Fuji vs. Fuji’s FUJINON XF 50-140mm F/2.8 OIS WR Review
August, 2019: Originally Published
September, 2019: Added note about Hiss and Clunk to Handling
Along with the 24-70mm “standard zoom,” the 70-200mm zoom is is essentially table stakes for just about any camera manufacturer. These are lenses many pros have grown so accustomed to using that if they are not available, a camera system change won’t even be considered. It’s tough to blame them. Canon and Nikon have put so much engineering and design effort behind their versions of these lenses that the flexibility of their zoom range vastly makes up for any optical penalty they might pay in choosing a zoom over primes.
The XF 50-140mm F/2.8 OIS WR had some extremely high standards to live up to, and in my view, it has in every way but one, and that’s in the handling.
|Lens Construction||23 elements in 16 groups
(5 extra low dispersion, 1 super extra low dispersion)
|Focal Length (35mm format equivalent)||50-140mm (76-213mm)|
|Maximum Aperture/Range||f/2.8 - f/22 in ⅓ stop increments|
|Aperture Type||7 blades (rounded diaphragm opening)|
|Focus Range||Approximately 1m - ∞ (infinity)|
|Maximum Magnification||0.12× (telephoto)|
|External Dimensions||82.9mm diameter × 175.9mm long|
1,079g with caps and hood
1,225g + tripod collar and tripod foot
|Optical Image Stabilization (OIS)||Yes
(5 stops claimed)
|Focus Motor||Triple Linear Motor|
|Push/Pull Clutch Manual Focus Ring||No|
|Nano GI Coating||Yes|
I don't have a lot to complain about with this lens, but I do have a couple noteworthy issues in the handling department. We’ll get the bad news out of the way up front.
Issue 1, The Tripod Collar
It’s not great. It’s prone to flex. So much so that if I don’t loosen my ballhead all the way, I’ll actually have to compensate for the flex when changing my composition with the grip on the camera, and then wait half a second for the collar to find its resting position. This can make fine-tuning my composition frustrating.
Flex in a tripod collar is hardly uncommon, that’s why replacements are a thing. I wish Fujifilm made their collar rigid enough I wouldn’t be tempted by a replacement, even if any were available.
It’s also large; quite a bit larger than the collar on the XF 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6 OIS WR.
The combination of flex and size has resulted in me leaving the collar at home, in favour of mounting my camera via a body L-plate instead. This is less than ideal from a centre-of-gravity perspective, but it makes the lens more enjoyable to use, and I’m not seeing much, if any kind of a stability penalty on my TQC-14 travel tripod. This combination with a Pocket Pod→ however, is likely to tip over unless the legs are positioned just right.
If weight was not a concern, I could look into some dedicated telephoto lens support, but I really don’t feel a lens of this size should warrant that.
The collar is not super fun to attach to the lens once removed. The rotation from a horizontal to vertical position works great, however, the markings for when the lens is at 90˚ (relative to horizontally level) are a bit inconvenient. I’d prefer a second mark on the rotating part of the lens so I can see when things are aligned from the same place in either orientation, rather than having to peek around down the side of the lens.
Finally, I wish Fuji had machined a universal tripod mount on the foot of the collar, instead of selling it as a $48 add-on.→ SIRUI’s TY-LP75 generic lens plate is superior and is only $15 on Amazon→ at the time of writing. The lip across the back of the foot makes fastening it to the collar tightly and straight easier.
Issue 2, The Mount
It’s brass, and ought to be stronger than the standard mount. That’s great, and makes me feel better about not using the tripod collar when travelling.
The issue I have with the mount is after the lens clicks into place, there is what I consider to be an unacceptable amount of rotational play between the camera and lens. So much so that if I mount my camera on a tripod via the lens collar, I can change the angle of my horizon—or the roll axis of the camera independent of the lens—enough that it will throw the built in level off level.
This too can make fine tuning a composition with the grip of the camera frustrating, and if I dare use the shutter release on the camera, it can misalign manually bracketed frames.
