Portraits with the Fujinon XF56mm 1.2 R

by Luther Photographer May. 26, 2019 155 views

In my last post, I described how I changed systems from Canon to Fuji. Being a portrait photographer, I considered the XF 56mm 1.2 to be the crucial tool that should enable me to create portraits as I did within the Canon system, in which the EF 85mm 1.8 was my strongest weapon.

Lisa in Hannover Tiergarten in March 2019

Lisa in Hannover Tiergarten in March 2019

After the Fuji system in general proved to be the right choice for me, I bought this most desired lens and arranged three portrait shootings in, by my standards, very quick succession.
The first was with Lisa, a half-Brazilian engineering economics student from Hannover, with whom I went to the Tiergarten, a park east of the city centre which was set up for deer hunt for past kings and is still home to many animals.

I like how the colours match in this shot.

I like how the colours match in this shot.

As this article is about the XF56mm 1.2, I will only post pictures from the shootings taken with this lens, even though I also took great pictures with the XF35mm 1.4. However, the majority of the best pictures were taken with the longer lens, which is no surprise for two reasons: 1. for outdoor portraits, a 56mm focal length is much more useable and 2. you always use a brand new lens more frequently.

With the background far away, you can stop down and still have it quite strongly blurred. So you are in control of the amount of structure/blur of the background.

With the background far away, you can stop down and still have it quite strongly blurred. So you are in control of the amount of structure/blur of the background.

For my second shooting, I met with law student Elena on the grounds that hosted the EXPO 2000, located next to Hannover fairgrounds.

Similar colours as those in the shot of Lisa in front of the logs.

Similar colours as those in the shot of Lisa in front of the logs.

Within a very short range, we found many interesting spots to shoot at. This is one of the few advantages of the abandoned and economically rather dead EXPO grounds.

This is a good example for the way the XF 56mm 1.2 renders oof areas both in the fore- and background.

This is a good example for the way the XF 56mm 1.2 renders oof areas both in the fore- and background.

The XF56mm 1.2 proved to be a fantastic portrait lens. It is very sharp even wide open (and thanks to the AF of the X-T1 nails focus literally every time) and produces outstanding background blur.
The next picture was taken next to the former German pavillion. You can recognize it by the windows tilted inwards, in the background on the right.

The lens handles backlit situations very well.

The lens handles backlit situations very well.

The third shooting was with Sheila, who also has Brazilian roots. The location was Hannover Stadtpark. My directive that time was to place Sheila in the shadow before a background of sunlit plants. We were lucky to have a lot of sunshine on a rather cold day. Sheila did not mind, which enabled me to take the following pictures in which her outfits were definitely too cold for the weather.

Very creamy background blur in the grove.

Very creamy background blur in the grove.

The lens is perfect for outdoor use as it is long enough to (strongly) blur and compress the background. On the other hand, you are still not too far away from the model, which makes conversation easy.

Backlit hair and leaves make for a very nice portrait shot.

Backlit hair and leaves make for a very nice portrait shot.

I think I have now found the ideal portrait lens which completes my camera kit for the time being. The XF 35mm 1.4 is a good compliment to it as I use it for shots wider than headshots indoors and to incorporate more background outdoors. To get even more background in the shot, the XF 18mm 2.0 is also useable for portraits as long as you do not get too close to the model and not place her at the edge of the frame.

The goose bumps on Sheila's arm reveal that this shot was not taken on a warm day. I softened them with the new structure slider in Lightroom.

The goose bumps on Sheila's arm reveal that this shot was not taken on a warm day. I softened them with the new structure slider in Lightroom.

In the Canon system, I used the EF 35mm 1.4 L a lot for portraits. Consequently, I should go for the XF 23mm 1.4 next, which is said to be an excellent lens. However, I currently use either the XF 35mm 1.4 or the XF 18mm 2.0 for all the shots I used to do with the EF 35mm 1.4 L and do not really miss anything . I rather had no real use for a 50mm lens for portraits with Canon because I did everything either with the 35mm or the 85mm.

Again, the XF 56mm 1.2 produces beautiful oof areas.

Again, the XF 56mm 1.2 produces beautiful oof areas.

With Fuji, things have changed because the XF 35mm 1.4 is so good that, should I buy the XF 23mm 1.4, I do not want either of these lenses become rather unused.
Moreover, the X-T1 (without the vertical grip), the XF 18mm 2.0 and the XF 35mm 1.4 are all I need for travel and general purpose. As opposed to my times with Canon, I now only need one camera and three lenses to cover all my needs.

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