One of my absolute favorite lenses is the Fujinon 90mm f/2! It’s super sharp, plenty bright, great bokeh, and just lovely image quality. Technically speaking, the lens is near perfection, and practically speaking, it does nothing but produce lovely pictures. You can read my full review of the Fujinon 90mm f/2 lens here. I don’t want to rehash what I’ve already said, but instead convey why this is one of my absolute favorite lenses.
I purchased my Fujinon 90mm f/2 about three years ago. I had read that it was one of Fujifilm’s best portrait lenses, and I was going to be doing some portrait photography, so I bought it for that purpose. I had intended to sell it afterwards, but after I used it there was no way that I was going to sell it—it was love at first click! All of the great things that I read about it turned out to be completely true.
90mm is full-frame-equivalent to 135mm, which once was a very common focal-length, but it’s not really in vogue anymore. It’s not quite long enough for sports and wildlife photographers, and it’s too long for a lot of other purposes. Even portrait photographers might prefer a shorter focal-length with a larger maximum aperture. 135mm can be a bit challenging to use, but also very rewarding.
Robert Capa coined the phrase, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” Robert probably wasn’t advocating the use of longer lenses, but actually taking a few steps closer; however, the Fujinon 90mm lens allows you to get closer without actually getting closer. It forces you to remove unnecessary elements from the frame, because they simply won’t fit—you can’t get it all in, so you have to be more purposeful with what you do and don’t include. That’s the challenge, but better pictures are the reward.
When Fujifilm introduced the 90mm f/2 in 2015, they likely had in mind that it would be popular among portrait photographers, and for sure it is! But I’m not a portrait photographer—at least not usually. While the lens is optimized for portrait photography, it is great for still-life, nature, urban, and many other circumstances. I use it most frequently for landscape photography.
The only negative comment that I have to say against the Fujinon 90mm f/2 is that it is a little hefty. It balances better on a camera like the X-T4 than X-E4, but I still use it frequently on smaller bodies. It’s not comfortable to carry around all day long. Aside from that, the 90mm lens is the epitome of the Fujinon quality that Fujifilm is renown for. I cannot imagine anyone being disappointed with the images captured through this glass.
The Fujinon 90mm f/2 can be challenging to use because of its focal-length, but if you take on that challenge you will be rewarded with wonderful photographs. That’s why I love it! If you are not a portrait photographer, this lens might not be on your radar, but it is worth owning anyway, as it is useful in many circumstances, and not just portraits. If you are a portrait photographer, this should be one of your top considerations. It retails for $950.
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
It’s interesting to think of the “death” of the 135mm focal length. I know I had a 135/2.8 that I used to use on my old Minolta SLR, and that was simply my telephoto. I know that longer telephoto lenses existed, but it was probably the most common.
For just-more-than-beginner SLR system, seems like you’d get a 50mm, a 135mm telephoto, and a 28mm wide (maybe 35mm). 50 has stuck around, since having a fast 50mm with good IQ is just popular. 28mm primes likewise, since a lot of folks who like to shoot wide also like to shoot fairly light weight.
But telephoto isn’t as flexible, and the zoom options got a lot better. 70-200 has the 135mm right in the middle, but you gain a lot of versatility. While many modern 135 lenses can be as fast as f2, the f2.8 of the zooms is fast enough. Meanwhile, lenses that have some serious reach (> 200mm) are also a lot more readily available and a lot sharper before stopping down. I couldn’t really say on the shift in portrait photography, but it might simply be that folks already had 135 telephoto lenses, and made do for portraits when 50mm was too wide. If someone already had a 50 and 135, getting an 85 might have seemed superfluous.
Back to Fuji. Haven’t tried the 90/2, but I’ve shot a bunch with the Rokinon 85/1.8 compact, which is pretty similar in terms of length and aperture. Not the easiest focal length to shoot with, but when the shots work out, they tend to work quite well. One thing they also have in common–pretty respectable close-focus capabilities. Not macro, but focusing to around 60cm/2 feet on a telephoto like one of these is pretty dang close. At that short distance, you can stop down a hair and still completely smooth out any backgrounds. Probably more than half the stuff I shoot are plants, so that focal length is a pretty good fit for me.
Yeah, it used to be that the 135mm focal length might be your second or third lens. You’d have the “standard” 50mm as your first, then 135mm and then something wide-angle (24-35mm roughly) as your next two. The Rokinon 85mm is one that I’d like to someday try, but I definitely don’t need it since I have the 90mm f/2, which is nearly the same thing. Thanks for the thoughtful comment!
Yeah! The Fujicrons are underrated! Especially the 90/2 and 50/2. Both are excellent build quality and image rendering. I’ve never tried the f1.2/1.4 Lenses (23/35/56) as those seems not to add any advantage to the 50/2 or 90/2.
I was pretty surprised about the new 18mm as not f2 or f2.8 and even my 16/1.4 seems not to be replaced by the 16/2.8.
I think the 18mm f/2 is in need of an update, but (aside from that) all of the Fujinon f/2 lenses are exceedingly excellent!