You might think, as I did, that I got a flawed copy of the lens. Other lenses do seem to click into place much more snuggly. Well, I asked Fuji about that, and was told it was normal, expected behaviour, so unfortunately I’m left with having to inform my readers about the potential issue. For studio, commercial, or delicate landscape work where your frames (or “plates”) must line up, consider telephoto lens support that keeps the camera and lens in lockstep, and definitely use a remote shutter release.
With that out of the way, we can get to some good stuff. Outside of the issues noted above, the build quality is absolutely excellent. It feels solid, and is solid. This lens can take a beating.
Size and Weight
It’s on the larger end of Fuji’s line up, but reasonably svelte compared to full frame f/2.8 variants. As discussed when comparing sizes and weight in my XF 16-55mm F/2.8 WR review, APS-C doesn’t present the same engineering and design challenges full frame lenses do. As such, I’ve included f/4 full frame lenses in the weight chart below as a more reasonable comparison.
The XF 50-140mm F/2.8 OIS WR is my first lens in this focal length, in no small part because I found Nikon’s just too large, and the f/4 versions weren’t available at the time.
Weight in grams
Field of View
Worth noting for anyone considering the move from a 70-200mm full frame lens, the XF 50-140mm F/2.8 OIS WR translates to 76-213mm so you’ll be losing a little bit of width on the short end, but gaining some reach on the long.
The aperture ring is excellent. Nice and chunky with satisfying clicks, and perfectly usable with gloves in the winter.
The triple linear motor (LM) is fast and accurate. I don’t spend a lot of time in Continuous Mode, but when I have tracked animals on safari, missed focus was almost always down to operator error, or the camera wanting to grab onto something else. That was two X-T bodies and even more firmware updates ago.
Gloriously internal. The zoom ring is huge, and precise. Cradling the lens in my left hand and zooming is effortless.
The plastic bayonet hood is also huge, and adds a ton of size to the lens. I always deploy it in studio to cut flare, but leave it at home for travel.
There’s a nice little removable slot in the hood for circular polarizer/variable ND access. It’s handy, but you have to make sure your filter is on really tight. If you end up loosening the filter off the lens by mistake, it can be a pain. Fuji also improved this not long after with the XF 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6 OIS WR which features a sliding door that can’t be lost and is much easier to close than the fiddly plastic bit on the XF 50-140mm F/2.8 OIS WR.
One rather significant annoyance that shouldn’t really be blamed on Fuji1 is with my XF 50-140mm F/2.8 OIS WR stepped up to a 77mm filter thread—so I can share filters with the XF 16-55mm F/2.8 WR—the hood can’t be mounted or removed. You can add the step up ring after mounting the hood and then screw your filter on, but it’s not easy, and good luck not getting finger prints all over your filter. This is the second reason for leaving the hood at home when I’m shooting landscapes.
The XF 50-140mm F/2.8 OIS WR was the first to ship with Fuji’s vastly superior lens cap style (compared to the domed style on older lenses). These are my favourite of all lens caps.
Forget it. Even though the size of the OVF display is usable at the short end of the lens, the viewfinder is much too obstructed by the lens.
A claimed 5 stops. I was blown away when I first shot this lens. I hand held a shot at ⅛ of a second and managed to get sharp photos. Incredible.
Hiss and Clunk
An important handling note, the XF 50-140mm F2.8 OIS WR is not quiet. The lens will exhibit an audible hiss when on, and actually clunk when turning the camera off. I can even hear the lens clunking when walking with the camera off. This is considered normal by Fuji, but videographers will want to note the hiss as it could get picked up in their audio.
It’s no joke. This lens has been with me in freezing rain, dusty game reserve drives, and 100km/hour winds during a Spring storm along the shoreline beaches of Lake Ontario. After making that video,2 I actually had to rinse the lens off of all the blown sand. The internals are still nice and clean and the lens works like new.
While the handling category let me down a little, the image quality category hasn’t. The XF 50-140mm F/2.8 OIS WR is so great I work around the handling annoyances. You can do better with primes, but you'd need a lot of them, and the zoom really does quite well.
