GF 80mm ƒ/1.7R WR, Continued

Gonna make this quick… I finally had a chance to take the Fujifilm GF 80mm ƒ/1.7R WR lens for GFX out on a photowalk to peer thru it from an urban landscape and street photography perspective. Let’s say I’m a little more than impressed.

There’s something about this lens that gives everything a 3 dimensional quality. The subject just pops right off the page. Sure, that’s what large bore portrait lenses do but there’s something special about this lens, a quality my GF 110mm ƒ/2 lacks. Even compared to the Sigma Art 85mm ƒ/1.4 I previously owned and adapted onto the GFX 50S, the GF 80mm exceeds it in lifting the subject out of the frame.

Shot wide open, you can see the depth as the crowd extends rearward. The detailed and gradual focus falloff really enhances the depth.

Compared to the GF 110mm, it could be the shallow DOF combined with the wider angle of view that makes the magic, but that doesn’t fully explain it. I can’t seem to find a technical reason for the difference but it’s a tangible one I can see clearly between photos taken from the 2 lenses. Wide open, there’s just something about the images I’m getting from the 80mm.

Again, that gradual falloff of focus.

Compared to the Sigma, it’s not always down to the depth of field that gives an environmental portrait it’s pop. Because it wasn’t designed for higher resolutions, or maybe due to limits or compromises at the time of development, the Sigma 85mm’s transition from in focus to out of focus comes out really mushy and weird when adapted onto the GFX 50S. In comparison, the GF 80mm has a very smooth, gradual transition that looks more natural. It’s a much more pleasing look that cannot be unseen once you see it with results from the 2 lenses side by side. The seeming result is a subject that more convincingly comes out of the frame, isolated by the physics of light rather than an unnatural halo of muddy details. Don’t get me wrong; the Sigma Art 85mm is a great lens and performs well on the cameras it was designed for, but it doesn’t perform as well when adapted for GFX, especially when compared to the GF 80mm.

This is the first time I didn’t want to dial down a lens.

Because of the development history, I wonder if the GF 80mm and XF 50mm ƒ/1 share any design philosophies, giving the latter a chance to produce images close to what the GF 80mm provides. It may be worth buying one just to test my theory. It could explain why people have been raving about it beyond the average fangirling going on.

This image was cropped down 400% and it still holds up.

However, I’ll double down on what I said before: the GF 80mm is not a technically perfect lens. Far from it. Regardless, the combination of compromises made has resulted in a surprising result greater than the sum of its parts. If you shoot portraiture at all, this should be your first GFX system lens. If you already own the GF 110mm, I would recommend trading it for the 80mm. It really is that great.

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