Fuji 60mm - My Favorite Lens of All Time
Yes, I’m reviewing a lens that came out several years ago because... well, I need content for this blog and it really is my favorite lens of all time. The question is, why should you care about my 2017 review of a lens that came out years ago and was widely reviewed then? A lot has changed in the last few years with regards to this lens... and a lot hasn't changed. However, the Fujifilm 60mm is probably my favorite lens of all time.
What You Need To Know About The Lens
This lens is, because of physics I admittedly don't fully understand, actually more like a 90mm focal length. This means it's not a telephoto (135mm or greater) but it's also not a wide angle either. It falls, in my opinion, on the long side of "normal" focal lengths, which are probably the most useful focal lengths there are in photography.
The other thing you need to know about the 60mm is that it has a maximum aperture of 2.4. This doesn't seem like much when compare to the low light monsters like the 56 1.2 and 35mm 1.4, but trust me, it'll surprise you. Keep in mind that most photographers swear by 24-70mm and 70-200mm 2.8 lenses. These two lenses are plenty fast for most photographers, so why isn't a 90mm 2.4 acceptable?
The last major this you need to know about this lens is that it is a sort of half assed macro lens. What I mean by that is that a true macro lens will reproduce the subject at its true to life size on the image sensor of your camera. This is known as a 1:1 reproduction ratio. This means that the lens projects a life size image of the subject rather than a slightly smaller image.
This lens does about half that, which means that the bug your shooting (because macro photographers always shoot bugs) is reproduced half as large on your sensor as it is in real life. What does this mean? A 1:1 lens allows you to potentially get closer up and allow you to capture more details of smaller subjects (I.e. Bugs). However, 1:2 still lets you get pretty close.
What You May Have Heard
The biggest thing you've probably heard about this lens is that it is SLOW to focus. Most reviewers seem to indicate that it is nearly unusable due to its slow performance. Additionally, many reviewers fault it because it isn't a "fast" (in terms of maximum aperture) lens. Lastly, reviewers typically faulted the fact that it's not a true 1:1 macro lens. Basically, the reviews I've read conclude that this lens is a jack of all trades and a master of none. These less than favorable reviews have put a lot of people off this lens, but I think that's a little unfair.
What Do I Think?
Let me make the argument here for the jack of all trades and master of none. My argument begins with the Swiss Army knife.
The Swiss Army knife isn't a particularly good knife, there are better knives for whatever particular job. It's a screwdriver, but honestly, you're better off getting an actual screw driver from your tool box. It's a wine opener, but I've got a better corkscrew in my kitchen. The Swiss Army knife isn't nearly as good as a lot of other tools, but it does all the jobs in one small package.
The Fujifilm 60mm lens is very similar. You can fix it to the front of your camera and photograph just about anything. Its good in low light, it's good for macro, it's good for people, it's good for plants, it's good for animals, it's good for just about everything.
Additionally to its stunningly multifaceted-ness, one thing you will never hear reviewers complain about this lens is the image quality. This lens is an absolute stunner. It is as sharp as puppy teeth, even wide open. The other thing about the image quality is the rendering of the out of focus bits of the image, otherwise know in Japanese as "bokeh". The bokeh is smooth and pleasant when wide open and can definitely give you good separation from the background of your image, even though it's only a 2.4 aperture. From an image quality standpoint, this lens is absolutely wonderful.
Lastly, I want to address the elephant in the room, which is the slowness of the autofocus. It's honestly not that bad, but it's also not that great either. I will say that I've never felt like I've missed a bunch of shots because of the autofocus. I would say it's adequate. Not fast, not unusable, but adequate. This is especially true on the newer Fujifilm bodies, like the X-T2.
Lastly, there's the price of this lens. The bad early reviews have caused this lens' price to absolutely plummet on the secondary markets. I bought my version of this lens for an especially good deal at $280, but you can regularly find them online used or grey market for around $350-$400.
In summary, this lens is cheap, versatile, and is optically really good, which is not usually a combination that goes together where photography gear is concerned. I think the autofocus issue has been exaggerated due to the usual best-thing-ever/worst-thing-ever nature of the Internet. Jump on this lens if you shoot Fujifilm, you won’t regret it.