Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fujinon 14mm f2.8 Lens - First Impressions

On Saturday I went to the South Street Seaport Museum to see a street photography exhibit that was the results of a juried competition sponsored by the Museum of the City of New York. I had entered ten images for the judging - of which none were selected - and was curious to see the images that caught the eyes, minds, and hearts of the judges. I usually don't submit work to these types of competitions because on any given day and at any given hour for any reason at all the judging is ever so subjective. In this case however, since the genre was very narrow and there was no entrance fee I made the plunge. I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in street photography that they see this exhibit. The most outstanding image of the show, the one out of the more than a hundred on the walls, that stuck in my mind was a b/w image shot in the 1980's on film by Harvey Stein - who is a master in the field.

Then on to the real business of the day, I hit the streets of lower Manhattan on Saturday to give the Fujinon 14mm f2.8 lens a run for its money on my X-Pro1. No pixel peeping review, no technical analysis of curves and graphs - I leave that information processing to better minds than mine. I judge a lens by how it feels in my hand and how it performs in the field doing the work that I love. Probably the most important criteria of all to me is does the piece of equipment give me the feeling that I can't wait to get out and play with it again and again. After an afternoon with this lens, the answer is a resounding YES!

For the first eight months of using the XP1 I shot with the 18mm and 35mm prime lenses and loved the results. Since I got my hands on the 18-55mm zoom lens It hasn't come off the camera - I've talked about it extensively in previous posts of this blog. I have been looking forward to getting the 14mm lens since it was first announced by Fuji. My favorite lens for my Leica M6 was the Leica 21mm f2.8 lens. Since having the XP1 with the widest option of 18mm, I've had to always make accommodation the narrower field of view than I would like to be able to get the shot without looking through the viewfinder to frame the image. Getting back to using a prime lens just felt sooooo gooooood.

The response of the lens is at least as good as the 18mm lens. But then, I've never had a problem with the focus response time of the camera with any of the Fuji lenses that I use. The image quality is astonishingly good. Sharp from corner to corner with absolutely no chromatic aberration that I've been able to see. I've read some complaints about the aperture ring being too loose and turning too easily. It's about the same as the 18mm and 35mm lenses. I've found that putting a rubber band on the aperture ring adds just enough friction to counteract the looseness. The bitch that many of these trolls have is that for a lens to be this expensive it should be perfect. So it isn't .... perfect that is. I would challenge anyone to show me a lens, no matter how expensive, that is perfect. Not going to happen.

Esthetically speaking, the angle of view and the look of the perspective that the lens renders is ideal for my shooting style. I love to be in close to a person or situation, and yet be able to capture the surrounding environment to create a feeling of context for an image. This lens absolutely does the trick for me.

To wit: