The Fujifilm House of Photography in Park Street, Sydney, is becoming a defacto friendly regular gathering place for photographers and videographers with its (mostly) twice-monthly free workshops on a wide range of aspects of photography and videography.
Attendees don’t even have to own or use Fujifilm cameras and lenses and there’s always plenty to learn regardless of which manufacturers’ gear you love and use or which genre of subject matter you favour.
I attended Fujifilm Australia’s X-H2S and X-H2 hybrid APS-C X-mount camera touch-and-try event and documented it with our Fujifilm X-Pro2 and a Fujinon XF 30mm f/2.8 R LM WR Macro “Fujicron”-style prime lens kindly loaned by the Fujifilm House of Photography, the lens equivalent in 35mm sensor terms to 45mm.
My three-word verdict on the lens? I LOVE IT!
One of my ambitions for the photographic documentation of these events is to do them in a slightly different way each time whether via different cameras, different lenses or different choices in raw image processing software and film simulations or other colour grading treatments.
I’ve been intrigued by the 45mm-equivalent Fujinon XF 30mm f/2.8 R LM WR Macro since its release in late 2022 and the X-H2 and X-H2S touch-and-try event presented the perfect opportunity given the Fujifilm House of Photography wasn’t filled with as many attendees as usual.
That meant I could physically get a little closer and my usual medium-wide and super-wide lenses were less necessary in order to document the look and feel of the proceedings.
Using our Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a borrowed Fujinon XF 30mm f/2.8 R LM WR Macro lens
I’ve loved and relied upon “perfect normal” focal length lenses for many years now since acquiring one for my 4″x5″ sheet film cameras and equip new cameras with perfect normal lenses whenever possible.
Perfect normal is slightly wider than standard normal and it produces the most naturalistic perspective, the relationship between near and far that’s closest to human vision, of the two.
Despite the common assumption that “normal” is standard normal – 50mm for 35mm sensors, 33mm or 35mm for APS-C and 25mm for Micro Four Thirds – for me at least perfect normal is, well, more normal – 40mm to 45mm for 35mm sensors, 27mm to 28mm for APS-C and 20mm for M43.
That may be why some cameras and lens makers have chosen perfect normal focal lengths in the past, from Ernest Barnack when making the first three Ur-Leica cameras to Leica and Minolta for their CL and CLE compact 35mm rangefinder film cameras, by Zeiss and Yashica for the G1 and G2 35mm t film cameras, and before that by Minolta for its 35mm single lens reflex cameras.
Arithmetically 30mm in APS-C is a little longer than 40mm and a little shorter than 50mm but in practice its look and feel is closer to perfect normal than standard normal and the ease with which I used it for the images above is testimony to that.
Some APS-C & 35mm sensor perfect normal lenses or near enough to it
The legendary 28mm prime lens for moviemaking is the so-called Hollywood 28 and I’ve written about it at length here:
- Unititled.Net – What Is The “Hollywood 28” Vintage Prime Lens & Why Is It Still So Highly Sought After?
Given that available Hollywood 28-style lenses are almost always vintage, and are now unsupported by their manufacturers if repairs or maintenance are needed, is there a new equivalent or even near-equivalent?
Perhaps Cosina’s Voigtländer brand may provide an answer with the company’s Voigtländer 28mm f/2.0 Ultron Vintage Aspherical VM Lens Type II in combination with its Voigtländer VM-X Close Focus Adapter II for FUJIFILM X?
Vintage and vintage-style lens expert Phillip Reeve has an in-depth review of the Voigtländer 28mm f/2.0 Ultron and its variations:
- phillipreeve.net – Review: Voigtlander VM 28mm 2.0 Ultron Type I
Optics like the Voigtländer 28mm f/2.0 Ultron Vintage Aspherical VM Lens Type II are best described as “character lenses” as opposed to the more optically correct Fujinon XF 30mm f/2.8 R LM WR Macro and thus may be more suitable for narrative moviemaking than for documentary stills photography.
Some perfect normal lenses for APS-C & 35 sensor format cameras including 3 “Hollywood 28” primes
The Fujinon XF 30mm f/2.8 R LM WR Macro’s field of view is close to that of the XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR “pancake” lens and our Panagor PMC 28mm f/2.8 Auto vintage lens, so much so that I visualized images, framed them then made the exposures quickly.
Usually when using an unfamiliar focal length it takes a little time to learn to visualize, frame then expose quickly but that wasn’t the case this time.
