Friday, 19 June 2020

Shooting Fuji on the Cheap

Out for a Walk
X-T1, Neewer (7Artisans) 25mm f1.8

And now back to my regular gear-related focus.

This is the first in a series of posts as I explore how to build a Fuji system on a budget. It will be focused on prime lenses, as frankly the answer to zooms is buy the 2 XC zooms, a cheap EF adapter and whatever EF-S UWA zoom you can afford. There's really not a lot of options around zooms beyond the obvious.

I'm going to make a few assumptions here.

The first is you have a 16MP X-Trans II body (X-E2, X-E2s, X-T1, X-T10) or an X-T100. What I say applies to Fuji in general, but these bodies are the cheapest really useful bodies in X mount. I'd generally avoid EVF-less bodies as primary bodies (X-A's, X-M1) and I find the X-E1 just too slow to use. The X-Pro1 is interesting as it's a very unique body, but I can't recommend it as an only body due to performance.

The second is the following. Cheap lenses sell for $200USD or less, inexpensive lenses sell for $200USD to $500USD. I'll be using these definitions throughout. The dividing lines are arbitrary, but accurate I think.

I'll be focusing on cheap lenses to start with, then move into the inexpensive realm.

To start with I'll be putting together a 5 lens kit covering UWA, mild wide, normal, mild tele/portrait/macro and moderate telephoto. 

Where to start? That was a difficult question until a few months ago. Now it's easy, there's one Fuji AF lens that is a given for a cheap system, the $199USD XC 35mm f2. This will be the only AF lens on the list, but buy it first. I have this one. There are cheaper manual focus options, but a first-class 35mm for $199? How can you go wrong. 

The second one for me is a mild wide. I went with the Neewer 25mm f1.8 here. Around $70-80 new it's proved to be a good performance. This is a rebrand of the 7Artisans lens, but there's 2-3 different options here that are all decent performers. None are exceptional, but we're talking lenses that retail for well under $100USD new. I may acquire a couple of the others for the heck of it.

For the third, today I'm using a Micro-Nikkor 55mm f3.5 AI on a Nikon adapter. It works well, but I will be exploring inexpensive native alternatives, midspeed, fast and macro options all abound here, all in the 50-60mm range.

The next one for me is the UWA. On the cheap side and wider than 16mm you really have two options, get the 7Artisans 12mm f2.8 or hunt for a deal on a used Rokinon/Samyang 12mm f2. I'll start with the first one. This is the one lens I don't have an entry into my kit for (the widest I have now is my Laowa 15mm f4, but that's not a cheap lens, and it's also kind of unwieldy on APS-C mirrorless as it's an FF DSLR UWA, I will cover it when we get to the inexpensive kit as it has a couple unique capabilities that make it truly interesting).

Finally the telephoto. Right now I have a Nikkor 200mm f4 AI on a Nikon adapter. That's just too long. I've also used my Nikkor 105mm f2.5 AI-S as an alternative, but it's a tad too short. A 135 should be just right. There's no cheap new 135's that I've seen, so I'll likely get a Nikkor 135mm f2.8 AI-S (why this one? It's got much better close focus capability than the other Nikkor 135's, otherwise I'd go for a cheaper 135/3.5). What you pick here is really dependent on what sort of shooting you do. Anything from 75mm on is viable if available cheaply. The go-to lenses I'd recommend here are 100/105's, 135's or 200/4's, all can be had cheaply in whatever mount you might desire and most in this space are at least quite good.

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