Macro photography is often considered as one a genre that is unattainable or inaccessible.
Aside from getting down eye to eye with some of the world’s more dangerous creatures, it’s actually a lot simpler than many people realise. You just need a little know-how, patience and of course the right equipment.
For Fuji X shooters, macro photography has been available since way back in 2012 when Fujifilm released the XF 60mm f/4 Macro lens. It was one of Fuji’s very first X mount lenses and provided a 1:2 magnification solution for macro photographers.
What started out as being a sensible business decision by Fuji ended up becoming a cult classic – among Fuji shooters the 60mm is revered not just as a fun macro lens but also as a sharp portrait lens.
It’s light, compact and delivers wonderful background effects at a reasonable price – much like many of their other lenses shown here.
However, the lens didn’t quite scratch the itch of the hardcore macro nerds out there as it was only a 1:2 macro lens – not the much desired 1:1 that most other brands had available.
It was not until late 2017 that Fuji finally met the demands of the macro-cohort and released the much anticipated XF 80mm f/2.8 Macro.
Its little brother, the 60mm, would be incredibly proud of the optical excellence that the 80mm delivers in both macro and portrait images – it’s seriously sharp.
Being a member of several Fuji communities, it never ceases to amaze me the quality and creativity of images I see shot with this handy macro lens.
While I could do without close-ups of spiders, it’s certainly admirable. Side note – who else reckons that spiders are a visiting alien race – why do they need eight eyes, let alone eight legs? EIGHT eyes?
Let’s take a much closer look (pardon the pun) at the brilliant Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8.
Table of Contents
Fujifilm XF 80mm F/2.8 Specs
- Focusing system
- Image quality
- Heavier than most
- Aperture range: f/2.8 to f/22
- Minimal focus distance 25cm – ∞
- Weight: 750gm(26.45oz)
- Dimensions: 130mm(5.11″) x 80mm(3.15″) Diameter
- Filter thread: 62mm
- Lens hood: 80mm (3.15″)
- Optical Image Stabilisation
- Weather Resistant
Build & Ergonomics
I don’t know why it matters, but the Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 is one of the best looking lenses I’ve come across – so let’s start there.
It’s 130mm (5.11″) in length and has a diameter of 80mm (3.15″) – it’s roughly the same size as the Fuji XF 55-200mm. Unlike a lot of longer lenses that taper-down towards the front, the 80mm is more straight and square.
When paired with any of the Fuji X mount cameras it looks well-balanced and not out of place.
Like most Fuji lenses, the aperture ring is clearly marked and travels from f/2.8 to f/22 and then A for Auto in 1/3 stops – accompanied by a positive clicking response and just the right amount of resistance.
The focus ring is very broad and sits across the middle of the lens. It’s covered in a rubber coating with a ridged texture and has a smooth glide like butter.
I like the design consideration Fuji put into this as when you are staring down a Maratus Speciosus (Peacock Spider), the last you want to do is hunt for the focus ring.
The front third of the lens is bare metal with the edge featuring all of the lens information – usually Fuji place this info inside the filter thread.
The Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 Macro features two selector switches located below the aperture ring. The first is an On/Off switch for OIS – Optical Image Stabilisation.
The second is a focal distance limiter switch – with this you can select Full (25cm to infinity), 0.5m – Infinity and 0.25m to 0.5m. Effectively controlling your focusing distance prevents the lens from hunting for focus when you are working close up.
Despite having a wide aperture of f/2.8 and a filter thread of 62mm, the front glass element is actually quite small – probably around 40mm (1.57″) across. That element has been coated with a fluorine solution to make it water and smudge repellent and easier to keep clean – I hate dirty lenses.
The lens body is all metal and features no less than 11 weather resistant and dust resistant seals – that way you can get in the mud with the grubs.
Despite its sophisticated and minimal appearance, the Fuji 80mm is a heavy lens – 750gm(26.45oz) – and when paired with a camera like the X-T4, you are carrying 1.5kg (3.3lbs) kit. But what an amazing kit it would be!
The weight is attributed to all that gorgeous glass on the inside – it packs 16 elements in 12 groups including one aspherical lens, one Super ED lens and three ED lenses. According to Fuji, chromatic and spherical aberrations are suppressed thanks to the lens structure and positioning.
Even though it’s a heavy lens, when paired with the Fujifilm X-T4 or X-T3 it did not feel burdensome nor did I have any issues shooting handheld.
I was able to carefully track moving subjects at around 25cm and grab clear and sharp focus without feeling like the lens was dipping or that it was too heavy to keep up.
The Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 looks great and is built to last a lifetime!
For a macro lens to be effective, it has to have tack-sharp focusing, accurate focus control and a zippy autofocus system.
