Do any of you guys remember the phil.askey site before it became DPreview.com? And when Ken Rockwell actually wrote good informative reviews, going quite a bit into the nuances of operation? Sure Ken Rockwell was 100% Team Nikon back then, but that's what made him great. He offered a reference point where people could understand where he was coming from, even if you used Canon. Between those two sites, readers could get a pretty good picture of camera gear. Askey's site would do all the pixel peeping work. Ken could just call it as it is. Sadly those days are over. They are still good resources, but they have lost a bit of what made them special. Ken reviews everything and anything that comes out as soon as possible, sort of rapidly going through the same old motions. DPreview is mechanical and soulless. Things are made even worse because every single YouTube review of camera gear sounds like an extended informercial advertisement. Basically camera gear reviews in 2022 are like HF and ASR for audio. This is why I'm going to take a stab at it. I've always wanted a big wide aperture portrait lens. A few years back, I got to try out the Fuji XF56 f1.2 (full frame 85mm equivalent), but really wasn't happy enough to buy it. Well, I was happy with it's size, but it never got the background right - the bokeh was unimpressive. The XF56 wide open is f1.2, the depth-of-field is really more like that of an f1.8 or f2.0 lens because of the APS-C size sensor. But maybe it wasn't necessarily the bokeh. I rarely shoot totally wide open with super fast lenses (will say a bit more about this later). The XF56 just looked too perfect. Too sharp. The photos I took with it looked too antiseptic for what is supposed to be a portrait lens. (I blame the high capabilities of today's digital and the Internet's tendency to go "NWAVGUY/ASR/DXO" for this trend toward moar sharper, moar details, moar megapixels.) What I wanted was the Fuji APS-C equivalent of the Canon 85mm f1.2 for full frame. This Canon ain't exactly the sharpest lens in the world. Many have criticized it for this, but the photos that it takes are stunningly beautiful. These kinds of lenses are supposed to evoke emotion. I guess pick your poison: 8K Gonzo Porn or Bob Guccione / Penthouse. You are so full of shit! You are just a weekend photo hack! You don't know what you are talking about! Could be. But why then did Fuji later release the XF56 f1.2 APD (built-in apodization filter). And then the XF50 f1? I opted out of the APD after looking at the photos online. I didn't think there was a big enough difference from the regular XF56. I also got scared off from the APD lens because the filter turns off one of two modes of autofocus on the Fuji cameras. It's not like Fuji cameras can afford to lose any more capability with their autofocus, which still seems to be five years behind Sony and Canon. Finally, the APD lens also cuts down on the light. The APD just didn't seem right, considering that the price shot up to $1500, the same as the XF50mm f1. The 50mm APS-C comes out to 75mm FF equivalent. I actually prefer this to 85mm - a little less telephoto giving me more breathing room. The XF50mm f1 is actually interesting. It's not as sharp as most other lenses wide open. Most definitely not sharp, even if we compare it to even the typical F2.8 to f4-5.6 zoom lens. (This is a testament to the sharpness of today's lenses). However, we are comparing f1 to f2.8! The XF50mm f1 isn't something we can shoot wide open and get sharp photos. We have to work at it. We can forget about sharp photos or even in-focus photos if either the subject or photographer are even moving slightly. Let's get to autofocus first. I picked up a used X-T3 body for cheap. The X-T4 offered in-body stabilization which I really don't care about because I prefer to use faster lenses at sufficient shutter speeds rather than slow lenses at 1/10 sec shutter with stabilization. LOL. The X-T3 is also a smaller body where I can fit in my 18mm semi-pancake lens for a somewhat smaller package. The X-T4 isn't that much larger, but millimeters count. Trust me. It's also my understanding that the X-T3 autofocus is performance the same as the X-T4 autofocus after the firmware upgrade. I'd say that with most lenses, the X-T3 autofocus is about on par with the Sony A6400, a camera that came out four years ago. I know, it's kind of pathetic. Yeah, at least it the autofocus doesn't suck balls. The problem I'm running into is that the XF50 f1 is this huge ass lens that needs a lot of turns on the focus ring to get to where it needs to go. Focus speed with the X-T3 seems