In starting a comparison including the new 50-140mm, I was struggling with how to categorize Fuji’s lenses. My initial thought was to describe the 50-140mm f/2.8 as “Pro” with all other lenses being “Consumer.” The trouble with that of course is Fuji already have a second consumer-focused set of lenses that carry the XC moniker.
Perhaps Fuji has already found a way of differentiating between these two levels of quality within their XF series of lenses though. The red badge.
I noticed this badge immediately when I first saw the 50-140mm f/2.8 at Photokina. I wasn’t crazy about it when I first saw it, but it’s grown on me.1
Just two lenses carry this badge officially to date, the 16-55mm f/2.8, and the 50-140mm f/2.8, which are the two lenses unofficially referred to as “pro zooms.” These lenses also happen to be the only two lenses in the lineup that come with the new Nano GI coating so the red badge might be the signifier of this coating’s presence,2 but it could just as well be their version of the gold band found on Nikon’s pro glass or the red band found on Canon’s L lenses. It’s clearly not indicative of weather sealing since the 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 has the standard black XF badge.
Looking back at my my images from Photokina, it appears as though the XF zoom badge was deliberately left off of the the new Super Tele-Photo Zoom 140-400mm f/4-5.6. This would suggest that Fuji do have an idea of what the red badge stands for, and that they hadn’t yet commited to adding the stamp to the new Super Tele Zoom. Or maybe it just fell off. It is a prototype after all.
It’s interesting that Fuji have created a new tier of zoom lenses with these latest releases—I’d bet the farm that this isn’t a revised design language for all lenses going forward, and I suspect they won’t dish out the red badge often—but it’s odd that there doesn’t seem to be an official word on what the red badge stands for.