The previous two entries in the f/2 compact prime series showed strong optical performance despite the lower cost. The 50mm follows in much the same manner.
The 50mm f/2 R WR puts in a very solid performance when it comes to sharpness and resolution. I found the lens to be quite sharp over almost the entire frame right from f/2. The corners are a bit softer than the center, but certainly nothing to worry about. Stopping down sharpens up those corners quite well, and brings the center into excellent territory. I felt like I could shoot the 50mm f/2 at any aperture for the depth of field, and not worry about sharpness, as I was pleased at any setting. The image below was taken at f/2, and you can see from this 100% crop that the lens is more than capable of excellent wide open shooting.
The 50mm f/2 also displays very nice bokeh, or background blur. The lens renders specular highlights very neutrally, with barely a hint of any outline on them. There is mechanical vignetting of the blur disc towards the edges, which will result in a cat’s eye appearance to the specular highlights as you get to the edge of the frame, but otherwise it’s a very neutral and very pleasing rendering. The lens does well at any focus distance, but as you can see in the shot below, produces beautifully creamy blur when focused up close.
Color, Contrast and Chromatic Aberration
The 50mm f/2 displays very similar color and contrast renderings to the rest of the Fuji XF lineup. As I’ve mentioned in many previous reviews, Fuji seems to truly design their lenses to have a certain drawing style, which provides consistent color and contrast across the lens lineup. The same is true for the 50mm f/2, which shows nice even contrast that is punchy without being overbearing, and accurate tonal response.
The lens controls lateral chromatic aberrations quite well, and you will likely not see any evidence of this in real world conditions. The 50mm f/2 can show some green and magenta fringing from longitudinal CA at wider apertures, so you may have to do some selective cleanup in the right circumstances where it may raise its head. It isn’t a major concern for most situations, though, as it generally is only really visible on high contrast subjects, or sometimes in the background on white specular highlights.
Distortion, Flare and Vignetting
The XF 50mm f/2 shows a touch of pincushion distortion when the built-in distortion profile is used, and a touch more if using a RAW converter that doesn’t take the profiles into account. It’s a minor error, though, and will only be visible in your final images in very specific circumstances. I had to really examine the files, looking for distortion, to see it in any of my images.
The 50mm f/2 controls flare fairly well, and while some ghosting and purple flare can be induced in the right circumstances, most of the time there are few ghosts and only very minimal loss of contrast when faced with a strong light in the frame. The lens also controls vignetting quite well, with just a minor amount visible at f/2 and only negligible corner darkening at smaller apertures. Some of this is the result of a built-in profile, but even without it, vignetting is really only noticeable at f/2.
In all, the optical performance of the 50mm f/2 is very solid. It’s sharp, produces very pleasing background blur, and controls most of the common lens aberrations with only a few missteps.