The focus control on the Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 is precise and responsive when shooting in Manual Focus. The travel distance of the focus ring is suitable and thanks to the limiter switch you are able to work within the desired focus zome.
Being a macro lens, the focus plane is quite fine so the great manual focusing control can be put to good use with focus stacking on a tripod or rails.
Alternatively, if you are shooting handheld, the 80mm features image stabilisation that provides 5-stop of anti-shake stabilisation.
This is especially handy if you are shooting with a narrow depth of field to maximise the focal plane and want to drop the shutter speed to compensate for light.
On the Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8, OIS works by suppressing angle and shift shake using a gyro and acceleration sensor. Regardless of the tech involved, it works a treat.
Another important factor is that the lens and its glass is driven by a quick and quiet linear motor, meaning that your autofocus is silent – no point lining up the perfect bee shot only to have a clunky focusing system scare off your prize.
When it comes to AF, it’s incredibly fast and even in low light, there was no evidence of hunting.
Going back to the example of the bee, they move pretty fast and are incredibly detailed creatures. The XF 80mm was able to quickly grab focus and freeze that gorgeous little gardener in time – wing details and the follicles on its back were sharp and clear.
A nice little add-on (quite literally) by Fuji is the fact that it’s compatible with the 1.4x (XF1.4X TC WR) and 2.0x Teleconverter (XF2X TC WR) – effectively turning it into a telephoto macro.
The 1.4x creates an equivalent to 171mm in the 35mm format and the2.0x equivalent to 244mm.
Focusing on the Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 is fast, accurate and controllable, making it perfect for macro shooting.
They say that the proof is in the pudding and the Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 creates amazing pudding…I mean images. Great, now I am hungry!
I tested this lens handheld in the field as well as on a tripod in my home-studio and the results were incredible.
Keeping in mind that as a 1:1 macro lens the focal plane, even with a narrow aperture like f/8, is quite fine.
As a result, being able to capture a larger subject up close, in full focus, is difficult without focus stacking. But that ‘s just life with a macro lens.
Regardless, with a little patience and some trial and error, I was able to capture bees landing on flowers that were swaying gently in the wind and still obtain sharp focus.
And when it comes to macro photography, a lot of the enjoyment is in the chase. I found myself crouched down in a local park scurrying from bush to bush as the bees made the most of the morning sun and the blossoms on hand.
Yes, I may have been grinning like an idiot but that too is part of the experience.
Details and contrast are rendered beautifully and the background effects are wonderful and creamy. The contrast is especially impressive as it adds so much more drama to a composition.
While working on a tripod, I was able to slow my shutter speed right down and ensure that the light and level of detail was captured. I’ve got images of the dust on tiny objects being sharp and clear.
When it comes to portraits, the Fuji 80mm f/2.8 Macro is known for incredibly sharp and detailed images. Some photographers go so far as to say that in some cases it’s too sharp as it shows every tiny imperfection in human skin. So, yeah it’s sharp!
Fujifilm 80mm F/2.8 Sample Images
Check out these sample images taken with the Fujifilm 80mm F/2.8.
Value for Money
The Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 is not an entry-level lens that you may find in the usual Fujifilm line-up – if you are looking for an entry-level option then check out the 60mm macro.
The 80’s an enthusiast / pro-level lens with focusing and optical performance equivalent to the best of them.
What’s more, the lens currently retails for around $1200. For a premium Fuji lens that is both an amazing macro lens and a gorgeous portrait shooter, that is excellent value for money. The Fuji 90mm is around $950, and that does not have the macro capabilities.
Keep in mind that the 80mm macro is a specialty lens designed for a specific purpose – the fact that you can use it for portraits, products or anything else you throw at it, is a bonus.
At the end of the day, you will not be disappointed with the creative opportunities this lens creates.
You can work towards mastering a misunderstood photography genre and impress your friends with wonderful images of scorpions, wasps and worms.
Fujifilm XF 80mm F/2.8 Review | Conclusion
As we’ve discovered here in this review, the Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 features a super fast and accurate focusing system regardless of AF or MF shooting.
The focus limiter and the OIS complement the speed and performance of the lens and provide greater workflow control.
As a macro lens or as a portrait lens, it produces sharp and detailed images with smooth and creamy background effects.
Finally, the bugs won’t stand a chance at getting away from your sharp eyes and sharper lens.
Shooting with the XF 80mm is a pure joy as it’s incredibly responsive and makes you want to find more and more tiny subjects.
It’s a crazy-good lens and Fuji should be congratulated for creating a serious entry to compete with other brands in the macro market.
Do yourself a favour and pick up a copy of the Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 Macro lens and you too can grin like an idiot while creating amazing images.
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