Taming the shrew: Experiences Using The Fujinon XF60mm

The XF 60MM lens has a bad rap. Reviews around the web will tell you that its sharper than a scorned woman’s tongue, but slower to focus in low light than a politician is in making a decision. I have had the 60mm lens since it was released, but I have not used it that much as I tend to use the 35 and 18mm most of the time. I went to San Fran for christmas and it seemed like a good opportunity to get to know the lens better. I wanted to see if the lens deserved the rap and were there ways to overcome any short comings? So this is not a lens review, just some experiences in using the lens.

Nothing wrong with the colour rendition or sharpness of the XF 60mm

SOOC Jepg, Velvia

First let me say I cut my autofocus teeth on sport photography with a Nikon F5 and then the D2Hs, D3 etc. It was a bit of a learning curve at the start but now its second nature. My default approach is to use the AF-ON button to separate the AF  from the shutter release button. I tend use AF-C with 9 point dynamic setup. This set up gives you so much control its a godsend, I can pretty much focus and track anything and I seldom have focus failures.

Now the X-Pro1 is a different beast and requires a different way of working. For the XF 35MM and 18mm for candid work I use AREA + AF-S with the smallest focus area. Not only does this mean I can move the focus point around to suit, it reduces focus errors. The most common Auto Focus error, and I suspect why one sees so many people on the internet claim back focus issues, is the failure to fill the focus area with the subject. The AF system will then focus on the point of highest contrast, which may not be on the subject. Using a larger focus area with a wide angle lens means a lot of the FOV is fair game for the AF system and  the camera decides where to focus, using a small focus area  means I stay in control. I only get failures on these two lenses if I can not cover the area with the subject. Note for landscape I would tend to use hyperfocal focusing biased to give better focus at infinity.

This set up works well for the XF 60mm lens in high contrast situations, but in lower contrast situations it causes it to hunt a lot and fail often. There is just not enough data for the AF system to make a decision..a bit like a politician and just as annoying. Fortunately the solution is quite simple, just use more focus points i.e a larger focus area and make sure to fill the frame. You do this by hitting the AF button and rotating the selector dial left to increase the size of the focus area. For night time candid photography I have found that rotating it two clicks left from the smallest area works really well. During my night shoot in Avignon I only had two focus failures where the camera could not capture focus at all. Both of these were caused by the fact that there was no real contrast in the subject…well it is a contrast based AF system after all. Clearly you still have to make sure the subject covers the focus points or you may be disappointed, but it deals nicely with lower contrast situations.

Locking focus is one thing, the speed with which it locks is another. The Fujinon XF 60MM focuses quickly in when there is lots of contrast even in low light like the night shots below, not DSLR speed but fine for candid work and I would have no hesitation in recommending it for that purpose.  For sports….well there is always the Nikon.

Overall I am really enjoyed using this lens. It does not deserve a bad rep, you just need to find your own rhythm with it.

"well it won't kill you but I wouldn't eat it"

“well it won’t kill you but I wouldn’t eat it” – China Town, San Fran

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China Town, San Fran

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Cheval Passion, Avignon, France

Hot chestnuts at the Cheval Passion

Hot chestnuts at the Cheval Passion

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Cutting Horses awaiting their turn, Cheval Passion, Avignon.

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Avignon at night.

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O’Neils Irish Bar, Avignon

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Image advice, all you need is a Harley. Avignon.

All shots in this post are taken on Fuji X-Pro1, XF60mm lens, Astia and converted in LR with yellow or red filter adjustments to tune contrast.

I noted after posting that I continued to use Nikon terminology when referring to the X-Pro1  focus system in particular using the term focus points instead of focus area. I updated the post once I realised this was causing a confusion.

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Related posts:

Quick Look: Using the Voigtländer 28mm/1.9 Ultron on the X-Pro1

A walk on the wide side : Using the Fujinon 14mm

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21 thoughts on “Taming the shrew: Experiences Using The Fujinon XF60mm

  1. Pingback: Taming the shrew: Experiences Using The Fujinon XF60mm | Wideanglecafe: The Sato Table | Scoop.it

    • Hi Mike thanks for viewing and commenting.

      The nikon DSLRs have up to 51 focus sensors, and a myriad of ways to use them. In particular there are three AF-Area modes which allow you to group those sensors in different ways for different scenarios for continuous focusing. Single point AF, means just that you use one focus sensor. You can choose any one of the 51 that are there. Great for static scenes or objects that move slowly, but not much use for rapidly and erratically moving subjects where it is difficult to keep the AF point over the subject (think soccer player as an example). For that there is Dynamic Area AF. In this mode you can select 9, 11, 21, 39 or all 51 of the focus points. All of them work the same way, so I will just comment on the 9 point. You chose one focus point to be used to capture the focus, the adjacent 8 focus points act as kind of backup. If the camera can not focus with the central focus point it will look to the other 8 to get information required to capture focus. The beauty of this though is that when it does capture focus, and when you use AF lock on properly, the remaining 8 points effectively keep track of the subject as it moves.

