Street Photography with Fujifilm’s XF56mm f/1.2R

Brian Li

"My name is Brian Li, and I’m an electronic music designer based in Las Vegas, NV. My work can be heard on Broadway, Off-Broadway, national tours, and other theatrical productions around the world."

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I love street photography, and I love wide lenses. The last time I shot with something longer 35mm was back in 2008. I was just starting to learn the basics of photography with my dad’s Nikon D200 and 18–55mm zoom. I shot a few frames at 55mm, and that was it. Never again did I venture past 35mm. Until now.

Fujifilm’s XF56mm is an 85mm full frame equivalent lens. The focal length combined with a maximum aperture of f/1.2 makes it a prime choice for portrait photography. I don’t shoot portraits. Photography is strictly a hobby for me, and I only enjoy street and travel photography.

So, why did I go out and buy a thousand dollar portrait lens?
Two reasons:
Street photography with a fast portrait lens seems like a fun challenge.
The lens was on sale, and I hit the buy button without realizing it.

UPS dropped off the lens a few days ago, and I immediately rushed to the nearest photography store to buy a 62mm filter. After that, I headed over to the Las Vegas Strip to do some shooting.

Shooting at 85mm was completely disorienting. As a 28mm and 35mm lover, I’m used to getting into people’s personal space. Telephoto shooting is a completely a different experience. I suddenly became an observer of the scene instead of a participant.


In case you’re wondering, yes I did shoot everything wide open at f/1.2.
Wouldn’t you?

Autofocus speed and accuracy was very impressive. I only missed a few shots even with the aperture locked to f/1.2.




Yesterday, I hopped on a plane for a quick trip to LA. This shot was taken at Griffith Observatory. The XF56mm is an absolute BOKEH MONSTER.

Two monochromatic conversions for your enjoyment.


It was a gorgeous west coast evening, and the XF56mm did a wonderful job of capturing the scene.

It took 24 years, but I finally got to see the Hollywood sign in person.

Here are a few more shots from the evening.




I had tons of fun shooting street photography with the XF56mm. The change in perspective after years of shooting 28mm and 35mm was… insightful. It forced me to observe my surroundings in a completely different way, and the photos I produced were unlike anything I’ve shot before.

Will I continue using the XF56mm for street photography?
Of course. The XF56mm is magnificent at f/1.2, and I doubt I’ll ever stop it down. In fact, I love this lens so much, I’m going to keep it permanently attached to my X-Pro2.

 

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  • Tushar47

    I shoot street with the 56 and an xpro 2 as well. You defining m definitely need more foresight and can’t crop as much as with wide lengths but the isolation and compression of a short telephoto is magical. That and the sheer quality of that glass.

  • t_linn

    I wonder if my wife would for the “I hit the buy button without realizing it” excuse? Sadly, I think not. 🙂