Most of us are guilty of spending our dollars on getting that 'perfect lens' or piece of gear that will 'make my photos so much better'. It's bred into us via the internet and marketing and I am certainly guilty of such things considering photography isn't my bread and butter, yet I own a pretty nice but simple Canon rig, and my Fuji rig is growing steadily.
After recently adding more Fuji gear to my arsenal (XT-1 & XF56 1.2) I decided to check out a 'cheap' Fuji zoom lens for testing my skills in areas I've not worked much in before - wildlife photography.
For $240 AUD (~$190 USD) the XC 50-230mm f4.5-6.7 is a relatively compact and very quiet zoom lens covering a 76-350mm focal length and it also has Optical Image Stabilization (OIS). As I've said to my best mate before and fellow camera and Transformer's enthusiast, 'I'm just like Optimus in that I'm a Prime kinda guy', so this is the first zoom lens I've ever purchased, which opens up a lot of opportunities and a different way of shooting compared to what I'm used to. Regardless, I had a lot of fun with it and was pleasantly impressed with the results.
The following photos were all shot as JPEGs using the Classic Chrome film setting and minor tweaks were applied in Lightroom later on. Fuji's JPEGs are brilliant!
Before I go on, yes, some of these photos were taken at a zoo/sanctuary here in Australia (sorry if I ruined some of the allure to those who didn't pick up on it.). However, these animals were still tricky to shoot at times, particularly the numerous types of birds found throughout the sanctuary. Some of the shots were however, very real and out in the open parts of Australia's bushland and wetlands. If ever you come to Australia, don't EVER mess with the wildlife. We have a lot of deadly and dangerous creatures in this country, particularly snakes and spiders. If I wasn't looking where I was going and scanning all the time I would've walked over the beautiful tiger snake I have pictured below. They have a very potent venom that can be deadly if not treated quickly.
I won't lie. Having a relatively small maximum aperture of f4.5-6.7 isn't what I'm used to, given that my main lenses are a Sigma 35mm 1.4, Canon 135mm F2L, and XF 56 1.2. However, F6.7 on a 350mm equivalent focal length created some absolutely beautiful background blur and of course, compression, that left me forgetting all about wide apertures. The lens itself focuses quite swiftly between near and far and I had plenty of keeper shots from my day shooting fast moving birds. I didn't use continuous focusing mode though as I've found it to be simply frustrating and often missing the moment. It still had some focusing issues when there isn't enough contrast between the subject and the background, but with the recent firmware update I could just use manual override in situations that allowed the time to do so.
Fuji have created a rather nice, cheap lens that feels well built and performs admirably. Sure there are other better zooms in Fuji's lens line-up, but for a bit over $200 the XC50-230 produces beautifully sharp images in a focal range that would satisfy many types of users. The OIS worked a treat, a single battery lasted over 600 shots, and I walked away with a very pleasant first time experience owning a zoom lens.
Here are some bonus pics with the 56mm 1.2