t place the paper correctly. I figure out that it gets better if only the edge of the paper is in focus. Then, the rest of the paper creates attractive effects in light and shadow:

Step 4

I am lowering the angle – parallel to the surface of the table. Minimizing or preventing the reflection seems more tidy. I can also increase contrast by using a black fabric behind the paper. Finally, I am getting something I enjoy. I wipe the first SD card to start all over:

Step 5

Go closer, omit everything unnecessary, any distractions. Clean and simple.

Step 6

Some last experiments to keep in mind for the next session: Playing with the foreground and using multiple papers. Now, I am motivated: