I’m a busy professional photographer — splitting time almost evenly between real estate/architectural photography and people. It’s not unusual for me to photograph a portrait or two in the morning, then find myself on the beach photographing a high rise condo or estate home in the afternoon. All in a day in my life in photos.
Which camera and lens to use is always a top consideration for me. Truth be told, I’m probably more of a gear head than I should be.
I recently discovered medium format
Why? Because I wanted the ultimate image quality and flexibility that I could afford. Medium format cameras have long been out of my reach financially, but that hasn’t stopped me from lusting after one.
Fuji just introduced their second generation of medium format camera which made their first generation medium format cameras much more accessible in the used marketplace. I bought a used GFX 50S for slightly less than the price of the latest full-frame cameras from Sony and Canon. Mine included the grip and a Really Right Stuff baseplate.
My first priority was a portrait lens for my studio work and outdoor portraits. The 110mm, based on the reviews and images I had seen, was my top priority. Today we’re going to take a look at this magnificent lens!
Build quality and handling
When you consider the size of the sensor these lenses need to cover combined with the f/2 aperture, then the size and weight of the 110mm should come as no surprise. Coming in at a whopping 2.22 pounds (1010 g) — the 110mm when combined with the cinder block of a camera that it is — the GFX 50S — the combo can feel like a kettle bell at the gym. I’ve used it at the beach on a family photoshoot, and my biceps ached!
Just to add insult to injury, I utilize the battery grip too. Oh, to put some icing on the weight cake, I use the really right stuff L plate too! You get the idea — it’s heavy!
The focus ring is big and grippy and very tactile, it moves fluidly. The aperture ring is very “clicky” but unlike other Fuji lenses I’ve used, this one does a better job of staying in place. If you don’t like the aperture ring, you can set it to auto and control the aperture within the camera.
On the inside, there are 14 elements arranged in nine groups. That formula includes four extra low dispersion elements which reduce chromatic aberration and color fringing.
The aperture ranges from f/2–f/22 and there are nine rounded blades in the aperture diaphragm. The lens is weather resistant and at this price point, it better be. In the end, in spite of its obvious girth, the 110mm is build to the highest of standards. The first “but” is the lens’ weight … it’s really heavy!
Autofocus speed and accuracy
Here’s the second of three “buts” that I have with the 110mm. It’s important to note that medium format cameras aren’t designed for high speed autofocus. Generally speaking, slow AF speeds are an accepted norm for the system.
That said, I found the AF reasonably fast and reasonably accurate. Depending on my distance from the subject, wide-open at f/2, I found the hit rate to be acceptable. The latest firmware for the GFX 50S, version 4.0, incorporated eye detect AF, which does a much better job grabbing focus. However, depending on the lighting conditions, the AF would latch on to an ear or hair or a hand rather than the eye. This was a bummer, as it can lead to missed shots.
Outdoors in good light, AF speed was fast and accurate, even wide-open. If you’re shooting portraits or other static subjects, this kind of AF is perfectly acceptable. Where the 110mm really shines though, is in the studio. Shooting stopped down to f/8, AF is instant and accurate, which makes sense, because at f/8, there’s a much wider depth of field. My studio portraits have been spot on and perfect nearly every time.
One word — DROOL! The optical quality from the 110mm will literally take your breath away. It’s one of those magical lenses that’ll leave you wondering and wanting what you can create with it next.
When the AF hits at f/2, outdoors, the results are simply mind blowing. If you’re into foreground and background bokeh, it simply doesn’t get any better than this!
The combination of the large medium format sensor and the f/2 aperture is a thing of beauty! You’ve never seen subject isolation like this, especially at a distance. When people speak to the “medium format look,” I believe the rendering of this lens is exactly what they’re talking about.
Performance at the frame center wide-open is stunningly sharp. Stopped down, you’re likely to cut your eyes on the results. Simply amazing! What I love about the 110mm is my ability to get a beautiful 3-dimensional image with a blurred foreground and background with a pin sharp subject in the middle. I LOVE IT!
With the last of the “buts” comes the value. Let me start by saying that if you shoot portraits for a living and you’re considering medium format, this is a must-have lens. If you’re an enthusiast who can afford it and you want the best possible image quality for your personal use, this lens will not let you down.
But let’s be very clear, as awesome as the 110mm is, it’s not cheap. It’ll set you back a fairly hefty mortgage payment. I make my living photographing people and real estate, the 110mm was an easy decision, I’ve had it for about two months now and I can say confidently that it’s paid for itself.
If you’re like me and you make a living at this and you want to up your game, you must consider the 110mm from Fuji. It’s simply sublime!
- Focal length: 110mm (87mm Full frame equivalent)
- Aperture range: f/2–22
- Aperture blades: 9. rounded
- Elements/groups: 12/9
- Dimensions: 3.71 x 4.94″ / 94.3 x 125.5 mm
- Weight: 2.22 lbs. / 1010 g
- Angle of view: 27.9°
- Filter thread: 77mm
- Simply stunning image quality
- Amazing subject isolation
- Robust (heavy) build quality
- The smoothest and creamiest out of focus bokeh I’ve ever experienced
- It’s big and heavy
- AF performance wide-open is unreliable in fair to moderate lighting situations
- It’s really expensive!
FUJIFILM GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR Lens
An ideal lens for portraiture, the GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR from FUJIFILM is a short telephoto, 87mm-equivalent prime for the G-mount GFX camera system. Its bright f/2 maximum aperture affords extensive control over depth of field for working with selective focus techniques, and also benefits working in low-light conditions. A rounded nine-blade diaphragm also contributes to pleasing bokeh quality to suit shallow depth of field imagery. The sophisticated optical design employs four extra-low dispersion elements to reduce color fringing and chromatic aberrations for a high degree of clarity and contrast.