The New Fuji 90mm f 2 – A Hands On Review

8 years, 6 months ago 14


Well, it’s finally a reality!  The lens that many Fuji X Shooters wanted all along.  A fast long portrait lens!  It is that for sure, but it is so, so much more.


First the Physical Attributes:


It’s approximately 4.5 inches long, excluding the hood.

It takes 62mm filters  (this is important – more on that later!).

It has the heft of a slightly heavier 56mm f 1.2.

It’s supplied with a metal bayonet hood like the 60mm Macro.

F stop range is f 2 to f 16.

Minimum focus distance is less than 4 feet (more on that later)

The focus ring is exceptionally smooth and firm.

The aperture ring has good solid 1/3 stops detests like the 50-140.

It balances well with the X-T1 with or without the battery holder.

It is one of the most solid feeling Fuji lenses yet!!!



So why am I so “personally” excited about this lens.  Don’t get me wrong,  I love all my Fuji lenses, and I have almost all they have released, and each has it’s on special charms and abilities.  This 90mm is the equivalent focal length of a 135mm lens and has a narrower angle of view than the 56mm and this gives it two advantages as a portrait lens; less background coverage and more working distance.  Not all subjects are comfortable with  you shooting from 4.5 feet away, but around 7 feet up can open their comfort space.


In the illustration below you can clearly see the visual difference in the portraits of Col Harlan Sanders bust (hey I don’t have any 22 year old super models in Corbin!! Dang you Damien Lovegrove!)  See the difference in the face shape and background coverage as focal length and working distance changes.




If you photograph head and shoulder portraits, I think you can see why a longer fast telephoto has a special place in studio photographers bag!  The 56mm does not need to have any fear, it still is the answer for some situations, but the 90mm will become my new “go to” people lens!  But, I don’t do much portraiture, of course you only need to look as far as my subject matter, a mass of brass!  No, I do nature, outdoor, travel and Americana work and for Americana this lens is one sweet tool.  It is perfectly sharp corner to corner at all f stops, but where it is truly spectacular is when you shoot tight at f 2 and throw everything but a small plane of focus into a dramatic blur….. ah, Bokeh heaven!


This image shot in an antique shop of the letter strikers on an old typewriter show just how effective it can be!






One of the things I love the most about this lens is the wonderful smooth gradation of tones.  This image of some gears on and old steam engine locomotive in Townsend,Tennessee shows that beautiful smooth tone to tone reproduction.



Now for me the big question for all lenses is how close can I get, and can it serve as a close-up lens if I need it to be?  The test below will answer that question.  Below is a small Route 66 license plate I picked up on my trip with a penny taped to it for size perspective, the first shot shows that the area shown is 5 inches across.




Okay, so this shot above is the closest you can shoot without any supplemental help.  Below is how close you an get with the addition of the Fuji MCEX 11mm auto extension tube.




So let take it a step further and try the Fuji MCEX 11mm & 16mm auto extension tubes together. By-the-way if you happen to have any 62mm diopters like Nikons 5T and 6T, they work fantastic with them too!!!!





So yes Virginia, This lens does allow you to get in very close and fill the frame with tiny subjects.  Here are few images I shot a local junk/antique shop!  * These little antique store assignments are killing me, I bought the Rock n’ Roll Diner clock and the Big Boy!






So let’s sum it up, the new 90mm f 2 lens is a beautiful example of the lens maker’s art, as has been the case recently, each new lens from Fuji surpasses the last and that is no small accomplishment, the 16-55, the 50-140, the 16, and now the 90 are all superior lenses that have a real place in any shooter’s bag!


*NOTE:  The lens I have been shooting for the last two weeks is a very late prototype, but very nearly a production lens.  Trust me if the production model is any better, I’ll be shocked, this lens is clearly, ready for prime time!



One last item to talk about!  I also got the chance in Phoenix to shoot with the New Fuji X-T10 – also announced today!


This will be a great entry point for people wanting to join the  X System family.  The price is right and it is a very capable little brother to the X-T1, about 25% smaller which is also cool.  The images will be identical as it uses the same sensor as the X-T1. The build quality is the same solid metal kind of body we have come to expect.  Though the viewfinder is smaller than the X-T1 it is very bright and very clear and shows 100% of the image . One neat note, the shutter release is again threaded for a manual release, or soft shutter release button, sweet!  The controls are simplified but all the most important stuff is there!  Oh yes, and the pop up flash is completely hidden in the pentaprism, and it’s autofocus system really kicks it!  It will be a great travel camera!


The XC kit lens is very solid and better than the typical kit lens on less expensive  cameras, I’d still spring of the marvelous 18-55 f 2.8-f 4, but you should not have any fear about the XC lens quality.