From inches away via an extension tube to a waterfall at infinity, I have no issues with sharpness. I tend to work primarily in the range of f/5.6 to f/11, but even when I open it up to f/2.8 I’m always happy with the results. The focus areas are sharp and contrasty. The outer edges and corners can suffer when racked out to 140mm and at f/2.8, but I’m generally not looking for edge to edge sharpness at those settings.
I’ve seen some reviews cite diffraction as an issue at just f/11. I’m sure it’s measurable in a lab setting, but I’ve never been able to spot an image captured at f/11 vs. say, f/8 because of diffraction. In fact, I’ve been happy with images down to f/14.
Keep the default correction activated in RAFs or shoot JPEG and you’ll have nothing to worry about. If you do tinker, you won’t find much distortion on the wide end, but some pincushion on the long end.
A lot of you are probably most interested in this aspect of the lens. Fortunately it delivers. Anyone looking to isolate their subjects off a background of blobby colour and circular rendered highlights should be pretty pleased.
Bokeh connoisseurs will note the “cat’s eye” effect on highlights. While some would call it a flaw, others might call it character. Also worth noting is the bokeh can tend to “swirl” at times.
Both background and foreground out of focus areas can be rendered nice and smooth. It really does depend on focus distance, foreground and background distance, and the subject being rendered out of focus. Leafless tree branches on a pale blue sky, for instance, are notoriously difficult to have rendered cleanly.
Again, largely if not entirely corrected by default, it’s well controlled at 50mm, but can get heavy wide open at the long end.
If this lens flares, it’s awfully good at hiding it. I’ve managed to get some contrast reducing flare by shooting towards the sun with the hood off, but ghosting is virtually non-existent even when shooting directly into the sun. The Nano GI Coating appears to be doing its job. In studio situations, I’ve never run into flare challenges with with the hood deployed as I have with the XF 60mm F/2.4 Macro.
Same as above. I’ve hod no issues with aberrations or fringing of any kind.
Conclusion and Rating
The XF 50-140mm F/2.8 OIS WR is a really solid zoom. It offers a ton of flexibility and excellent optics in a relatively compact package. If I could have only one lens beyond 35mm in APS-C, this would be it.
For my use, it is an absolute workhorse. Virtually every product shot I post here is captured with the XF 50-140mm F/2.8 OIS WR.3 When I need to get closer, as I often do, the MCEX-11 or MCEX-16 extension tubes (review) easily get me there. This is something to consider for anyone eyeing the XF 80mm F/2.8 Macro WR OIS or even XF 90mm F/2 WR for portrait and close up work. The zoom will cost you more, but it’s also much more versatile.
This lens was equally indispensable in South Africa. I debated heavily on which lenses to bring on my big trip. I ended up bringing pretty much everything, and I’m glad I had the XF 50-140mm F/2.8 OIS WR with me as it once again demonstrated how flexible it is.
While I’m not a dedicated portrait photographer by any stretch, for portraits of family in a pinch, I’d always reach for the zoom over a dedicated portrait prime. I can “zoom with my feet” with the best of them, but that’s a lot harder when you’re already sitting on the ground, or even laying prone. A “run and gun” style of event photography is one category where all the the XF 50-140mm F/2.8 OIS WR’s strengths shine, and none of the handling issues rear their head.
For the commercial/fashion photographers out there, you’ll almost certainly want to use an even less expensive zoom to “lens” a shoot, then switch to a prime. Yes, primes will still get you better optical quality. But then of you are a commercial photographer, you’re probably saving up for a GFX 100, and not considering an APS-C zoom.
Depending on your particular use case, and tolerance to the handling issues mentioned, you could do a lot worse than the XF 50-140mm F/2.8 OIS WR. It has been, and remains to this day, one of the 3 lenses I’d choose in a 3-lens setup.
This rating would easily be “Strongly Recommended” if the collar and mount were better. Since they’re not it’s:
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