When I first saw the teaser post from Fuji rumors, my impression was that this is going to be hot selling one within the Fujifilm community if it is priced right. And the turn out to be quite true. At the price of 549 USD, Viltrox priced it so attractively and it sold out immediately on the Taobao platform and its online shop.
Viltrox is a name that we, Fujifilm photographers, are familiar with since the birth of its very first autofocus lens, 85mm f1.8 (MK I). Like many photographers, I am impressed by how the Viltrox engineers reverse engineered the X-mount design and work around it. To refresh everyone’s memory, Fujifilm did not open up their X-mount protocol to every third-party manufacturer and Viltrox make it!
Viltrox 75mm f1.2 is an uncommon focal length at 112.5mm (in full frame equivalent). But I believe photographers, who are using XF80mm and XF90mm, easily adapt to this new focal length.
Design and Build Quality
There are two things you will get to notice when you hold the lens: the weight, and the build quality.
At 670 grams, I can feel the mass on my hand. It is definitely not light among most of the lenses. Every part of it is by no means cheap or cheap-built, you can feel that the build quality is belongs to the top tier.
With that massive weight, the lens eventually comes with a huge 77mm filter size.
Furthermore, it also comes with waterproof and dust-proof protection. This is also what a Pro lens should equip these days.
The aperture ring is the clickable one (it does not have de-click option) and it has that satisfying clicking experience whenever you rotate the ring. It also comes with a “A” for automatic aperture choosing by the camera but what missing here is the aperture ring lock release that prevents accidental switch.
Unlike the metal lens hood with Viltrox 33mm f1.4, this 75mm lens comes with the plastic lens hood and it is kind of loose when it is face-inside the lens barrel. But it locked up quite well when it faces away from the lens barrel.
At f1.2, the image quality is really sharp. Probably one of the most clinical sharp lenses on the market out there. At wide open, the subject easily pops out from the background. The lens renders the bokeh well and quite smoothening. Even the fall-off is excellent too.
Is clinical sharp a bad thing or a good thing? In my opinion, it is not a good or bad thing. It is based on individual preference and I know some photographers end up de-sharpen in posts with the results from this lens. For me, this is how this lens performs and something, and it is better to have clinically sharp than characteristically soft because this is a pro-grade lens.
As for me, certain shots happen to be over sharpen for my liking but still within my acceptable range. This doesn’t happen in every shot I take. Probably many factors like light and shadow play a part too.
The chromatic aberration is very well-controlled and I did not notice anything. However, there is a small amount of vignetting at wide-open but it can be resolved via increasing of aperture value or in post-processing.
The lens (or focus) breathing is surprisingly good here. The focus distance did not change dramatically as you change the focus distance from MOD to infinity and vice versa. This can be a great deal for videographer.
How should I put it? If I try to focus from the Minimum Focus Distance to anywhere far, I will experience some sluggish focusing. It will take quite a while to focus on the subject I want.
Secondly, the lens sometimes also gives wobbly focusing and that happens even during day time. It takes awhile for me to get use to this behavior.
I guess there might be 2 factors behind its focusing performance.
One: it might be due to heavy glass elements inside the lens chamber. Hence, the movement of glass elements affected the performance.
Two: Stepper Motor (STM) might be another factor as it is not the faster-focusing motor that is equipped with a lens. But we have seen some other lenses perform quite well with STM too.
If the focus distance and the subject are close to each other, it performs quite well. On the other hand, the eye-AF works quite well and behaves quite close to what the Fujifilm lenses can perform. (that is provided it does not encounter the sluggish focusing mentioned above.)
Minimum Focus Distance (MOD)
It has a MOD of 0.88m, which also means that it can’t really focus that close to the subject. If you are looking for a lens that can do a tight close-up shot, this lens is not designed for that.
I have to reiterate again that 549 USD for a fast autofocus prime lens with the metal build quality is really a good deal. So far, there is no one lens that can price match with Viltrox in this aspect.
Like other third-party manufacturers, there is always a kind of digital communication to support future firmware upgrades via SD card, dock, or USB port. In this case, there is a USB-C port located at the rear of the lens. I’m glad to see this than the micro-USB found in Viltrox 85mm f1.8 Mark II. Unfortunately, pardon the OCD, the design of the USB-C is not quite symmetrical to the red dot, I wish it is.
As a pro lens, it comes with an AF/MF switch, and if you need to switch to manual mode, you need to switch it from the switch. The Focus mode selector on your Fuji camera bodies will not enable the lens to manual focus. This might be a little hassle for photographers who need it but do take note.
Who is this for?
This is a portrait lens and of course, I have to recommend it to portrait photographers and pre-wedding photographers. Although this lens is slow in focusing return, it will not fail you with the image quality it produces. For product shoot photographers, you can consider this lens too.
As for the rest of the genres, I cannot really recommend using them. I mean it is a great lens but here are some of the downsides that make it not as versatile as other lenses offered in the market.
First, this lens is not ideal for street, documentary, and the like photography genres because of its size and weight. It attracts attention easily, and the weight will weigh you down over time. Basically, it is not a suitable candidate for such genres. But if you insist (like me), you can do so. Because image quality will pay off your sweat and effort.
Second, it does not have short (or close) MOD. So for a photographer like me who love to shoot as close to the subject as possible, this is kind of a bumper. But it still renders the image very well at MOD.
This is Viltrox’s first-ever pro-grade lens. I think it nails almost everything and this lens simply outperforms its pricing with image quality. To date, there is no one lens able to match it equally. This is definitely a good start for Viltrox venturing into the Pro series and Viltrox has indeed set a high benchmark for every manufacturer to follow. I cannot wait to see what Viltrox’s next Pro lenses will be. I am really excited.
Thank you for reading.
1. All the shots taken here are shot by me.
2. Most of the shots are straight out of the camera with some shots edited via In-Camera Raw Processing or Capture One.
3. The opinions are based on my experience. If there is any mistake, please kindly drop me a message and I will gladly make the amendment.
4. I reserve ownership of these images, if you wish to use my images, please notify me.
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