Compared to the other two lenses as well as our now non-functioning XF 27mm f/2.8, the XF 30mm f/2.8 was fast and sure in autofocus and manual focus modes and the focusing ring was easy to use with just a fingertip.
Fujifilm’s choice of a linear motor hence LM in the name was a wise one for the Fujinon XF 30mm f/2.8 R LM WR Macro and the company should extend that to all new lenses, especially those that’ll be used for documentary stills and video as well as photojournalism.
I concentrated on stills this time but am sure that the lens would be just as sure, fast and easy to use when making videos.
The XF 30mm f/2.8 is the first “Fujicron” lens to feature a lockable aperture ring allowing you to set it to A for auto and stay there without drifting off.
I’d like to see this as a standard feature for all of Fujifilm’s Fujinon lenses from now onwards.
Other features I appreciated while using the lens are its sturdy construction and tapered front but 43mm filter diameter that can be stepped up to 52mm for neural density filters.
I used it without its cylindrical plastic lens hood as that didn’t seem to be available at the time but its optics and coatings very effectively guarded against flares from in-frame light sources.
Fujifilm USA’s tech expert Michael Bulbenko recommends the Fujinon XF 30mm f/2.8 R LM WR Macro as “best choice for your first Fujifilm X-Mount prime lens” and I couldn’t agree more.
Although I didn’t use it in full macro mode at 1:1, just the fact that I had that option was comforting.
As the photographs above attest, it performed admirably whatever distance I was from the subject and I’d feel very comfortable carrying it day after day as my default prime lens especially on an X-Pro camera or the coming X-S20, for stills and video.
It wouldn’t be out of place on an X-H2S or an X-H2 flagship DSLR-style camera given its 40 megapixel sensor readiness.
Fujifilm’s flagship APS-C/Super 35 hybrid cameras, the X-H2 & X-H2S
Stephen Pierce makes photographs and videos for a range of prestige clients mostly located overseas in Europe and the United Kingdom with subjects ranging from architecture through travel to live performance and he relies on a number of Fujifilm cameras and lenses in the company’s APS-C/Super 35 X and medium format/large format GFX ranges.
He has often shared his appreciation for the large sensor size and high megapixels count of Fujifilm’s GFX cameras and the 40 megapixel sensor in the X-H2 and X-T5, allowing his clients the option of heavy cropping to suit a range of layouts and usages.
He also expounds the virtues of recording video in 8K and 6.2K when the option to crop is useful in post-production.
I’m yet to have the opportunity of using the X-H2S and X-H2 for video cannot comment on their capabilities there but have borrowed an X-H2 to document the first Fujifilm House of Photography workshop in January 2023:
- Unititled.Net Photo Galleries – Fujifilm Australia ‘Discover Fujifilm’ Photowalk at Fujifilm House of Photography in Sydney on Saturday 21st January 2023
As usual Stephen Pierce presented an in-depth run-through of both X-H series cameras’ capabilities and benefits, and if we had the means we’d have plunked the cash down for one of each.
I’m not currently working on commission from Australian or foreign clients as I used to, on stills or videos, but if I were then my core kit would comprise an X-H2S and an X-H2 for stills and video and two X-Pro cameras for immersive documentary stills photography as I find rangefinder-style cameras work best for me there.
I’d add vertical battery grips for both X-H series cameras for ease in shooting in portrait aka vertical orientation and for long battery life from all three NP-W235 batteries in this combination.
The form factor of Fujifilm’s compact aka “Fujicron” lenses works well with the X-Pro series’ optical viewfinder – which I rely upon for most of my documentary work – but Fujifilm needs to radically extend the range of focal lengths in this range and upgrade some existing compact lenses to Fujicron optical quality and mechanical functionality.
Given Fujifilm is now taking video production seriously the company needs to upgrade its Fujinon XF prime and variable focal length lens range to parity in stills and video performance, taking full advantage of the company’s legendary Fujinon Cinema lens design expertise.
Let’s see what Fujifilm has to announce in its coming X Summit in Bangkok!
- FUJIFILM X Series – X Summit BKK 2023 / FUJIFILM – “May 24th at 9 AM GMT is the day of X Summit! This time X Summit will be held in Bangkok.”
I made the photographs with a Fujifilm X-Pro2 digital rangefinder camera and Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 30mm f/2.8 R LM WR Macro prime lens.
The X-Trans raw files were processed in DxO PhotoLab Elite with DxO FilmPack Elite and DxO ViewPoint as plug-ins, all using DxO’s DeepPRIME XD – for extra detail – denoising and demosaicing feature as well as the Kodak Portra 160VC – for vivid colour – film simulation.
