Fujifilm 56mm F1.2R vs 56mm F1.2 APD Bokeh Comparison at a Wedding

Originally posted 2015-05-28 10:47:57.

Now it’s time to go to a wedding with the final installment of this real world test. As weddings are incredibly fast moving there are limited opportunities to actually set up a tripod and play lens switching with a bride and groom waiting around for me. So this set of photos is strictly limited to while we were waiting at the dinner venue.

I DID shoot the bride and groom’s portraits with the 56mm F1.2 APD and at other times during the day but as this is a comparison I am not including the photos here. You can see the portraits in this post.

If you missed part one, the introduction and corporate shoot then click here. To see the model comparison, click here.
Fujifilm 56mm F1.2R vs APD Bokeh

The “plain” 56mm F1.2R’s bokeh

Fujifilm 56mm F1.2R vs APD Bokeh

56mm F1.2 APD. Note the difference to the left of the cake.

Fujifilm 56mm F1.2R vs APD Bokeh

56mm F1.2R Control. Note the slightly “onion” bokeh

Fujifilm 56mm F1.2R vs APD Bokeh

56mm F1.2 APD. Again the difference seems obvious.

Conclusion: I entered this test a wee bit skeptical. I had read other peoples reviews and they seemed to indicate that the difference between the two lenses was not that noticeable.  The first few photos I took left me feeling similar but as I continued the differences became more  apparent, perhaps because I knew what to look for. Would a paying client notice? Not likely. Would you as a photographer notice? Yes.

I fell in love with the lens and it did not take long for me to be leaving my “normal” 56mm 1.2R at home and using the APD version exclusively. When it came time to return the lens I tried to delay doing so as long as I could. But all good things come to an end. So there is my endorsement. If you can afford it, get it.


7 Replies to “Fujifilm 56mm F1.2R vs 56mm F1.2 APD Bokeh Comparison at a Wedding”

  1. Great job! I’ve seen several other comparisons and wasn’t convinced by any of them – but this one clearly shows the benefit of the APD version and would certainly tempt me to pay the extra cost. I’m still unsure if this is a good thing for Fuji or not – as well as showing the benefit of the APD version, it also demonstrates a deficiency in the ‘normal’ version which is supposed to be one of their flagship lenses.

    Still – thanks very much, and a giant high-five and fist-bump for your photography. Excellent work.


    1. Thank you for your kind words. Both lenses are small light and enjoyable to use. Of course EVF shooting has something to do with the enjoyment factor. The WYSIWYG nature of the XT-1 is something I now want in my Canons and Nikons.

  2. Hi, thanks for good work! Your photos approved my impression about “normal” version and APD. For me it’s obvious to get APD, “normal” is too dry in “bokeh”

  3. One thing you don’t mention (maybe I missed it), is the loss of one f-stop of light with the APD version. Plus how is the focusing WITHOUT phase detection, which the APD version doesn’t have?

    I have 3 Fuji bodies and 7 Fuji lenses, including the 16-55mm and 50-140mm f2.8 lenses.

    But I can’t let go of my Nikon 85mm f1.4 lens! I know BOTH the Fuji lenses are equal to an 85mm f1.8 as far as shallow depth of field goes, but the Nikon f1.4 costs over $1000 more than the f1.8 version, so I don’t think I want to go backwards. Plus, I can use my Nikon lens on my Fuji body, which is almost like the 90mm in focal length, but again one full stop faster (but manual focus). I have the “D” version, so I have an aperture ring as well as I can lock the lens in full manual mode.

    I feel like Fuji made the excellent 56mm f1.2, but knew the bokeh was at f1.8, so tried again with the APD version, but now you lose phase detection autofocus and a full stop of light. And I’m sorry, but the difference I see in your samples in so subtle I don’t think it’s worth it, even though the APD version is on sale for $1100 U.S.

    1. As a photographer I can only give my opinion which may or may not help. A lot of photography is subjective. I have owned most of Nikons 1.4 glass and over the years have on three occasions owned Canons 85mm 1.2L. Often times we are chasing the best, and wasting a lot of effort pixel peaking when our clients and friends are not. I use 3 systems currently. With my Canon system I have gravitated to the 70-200 F2.8 for portraiture, selling my last 85mm F1.2L recently and finally deciding I am never going to try that road again. The 200mm at the long end gives fantastic portraits and almost always nails focus. Yes the 85mm 1.2L is wonderful when it is in focus, but is a serious pixel peep nightmare. The shallow depth of field along with the sluggish autofocus speed can be a massive encumbrance.

      With Nikon the 85mm 1.4G is also a wonderful lens. But the difference between it and the 85 1.8 isn’t that obvious to most people unless you shoot side by side and flick between photos. I sold my 1.4G off and now use the 1.8G. Its lighter, AF is very fast and with the D750 sensor is really nice. I shot a wedding earlier today with it and pulled off photos that had the bride smile with delight. She didn’t care I was shooting the 1.8G instead of the 1.4G.

      IMHO the ultimate portrait lens for Nikon and Canon isn’t their fast 85mm length. It’s the 200 F2.0s. I do not own one (YET!) but as an NPS member I have been able to borrow one from Nikon on several occasions. Each time I bring it out it makes a statement to those who see it in a way an 85mm never will. The ease in which this lens gets tack sharp photos with bokeh balls to die for and backgrounds that evaporate was what convinced me I will never lust for an 85mm lens again.

      As for Fuji, their 90mm F2.0 is now the lens I reach for when shooting portraits. It comes closest to the 200m F2.0 as far as ease of use, look of the images, and feel in the hand. This is highly subjective. But I love it. When I used both the 56mm 1.2 lenses I felt neither was an impediment when it came to focusing. of course a test bed set up could likely be devised to emphasize the R over the APD, but in my style of shooting I didn’t notice it. With today’s sensors the loss of one stop of light is nothing really. We are talking about shooting at 1.2 after all, so your shutter speed is likely to be very manageable.

      The one thing I do not think I touched on, is that with the cheaper R version that sometimes there can be “onion” like bokeh or dots in the bokeh balls. It is easy to fix in post. But I did not see this at all on the APD sample I had.

      From what I see, you have some awesome lenses for your system. The joy of using either 56mm 1.2 in full day light is when you switch to the electronic shutter and get your 1/32,000 second photos at 1.2. Something Canon and Nikon just cannot do.

      If I had the money and the choice, I would get the APD, for my own vanity perhaps. But as it is I have to justify my kit and when a lens isn’t making money, or when a cheaper lens will get the job done beyond the clients (not necessarily mine) expectations then the decision to either buy, sell or retain a lens is easier for me. I really this helps you and doesn’t just make things worse, but I think you know the right answer for your own style of shooting already 🙂

  4. Hi Grant, very interesting articel, I have no kids or weddings to photograph, more likely sulphur-crested cockatoos and streetscapes, but thank-you for the in-depth and colourful side-by-side. Keep up the good work


    1. Hi Jim, you may want to look at either the XC 50-230mm or XF 55-200. On a whim I opted for the cheaper XC as a “cheap and cheerful” holiday lens and was surprised at its sharpness. I have some photos taken with it of a hawk in my back garden that earned a lot of friends praise. It accompanies me when I am on holiday. Not weddings though 🙂

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