I had an opportunity recently to compare the Fujifilm 56mm F1.2R with the newer APD version. They are both currently in production so the Fuji user has a choice on which to purchase. The APD version is about 60-70% more expensive. That’s about USD600 which may or may not be a major factor in your decision to purchase the lens. It is designed for the portraitist with the goal of controlling bokeh. Some disclosure. I own the original 56mm F1.2R and like it a lot, so had high expectations.
Outwardly the lenses look nearly identical. The giveaway is the “APD” on the lens barrel and orange T-stop markings. T stops show the actual light transmission. The special APD lens element does two things. The first is a positive and the second not so much. Firstly and most importantly it makes the bokeh more pleasing to the eye and secondly it absorbs some of the light going through the lens. This means that shooting wide open at F1.2 you are only going to get the same amount of light transmission to the sensor as if you were shooting at F1.7 on the normal 56mm F1.2R. This is not an issue when shooting as todays sensors can simply bump the ISO a little. Please note that at F5.6 the effective T stop transmission is the same on both the lenses so the T stops markings cease at that point.
As shooting brick walls is not my thing I decided to take the lenses out on some actual photo shoots over a couple of weeks. My methodology was to shoot using a tripod so as to keep the subject and backgrounds similar while I changed lenses alternating between the R and APD versions. All photos were taken in aperture priority with the aperture set at F1.2 which is likely the most common scenario when using this lens.
Please also note that the differences appear more subtle on this web page than they do on a 24″ screen or in a print. The first four images below left me nonplussed. The differences were only obvious after very close scrutiny on a large screen. On the back of the camera I couldn’t see any differences so was feeling “ho-hum”. However when we started to shoot outside the difference in the background foliage was very apparent.
All photos taken with the Fujifilm X-T1.
Part two will feature a model shoot. Click HERE for part 2