I was cleaning out the notebook on my road trip two months ago—it was a whirlwind to the Grand Teton National Park and to the furthest northwest corner of Oregon—and I was trying to figure out what to write about. The remaining pictures are a hodgepodge, but I wanted to share them nonetheless. I then realized that many of the remaining images were captured with a Fujifilm X-E4 and Fujinon 90mm combination. Suddenly I had my article idea!
You might recall that the 90mm lens doesn’t fit into my “ultimate” travel camera kit, so I couldn’t bring it with me; however, my wife, Amanda, brought it in her camera bag to use with her X-T4. The three lenses that she likes to use are the Fujinon 10-24mm zoom, the Fujinon 27mm f/2.8, and the 90mm f/2, and the 27mm is her (and my) favorite. I had the 27mm in my bag on the X-E4, so on several occasions we swapped. This arrangement ended up working out pretty well for both of us.
The Fujinon 90mm is one of my favorite lenses, but the 135mm full-frame-equivalent focal-length isn’t always easy to use. It’s great for headshots, but definitely challenging for landscape and travel photography. Challenges are actually good if you embrace them because they force you to think outside-the-box and try new things, which will make you a better photographer. While this lens is one of the absolute best in the Fujinon lineup, it’s not always easy for this type of photography; however, if you are up for the challenge you will certainly be rewarded.
The lens isn’t especially compact or lightweight, either. I find that it balances better on bigger camera bodies, such as the X-T4 or X-H1. Using it on the small X-E4 can be a bit awkward, especially if you’ll be shooting all day with it. In other words, it’s not a convenient option. Those who obsess over ergonomics will hate this camera and lens combination. If you can get past that, though, the X-E4 and 90mm will deliver excellent images. Both the camera and lens are highly capable photographic tools, and together, from an image quality point-of-view, they’re a dream team!
If you have an X-E4, should you pair the 90mm with it? I love the camera and I love the lens, and they’re great when used together, but they’re not without their difficulties. They’re philosophical opposites. The X-E4 is about “less”—less size, less weight, less complications—while the 90mm is about “more”—more reach, more sharpness, more bokeh. With the Fujifilm X-E4, less is more. With the Fujinon 90mm f/2, more is more. They don’t belong together, yet the images they create together speak for themselves. The pictures are what matter most, and you do what you’ve got to do to create them. That means dealing with the challenges as they come, and, for me, using these two great tools together.
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The 90mm is a wonderful lens that is often overlooked because of what you said the awkwardness of trying to use it outside of headshots.
It would be legendary if not for the difficult focal length, I have no doubts about it. Interestingly enough, it used to be a much more common focal length.
Hi Ritchie, My X-E4 is equipped with the kit thumb grip and the kit hand grip making the maneuverability of the 90mm F2 entirely possible, meaning providing a sense of security grip while handling the set with one hand. It’s not uncommon for all of us to occasionally use our left to support the lens and in tests I’ve found it’s definitely within the realm of hand ability. Without these grip tools I would say no.
My X-E4 didn’t come with a thumb grip or hand grip. I definitely think those would help with the 90mm. Thank you for the comment!
Hi Ritchie, unusual combination! I sold my XE3 since I prefer shooting with larger bodies; the picture quality is great, for me, the handling was not. The 90mm is a lens I always shied away from; to me, it was a pure portrait lens, and not much else. In other words: a lot of weight, and pricey, and almost no versatility. The 55-200 is almost the same weight, and VERY versatile…. For portraits (which I do not do often anyway), I bought the Viltrox 85mm f/1.8 (good lens; 1/3 of the price. But, looking at your pictures, I may try to use it during my next trip for landscapes and see whether I’ll change my tune; agree with you that restrictions sometimes can enhance the creative process – however modest that is, in my case :).
I’m not much of a zoom person, so I hadn’t considered the 55-200mm as an alternative, but it does seem like good option for versatility. I’ve heard good things about the Viltrox 85mm f/1.8. Definitely try it for landscapes!
The 55-200 is actually very sharp. Andy Mumford, a landscape photographer whose work I admire, uses it all the time for landscapes (together with a 10-24). What’s good enough for Andy, certainly is good enough for me :).
I’m always impressed with Fujifilm’s zooms. I just rarely use them myself, probably out of habit or stubbornness, and not out of logic. 🙂
I’ve wanted the 90mm F2 for a while just like I always wanted the Zeiss 135mm F2 and for the same reasons, the absolute best in image quality with razor thin depth of field and sharp, sharp, sharp. But who is it for? Like the Zeiss, not useful for a lot of photographers, a view having bought one recently hasn’t changed…superb for sure, but like most x photographers that do any portraits I love my 56mm 1.2 and although this is a great substitute, the stand off distance is quite long. I bought the 90 at the same time as the 70-300 and the 1.4x extender. Frankly I’m a bit shocked at how close the zoom iq is to the prime, I haven’t had a zoom since the original 18-55 I got with my xe1. Since buying both I have used the zoom 95% of the time and the prime just sits there in all it’s sharp glory. I just did some informal tests and the zoom had 50% of acceptably sharp handheld indoor flower shots at 1/10th sec compared with the 90 having none at 1/10, 1/20, 1/30 and 50% of that at 1/40th so in good light the prime winds but the zoom can go lower despite the smaller aperture. For the flower shots the blur is as good at 300mm as the 90 is at F2. Would I take the 90 to do landscape, not if I had the 70-300 but maybe if I didn’t?
Very interesting. The 90mm doesn’t have any image stabilization, which makes it more difficult to use in low-light if the camera doesn’t have any. Thank you for the input!