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Fujifilm XF 56mm F1.2 R WR vs. Sigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN lens


TumblingTiger

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Just to set the scene here, I'm an enthusiast photographer, mostly focused on candid street and event photography. In this review, I'm not going to be talking about vignetting, chromatic aberration, or technical specs. Instead, I'm going to share my impressions of someone who's a non-professional photographer who depends quite heavily on the AF performance to get great shots.

MY EQUIPMENT📷

I shoot with a Fujifilm X-T5 as my primary camera and a Fuji X-T30ii during travels. I love them both. I LOVE Fujifilm products. Their cameras and lenses have always been a pleasure to use. Solid build, aperture rings, and just wonderful to hold in the hands.

I own the following lenses:

  • XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR
  • XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR
  • Viltrox 27mm F1.2 Pro
  • Fujifilm XF 33mm f/1.4 R LM WR
  • Viltrox 75mm 1.2 Pro
  • Sigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN

I've also tested and used:

  • FujifilmXF 35mm F1.4 R
  • FujifilmXF 35mm F2 R WR
  • Fujifilm XF 50mm f/2 R WR
  • Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2 R
  • Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 DC DN
  • Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS
  • Tamron 17-70mm F/2.8 Di III-A VC RXD

I've owned Canon, Sony, and even an Olympus camera way back in the day. Fujifilm is hands down my favorite, and I'll probably always stick with Fujifilm as my go-to APS-C camera brand from here on out.

WHY I PURCHASED THE FUJIFILM XF 56MM F1.2 R WR LENS💰

I'd been looking for a solid 56 prime to add to my collection of Fuji lenses for quite some time, and I was basically down to the Fujifilm XF 56mm 1.2 R WR and the Sigma 56mm 1.4 DC DN, something I asked for other's opinions on in this earlier post .

After reading many reviews online, I decided to go with the Sigma 56mm 1.4 at first, mostly because it was less than half the price of the Fuji, and as a non-professional photographer, I couldn't quite justify spending nearly $1000 for a lens, although I wasn't against the idea either.

I was very pleased with the Sigma lens because the AF was fast, the IQ was amazing, and the lens itself was lightweight (which doesn't hurt). However, I didn't love the Sigma lens the same way I loved my Fuji 16-55 2.8 or 33 1.4 WR, mostly because it lacked an aperture ring. So after going to a Fujifilm course last weekend and trying out the more expensive Fuji 56mm f/1.2 WR, I decided that I just wanted to have the 56mm lens with an aperture ring. I also felt having the slightly larger maximum aperture wouldn't hurt, and I preferred the feel of the Fuji lens in my hands because the build quality feels so much more solid.

I'd seen many people online critiquing the fact the Fuji 56 1.2 WR doesn't have a linear motor. I figured that's not ideal, but honestly, in testing the lens at the Fujifilm House of Photography in London, I didn't notice a major speed issue when trying out the lens in-store. Although I'll admit, the lens didn't exactly blow me away either. When comparing it side by side with the older 56 1.4 R lens there, I didn't see a massive difference in image quality, something the Fujifilm rep confirmed was the impression of many customers.

Regardless, after leaving the store, I spotted a good deal online, so bought the Fuji 56 1.2 WR lens. I assumed I would enjoy it more than the Sigma 56, which I'd planned to just sell because I don't need two 56mm primes.

FUJI 56'S AF MOTOR WAS A HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT👎🏻

Boy, did the Fuji 56 1.2 WR let me down. To say the lens had a disappointing performance would be an understatement.

After using the Fuji 56 1.2 WR lens for only about 10 minutes, I found myself being very annoyed by the loud motor, which I hadn't picked up on in-store because I was in a noisier environment. The motor's nonstop jots and noisy revving distracted me from my actual photography.

The Fuji also had a very slow AF acquisition speed, especially compared to the Sigma 56 f/1.4, with both stationary and moving objects. It was like night and day. I found this poor performance very surprising because normally, I find Fuji lenses very precise and speedy, including the XF 33 1.4 (with the LM). I don't even mind the older 35mm 1.4, which has a noisy motor, but isn't slow per se. Perhaps because that lens is smaller, the older motor wasn't as bothersome.

I'm going to just come out and say the Fujifilm XF 56mm F1.2 R WR lens is one of the most disappointing lenses I've ever used, especially given the $1000+ retail price tag. The noisy, jittery, slow, and dated DC coreless autofocus motor offsets any of the benefits this camera otherwise offers with its new "optical formula" and AF motor compared to the older XF 56mm. Yes, the images can come out amazing, but the value for money just isn't there when other lenses like the Sigma 56 f/1.4 exist (more on this later).

The DC coreless AF motor on the Fuji just struggled and laboured. At times, it even felt slower than the 10-year-old Fuji 56 f/1.4 R lens, perhaps because there's a bit more glass to move. It felt like a tired lens, worn out over time, labouring to just grab simple focus spots. Rather than moving quickly and precisely, it moved in an uneven, jolty manner when acquiring focus to the point where I could feel my normally speedy X-T5 camera literally jerking in my hands.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS🤔

On a side note, the hood is clunky on this lens. It feels more plastic and less rigid than those on all my other Fujifilm XF lenses. Because the 56 1.2 lens is so tapered, the barrel-shaped lens doesn't sit very securely when stored due to the gap between the hood and narrower part of the lens. But this isn't a huge issue, and the hood fits just fine when in use.

