Long-term Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 Review

Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 Review: Close-up of the Lens

Overall Score:9.0

After 8 months of extensive use throughout Thailand, the Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 has proven its worth as one of the highest performing X-mount lenses and is Fuji’s “Best Medium Telephoto Lens.” Disclosure: this review is based on real-world results and will not be overly technical in nature.

Durability: 10.0
Functionality: 8.0
Performance: 9.5
Aesthetics: 8.5
Value: 9.0

Construction: 11 Elements in 8 Groups

Aperture Type: Rounded 7-Blade Diaphragm

Aperture Range: f/2 – f/16

Focus Range: ~60cm – Infinity

Focus Motor: Linear 

Max Magnification: 0.2x

Dimensions: 75mm x 105mm

Weight: 540 g

Weather Resistance: Yes

Filter Size: 62mm

Manufacturing Country: Japan

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Length of Test: ~8 months.

Acquisition: we purchased the Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 with our own cash. 

Camera Used: Fujifilm XH-1

Image Processer: Capture One

Countries: Thailand.

Weather: Hot and Humid (highest temp 41 C), Cold and Dry (lowest temp 10 C). 

The XF 90mm is ideal for:

  • Portraits & Landscapes

The lens is not ideal for:

  • Studio Photography

Table of Contents

Durablity

Fuji Build Quality

Construction: Fuji left no stone unturned with the reassuring all-metal heft of the XF 90mm f/2. Undoubtedly, the lens is noticeably beefy but when you take its focal length and speed into account, the heft isn’t too excessive and seems to be made for the rigors of professional use.

For extra protection, the optics are housed in a dust- and water-resistant outer coating, so the lens can be used in adverse weather without much concern. 

Ergonomics wise, the focus ring is smooth and gives just enough torque that you can sense when you’re making fine adjustments without it being sticky. There’s also a beveled aperture ring which firmly turns with a satisfying and audible 1/3-stop click for precise external control.

Functionality

In-Field Versatility

Landscape Photography: there’s so much more to capturing the great outdoors than ultra wide-angle perspectives. While often the awe of an expansive view is what draws us into a scene, sometimes the most intriguing beauty is in the details.

The Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 allows you to isolate that beauty, whether its concentrating on a section of fog giving ambience to a forest or a compressed view of morning light over a mountain range.

There can be so much intrigue and beauty in the simplicity that comes from picking one element of a scene and focusing on it with a medium telephoto lens like the XF 90mm f/2.

It helps bring the viewer’s eye to the small details that would otherwise be lost, when capturing expansive scenes with a wide-angle lens.

For black and white landscape photography, the Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 produces images that are rich with microcontrast – making it perfect for capturing monochrome scenes that express a semi-abstract and timeless style of rendering. 

Portrait Photography: the Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 is wonderfully suited for beautiful portraits and wide open it can render bokeh that’s out of this world – think circular out-of-focus highlights and a stunning 3D falloff that almost rivals medium-format images.

This lens is nothing short of incredible for portrait sessions as it creates a soft dreaminess that other Fuji lenses just can’t replicate. The true power of this lens is its 137mm full-frame-equivalence paired with its bright f/2 aperture. This combination compresses backgrounds with a dream-like blur and makes people look flattering from every angle.

For portraits, the compression that comes from the XF 90mm is pure magic – you just need an ample amount of space to operate. In practical terms, the lens’ focal length is ideal for outdoor portraiture since you’ll be able to maintain a comfortable working distance from your subject.

Alternatively, if you’re working in a cramped studio, you’re likely better off with Fuji’s 50mm prime

Detail Shots: within every environment there are small-scale details which make fascinating photos in their own right – from ornate murals to patterns of leaves to decorative sculptures. 

By focusing on these small-scale details with the Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2, you’ll impart a ‘tunnel vision’ effect that yields a unique and highly-memorable image.

Event Photography: when paired with a wide-angle lens like Fuji’s 18mm f/1.4 for reportage shots, the XF 90mm covers the large majority of distance shots. 

The longer reach is ideal for capturing candid moments at events, while the compression and shallow depth-of-field are able to render subjects in a nostalgic way. More often than not, the intimate moments captured by the Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 are our favorite images from events.

Street Photography: while wider focal lengths are better suited for environmental context and story telling, a medium telephoto lens like the XF 90mm allows you to achieve tighter compositions with fewer distracting elements in the background to deal with.

A medium telephoto focal length is also useful when shooting strangers on the street, as the longer working distance helps put them at ease. This comfortable working distance between the lens and the subject can result in a more natural and candid looking image.

Low Light Handheld: this lens does what that no other lens in the Fuji lineup can do at 90mm (namely, the 50-140), which is it can shoot at f/2. In practical terms, the one stop of difference between f/2 and f/2.8 makes a significant impact on what you can capture in dimly lit situations. 

Being able to open up to a wider aperture, can mean an extra 30 minutes or so of shooting with available light as the sun goes down or comes up. It can also mean having an acceptable amount of noise in an image, since you won’t have to raise ISO an additional stop for proper exposure.

Wildlife Photgraphy: while the Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 lens offers a focal length that can be advantageous for certain wildlife scenarios, its reach is generally limiting for most wildlife photography scenarios.

Wildlife photographers often require longer focal lengths to capture subjects from a distance without disturbing them or compromising their safety. Longer telephoto lenses, such as 200mm, 400mm, or 600mm, provide a narrower field of view and allow for closer framing of distant subjects.

Even though the XF 90mm f/2 lens can be suitable for certain wildlife situations, its focal length won’t offer the reach and magnification required for more distant or skittish wildlife subjects that are commonly encountered.

Performance

Lens' Practical Utility

Auto Focus : AF performance has long been the Achilles heel of the Fuji’s X-series in both our experiences and the anecdotal evidence from many Fuji users. Over the past few years, Fuji has made a concerted effort to improve this area by revamping their algorithms and lens motors.

We’re happy to report that Fuji’s AF improvement trend continues with this lens, as the overall focus speed is fast, accurate, and quiet. Fuji blessed the XF 90mm with a quad-linear AF motor system, which makes this lens well-suited for capturing fast-moving subjects – even wide open. 

Sharpness: the Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 is one of the sharpest X-mount lenses available. When shot wide open, the lens produces virtually no corner softness and is razor sharp in the center. 

While most hyper-sharp lenses achieve this feat by sacrificing other elements of rendering that can lead to clinical-feeling images, Fuji has managed to create a lens that not only has superior technical sharpness but also balances the other elements to produce a ‘modern-classic look’.

Image Quality: in our humble opinion, this is the kind of lens that will put a damper on Fuji’s GFX bodies as it’s capable of producing a medium format vibe with its color, detail and rendering at a fraction of the cost. Compared to the rest of the X-mount line-up, the 90mm has a very unique and special combination of sharpness, contrast, and bokeh in real-world applications.

Simply put, the Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 is a stunner – it makes anything you point the lens at, look good. Even something as mundane as the ruins of an ancient Buddhist temple.

Value

Primary Alternatives

Since the Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 lens was released in 2015, several native and third-party lenses have been released that offer a variety of telephoto perspectives (see the table below). At the time of writing, the lens’ primary competitor is the Viltrox XF 85mm f/1.8 which offers similar (yet, not quite as good) optics, for a cheaper price than the 90mm – it’s a solid wallet-friendly lens.

For a more versatile telephoto prime than the XF 90mm, it’s worth considering Fujifilm’s XF 80mm since this lens has macro capabilities and is compatible with Fuji’s 1.4x and 2x teleconverters. 

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Lens Construction Weight Dimensions OIS? WR?
Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 11 Elements in 8 Groups 540 g 75mm x 105mm No Yes
Viltrox XF 85mm f/1.8 10 Elements in 7 Groups 492 g 80mm x 90mm No Yes
Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 16 Elements in 12 Groups 750 g 80mm x 130mm Yes Yes
Fujifilm XF 50-140 f/2.8 23 Elements in 16 Groups 995 g 82.9mm x 175.9mm Yes Yes
Fujifilm XF 70-300 f/4-5.6 17 Elements in 12 Groups 588 g 75mm x 132.5mm Yes Yes
9.0/10 Rating

Our Overall Verdict

To sum up our thoughts on the Fujifilm XF 90mm f/1.4, it’s in a league of its own within the X-mount line-up. It’s a joy to create images with as the lens focuses quickly, the bokeh is beautiful, sharpness is top-tier, and the color rendition is wonderful. 

