Going over Fuji’s specs you soon discover that the all-metal XF 56mm is the biggest prime in the X-system line-up both in size (at over 7cm in length) and in weight (at around 405g). For those who own the XF 23mm, the 56mm has the same diameter but is slightly longer. Despite the size the lens is lighter than you might expect and it handles well on the X-T1.
The focus ring is also metal and has a nice to the touch ridged texture. It offers a good grip, it’s smooth in operation and is well-damped. Unlike my old Ais Nikkors the Fuji lenses don’t use gears so the focus ring is free to rotate continuously with no stopping at the nearest focusing distance or at infinity. At first, it felt unnatural but I soon got used to it and so far it seems like a good system.
The lens offers a traditional aperture ring, which allows you to set the aperture in 1/3 steps, complete with full aperture markings on the lens barrel from f/1.4 down to ƒ/16. The aperture is also shown in the viewfinder or on the LCD screen. The aperture ring is nicely damped and makes a distinctive click as you change the f/stops, although I would have preferred some type of locking in the A position.
The optical construction looks complicated. It uses a total of 11 elements in 8 groups, two of which are ED (extra low-dispersion) elements and one aspherical element. Its an IF (Internal Focus) design which helps with fast AF operation and also helps to use a circular polarizer without hassle since the front 62mm filter thread doesn’t rotate.
This lens for all practical purposes shows no visible signs of any aberrations under most lighting conditions though I must admit, I did have one test shot where longitudinal CA created some purple fringing in the highlights of the out of focus part of the image at f/1.2 and at times you can get spherical aberration wide open which looks like a blurry glow around high contrast objects like a fence against the bright sky. So under extreme harsh lighting conditions, you can get some purple or green fringes along contrasty edges when wide open or at f/1.6 but even then it’s so well controlled that in most cases it goes unnoticed. I wouldn’t worry about it.
Vignette or light falloff is also very well controlled. From wide open till f/2 its unnoticeable unless you are photographing an evenly toned background and is usually measured around a ¼ stop. From f/2.8 onwards, its a non issue.
Fuji 56mm lens shows practically zero distortion.
- Very nice bokeh (wide open)
- Excellent optical performance from wide open all the way to f/16
- First class build quality, better than any Nikkor
- Very good AF
- Excellent MF ring with a positive smooth action
- Reasonable price
- Size & weight are a good match for the X-T1 & grip
- Large hood is always welcome on any lens for better performance
- Too fast for X series bodies (max 1/4000sec shutter) LOL
- 7 bladed diaphragm doesn’t help bokeh when you start to close down
- No weather sealing
- No lock on aperture ring
- A tighter action for the aperture ring would have been preferable
- Size & weight may not be a good match for the XE-2
- Large hood is too conspicuous and cheap looking. Could be a problem for OVF users