Paul MauerComment

Best Fuji Lenses for Portrait Photography: Buying Guide

Paul MauerComment
Best Fuji Lenses for Portrait Photography: Buying Guide

The Best Fuji Portrait Lenses

There's no denying that Fuji is a wonderful ecosystem for portraits. The small body size puts models at ease, the X-Trans sensor coupled with the proprietary film simulations render skin tones wonderfully, and there is a massive library of top-tier lenses suited for portraiture. So when considering the very best portrait lens for Fuji, it can get complicated.

While Fuji's APCS sensors don't conjure quite as much bokeh or depth of field as a full frame camera, the smaller sensor size creates far more reach and compression at similar focal lengths, making up for much of the lost bokeh and background separation. And while distortion is typically lost around 80mm on a full frame, you'll be hard pressed to find any distortion on a ~50mm Fuji lens.

So when we're looking for portrait lenses, we're looking for three things: 

  1. Fast aperture for maximum bokeh and subject isolation
  2. Mid-to-high focal length for greater compression and distortion reduction
  3. Sharpness vs quality of bokeh

For most people, the best Fuji portrait lens comes down to three options:

The 90mm F/2 is the absolute king of Fuji outdoor portrait lenses. It's optical quality is flawless, and the colors – specifically skin tones – render wonderfully, with perfect contrast.

The equivalent 137mm focal length of this lens means it's the Fuji equivalent to the popular Canon/Nikon 135mm f/2, and there's a reason these lenses have been go-to picks in professional portrait photographer camera bags.

You can read the full review here.

Technically, it hits all the marks: the autofocus speed and accuracy is one of Fuji's best. The weather resistance means you can shoot with impunity, rain or shine – which is very important, considering this is not an ideal indoor/studio portrait lens. 

If you tend to shoot in the studio, you might run in to problems with the focal length as properly  framing your subject for anything other than a head shot can be a challenge in tight quarters. 

Are you primarily a studio or indoor portrait photographer? This lens could be your new best friend.

The Fuji 56mm f/1.2 has a dazzling fast aperture, currently unmatched by any other lens in their lineup. The glass is sharp as they come, and the bokeh renders identically to the 90mm f/2.

With an equivalent 86mm focal length, you won't find much distortion here on even the tightest head shots – and the comparatively wide field of view afforded by the mid-telephoto focal length allows you to get much more creative with your compositions at a closer distance.

It's not all perfect – the 56mm f/1.2 has a slower autofocus than the 90mm or the 80mm. But in a controlled setting, you won't really mind that – or the lack of weather sealing.

For a cheaper, slower, blurrier manual focus version of this lens – that, surprise, we actually prefer shooting with – check out the Helios 56mm f/2.

The Fujinon 80mm F/2.8 Macro is a bit less visually dramatic than the 90mm F/2, which is a double edged sword.

On one hand, it's shorter and slower, so it can be seen a more of an all-arounder and less of a specialized portrait – specifically head shot – lens. But on the other hand, the equivalent 120mm focal length is far more versatile than the 90mm F/2's equivalent 135mm focal length.

The sharpness is near identical, but what really gives the 80mm F/2.8 it's spot as a top three Fuji portrait lens recommendation is the OIS (optical image stabilization) – and no, that's not only important for videographers.

See, higher your focal length, the higher your shutter speed has to be to reduce camera shake (you can read more about that here). With the 80mm's OIS turned on, you can hand-hold this lens comfortable down to even 1/60th, allowing you to shoot in lower light situations with ease. From an exposure perspective, this more than makes up for the difference in aperture between the 80 and 90.

And while the macro focusing distance isn't necessarily vital for photographers, it does allow you to get more creative at photographing your subjects details: cupids bow, iris, and more.

(Note: the hero image in this post was borrowed from mirrorlessons.com – go check out their site!)

 

Digital strategist, writer, and image maker based in Manhattan working with clients in the tech and entertainment industry.