The Fujifilm system is now at a stage where the last lenses needed to make it, in my opinion, a ‘complete working photographers system’ are on the roadmap and set for launch at some point this year. With the recent announcements of the FUJIFILM X-H1 and the MKX lenses, the system can really cater for a wide variety of needs. One of the lenses I had been missing, until its launch in 2017, was the XF80mmF2.8 Macro OIS.
I regularly work in close proximity to my subjects. In the past I have used the Fujifilm extension tubes to get up close and personal. These were super, ‘get out of jail’ add-ons for lenses like the XF56mmF1.2 and XF50-140mmF2.8. You can find a blog I did on these handy accessories, while working as a researcher in Costa Rica here.
As well as these lenses, I have also been using the ever adaptable XF16mm F1.4 for close up wide angle shots. This truly is one of my favourite lenses. I have used it to photograph lightning storms and stars, elephants in rainforests and the release of baby turtles. I find it incredibly adaptable; one of the reasons for this is down to its incredible close focusing distance. So, when I had the opportunity to spend 24 hours in the Black Mountains of South Wales, I grabbed some zooms and my three favourite primes: XF16mmF1.4, XF35mmF1.4 and the XF80mmF2.8 then headed off.
I spent the night in the mountains in a remote cabin, which was made all the more remote by a fair sprinkling of snow.
It was a relaxing trip so had to stay hydrated and cosy…
When daylight hit, I went for an explore around the surrounding valley, taking in the magical scene. All the while I was looking for suitable circumstances to test out the XF80mm. Then, tucked around one of the many hills, I stumbled across a small waterfall with natural steps built into it. I thought this would be a good place to start.
Macro photography usually requires large amounts of light as you often have to use large F-stops to ensure a decent depth of field, which is proportional to the distance from the camera. To compensate for this, I added an extra level of creativity, I brought along two mini portable LED lights. These allowed me to illuminate the icicles whilst keeping the background dark.
The bokeh of the XF80mmF2.6 lens is really pleasing. Even when stopped down to F8, the light glistening off icicles in the background was beautiful.
I deliberately underexposed the above image to keep the light subtle on the air pockets, highlighting the tiny but beautiful detail of this icicle. The XF80mm had so much to give, the issues I experienced were down to me! I was hand-holding this set up, camera in one hand, LED light in another, whilst my feet were slipping on the rocks as icy water flowed over them. Health and safety would have had a field day! But the camera/lens combo was easy to handle. Because of my instability, I had to use very fast shutter speeds. The autofocus was snappy, which is not usually a strong feature of macro lenses.
At one stage I put the LED light in the water (thankfully completely waterproof) and was able to brace for some slower shutter speed images. I was very impressed. With the addition of the X-H1 (can’t wait to pair these two together) the potential to go even slower is very exciting!
Being able to get two different macro perspectives from two fantastic prime lenses was fantastic. Here is a shot taken with the XF16mm F1.4 showing how the focal length makes a huge difference to the image, despite the close focusing.
All in all, I am very impressed with the XF80mm F2.8 OIS Macro. I think it will replace the XF56mm F1.2 in my backpack. X-T2, X-H1, XF16mm, XF35mm, XF80mm, XF16-55mm, XF50-140mm, XF100-400mm, plus accessories like some lights, batteries, etc makes for a fantastic set up which is still suitable for airline carry on. The prospect of the impending XF200mm F2 OIS makes the set up near perfect for me. I can highly recommend the XF80mm, I’m sure it will make for a brilliant portrait lens too.
Until next time, happy snapping!
More from Ben Cherry
More about XF80mmF2.8 Macro OIS
Mid-Range Telephoto Macro Lens