      So why choose 9 vs a larger number. It comes down to a trade off. The more data you feed the AF system the more thinking it has to do so it slows down the AF, also you run the risk of the camera focusing on the wrong thing. However in Nikon, as far as I recall, recommends that you use 21 when there is low subject contrast.

      Hope that answers the question.

      • Sorry I read it wrong. I thought you were talking about the X-Pro 1. Yes I miss the 9, 21 and 51 points from my D700 on my XP1.

        How would you setup for moving subjects in low light on the XP1?

      • Good question. First I would distinguish between low light and low contrast. Some of the street scenes above were not very bright but had sufficient contrast to get a lock. For moving subjects that have good contrast, but low light, and you want to use AF then I would set up as per below i.e two clicks back from the smallest AF area, then focus and shoot in one movement. Zone focusing is an option, but at 60mm and a wide aperture the subject would want to be a good bit away to give you enough DOF.

        If it is low contrast then unfortunately your always going to struggle with AF particularly with moving subjects. I did not post the example shot but when I took the photo of the harley a couple walked past and asked me to take their photo. They stood in the shade, and wore black cloths. The proverbial black cat in a coal mine. The camera could not lock on. I was busy and did not want to be rude so i took it anyway and they went away happy, thankfully they did not ask to see the photo :-)

  2. Pingback: Readers Lens Reviews Round-Up (Fuji 35mm f1.4, XF 60mm) | Fuji Rumors

  3. Hi, great picture and good vue-angle!
    it is a pity that you have developed in Lightroom. The images have a greasy-look! Why do you not try with Silkypix Developer Studio Pro version 5.0.30. There, you can also choose black and white, but the pictures can be developed very sharp, and the details come out right.

    Of all her pictures, where have so much detail to show us, Lightroom is not really good choise!

    Cheers jean pierre

    • Hi Jean Pierre

      Thanks for dropping by, and another good question.

      I have and sometimes do use Silkypix. The output is pretty close to that of the in camera jpg engine and I find it easy enough to use. My default workflow though is with Lightroom and I guess for this type of work, and particularly at web resolution I am not unhappy with its output. When it comes to large prints though I will use whatever tool gets the job done even if that does not fit into my normal workflow.

      • OK. You understand the workflow for what needs! basically, it is important to distinguish properly.
        I am mastered with lightroom. I take effort to learn silkypix and now I am very happy to manage it very well.

        For the raf-file from my X-Pro1 my workflow will be first silkypix, then export 16bitTIFF and continue in Lightroom and finishing in CS6! So, will have the best output, even in black and white!

      • Yes that workflow would work fine. I have done similarly with nikon capture for some nikon shots where I was not happy with what I got out of lightroom.

  4. Pingback: Taming the shrew: Experiences Using The Fujinon XF60mm | Street Photography with Fuji cameras | Scoop.it

  5. Hello

    What do you mean by “rotating the selector dial left to increase the number of focus points”? How can you increase the number of focus points? Do you enlarge the rectangle?

    • Yes, the size of the rectangle in the viewfinder is what I am talking about. The selector is the little thumb wheel on the back of the camera..

  6. Pingback: Experiences Using The Fujinon XF60mm | George Greenlee | Art Photography Nick Chaldakov | Scoop.it

  7. Pingback: Losing focus. The Fuji X-Pro 1 and the Fujinon XF 60mm macro lens. « robertmilici

  8. Got here through your wife’s blog. Your shots are outstanding! I do not have your experience with photography but take and post pictures every day. I would love to have a camera that is the quality of yours.

    • Thanks for the compliment Lori. Martine has shown me many of your shots on Sunday Stills over the last few months and I can say you have plenty of skill yourself. I particularly like your food shots. I don’t know what camera you use, but there seems very little wrong with it. If you feel the need to change then you might look at a second hand fuji x100, they will become quite cheap soon as people trade up to the newer X100s model.

      Keep shooting.

  9. Pingback: Experiences Using The Fujinon XF60mm | George Greenlee | Best Quality Mirrorless Cameras | Scoop.it

  10. Pingback: Studio Lighting: Scaramouche Ice cream | The Wideangle Cafe

  11. Pingback: Focus Peaking Part 1: Fuji Xpro1 and Voigtländer 35mm f2.5 Color Skopar | The Wideangle Cafe

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