Portraits with the FujiFilm 50-140
I was asked recently to photograph some portraits for a client who needed them for work and thought it to be a great time to test out the 50-140 in this sort of environment – namely the studio. My go to lens of late for this sort of shoot has been my trusty 56 f1.2 which is a beaut of a lens, but I often find it to be a little “shorter” than what I would like.
The shoot was of an client who required some portraits to use for work purposes. Being in the Engineering profession they needed to be more formal then those I would shoot say for a musician, but I definitely didn’t want to make them too rigid or boring. I had planned to do a few backdrop variations, namely white, grey, and black, and setup the lights to start with the white background.
My lighting setup was simple. I had two lights lighting the background, a single Octabox as a main light to the subjects right, a poly-board as a fill on the subjects left, and a snoot acting as a hair/rim light from behind. All was good to go and we started shooting, but what I didn’t realise, not until afterwards anyway, was that the background was definitely much warmer than the rest of the shot. I am still not 100% sure what caused this, but I suspect it is either the old diffusers on the softboxes used to light the background, or the two lights themselves have flash tubes that are approaching the end of their life! Both of these can cause a colour shift and I really hope it is the diffusers! This was an easy fix, but it added time to my editing that I shouldn’t have had to worry about. I always try and get things as close to perfect in shot as I can and really wasn’t expecting this.
This isn’t the first time I have had issues with some of our lights in the studio to be honest. I swear by my Broncolor monoheads, but some of the other lights, even from some pretty decent European manufacturers, just don’t seem anywhere near as robust. My advice to anyone looking to get into this is to choose your lighting wisely. I would definitely recommend Broncolor or Profoto over pretty much all the other brands!
As for the lens – well I am now an even bigger fan of the 50-140 FujiFilm lens. It is everything the 55-200 was, namely very sharp, as well as everything it wasn’t. It is fast to focus, the image stabilisation is exceptional (55-200 also had good IS, but not as good) and it is an absolute pleasure to use from an ergonomics point of view when attached to the XT-1 with the battery grip. Interestingly I found myself using the lens pretty much for the entire shoot and hardly brought the 56 out at all. I think the reason for this is not because the quality of the 50-140 is better, because it isn’t, but because it allowed me to shoot at longer focal lengths. I have always maintained that the best focal length for portraits is 135mm ( 90mm on a crop sensor), and that 85mm (56 on a crop sensor) just isn’t long enough. It forces you to stand too close to your subject which can often be quite daunting for both you and the person being photographed.
I do find there is a humming noise that comes from what seems to be the AF motors. Everyone online says this is normal for the lens, but it is a little strange. That would be my only real fault, which is hardly a fault and more of an annoyance!
As I don’t have an unlimited budget I may say good-bye to the 56 and perhaps look at getting the new 90 that was launched not that long ago. Fuji South Africa if you are listening I would love a test unit if there is one going around 🙂
Overall I really enjoyed shooting with the 50-140 in the studio. It was fast, the quality was very good, and it allowed me to stand a little further back from my subject. I would definitely say that this lens is a must have for any Fuji shooter, just like how the 70-200 has become one of the go to lenses for people shooting on full frame bodies. For many you will not need any more than this lens when working at longer focal lengths!
So what about the primes? Well I really do love the 56 and it was often a go to lens of mine prior to the 50-140. I still think it is a little sharper, and being able to shoot at f1.2 when on location is fantastic, but I wish it were a tad longer. As said above I don’t have an unlimited budget so I may look at off loading that lens in favour for the newer 90. I wish I could have both, but sacrifices need to be made 🙁 I may also change my mind in a few days, which I tend to do a lot, and do something completely different, so watch this space!