- B&H Affiliate Link –Click here to research and purchase or pre-order your choice of cameras, lenses and accessories for stills photography and video production whatever your genre and subject matter.
- Breakthrough Photography – Brass Step-Up Ring – We use and recommend this San Francisco company’s filters, accessories and especially its knurled brass framed step-up rings. Attaching wider filters to lenses with small filter diameters may require stacking two step-up rings but the coated brass rings do not bind like aluminium rings do, and the Traction frame knurling gives you plenty of solid grip.
- DxO – website – PhotoLab, FilmPack, ViewPoint, PureRAW, Nik Collection – Our #1 choice in raw image processing and editing software.
- Fujifilm X Global – Fujifilm launches FUJINON XF30mmF2.8 R LM WR Macro – “Its standard 30mm focal length provides the angle of view perfect for portraiture and snapshots that take advantage of natural perspectives…. It is designed compact and equipped with fast, accurate and quiet AF for high mobility.“
- Fujifilm X Global – XF30mmF2.8 R LM WR Macro, Setting a New Standard – “Photography is constantly evolving. The modern creative requires a lens suitable for both stills and video across a broad range of applications. XF30mmF2.8 R LM WR Macro responds to these needs by offering a versatile focal length, 1:1 macro capability, fast inner focusing and minimal focus breathing, all in a compact optic suitable for daily use. This is the standard lens for a new generation.”
- Fujifilm X Global – X-H2 – “Fifth generation imaging technology brings high resolution and speed to the next evolution of X Series. Equipped with a new 40.2-megapixel sensor, X-H2 offers unrivaled image quality for both stills and video, unlocking a world of creative possibilities far beyond what any previous APS-C format camera has ever done before.“
- Fujifilm X Global – X-H2S – “Never miss a decisive moment. Featuring a stunning 5th generation X-Trans CMOS 5 HS sensor and X-Processor 5 in a beautifully designed body, photographers and filmmakers alike can now create at the pace of life and the speed of their imaginations.”
- Mark Wieczorek – What I think about when I think about Focal Lengths – “Now that we know that 43mm is the true normal lens, perhaps we can re-think why we like the 50mm field of view so much — it’s ever so slightly telephoto.”
- Mark Wieczorek – What is a Normal Lens — 35mm, 50mm, 43mm. – “The diagonal of a “full frame” sensor is 43mm. The diagonal of an APS-C sensor is 27mm (though APS-C sensor sizes vary). The diagonal of a Micro Four Thirds sensor is 22mm. The diagonal of a Fuji GFX sensor is 55mm. The diagonal of a larger Hasselblad sensor (there are several) is 67mm. Therefore the “normal” lens on each of these sensors would be about that focal length — 27mm for APS-C and 22mm for m43 and so on.“
- Noam Kroll – 28mm Lenses: The Secret Ingredient For Achieving A Film Look
- phillipreeve.net – Review: Contax Zeiss Distagon 2.0/28 T* AEG (C/Y)
- Unititled.Net – Fujifilm Japan: Fujifilm launches “FUJINON Lens XF30mmF2.8 R LM WR Macro” – Press Release
- Unititled.Net – Fujifilm USA’s Michael Bulbenko Recommends Fujinon XF 30mm f/2.8 R LM WR Macro As Best Choice For Your First Fujifilm X-Mount Prime Lens
- Unititled.Net – What Is The “Hollywood 28” Vintage Prime Lens & Why Is It Still So Highly Sought After?
- Unititled.Net Photo Galleries – Fujifilm Australia X-H2S & X-H2 Touch & Try at Fujifilm House of Photography in Sydney on Saturday 20th May 2023
- Urth – We use and recommend Australian Urth brand filters, especially those in the company’s Plus+ range for professional work. We use their fixed and variable neutral density filters and circular polarizing filters which come in a wide range of filter diameters. Stephen Pierce uses a low-value fixed ND filter alone or in combination with a circular polarizing filter rather than variable ND filters.
- Wikipedia – Normal lens – “In photography and cinematography, a normal lens is a lens that reproduces a field of view that appears “natural” to a human observer. In contrast, depth compression and expansion with shorter or longer focal lengths introduces noticeable, and sometimes disturbing, distortion…. ” – This entry used to define perfect normal versus standard normal but seems to have undergone heavy re-editing unsupported by citations lately.