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Murray Foote

Quick review of 80mm f2.8 macro

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Of course we all know that specific cameras and lenses are far from the most important things in photography but I just got a new lens and here are some images I used it in creating. I expect it will replace my 55-200mm on my next trip.


Sharpness in this lens is adequate. In other words, it may well be the sharpest Fuji lens, as other reviews suggest and may make some other lenses seem inadequate in comparison. Mind you, if all you want to do is to post images online, it’s questionable whether you’ll see the benefits in your posted images because even a 4K monitor is only equivalent to the resolution of a 6MP sensor.


It’s a genuine 1:1 macro lens that also works well as a general lens. Autofocus works well from macro to infinity and not all macro lenses have good autofocus for macro. I had great difficulty getting focus on the petals of a white rose in low light but that’s more a product of Fuji’s contrast based autofocus than the lens.


Using it with the 1.4x teleconverter is excellent. Hardly any additional weight and quite viable wide open. No doubt better if you stop the lens down a stop or two but no need to avoid wide open.


Vignetting? Meh. Several reviews have suggested a problem with vignetting. I find it to be minimal and in any case easily correctible. (Out of focus image of clouds included).


Bokeh seems fine from my point of view.  I didn't do any artificial; testing, though.


Image stabilisation works very well. Fuji claim 5 stops and while I have not systematically tested this, the shot of Ashoka (the red Burmese cat) is at 1/15 sec.


No good for portraits because it’s too sharp? Several reviewers have suggested that but I don’t agree though I have little interest in portraits unless in the context of live music or street photography (ie unposed, not street portraits). The 90mm is no doubt more of a portrait lens but sharpness is not a problem. It is very easy in the current version of Lightroom to roughly paint the face with the Adjustment Brush, then select skin tones with the new colour range and blur accordingly.


I also have a Sigma 180mm f2.8 macro. On the Nikon D3s, that is twice the weight of the Fuji X-T2 + 80mm f2.8 macro + 1.4x TC. That is an advantage for travelling, but ironically because the Fuji is much lighter, it is much more difficult to hand hold steadily for macro focusing.


Focus stacking works well provided you use a tripod. There are three possible methods here. (1) You can use the autofocus to select different points of focus. (2) You can use the focus scale in manual focus to set different points of focus. (3) You can use focus peaking in manual to select different points of focus. I don’t recommend (1) because you are likely to miss a focus point but (2) and (3) work fine. I have included examples using both focus methods (2) and (3).


The main disadvantage for me is that hand-held focus bracketing is not possible. With the Nikon and the Sigma I could turn the focusing ring from out of focus at the back to out of focus at the front for quick focus bracketing on the fly. Usually I used a monopod but sometimes I actually hand-held. This is not possible with the Fuji alternative. This is a problem with the X-T2 rather than the lens, probably correctable in firmware.


Attached images:


(1)  Lichen on tree.  1/125 sec, f5.6, 200ISO, plus 1.4x TC.  Handheld.  Cropped in from the sides.


(2)  White rose. 1/160, f14, 250ISO, plus 1.4x TC.  Handheld.  Uncropped.  The spider in the corner is sharp.


(3)  Ashoka (red Burmese) at point blank range and 1/15 sec, f2.8, 800ISO.  Handheld.


(4)  Small cactus.  Focus stacked.





Edited by Murray Foote

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I've now taken the plunge and bought this lens. I've only had it one day, and have taken only around 250 shots - all outdoors and handheld. Like Woodlander, I had been worried about the weight, as my main use for this lens will be field macro. However I'm finding that the weight is fine: the lens is very well-balanced and in practice it feels very much like the 90mm (and is rather better-balanced than, for example, the 16-55mm f2.8 zoom). I'm using it mainly on my XT2 with metal hand grip (Meike brand), but it also feels good on the XPro2, with or without grip. So far, absolutely no complaints. The OIS works well, but one important thing for intending purchasers to remember is that at distances approaching 1:1 macro, depth of field is extremely shallow, even on f11. So when hand-holding at these distances, moving the camera even a few millimetres forwards or backwards after focusing (very easily done!) will be enough to shift the plane of focus and blur the image, even with the OIS working perfectly. In other words, even the excellent 5-stop OIS on this lens will not *alone* guarantee sharp images handheld. (This of course applies to any true macro lens.) At longer distances, of course, it works like a normal mid-telephoto lens. Fast focus, very sharp - and I have no problem with the bokeh, which is generally very smooth. Anyhow, I hope these few preliminary comments help anyone else who's wondering about this lens. My dilemma now is whether to sell or keep my much-loved 90mm!

Edited by dfaye

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Hi Murray, thank you for your review. Could you please let me know what difference the teleconverters make in regards to macro work? Do they increase the magnification ratio the same as extension tubes? If so, could you say roughly how much? Or is it that they give greater working distance while retaining 1:1? Thanks for your time.

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@Khechog: both, actually.
In detail: While extension tubes simply do what they are named after (give more extension) and enable you to get closer to your subject, they won't let you focus to infinity anymore. Unlike extension tubes, teleconverters retain infinity focus by the optical elements they contain. So by combining a lens with a teleconverter, in total you get a lens with a longer focal length (times 1.4 or times 2.0, depending on the teleconverter), one or two stops less light (the physical aperture inside the lens does not change, of course, but since you have a longer focal length and the aperture value is calculated by 'focal length divided by physical aperture', it's one or two stops below the original lens' maximum aperture), but the same close focus distance. This means you get a higher magnification with the teleconverter (approximately 1.4:1 or 2:1 with the XF80), OR you can go to 1:1 with more working distance. I think that the increase in working distance at 1:1 magnification might even be more than the increase in focal length, since the focal length of the XF80 does decrease while focusing close (and you don't have to focus the lens that close with TC).
@TomNeva: Yes. You can try both, but in my experience, Fujinon XF lenses do better with OIS off when fixed (on a tripod / stand / mount).

Edited by quincy

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