Finally, on a positive note, when I did get a good shot, the image quality from this lens was really nice. However, nothing significantly different compared to the older Fuji 56 1.4 or the Sigma 56 1.4. I did a quick blind side-by-side test of images with a few non-photographers, and most couldn't tell the difference in the images. When I asked which image they thought came from the more expensive lens, they had no idea.

SIGMA'S 56MM 1.4 IS JUST BETTER VALUE FOR MONEY👍🏼

Despite the lack of aperture ring and more plastic feel, I can confidently say that I prefer the Sigma 56mm 1/4 due to its lighter weight, AF performance, and AF speed. In testing both, I expected it might be a tossup, but the Sigma was the clear winner, hands down.

The Sigma 56 1.4 feels like a modern, speedy lens that can keep up with anything. In contrast, the Fujifilm 56 1.2 WR feels like a tired lens struggling to just keep up. The motor performance just isn't there. It reminds me of my experiences using an older MacBook with those older Intel processors and loud cooling fans. Still great machines that certainly allow you to do your work, but nothing compared to the latest MacBooks with the Apple Silicon chips. The Fujifilm 56 1.2 WR feels like the former--a bit noisy, slow, and clunky. And the Sigma 56mm 1.4 the latter--quiet, quick, and sleek.

I wish this wasn't my verdict because I'd prefer to have a lens with an aperture ring, but honestly, after using the Fujifilm 56 1.2 WR for a few minutes, it became so clear to me that the Sigma lens was superior when it comes to AF focus and overall value for money.

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Don’t listen to this guy, he’s a Sigma sales rep ! 😁 Just kidding. Thanks for sharing, tt. The only non-Fuji lens I have are Samyang 12 and 8 mm. I have the 50 f2 (and the 90 f2 and others) and a 56 was not on my radar, but it is very interesting to read what you wrote. Thanks for your candid opinions. I don’t recall reading anything to that effect in any of the reviews of the Fuji 56 1.2 WR that I have read so far. I would like to buy an f1.4 lens, I haven’t decided on the focal length yet (18/23/33). I will probably go for the new Fuji lenses (these all have the LM) since I have the X-T5 but I have been tempted by the Sigma DC lenses, considering the price difference, esp. as I am just an amateur hobby photographer. 

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1 hour ago, George_P said:

Don’t listen to this guy, he’s a Sigma sales rep ! 😁 Just kidding. Thanks for sharing, tt. The only non-Fuji lens I have are Samyang 12 and 8 mm. I have the 50 f2 (and the 90 f2 and others) and a 56 was not on my radar, but it is very interesting to read what you wrote. Thanks for your candid opinions. I don’t recall reading anything to that effect in any of the reviews of the Fuji 56 1.2 WR that I have read so far. I would like to buy an f1.4 lens, I haven’t decided on the focal length yet (18/23/33). I will probably go for the new Fuji lenses (these all have the LM) since I have the X-T5 but I have been tempted by the Sigma DC lenses, considering the price difference, esp. as I am just an amateur hobby photographer. 

George, haha! I can assure you, I'm not a Sigma rep😆. I actually love most of my Fuji lenses, including my 16-55 2.8, 50-140 2.8, and the 33 f/1.4 WR. Regarding the 33, I can highly recommend that lens. Unlike the 56mm WR, I've been thrilled with the 33 WR lens. In fact, the 33mm may be my favorite because it's speedy, has an accurate, responsive AF, and just produces great images. This is actually why I hoped and expected the 56mm 1.2 WR to be similar quality, but they honestly feel like they're from two completely different tiers of lenses, mostly because the motor on the 56mm WR is so loud and slow. 

I'm also just an amateur/enthusiast photographer, and I just can't justify spending so much money on a 56mm WR if the AF is going to struggle so much. I have the Sigma 18-55mm 2.8 and the 56mm 1.4, and both have been stellar--somewhat surprisingly because they're so much less expensive. It's kind of hard to believe. My main beef with Sigmas is that they don't have an aperture ring, which is what I like about Fuji and Viltrox. 

I also spoke with that same Fujifilm rep who discussed the 56 WR with me in-store (which, to be fully transparent, he said was his favorite lens in the Fuji lens lineup), and he said he would only go for Fuji and Sigma, not Viltrox. He described Sigma as budget, solidly built, and good IQ, while the the Fuji is more expensive, much better built, and has amazing IQ, but the Viltrox in the middle with subpar AF performance. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
11 hours ago, BobJ said:

I used to own the older Fuji 56mm. It sounds like it has not improved. It didn't focus closely  enough for a tight head portrait either.

I've tried both the older Fujifilm 56mm and the newer 56mm WR. If the focus speed has improved, it's not a significant improvement. Putting aside any relative improvement, the AF performance is sluggish at best and horribly noisy. It almost sounds like a revving dentist's drill when changing focus. I was immensely disappointed. 

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18 hours ago, Coralspeare said:

Id it's okay, I wanted to ask... In terms of sharpness, auto focus, bokeh and colors, should I buy the old fuji 56 r or the sigma 56? I'm using fuji xt-20

Honestly, on the XT-20, I'd definitely go with the Sigma 56mm 1.4, which will be more than enough in terms of IQ not to mention offer a much speedier, more accurate AF performance hands down. It's not even close. Aside from being a Fujifilm loyalist or spotting something I can't seem to spot in the IQ of the Fujifilm 56mm WR, to me, going with the Sigma 56mm 1.4 is the clear choice unless you just can't live without an aperture ring. I'll take the speedierSigma without the aperture ring over the Fujifilm 56 WR or older 56 lens even though I prefer an aperture ring. 

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