Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 R WR Review
The Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 R WR lens is a new wide angle lens designed for the digital medium format Fujfilm GFX system. It has a full-frame equivalent focal length of 24mm (and its maximum aperture has an equivalent depth of field to a f/2.8 aperture).
Fujfilm claims the lens is capable of fully realising the image quality potential of the GFX100, which is a 100MP camera. What we appear to have then is a lens well suited to big scenes produced on a big scale, particularly landscape photography.
Compact and lightweight, weather resistant, silent internal autofocus, virtually no focus breathing and Fujfilm's, signature clicked aperture ring, this lens seemingly has it all.
Today's street price for the Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 R WR is around £1,650 / $1,700. That's around the same price as Pentax's similar medium format lens and around half the price of Hasselblad's like-for-like XCD lens.
Within the GF range of lenses, there is already the Fujfilm GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR. This lens is around 30% more expensive, but does offer a small zoom range, equivalent to 25-50mm.
Read on to find out about our experience with the Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 R WR.
Ease of Use
For this test, we have used the Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 R WR lens with the Fujfilm GFX 50R, which is the smallest GFX camera available. The pairing is perfect and the lens would sit nicely with other cameras in the range too.
In the hand, the Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 R WR lens is a mere 510g and 10cm approximately in length. For a digital medium format system, that's both lightweight and compact.
Its barrel is narrower on the front end and fatter on the rear. This 'stepped' design provides a clear separation between the sizeable focusing ring at the front end and the clicked aperture ring on the rear - there's no muddling those two up.
Around the lens, you'll see the 'WR' marking that indicates this is a 'weather-resistant' lens, able to keep out dust and moisture and work at temperatures down to -10°C. Certainly we had no qualms taking this magnesium-alloy lens to a beach, faced with light rain in the blustery air. There's a fluorine coating on the front lens element resistant to those nasties too.
It's possible to attach threaded lens filters to the front via the 58mm filter thread. That's on the smaller end of the scale and means threaded filters won't break the bank like larger threaded filters can. A lens hood is provided and clicks firmly into place, plus it is easy to remove.
Of course there is Fujifilm's infamous clicked aperture ring which marries up with the camera's shooting mode dials. The f/3.5 to f/32 aperture settings are evenly spaced and click at 1/3EV intervals, with the ring's action and response feeling spot on.
The wide aperture range covers a variety of scenarios - you'll be able to throw a soft background for closeup subjects using fast apertures and get plenty of depth in landscapes at the opposite end.
Being part of the Fujfilm GFX system, there's a lot to like about the Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 R WR lens. Performance-wise, you have what is possibly the quickest digital medium format system available today, with rapid start up time and shutter response. Being able to react quickly sure is useful for something like street photography, or general action.
We like being able to choose between a mechanical or electronic shutter. The latter is silent and does not induce vibrations of any kind, which is appreciated especially for high resolution landscape photography - surely a concern of the key demographic for this lens.
Autofocus is very quick, especially when you consider the camera format. Certainly, focus speed is not compromised by the lens itself.
Focusing is internal, meaning there's no extension of the lens barrel when the focus distance is altered. There's virtually no focus breathing - Fujifilm claims it is as little as 0.05%. From our observations there is no discernible breathing. And with it's slightly wider focal length, this could be a very useful lens for filmmaking (although there is no optical stabilisation).
In addition to it's rapid and accurate autofocus acquisition across a wide range of scenarios (including low contrast light), focusing is also near silent.
Manual focus is activated via a switch on the camera itself, not on the lens. With this option selected, the focus distance is automatically displayed on screen and focus magnification provides a closer and clearer inspection of the focus area.
As already mentioned, the ridged focus ring is sizeable and easy to locate. Its rotation is lovely.
Ultimately, when it comes to the handling of the Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 R WR lens, there is no area found wanting. This is a lens that quietly and quickly gets on with the job. Where it really counts, it delivers.
The 30mm focal length gives a full-frame equivalent focal length of 24mm and an 84° angle of view on the medium format sensor (44x33mm).
Inside, the Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 R WR lens packs 13 lens elements in 10 groups, including two aspherical and two ED lenses.
Chromatic aberrations (CA, colour fringing) are controlled exceptionally well. We've used the lens in all of its aperture settings in a variety of scenarios that would demonstrate CA, and we have found no obvious aberrations, even in the uncorrected raw images.
There's also the matter of longitudinal chromatic aberrations (LOCA, fringing in out-of-focus areas), of which there are virtually none. It's an excellent performance.
Light Fall-off and Distortion
Light fall-off, which the difference in brightness between the centre and the edges of the frame and is also known as vignetting, is well controlled by the Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 R WR lens.
At f/3.5, light fall off can be seen in un-corrected raw images although it is not severe. At f/4 it is reduced and then by f/5.6 and for the remaining aperture settings, there is no discernible light fall off.
From what we can see, there is virtually no barrel or mustache distortion in unedited raw images. The ever-so-minimal mustache distortion is easily corrected in post, but really it's a very good performance for a lens with this focal length.
Sunstars and Flare
Flare is where things get a little interesting. When shooting towards a strong light source - namely the sun - there are two types of prominent flare; 'ghosting' and 'rainbow'.
Ghosting is mainly from reflections within the lens and takes form as random shapes, often seen as dots demonstrating the shape created by the lens aperture blades.
Rainbow flare is an indirect cause of the camera sensor and is the multi-coloured effect seen within the light rays (sunstars).
Both types of flare are minimised by a shallow depth of field and consequent softening when shooting at the wider apertures. Close down the aperture with the light source sharply in focus and flare is more pronounced.
No lens is completely immune to flare when shooting towards the sun. However, this lens is affected by it a little more than we hoped. If you want clean images when shooting towards strong light, there are precautions to take.
With a minimum focus distance of 0.32m and maximum reproduction of 0.15x, the Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 R WR is not a lens designed for macro photography. However, with a relatively fast maximum aperture, it is possible to get some pleasant out-of-focus backgrounds to close up subjects.
Bokeh describes the quality of out-of-focus areas, with three key desirable attributes; a rounded shape, soft edges free from longitudinal chromatic aberration (colour fringing), and smooth detail inside free from 'worming'.
Arguably, bokeh is not particularly high on the list of wants for a wide angle lens. However, for those that are interested, the Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 R WR lens puts in a good performance.
Edges are moderately soft with no obvious LOCA, there is minimal worming, plus nine aperture blades results in a relatively rounded shape when shooting at f/3.5, f/4 and even up to f/5.6. Close down to f/8 and beyond and the angled edges become more obvious.
Another consideration is the maximum aperture because it impacts how blurry the out-of-focus areas can be, with a faster aperture giving greater control for out-of-focus areas.
Featuring a relatively fast f/3.5 maximum aperture and paired with the Fujfilm GFX digital 'medium format' sensor, blurry backgrounds are possible with this lens.
In order to show you how sharp the Fujifilm GF 30mm F3.5 R WR lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.