Fuji X-Pro-1 60mm Macro Non-Review

So there I was a day or so ago with an hour or two on my hands and no pressing issues. Bang! I realized that I have had that new Fuji XF 60mm macro R f2.4 whatever it's called for over a week and haven't even shot with it yet. I actually realized this because new firmware was released for it the same day which I dutifully obtained with the help of Matt Connors - thanks. After attaching the lens to my current favorite digital camera I decided that I just have to shoot something today.

Hmmm, winter is sort of here. Way too cold and windy to actually go find something interesting and cool to shoot for a project. A distinct lack of attractive semi-naked people hanging around the house today. I guess I'll have to go with shooting StupidCrap™ so I can at least see what this lens can do and more importantly how it looks. Maybe my foot? The carpet? Shit on my desk? Fruit? Ah haaaaa, how about some camera porn? Perfect for a macro… Let's go.

Now realize that I am no table top, product, photo monster - I have no idea how those guys do it day after day. Messing around with 35 reflectors, 8 lights, scrims, mirrors, black cards, getting just the right reflections etc etc. And the dust issues - f'ing dust! Screw it let's just shoot. Just to let you know how much effort I put into this I actually did give my chosen subjects a quicky wipe off with my handy dandy micro fiber towel. I even bothered myself to lay down a grungy black polar-fleece to soak up some of the window light and used the sleeve for some negative fill here and there.

As you can see I actually use my old cameras - these are no shelf queens. I try to rotate through all of my Nikon and Olympus bodies. Even with the grime I think they make not bad subjects for macro lens testing - at least for StupidCrap™.

All of these were shot wide open at f2.4 using either the EVF or live-view on the rear screen. For this kind of thing EVF/Live view is fantastic. Manual focus of course using the AEL/AFL button and repositioning the focus point rather than reframing. The only way to go for this kind of close up work given that when in macro mode the focus for the 60mm is really really slow. Not really a complaint as it is super accurate and for this kind of work I much rather pin-point accuracy than speed. The curious thing is that when the X-Pro-1 is in macro mode every single solitary re-focus seems to rack all the way from end to end - hence the sloooooowwwww-ness. Even on the same focus point and same subject. Hence manual vs AF-S. When in normal mode it doesn't seem to have to go end-to-end even on a limited scale to reacquire focus near the same distance.

I did sprinkle in the tiniest little bit of creativity which I usually don't spare any for StupidCrap™ test subject by playing with the shallow focus depth to get various planned bits and pieces in focus simultaneously. I did shoot some at various apertures which I am not going to show. I will tell you my non-clinical results. Every single aperture is usable for real world pictures. Even f16 and f22. Yes the ultimate image quality is degraded from the optimal aperture like any lens is diffraction limited but nothing to worry about - not so different than every other lens out there. I would decide solely on DOF you need or want instead of worrying yourself with what is optimal for the lens - worry about what is optimal for the image you are making.

I had to say that before I said this. This lens is absolutely stellar at f2.4 and even better at f2.8 and way way better at f4. The amazing thing is that it's pretty clear where the optimum aperture is when pixel-peeping on the anti-anti-aliased sensor of the X-Pro-1. Somewhere between f4 and f5.6. Take that with a grain of salt because this thing is so so so good in terms of sharpness wide open and at f8 through f11 that it has to be one of the best values out there today. This kind of performance amazing for a $500 class lens.

What is even more important to me - not that I like crappy performance - is how it actually looks some lenses that I own perform well but I just don't like they way they look. Pretentious people call this something along the lines of "the way it draws" or something. This definitely is a factor - just not a really hair-splitting factor for me. I am kind of broad on this in the sense of - I either like the way it looks over all or I don't. There are endless factors to this that I care not to debate or classify and categorize. The Fuji 60mm happens to fall pretty far to into the "I like the way it looks" side of the line for me.

As for the other details… I shot at ISO 200 using a tripod to eliminate my caffeine fueled anti-image-stabilization from flavoring my thoughts too much. I shot a combination of manual exposure and aperture priority with healthy doses of negative compensation. My choice was kind of arbitrary - If I was shooting a variation on focus or composition in the same light I usually switched to manual and just set the same exposure I chose using aperture priority and compensation to eliminate small variations in exposure that I didn't want without having to fiddle with the compensation every shot. My tactic was to shoot as if I wanted attractive JPEG's out of the camera - which by the way are also attractive. Just a note meaning I did not "expose to the right". The reason I bring this up is that this is the best way to go for blanket applying VSCO presets (see below) and also that I find no need to ETTR on this camera to ensure clean shadows, give me more bits in the mid-tones, etc. All that does is cause me more work in post that I don't find necessary with this camera for my pictorial needs.

As for post processing. I imported to Lightroom 4.2/ACR7.2 and applied VSCO Film 01 Kodak Portra 400 emulation, turned off grain, set blacks to 0, and synchronized all of the images to those settings. LR/ACR sharpening was the Lightroom default and export sharpening was set to LOW or soft or whatever the lowest setting is. If any of the EXIF data shows that I lied about being shot at F2.4 it prolly means that I bumped the aperture ring and knocked it to F2.8 accidentally. I did notice that once and set it back to F2.4. I am not going to bother sorting out which is which for the purposes of this conversation.

The bottom line is that if you have any need or use for a 90mm short tele lens (35mm equiv) the Fuji XF 60mm is an amazing bargain - heck at least the Aperture numbers and gobbldy-gook on the front of the lens is engraved and painted like all of the cameras I was shooting for this. You have no idea how much I resent wear-off numbers and lettering we are subjected to now. Yes I have actually worn off numbers and writing on cameras, lenses, and light meters (Sekonic). If you are on the fence with the 60mm just buy it. It will be the slowest focusing lens of your Fuji X mount stable but it will also be the best performing or at least in a tie with the 35mm. This lens is anything but soft and happens to have a really really nice rendering overall.

RB

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