While I could not make it to Photokina this year, I was still able to have a quick look at the XF lenses already on the Fuji roadmap, as the company also started to put them on display on their exhibition showroom in Tokyo Midtown at the same time as the German photoshow started.
The next lens that will be released by Fuji is the XF 50-140mm f2.8 R LM OIS WR. This lens should start shipping in Japan on the 30th of November (according to Amazon Japan), so we are getting pretty close to the launch and it is therefore already possible to try a close-to-final prototype. It is not allowed to save the images to an SD card though. At close to 1kg (995g for the purists), it is the heaviest of the XF lenses, and mounted on a X-T1 it makes the camera look tiny. Just like with any other 70-200mm (equivalent) f2.8 lens, you grab the barrel of the lens with your left hand to support the total weigh and that way you can find the right balance for the combo (I did not try, but obviously i would not recommend anyone to handhold the camera with both hands and let the mount support the weigh of the lens – once again, this is standard, not a Fuji specificity).
I will review the image quality when i can play with a production version and transfer the files to my computer. For the moment I can only say that the images and bokeh area looked pleasing on the screen on the back of the camera. Auto-focusing using the center point was quick and accurate, which will enable Fuji to draw some advantageous charts on their marketing brochures. However, get out of the 9 focus points with phase detection, and you get a slower and more hesitating, just like with the other XF lenses. Hopefully the next X-camera will boast an expanded coverage of phase detection pixels… As far as manual focus is concern, in the short period of time with the lens it felt to me as if the focus ring was to far on the lens, compared to where you would put your left hand on the lens to get the best balance. However, in this position, you have access to the aperture ring with your thumb without having to do extend your fingers an unnatural way, which is more important for me as most of the time I would be using the auto-focus anyway.
The other lenses on the Fuji roadmap are also on display on the showroom. However, because their release date is still far away and the design is not 100% finalized they are for “eyes only” (some of them like the “super tele-photo zoom” are likely mockups anyway), but at least it gives a good idea of the relative sizes to expect. You can see below the XF 16mm f1.4 R, the XF 90mm f2 R and the “super tele-photo zoom”, and behind them in the back the XF 16-55mm f2.8 R WR zoom. As revealed by the roadmap released on the 24th of July, the latter lens is not stabilized. When i asked a Fuji representative why that was the case, he replied to me it was to preserve the image quality. I thought i misunderstood what he said since I am (very) far from fluent in Japanese, but i have now seen people getting the exact same answer to this question at Photokina, so indeed it was a compromise they had to make to balance image quality, price, size, weight, etc… As long as the lens is not officially announced, there is still a slight chance that it might change, but since this 16-55mm will be launched very early in 2015 i believe that the probability that they add image stabilization to this lens is very low. At which point i hope they would not release another version of the lens with stabilization a couple months later (unless they say it before anyone can buy the standard version) like they did when they release the unexpected APD version of the 56mm f1.2 prime… To be frank, I am not sure I will let myself be tempted by the 16-55mm without OIS, and I might prefer sticking to the 18-55mm f2.8-4 kit lens because of all those times when I will tell myself “what if I shoot some videos, I will need the OIS”. Although it is a kit lens it is quite a good performer and I find myself using it more often than not. Well, we’ll see the final version (and more importantly the price) of the 16-55mm f2.8 in due course.
Another interesting thing from these mock-ups is that we got more information about the lens that Fuji has only been calling the “super tele-photo zoom” on its roadmap. According to the model that was exposed, the lens will in fact be called the XF 140-400mm f4-5.6 R LM OIS WR. The length of this lens actually looks pretty close to the one of the 50-140mm (however, note that the zoom does not look internal on the “super tele-photo zoom” while it is totally internal on the 50-140mm), but on the other hand it is much fatter, with a filter thread shown as 86mm (but my guess is that there will be a hole for drop-in filters). Anyway, keep in mind that the “super tele-photo zoom” is still very far away on the roadmap (not to mention that the release of several lenses was postponed compared to the first roadmaps), which means that all those specs are subject to change (as we’ve seen when the OIS was dropped from the 16-55mm).
Personally, I am looking forward to the 50-140mm f2.8 and potentially the 90mm f2 (in APD version?). And you, what lens are you most waiting for?