Consider this an anti-GAS installment rather than some sort of general bashing of Fuji or anything. Today's topic as the title would suggest are a few thoughts on the brand spanking new Fuji 56mm f/1.2 portrait lens. This is coming from someone that hasn't ever touched one. I do however feel qualified to offer a few general opinions based on facts.
I'm a big fan of the 85mm field of view. I can live my entire photographic life between 35mm and 85mm and for the most part I have. Obviously we are talking about the ubiquitous 35mm equivalent here. If I was exclusively shooting Fuji cameras I would grab this sucker in a heartbeat even if I had to skip eating for a week or two. If I had to cut out smoking to get it I would wait a bit and grab one of the cast-off Fuji 60mm f/2.4 macros that are bound to get dumped for the new lens instead. Which brings us to my main point. Cost, the system, results, etc. Is the X-Series and it's system really the right system for you? Is the value proposition of smaller/cheaper/better reality? Is it just cool and new? Let's see.
Say you have some cash in your pocket and you really need to decide on a system. A new system as whatever you are using now is really old or the system as a whole just isn't there. Let's say you are moving from a point and shoot. Starting fresh and that small light Fuji X System is sounding so so good to you compared to the big old heavy clunky can't do nothin' right DSLR crap from those idiots at Canon or Nikon. The Fuji's an APS-C system and probably will be forever. Let's start with APS-C then…
There are a boatload of choices here from those two idiot companies referenced above. They can probably even take good pictures. Yea they focus fast, all of the controls are well developed and operate like a Ferrari F1 car compared to the Fuji's and have real viewfinders and good flash systems and lenses galore and a huge used market and can make really nice video but nobody cares about that shit. It's all about the retro knobs and the new Leica cool right? So f/1.2 is so magical it's going to solve all your picture problems. You like portraits too so let's start there with your hard earned cash. How about the XE-2 so the focus actually works okay and the EVF isn't so so so laggy that what you are looking at didn't happen 10 seconds ago. We'll grab that magic 56mm lens too. The other stuff, that can wait.
We're now into Fuji for $1000 for the body and another $1000 for the lens. That's $2000 for those that don't feel like adding it yourself. Certainly not cheap is it? What can we get from that retarded Nikon company that might be able to squeak out some similar images. How about a barely used Nikon D7000 to kick things off. Now god damn Nikon doesn't make no god damn good lenses so we'll have to make due with a regular old 50mm f/1.4. We'll get the new one just for the heck of it. Let's see where we're at. Five hundred bucks for the body and $350 for the lens. Less than half the cost and we have some money left over for gas to go shoot something, still under $1000.
No fair you say? Used? The last model and not the current model? Not a 56, not one point two? Illustrating a point, actually a few. There is not a big used market for the X-Series products and the system is new so prices are crazy high used. I suspect that's temporary due to the rate at which innovative new models are being released by fuji (like the old days of digital) but reality. Let's go new okay. That would be $700 for the body and $400 for the lens. Let's go with the current model the D7100, that's still $500-$1100 south of the X-E2 and 56mm., on the model and new/used balance. The D7000 is absolutely more than a match in every way to the X-E2. The D7100, give me a break. 50/1.4 vs 56/1.2 – the only one that will ever see any difference at all is you and it's mostly in your head. Of course you will be much cooler on the web talking about the 56/1.2. At least until next week. Wanna take it farther? How about adding a fast 35 to the kit? Wow, really a $400 premium to do the Fuji thing. Better pictures? Not really, about the same could go either way.
Okay, let's say you have the two grand and want to spend all of it okay? Sticking with stuff I actually have used extensively let's grab one of those broken from the factory D600 cameras and a real 85mm prime. Let's even get the new one which is the same as the old one for the most part. Let's grab the 85mm 1.8G. Shit we're still not at $2000. We'll need to add another lens like say a 50mm 1.4. Or we could go with the D610 for more money if we're really paranoid on the off chance that D600's really don't work (they do, they are fine).
What about my glorious one point two. Forget about it a real 85mm 1.8 will give you at least the same out of focus blurry-ness at the same distances as the 56/1.2. What about my size and weight thing? The Fuji's are magically small and light and wondrous in ways that just cannot be reproduced. Well I'll give you the body. The X-E2 is pretty stinking small/light but take it from someone that's been there. It's not the size/weight of a DX DSLR body or a small FX DSLR body that's the issue. It's the kit. The glass - it's all about the glass. How does that compare?
Let's see… WTF? How can this be? Both Nikon 85mm f/1.8 lenses the old AF-D one and the new G one are the same size as the fuji 56mm and holy smokes… both Nikon's actually weigh a tad less? Look it up yourself if you don't believe me. Same size and less weight on the full frame 85mm primes. I'll bet you can guess about the DX with a 50mm right?
Just because you opt for a DSLR body with a real viewfinder, highly evolved controls, great battery life, scads of cheap used lenses, and a well developed system doesn't mean you must buy and pack f/2.8 constant aperture zooms. That's bad news. It's hilarious that a lot of people shouting the virtues of mirrorless APS-C from the roof tops about size/weight over and over and over came from a large set of constant aperture zooms for full-frame. Downright huge and burdensome and possibly just okay in terms of absolute performance compared to modern primes. Now they have a set of primes that are about the same size and weight they could have had that before but chose not to. As an encore in the comedy act, all of them just cannot wait to fill their bags to the gills with the constant aperture pro zooms that will be out any day now from Fuji. Funny shit huh?