Well, hope this info helps as you consider your next additions to your Fuji system!




the pilgrim


About Harland Sanders:      When I was a newspaper photographer in the early 1970’s I went to a picnic for charity and sat down at a picnic table to eat my picnic dinner.  An older gentleman came over wearing as grey sport coat. blue shirt and tie and asked if he could sit with me, I was alone and said “sure, I’m all by my myself,”  I looked at this distinguished gentleman with a white goatee sat down.  I looked at him and said. “I know you form somewhere but I just don’t know where we’ve met?”  He said “You’ve probably seen  me around.”  I said “I’m sorry I just don’t know where we have met, but I’m sure I know you.”  At that he smiled, leaned in and said well son, I don’t always where that white suit!”  It was Col. Harland Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame.  His original restaurant is in Corbin where I live.  Col Sanders would have been around 83 or 84 at the time.  I was embarrassed, but he was a really nice man, and we had a great little talk!



P.S. the Nikon HN-23 lens hood is a perfect fit if you want a screw in hood to turn your polarizer,  Below is the alternate hood from Amazon.


14 Responses

  1. Neil says:

    Fun review! I wish I did more portraits to justify the 90. I know any lens can be used for most subjects but this one does seem destined for portraits most of the time. Not sure it would displace my 55-200 yet.

    • admin says:

      No. I agree, the 55-200 or 50-140 are more versatile. The 90mm f 2 is clearly a specialized lens for specialized uses, but as such, is one sweet alternative.

      • Steinar Knai says:

        The 90 will replace both of them anytime you need the 3 stops more light gathering that it has compared to the zooms, although stabilization will compensate for that a little bit.

  2. Jim Erickson says:

    Figured you were probably testing the 90mm 2.0 Looks great. If you get a chance I’d love to see a comparison shot of the 90 at 2.0 and the 50-140 at 2.8 Love the Sanders bust and seeing the difference in the width of the face in the images. Best example I’ve seen how different focal length effects the proportions of a face. How much faster is the focus with the XT-10 especially with lowlight and or moving objects? Looking forward to firmware update 4.0 next month. Thanks again.
    Jim Erickson

    • the pilgrim says:

      I would say the 90 and 50-140 @ 90 are almost equal, the 50-140 is exceedingly sharp! The advantage with the 90 is the extra f stop of speed. They seem to focus very fast, I think the 90 may be tad faster, but I did not make measurements, just an impression.

      The X-T10 will be faster, but when the Firmware 4.0 is downloaded i think the X-T1, will be the equal of it.

  3. Russ Hawker says:

    Nice review Bill, really enjoyed the read. And also the snippet about the X-T10, which i’ve pre-ordered.
    Just wondering how the 90 will compare to my old Pentax-M 100 2.8 that i use with the X-E1 via adapter?
    Also just want to say i very much enjoyed your videos on KelbyOne. Especially the Olympic Park.

    • Bill Fortney says:

      Thanks Russ, I appreciate the kind words, I love Olympic and I’m excited about the Fuji X Workshop with Jack Graham next May!!! I know that Pentax 100mm is an excellent lens!

  4. Met him as a kid. Guy I knew developed some restaurants. Interesting guy.

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  6. Eric Hilton says:

    Bill, thanks for the 90mm lens review. It helps me decide on what I think is going to be the best portrait lens from Fuji.
    I started using the Fuji X system about a year ago, to replace my Nikon system for fine art work.
    Being a former Leica 35mm user, I found the Fuji X-Pro 1 to be the closest thing (and extremely sharp lenses) to using my Leica M-6.
    I have three Fuji lenses, 10-24 , 18-135, and their very sharp Kit lens, 18-55 which came with my X-E2. The 10-24 is my main lens, but want a long fast lens for portraits. I considered the 56mm, but feel it is too short. I used to use my Nikon, 85, 100 macro and 80-200 f-2.8, for portraits, but feel the 90 f-2 is going to be the sweet spot for portrait work outdoors.
    Now, I am also waiting to see what Fuji is going to replace the X-1 Pro with. I hope it has a tilting LCD screen, as i shoot from very low angles.

  7. Joe Pelzel says:

    90mm “Rattle” ??? … Bill as usual, you have been my “go to” source of all things Fuji. I just received my 90mm today and appears to be working the way it should, but one quick question ..

    When I “shake” my lens it appears that internally there is some movement and it “rattles” around internally. Does your copy ( or those of your followers ) do that as well ? Nows the time to return it if that is not the norm ..

    Thanks again for all your guidance, your ebooks have been worth their weight in gold
    Best Regards

  8. Marc De Mey says:

    Thanks for your review. I have an XT1 with 18-135mm lens and am tempted to get myself an early X-mas present with this 90mm lens. The current lens lets me down in low light, singling out subject from the background is not straight forward (zoom range means different shutter times and maximum aperture changes too). I think the 90mm will work fine taking pictures at a distance from i.e. my grand children and at jazz concerts I attend. For daily use the 18-135 is great, but on my photo walks I rather zoom more with my feet than carrying the heavy (both in price and weight) but magnificent 50-140. It looks like I’m gonna break my promise to stick to one lens. In my analogue era I had Canon A1 + 3 lenses (24-35mmL, 50mmL, 70-210mm) so the 90mm will make me a moderate reoffender 😉