Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR lens
Because it covers a ‘normal’ visual perspective and is relatively affordable for a medium format lens, the GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR is likely to be one of the first lenses chosen when photographers buy into Fujifilm’s medium format system.
It’s fast enough to be used hand-held in a wide variety of situations, with some reservations about close-up shots due to its relatively long minimum focus distance.
It’s also a very nice lens to use.
Announced in January 2017, at the same time as the GFX 50S camera, the Fujinon GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR is the first standard prime lens to be introduced in Fujifilm’s medium format range. Providing similar angle of view coverage to a 50mm lens in 35mm format, it’s relatively small and light but boasts weather-resistant sealing and a modest f/2.8 maximum aperture. Like others in the GF lens range, it is designed for cameras with resolutions up to 100 megapixels, which is almost twice the resolution of the GFX 50S Mark II camera we used for our tests. We were keen to see how well a lens designed almost five years ago would perform on the latest camera body.
Angled view of the Fujinon GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR lens. (Source: Fujifilm.)
Measuring 84 x 71 mm and weighing just 405 grams, the optical design of this lens (shown below) consists of 10 elements in eight groups, among them one ED (Extra-low Dispersion) lens to ensure high resolving power. Fujifilm’s Nano GI (Gradient Index) coating on the front element suppresses ghosting and flare to deliver enhanced contrast and colour fidelity in backlit conditions. A fluorine coating has also been added to the front element to repel moisture.
The optical design of the Fujinon GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR lens, showing the position of the ED element. (Source: Fujifilm.)
Being an older lens, the 63mm GF lens relies on a stepping motor to drive focusing (although Fujifilm makes no mention of it), unlike more recent lenses, which use faster and quieter linear motors. The front lens group moves in and out during focusing.
The positions of the weather-resistant seals in the 63mm GF lens. (Source: Fujifilm.)
Nine weather- and dust-resistant seals allow this lens to be used in a wide range of conditions. The lens is also freeze-resistant, enabling it to be used in temperatures as low as -10°C. The lens is supplied with front and end caps, a cylindrical lens hood (which reverses over the lens) and a lens pouch.
Who’s it For?
Since this lens can only be used on Fujifilm’s GFX cameras, it will appeal to a limited range of consumers, although Fujifilm has expanded its medium format camera range to cover five models with the addition of the GFX50S Mark II. Its relatively small size and light weight make it one of the most easily portable lenses in the GFX collection. It’s also a very good performer.
So-called ‘standard’ prime lenses have always formed the base of a serious photographer’s kit and this lens is versatile enough to be used for landscape photography as well as reportage, environmental portraits and certain types of event and documentary photography. The relatively fast f/2.8 maximum aperture enables it to be used in low-light levels as well providing control over depth of field for selective focusing.
When fitted to the relatively inconspicuous GFX50S Mark II camera, it can also be used for street photography. It’s not ideal for shooting video – but then neither are Fujifilm’s more compact GFX 50S or R cameras, which are limited to 1080p recording.
Focusing is fast enough for most applications – although not quite up to capturing subjects that move very quickly unless your panning technique is impeccable. The minimum focusing distance of 50 cm restricts its use for close-ups.
Pet portraits would probably be possible and the f/2.8 maximum aperture allows for some nice differential focusing. But with a maximum magnification of only 0.17x. cropping the frame would be necessary when shooting smaller flowers and insects, although this lens would be fine for photographing larger plants and animals.
Build and Ergonomics
Manufactured in Japan, the GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR lens is solidly constructed with a brass mount for additional strength. Physically, it has a similar structure to other GF prime lenses as well as the same semi-gloss black finish.
The front element is recessed, with the highest point in its slightly bulging surface a couple of millimetres below the leading edge of the barrel. The lens is approximately 20 mm in diameter and surrounded by ribbing that slopes inwards from the 62 mm diameter filter ring.
A bayonet fitting for the supplied lens hood surrounds the outer edge at the front of the lens barrel. Behind it is a 5 mm wide ring that carries the full name of the lens. Immediately aft of it is the focusing ring, which is 20 mm wide and entirely clad in thick rubber ridging. Because focusing is driven from the camera this ring turns through 360 degrees when power is off.
The lens barrel steps outwards 5 mm behind the focusing ring then flattens for a couple of millimetres to provide space for a white line, against which the aperture ring is registered. The aperture ring is approximately 15 mm wide, with a narrow unridged band along its leading edge on which aperture settings are stamped in white.