long and arduous. Coupled with wide aperture (super shallow depth-of-field) and coarse focus points (instead of Sony and Canons one-billion focus points), it's tough to nail focus in many situations. It's not the end of the world, but one needs to know the camera and know the lens, to "work it", to get the desired results. Think of it like The Mandalorian trying to wield the Darksaber. OK, it's not that bad, oh but maybe it is. It's not automagic. I'm not convinced this would be a good wedding lens yet, at least if you shot documentary style, because of these issues. For manual focus people, the focus ring is not mechanically coupled. It's a fly-by-wire system so that there's lag when we turn the focus ring (I can see @rhythmdevils shaking his head in amusement). Man, I miss the days where mid-end camera bodies like the Nikon F100 had these strong motors that could just grind the fuck outta the lenses and nail that focus. One of the lenses I loved with the Nikon was this 80-200mm f2.8 that depended upon the motor of the body. It was a bit cheaper, but with an F100, no problem with AF speed. (Thanks to Ken Rockwell for the recommendation and saving me some bucks). While we are talking about fly-by-wire, the same holds true for the aperture ring. It would normally be fine if the aperture ring had stronger detents, but it's loose. Almost every time I handle the camera with this lens on, I accidently move the aperture ring, stopping down a few notches. (I still use the aperture ring with Fujis). It's just a big honkin' lens and how the hand must support the lens from underneath, where the fingers end up, that causes these accidental ring slip issues. With respect to handling, it's all sorts of fucked up. It's an acceptable compromise if I am going to bitch that the Canon EOS Rs are too bulky. Maybe the X-T4 with its more pronounced grip on the body would do better. I doubt it. The lens and body doesn't feel and balanced like a big Canon body with the 85mm f1.2. On the other hand, the XF50 f1 is still lighter than the Canon lens by 150grams, which is not insignificant. It's more comfortable holding modern assault rifles fully loaded (which are up to 7-8 lbs). Modern tools of death are surprisingly ergonomic. Go figure heh. The lens take a 77mm filter instead of something like a 62mm. The good thing is that I have 77mm filters around that I used with my old telephotos. Before I forget, the minimum focusing distance is 27-28". This has caused a few issues with not being able to obtain focus when trying to get close up, say to the cats. Given all these issues, why would I even consider this lens? Well, it's the magical creamy creme bokeh. One or two photos just don't do it justice. I think one really needs to handle this camera, look at what's out there, take the shot, and be amazed. f1.3. 1/2200 sec. ISO160. I intended to take the above shot a f1.0, but accidently moved the aperture ring to f1.3 (again, handling issues). We can see the shallow depth of field since only one eye the the bridge of the nose is in good focus. Also note how the photo isn't tack sharp. I like the fact that it's not super sharp. In fact, photos taken at f2.0 still aren't sharp. It's at around f3.0 where things get sharp. Here's another one that really shows us the downsides of always shooting wide open at f1. I think it's important that camera gear reviewers post their fuck-ups so that people understand better the limitations. But they never seem to. I got one eye in focus when I wanted both. Maybe if I selected the focus point on the bridge of the nose I would have gotten the results that I wanted. Note only ISO1600 and 1/75 shutter, This taken at night with limited indoor light. This is what fast lenses get us. This is how good today's sensors are. High-speed black and white ISO1600 from the early 90s would look grainy as heck. F1.0 1/75 sec. ISO1600 This is a total fuck up. The focus point on was the cat's eye but actual focus fell to the neck. I blame the lens and Fuji's AF for this. I don't know why the camera system just screwed this one up. I did everything right. I'd say that maybe 33% of shots ended up like this. The X-T3 and XF50mm f1 would just go total fail. Note that these screw ups only seem to happen with the XF50 f1, and not any of my other lenses. This one below came out OK. There's actually a lot of shit behind the cat on the floor. Soldering iron, xover parts, etc. Bless my wife and how she puts up with me. There's also the window. Bokeh to the rescue! Magical bokeh. f1.0 1/75 ISO800 The next post will demonstrate the true super power of the XF50mm f1. Hold on a bit.