If you’re looking for best-in-class telephoto lens, look no further as Fuji’s 90mm is a true virtuoso – everything it does, it does amazingly well. Which is undeniably an attribute that you’ll want from your equipment anytime you need to perform at your very best. 

Overall, we can’t recommend this lens enough and we’re even adding a second copy to our kit so we can stop fighting over it.

More Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 Sample Images are featured below:

The Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 is a remarkable piece of equipment, boasting an impressively robust build quality that ensures long-lasting durability.

Its optics are nothing short of exceptional, delivering stunning image quality and remarkable clarity. When shooting with this lens, you’ll be pleased to find that the images produced are distortion-free, providing a true representation of your subject. Even when shooting wide open at f/2, any vignetting that may be present is minimal and hardly noticeable.

Overall, the Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 lens delivers outstanding performance, making it a top choice for photographers who demand excellence in their work.

There’s not much we disliked about the Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2, but we would like to see a MKII version that’s compatible with Fuji’s 1.4x and 2x teleconverters.  

The Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 is definitely worth considering if you’re in the market for a high-quality telephoto prime lens. Its exceptional build quality ensures durability, making it a long-term investment.

The lens produces outstanding optics, delivering impressive image quality with sharpness and clarity. Additionally, the minimal distortion and vignetting, even at wide apertures like f/2, contribute to the lens’s overall performance. Whether you’re a professional or an enthusiast photographer, the Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 lens offers great value and is a worthwhile addition to your kit.

The Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 lens is indeed considered one of the top choices for portrait photography within Fuji’s lens lineup. Its focal length of 90mm (equivalent to approximately 135mm in full-frame terms) provides a flattering perspective for portraiture, allowing for comfortable working distances and attractive subject isolation.

The lens’s exceptional optics deliver impressive image quality, characterized by sharpness, excellent contrast, and beautiful rendering of details. Its wide maximum aperture of f/2 enables photographers to achieve shallow depth of field and pleasing bokeh, further enhancing the subject separation and creating a professional look in portraits.

While personal preferences can vary, the Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 lens is highly regarded for its ability to capture stunning portraits with remarkable clarity and artistic rendering. It is a lens choice that many photographers rely on for their portrait work, making it a strong contender for being considered Fuji’s best portrait lens.

When paired with Fuji’s Macro Extension Tube, you can expect semi-decent results

However, the Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 is not the ideal choice for macro photography due to its limited close focusing distance. Macro photography typically requires a lens with the ability to focus very closely on small subjects, capturing intricate details at high magnification ratios.

While the XF 90mm f/2 lens does have a minimum focusing distance of around 60cm, it falls short compared to dedicated macro lenses that can focus much closer, often in the range of a few centimeters. This means that you may not be able to achieve the desired magnification and close-up capabilities necessary for true macro photography.

However, it’s worth noting that the XF 90mm f/2 lens is still a versatile telephoto lens that excels in portrait photography, capturing subjects with stunning clarity and beautiful background separation. So, while it may not excel in macro photography, it can certainly be a valuable tool in other genres of photography.

No, the Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 does not have OIS so the lens is best utilized on a camera body with IBIS.

Longevity

Usage Timeline

Excellent

Initial Usage

As expected from Fujifilm, the XF 90mm is meticulously constructed and renders stunning images.

Excellent

Excellent

8 Months of Usage

The XF 90mm is still going strong – only minor cosmetic scratches exist while the optics remain unchanged.

Excellent

Excellent

16 Months of Usage

Nothing new to report – this lens is a tank…

Excellent

Excellent

24 Months of Usage

Still in great shape and aging like fine wine…

Excellent
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Alan & May

Welcome to North of Known! We’re Alan and May, a married couple who have embraced digital nomadism while calling Bangkok, Thailand, our current home base. Over the past 7 years, our shared passion for exploration and adventure has fueled our journey across the globe. Join us as we continue to embark on our nomadic adventures, sharing our insights, discoveries, and travel tales along the way.

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