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Reader Comment: Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 and Fujifilm GF 45-100mm f/4

Reader Roy P writes:

Fujifilm GF 45-100mm f/4 R LM OIS WR

A quick feedback on the two Fujifilm zooms (32-64mm, 45-100mm).  They both work exceptionally well for my intended use case (people photography, typically with flash, indoors or in and around a house or an office).   Based on some quick anecdotal tests, both lenses appear reasonably symmetrical, although I have not tested for symmetry for landscapes.

The lenses also work perfectly with flash, which is the other part of my use case.  I can precisely dial up or dial down flash output from one, two or three concurrent sources, and the GFX100S perfectly exposes with TTL metering.  I was surprised to find that the Sony A1 is also handling flash perfectly now – I had a lot of flash-related issues with my older Sony cameras.

So the Fujifilm 32-64 and 45-100 being only F4 and not F2.8 is not a big deal.  The reality is, that gain of on f-stop going from F4 to F2.8 is more imagined than real – there are no brownie points for reducing the ISO from 6400 to 3200 – they both suck for people photos, if you’re shooting at an event and you want to get some good pictures that will be preserved, perhaps even printed.  Which means you have to use a flash anyway (as wedding photographers do).  Also, most of the time, you’re probably shooting at f/4 or even f/5.6 anyway to get both eyes in focus or to get more than one person in focus.  Which is why flash is such an integral part of the equation.

So the two Fujifilm zooms are working out exactly as I was hoping they would.  The only inconvenience is the 2x zoom ratios, compared to the 3x zoom ratios that is the industry standard in 35mm photography (24-70 and 70-200).  I assume it’s much harder to build a 3x range in a GF lens… Which means if I need a 200mm reach, my only choice would be the Fujifilm 100-200, but I’m not too fond of its F5.6 max speed.  So if I need a longer focal length than the Fujifilm 100mm, I will just switch to Sony.

Net-net, I’m pretty happy with the GFX100S + 32-64 and Sony A1 + 70-200 as my baseline gear, with the Fujifilm 45-100 and perhaps one or two other Sony lenses and a Sony 1.4x in a bag.  I could do a wedding with that set up!

Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR

DIGLLOYD: zooms can be great for some types of shooting, such as described, and the lens speed isn’t really an issue for that either. Both of these Fujifilm zooms are great performers as zooms go but there is likely to be more sample variation—if you can get 2/3 of the focal length range symmetric across the field on distant landscapes, you are doing well.

In the field at pre-dawn and dusk, I found it easier to work with the faster (brighter) primes—50/3.5 just seemed easier than the 45-100mm for focusing/viewing. Also, f/2.8 and f/3.5 lenses offer significantly more uniform brightness at f/4 than the zooms do—think dusk or night where you cannot stop down as a practical matter.

The zooms have more field curvature in some parts of the range, and that matters on the 100MP sensor with for across-the-field sharpness (even at f/8)—though not for people photography since focus is presumably on the eyes/face. Also, distortion increases at the ends of the range, and that’s not good for peak sharpness, or optimal for panoramic stitching. So I’ll stick with primes for critical landscape work.

Carrying the 45-100mm in the field was definitely something I noticed last spring—it is not a good choice for my hiking which includes scrambling and edging up stuff. Doable, but requiring a lot of care due to all the mass.

Great tools these two mid-range zoom, but usage-dependent. Were I to get one, I’d go for the 45-100mm myself. The Fujifilm GF 100-20mm f/5.6 was a disappointment when I tried it—maybe it was a poor sample but it did not deliver to the 100MP sensor.

CLICK TO VIEW: Fujifilm GFX100S and Top Lenses

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