The benefits (or otherwise) of legacy and adapted lenses. Part 2 (of 3) APS-C (FUJI X-E2)

Following on from my first post that compared legacy and adapted lenses with native lenses on the m4/3 system, this one deals with an APS-C sensor and my Fuji X-E2 camera.

The above picture shows my three Fuji X cameras and the collection of lenses and adapters I can use with them. I have - Fuji X-E1, X-E2 and X-Pro 1 cameras, 18mm, 18-55mm, 60mm and 55-200mm native Fuji lenses, two Metabones adapters (1 Speed Booster 1 Passive) Nikon 28mm f1/.8G, 50mm f/1.8G, 85mm f/1.8G and Series E 100mm f/2.8 primes and two Voigtlanders - 20mm f/3.5 Nikon Fit and 90mm f/3.5 m-mount fit. Phew!

 My Wide Angle Set

 My telephoto set

Now the Fuji X system differs from m4/3 in that it's a much less mature lens range. And of course the same could be said for both the other APS-C mirrorless systems, Sony and Samsung. All have been around less than m4/3 and despite Fuji releasing some nice lenses there are still some gaps in the X system which adapted lenses could fill. 

For a long while I only had the 18-55mm zoom and used my Nikons and Voigtlanders to give me some telephoto options. I've since bought the 55-200mm zoom, but though it's reasonably fast for a zoom, the two Nikon primes I have are still faster. I was interested to see how this medium telephoto area was catered for and I also thought I'd have a look at how the different options looked after what might be described as 'Standard Wide-Angle' i.e. An approximate equivalent of 28mm in 35mm / 'Full-Frame' terms. I have ignored the 'standard lens' focal length since the Fuji's are well catered for by the 35mm f/1.4. My Nikon plus the Speed Booster would give an f/1 in light gathering terms, but I doubt whether I'd recommend that over the native Fuji lens because of the difficulties of manual focusing in low light.

So using various adapter combinations to try to get something similar to make a comparison with I shot the following. Shooting wide open and at f/8.

There are differences in depth-of-field here as would be expected, but as before with my m4/3 test there are no really significant sharpness differences. They may well be some if I was shooting test charts, but as ever I like to use 3-D setups because I don't shoot test charts for a living!

The wide-angle comparison is interesting because if there is a marginal winner it's the 18mm f/2 Fuji, which surprised me. And since that lens has AF and is smaller and lighter that may well give it the edge for me over the Nikon 28mm. Though this lens with a Speed Booster has an f/1.2 light gathering potential, it is bigger and heavier and one again I would have to weigh up whether it was worth coping with the manual focus to get that extra speed, particularly when you consider just how good the Fuji's are at high ISO's. In good light however I see no advantage of any of the lenses over the 18-55mm zoom which is excellent apart from some softish corners at wide apertures, something the 18mm prime is also prone too. But then the Speed Booster softens the corners slightly on the 28mm Nikon as well, so swings and roundabouts really. I should mention also that the Voigtlander 20mm with the Speed Booster gives me a 21mm f/2.5 35mm / 'Full-Frame' approximation but I've left that out since I don't have a Fuij 14mm f/2.8 to compare it with. However, it does give me a relatively fast wide-angle option, so for that it's very useful.

It's the telephoto option where there are still some adapted lens advantages. Much as I like the 55-200m zoom, it is the slowest and softest of all the options. But of course, by far the most useful for the vast majority of the uses I would put a telephoto zoom to. Plus it has to be mentioned that the relative slowness is compensated for by the OIS system, which is terrific, and again by the Fuji X Trans sensors superb high ISO performance. So, much more than at the wide-angle end I can see a real advantage here for lenses like the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G. It's a superb lens anyway and with the speed booster an f/1.2 light gatherer. At that aperture I'm hardly likely to worry about edge sharpness either.

Now this is a system that I have used legacy / adapted lens a lot more than with m4/3 and because of the lesser number of native options I can see a continuing use for these. However there is the 56mm f/1.2 waiting in the wings and I think all us Fuji X shooters will be interested in that. Personally however I'd love to see something around the 85 to 100mm f/2.8 mark for the system, but that's either not going to happen or happen anytime soon, so if I want something like that the adapters are my only option.

Finally I should say that probably the majority of images I have shot on my Fuji's have been with adapted lenses, though that is changing slowly. So I have gained a real benefit from them. However Fuji make darn good lenses and some pretty quick ones as well. Plus the OIS on both the zooms is very impressive and so long as I'm not shooting action, in many ways compensate for narrower maximum apertures. There is also the fact that Fuji lenses are (mostly) reasonably priced and it seems you can always rely on Fuji to have some deal on offer these days. So again it's down to what you need and whether you feel there is any real advantage to using adapters and manual focus. I can certainly say that I have felt that they have been more beneficial to me than with m4/3, but as the Fuji lens range gets more comprehensive then that benefit may erode somewhat. 

As a kind of postscript I would mention that when I was using Sony NEX cameras my use of adapted lenses was even higher. I haven't got any APS-C e-mount gear any more so I can't show the differences. But Sony had and still have this problem with lenses. Not enough of them and for the most part not really that good in quality terms. It is of course a similar situation with the A7 / A7r system, which I will be concluding this series with. However that's going to take a day or two because I've ordered an A7 + 28-70mm zoom which I'm picking up tomorrow and I thought I would wait to include that lens into my tests. Should be interesting!!

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