Shooting Sports with the Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR - Lens Review
A capable Fuji Zoom Lens
Thanks to Leo’s Camera Supply in Vancouver for making the Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR available to me for my lens reviews. I was able to try it out for a soccer game and outdoor symphony concert event in Vancouver.
Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Lens Specs
With such a long lens name, let’s go over some of the specs. R = Aperture ring, LM = Linear motor, OIS = Optical image stabilizer, WR = Weather resistant.
Fujifilm X-Mount Lens/APS-C Format
76-213mm (35mm Equivalent)
Aperture Range: f/2.8 to f/22
Five ED Elements & One Super ED Element
Nano-GI and HT-EBC Lens Coatings
Triple Linear Autofocus Motor
Optical Image Stabilization
Rounded 7-Blade Diaphragm
Removable Rotating Tripod Collar
First impressions of the Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR
The Fujifilm Fujinon XF 50-140mm instills confidence from the moment you pick it up. The first thing I noticed was the buttery smooth zoom ring and build quality. It has just the right amount resistance and it’s consistent throughout the zoom range. The removable tripod collar is of equal standard and is very well made. No jerky movements. The petal shaped hood attaches easily and without any wobble. The lens hood has a handy door to access filters on the lens. I am a former Canon shooter so let’s compare. The lens weighs in at 1093g, which places it almost squarely in the middle of two equivalent Canon 70-200 zooms. These lenses have perfect focal lengths for shooting sports.
XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR, 1093g, CAD $2049.00
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III, 1480g, CAD $2799.00
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II, 780g, CAD $1699.00
Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 for Soccer
For more than a decade I spent countless hours along the sidelines at our kids’ soccer games and tournaments. My staple lenses over the years were the Canon EF 70-200 4L and then later the Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L non-IS. Last but least the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS and 1.4x teleconverter. I used the Canon EOS 5D, 5D Mark II, 5D Mark III cameras and for a period I also had a 1D Mark III. Soccer fans are welcome to head over to my Smugmug site for thousands of photos with EXIF info.
Okanagan FC vs. Tigers Vancouver
A life long friend, Fabrice Fanfani, plays on the Okanagan FC men's team in the Pacific Coast Soccer League. Okanagan FC played in Vancouver this weekend and it was the trigger for this lens review. I was excited to shoot soccer again.
I used my Fujifilm X-H1 mirrorless camera for the soccer game. It was a cloudy/light rainy day in Vancouver so it was nice to know the lens is weather sealed. Perhaps not ideal conditions for a test. On the other hand, it is good to see what gear can do in less than ideal conditions. I dialed in a manual exposure, ISO 1000, shutter speed 1/1600 @ f/2.8. I decided to mainly shoot the lens wide open. ISO was changed as the light changed.
Compared to my former f/2.8 Canon zoom lenses, I would not be able to get the same degree of separation from my topic as f/2.8 on the APS-C sensor equals about f/4 on a full frame camera. Hence; let’s open this thing up and see what happens. I started out without the VPB-XH1 grip but quickly mounted it to the camera as it improves the handling with a lens this size.
AF performance Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR
I used the multi-purpose setting for autofocus and had expected slightly better AF performance on the X-H1. I did not experiment with other AF settings but in hindsight, increasing speed tracking sensitivity may have helped to gain the initial target faster. Once locked on to a player tracking seemed fine. I primarily used wide tracking. I also turned off the image stabilization, which I felt was slowing things down. I used to do the same on my Canon EF 300mm f/2.8.
Muscle memory and using a zoom
Although I hadn’t used a Canon zoom in years I was turning the Fujifilm zoom ring the wrong way to either zoom in or out. Canon EF and Fuji XF lenses do things differently but already halfway through the game, I was getting the hang it. I have been shooting all primes lately, so it was nice to have a zoom to get a better variety of shots. Ideally, you would cover a soccer game with two cameras. One camera with a with a full frame 300mm or 400mm equivalent prime and the other camera with a 70-200mm zoom. If you have plenty of cash laying around the 200-400mm f/4 zooms would also do the job. At times I wished the XF 50-140mm had a bit more reach but it doesn’t mean you won’t come away with keepers after a game. The Canon, Nikon, Sony primes and Fuji’s own XF 200mm f/2 R LM OIS WR would do a better job but cost several thousands more. I have covered games with just my XF 90mm f/2 R, and come away happy but you are of course limited by only having one focal length. I would not come away with the same variety of shots but it still works. I am happy with the results seen in the photos in this review. Image quality, colours, sharpness, and contrast are satisfactory. If I have one caveat, it would the fact that the bokeh looks somewhat busy especially when shooting players at a further distance.
Comparison to XF 90mm f/2 R LM WR
Diana would normally not shoot alongside me, but for a moment she picked up our X-Pro2 and started shooting the game. After a while she says; “This is fun” :) As it happened we ended up taking a shot of our friend Fabrice, at what appears to be the exact same time. This is not a scientific study but still interesting to see the slight differences. Both shots are at f/4. We are sitting about 10 meters apart. Diana, closer to the players shooting at 90mm, me at 140mm.
Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 at an outdoor Symphony
I would certainly put the XF 50-140mm f/2.8 in the category of an event lens. As much as I like shooting primes, having a zoom during almost any type of event can be a huge relief as you won’t find yourself changing lenses constantly. There was an outdoor symphony concert at Sunset Beach and I set out to get a few event photos for this review (see below) to illustrate some of the shots you may capture at an event. I made the XF 50-140mm setup more portable by mounting it on my X-Pro2 with an MHG-XPRO2 grip. I removed the hood also and it makes for a fairly compact combo. Having the grip does make a positive difference in how this combination handles.
Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Conclusion
It had been a while since I had used a zoom lens and the XF 50-140mm f/2.8 surprised me with the great build quality and handling. I cannot emphasize this enough. If a piece of camera gear doesn't feel right in your hand you are not likely to use it very often. I tried the lens a few years ago and I did not recall the lens to have such a smooth zoom operation. A real pleasure to work with. Image quality attained from the lens is as I expected. It is very good but the primes are a tad better at the cost of only giving you one focal length. You have to ask yourself if this slight edge in image quality isn't irrelevant. Most people will not be able to to see the difference and the added ability to zoom opens opportunity for images you otherwise would have missed. Since you are reading this review on a travel site, I ask the question. Would I bring this lens for travel? It certainly depends on what kind of travel. For a road trip where your gear is in the trunk or on the back seat of your car for easy access; yes this lens would fit the bill. For a backpacking trip where every bit of weight counts I'd pass on this lens. Personally, I am not in the market at the moment. For my next trip, I will be traveling lightweight. If I have an important event shoot I would surely consider this lens and renting it is always an option.
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