The remainder of the ring is plastic with moulded ridging to provide a secure grip. Aperture settings range in one-stop increments from f/2.8 at the right hand end to f/32 on the left, with unmarked 1/3EV click stops between them. Beyond the f/32 position are two extra marks, an ‘A’ position for selecting auto aperture and a ‘C’ position that lets you set the aperture via the camera’s command dial. An aperture ring lock release button is located on the ribbed section of the ring to enable these to setting to be used.
The lens barrel continues for a further 15 mm before ending in the chromed brass lens mount, which is very solid and surrounded by a narrow rubber flange that keeps dust and moisture out. The bundled lens hood attaches via a bayonet fitting and can be reversed over the lens barrel for transport and storage.
Our Imatest tests showed the review lens to be capable of meeting expectations for the review camera’s 51-megapixel sensor across a wide range of aperture settings from f/3.8 through to between f/5.6 and f/6.4 when measured in the centre of the frame and roughly half way out to the edge. Edge softening was present throughout the aperture range, although for most aperture settings resolution was only a little below the expected level for the sensor’s pixel count. This is a very good result. From f/6.4 resolution declined gradually to f/16, The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests.
Lateral chromatic aberration was well down in the ‘negligible’ band in our Imatest tests and we found only traces of coloured fringing in our tests shots. Much of this colour was due to blurring at the corner of the frame – which over-emphasises the very slight fringing that occurred. The graph below shows the results of our tests.
As usual, our assessments of vignetting and rectilinear distortion had to be carried out on raw files, which were converted into TIFF format with all optical adjustments disabled. Some vignetting was evident at f/2.8, which is to be expected. Fortunately most of it was gone by f/4.
Similarly, we detected some barrel distortion in the review lens, although not enough to be problematic. Like vignetting, distortion can be corrected in the camera as well as with most raw file converters.
Autofocusing was reasonably fast and accurate under a wide range of conditions, although not entirely silent. This won’t be an issue for stills shooters but may prove a deterrent for videographers.
Unfortunately, the minimum focusing distance of 50 cm isn’t ideal for close-ups – unless they are of relatively large subjects. That said, bokeh was quite attractive, with relatively smooth transitions in out-of-focus backgrounds in shots that were evenly lit and only traces of outlining in bright background highlights.
Backlit scenes were handled well, although we’d recommend capturing raw files in situations with wide brightness ranges as they would provide greater scope for adjustment than the 8-bit JPEGs. Eighteen-pointed sunstars could be captured when the lens was stopped down to below f/16.
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Picture angle: 46.9 degrees
Minimum aperture: f/32
Lens construction: 10 elements in 8 groups (including 1 ED element), Nano GI coating on front element
Lens mounts: Fujifilm G-mount
Diaphragm Blades: 9 (circular aperture)
Weather resistance: Yes
Focus drive: Stepping motor
Minimum focus: 50 cm
Maximum magnification: 0.17x
Filter size: 62 mm
Dimensions (Diameter x L): 84 x 71 mm
Weight: 405 grams
Standard Accessories: Front and rear caps, lens hood, lens pouch
Distributor: Fujifilm Australia; 1800 226 355
Based on JPEG files taken with the Fujifilm GFX 50S Mark II camera.
Vignetting at f/2.8.
ISO 100, 1/280 second at f/8.
Crop from corner of the above image enlarged to 100% showing traces of coloured fringing.
Two crops from near the centre of the frame at the same magnification.
ISO 200, 1/80 second at f/10.
Two crops from different parts of the frame at 100% magnification.
Close-up at f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/1400 second.
Close-up at f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/640 second.
Close-up at f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/500 second.
Close-up at f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/140 second.
ISO 100, 1/20 second at f/10.
ISO 500, 1/20 second at f/5.6.
ISO 100, 1/90 second at f/8.
ISO 200, 1/85 second at f/7.1.
ISO 500, 1/50 second at f/13.
ISO 200, 1/900 second at f/2.8.
ISO 200, 1/56 second at f/5.
ISO 320, 1/50 second at f/9.
Sunstar; ISO 100, 1/5 second at f/32.
Additional image samples can be found with our review of the Fujifilm GFX 50S Mark II camera.
RRP: AU$2399; US$1499
- Build: 9.0
- Handling: 9.0
- Image quality: 9.0
- Autofocusing: 8.8
- Versatility: 8.9