I thoroughly enjoy delving into lens reviews, particularly those of older lenses—by "old," I mean not the latest ‘hot’ models, spanning from modern but outdated to truly ancient, adapted, or rediscovered lenses. What captivates me about these reviews and blog posts is their departure from the technical minutiae, focusing more on the lens's tactile qualities and, more importantly, the unique perspectives of individuals recounting their personal experiences.
Now, let's talk about lenses. Why the fascination? Well, for photographers, lenses are the windows through which we choose to perceive the world. Each lens, whether subtly or dramatically, distorts reality. Even among identical copies of the same lens, nuances emerge, and this, to me, is utterly fascinating.
This isn't a lens review; rather, I want to take you along on my journey with the Fujijon GF45mm F2.8 R WR. Consider it less of a formal review and more of a storytelling experience, where I share my impressions and fondness for this lens by letting the images it has enabled me to capture speak for themselves. After all, at the core of it, I'm a photographer, not a writer hahah!
My chosen companion is the GF45—an everyday lens in the truest sense. I bought this lens exactly one year ago, and instantly became my photographic companion, it has never ceased to amaze me. This lens has been with me through countless moments, freezing in time the beauty and intricacies of the scenes I've encountered. It accompanies me everywhere, be it dinners, nights in or out, leisurely walks—essentially, my pocket camera. While I admire those with multiple cameras, I find myself tethered to the one I use professionally at any given moment. They have become an extension of myself, for better or worse.
Let's address the elephant in the room—GF lenses, especially when compared to X series or full-frame counterparts, tend to be on the larger side. They're not something you'd casually sling over your shoulder for a hike or a family trip; "lug around" seems more fitting for the GF series. However, there are individuals wandering around with large-format film cameras, so go figure. This is what I do, this is the way.
The lens provides a field of view equivalent to around 35mm on a full-frame camera, but I often find this a bit perplexing due to the GFX's 4:3 aspect ratio, in contrast to the 3:2 ratio on most other cameras. Consequently, everything seems a tad different, it feels wider to me. I find it challenging to articulate discussions using equivalences, so let's simplify and call it what it is—a 45mm on the GFX.
I absolutely adore the 45mm field of view on the GFX. When traveling for leisure, I find myself not missing any of my other lenses. It's a complete package, allowing me to capture moments, portraits, landscapes, and details without feeling the need for more. This sentiment extends to my professional work; while not my most used lens professionally, it serves as my starting point—a reference.
Its "standard" rendition of the world with a slightly wider perspective resonates with me. The autofocus, while not the fastest, satisfies my needs. For a 2.8 aperture lens, it delivers beautiful bokeh—tack sharp at the point of focus with a silky transition to the out-of-focus areas. One of the sharpest and most pleasing lenses I've ever used, which holds true for many GF lenses; Fuji certainly pushes the envelope with this series.
Now, the comparison with the GF55mm 1.7 eludes me, as I don't own it. However, owning the GF80 1.7, while admirable, it can't be my everyday companion due to its size. The GF55mm 1.7 isn't vastly different in this regard. The GF45 2.8, with its added brightness and quality, remains my clear choice. Despite potential future acquisitions, the GF45 will always have its place.
In terms of image rendition, the colours produced by this lens are truly exceptional. The images boast striking contrast and vividness, I often find myself having to reduce the contrast and saturation settings. Chromatic aberrations are virtually non-existent. While there is a noticeable vignetting at f2.8, I personally find it rather pleasing. This characteristic adds to the lens's appeal, especially when shooting wide open and aiming to focus on a specific subject. However, it's worth noting that the lens falls slightly short in one aspect — its minimum focus distance of 45cm. While not a significant issue, I've found it limiting as it doesn't capture the close-up images I often desire.
Yes, the lens is weather-sealed, and I can attest to its efficacy. As an outdoor photographer, my gear faces rain, dust, snow, and everything the mountains throw at it. The GF45, with its compact size and design, feels secure.
In conclusion, I believe the GF45mm F2.8 R WR is a must-have lens for both professional and hobbyist photographers, especially those who venture outdoors. It stands unwavering against the elements and captures the world beautifully, ensuring it never lets you down.
Oh, and a final note, currently I'm immersed in a project slated for release by the end of 2025, entirely crafted using the Fuji GFX Xpan ratio. I must emphasize my genuine pleasure in working with this lens within this panoramic view; it feels like a perfect match. However, I'll delve deeper into the nuances of this ratio and its compatibility with the GFX in a dedicated post soon. Stay tuned for more on that!
"Storing Light" is my personal blog, where I share my photography insights, thoughts, experiences, and gear choices. Join me on this captivating journey into the world of visual storytelling, where I'll also feature guest contributors discussing their thoughts and ideas.