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Fujifilm GFX100S: Which Lenses for a 2-Lens Landscape kit?

I was talking with a friend today about the lens choices for his Fujifilm GFX100S and in particular the size/weight issue for hiking and backpacking; he was not particularly happy with the Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 for those reasons, but loved the compactness and light weight of the Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5.

In May/June of 2020, I had commented on what a joy it was to have the 50/3.5 on the camera for walk-around and hiking use. That impression was reinforced this year all over again. If you can have only one lens for your Fujifilm medium format system, the 50/3.5 is a compelling choice.

Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5

But what if you are doing landscape and want a bit more range?

I would still choose the 50/3.5, but for a 2nd lens, my top choice would be the Fujifilm GF 23mm f/4 for multiple reasons:

  • Impressively low distortion on par with the very best 35mm format lenses (19mm equivalent). This is a big win in general, but also for stitching.
  • Outstanding optical performance, assuming a good copy (I experienced 2 good copies and one dud over the past 3 years.
  • The 23mm focal length (~19mm equivalent) gets wide enough for most purposes, and cropping off 1/3 of the frame nets-out something similar to the Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 ( a real dud of the lineup, at least the sample I tried). And all sorts of in-betweens. You can crop, but you cannot uncrop to go wider with the 30/3.5.
  • The 23mm focal length is great for big sky images, sweeping vistas, canyons and interiors. I don’t consider the 30mm to be all that wide. Just can’t make lots of images without stitching.
  • The field of view (100°) is so distinctly wider than the 50/3.5 (57°) that the choice never leaves you in doubt, whereas the 50/3.5 + 30/3.5 (85°) is different, but not compellingly-so.
Fujifilm GF 23mm f/4

Over the years, I keep concluding that two and no more than three lenses works best for image making in the field. So when I re-acquire the Fujifilm GFX100S, the 50/3.5 and 23/4 are my priorities.

To finish-out the kit I would add the Fujifilm GF 110mm f/2 but it would see a lot less use. The Fujifilm GF 250mm f/4 is also superb, but it would see even less use.

CLICK TO VIEW: Fujifilm Medium Format System

Roy P writes:

Certainly agree with that assessment, after having used it for some 3-4 months now. For anyone who gets the 50/3.5 as a walk-around / all-purpose lens, I would highly recommend the Fujifilm EF-X20 as a really compact and powerful flash. It’s great for fill-in flash outdoors, but also surprisingly powerful indoors, strong enough to light up a living room. It is also the most intelligently designed flash I’ve ever used, with very easy controls for the flash output. Only problem, it’s designed for the Fuji XT camera line, so this flash will not rise above any other GF lens – it is usable only with the 50/3.5 AFAIK.

Also, the 80/1.7 is a very sharp lens and more compact than the 110/2, which is also an excellent lens. Both are terrific for bokeh junkies and for portraits, but the 80/1.7 is much more luggable. Hopefully, when supply becomes available again, Fuji will have also fixed the AF motor problem that the very first units had (including the one I bought, which I had to return).

DIGLLOYD: the Fujifilm GF 80mm f/1.7 is a lens designed for portraiture and such; yes it is very sharp but in a curved field, so it is a lousy choice for landscape work due to substantial peripheral forward field curvature. Focusing the 80/1.7 at distance in the center means soft outer zones even at f/8—a practical hassle, as many sub-optimal results proved to me over and over (workarounds exist with careful focus placement but it remains sub-optimal). Also the 80/1.7 is relatively large and heavy, with f/1.7 a largely useless feature for landscape. By comparison, the Fujifilm GF 110mm f/2 has minimal field curvature, and is thus a far better choice for landscape, in spite of its mild rearward focus shift. It is half a pound heavier and an inch longer but the results are worth it.

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