Today I will be comparing the Fuji 63mm F2.8 WR 'standard Lens' which was the first in their GFX line up to the Sony 55m f1.8 Sonnar T* FE ZA 'standard lens which was the Sony equivalent.
Firstly lets look at the weight comparison. The Sony 55mm weighs in at a mere 281gm while the Fuji 63mm come in at a modest 405gm. The weight difference is not excess from my point of view as a fine art landscape photographer when considering the resolution gain coming from the Fuji GFX 100s camera. The overall dimensions on the GFX lens are larger but space in my bag is not an issue for me.
Next I looked at focus speed. While out in the field I generally manual focus, however when in the studio speed can become somewhat important when working with models and portraiture. The Sony 55mm is of course the clear winner. While not the fastest in the impressive lens line up from Sony it is indeed fast and accurate. I have been using this lens for years and I have had excellent results with its focus speed and accuracy. However the Fuji 63mm is no slouch in comparison. Both on single AF and continuous the 63mm does do a great job but since the actual lens length changes with focus (external focus) it is quite noisy when compared to the almost silent Sony 55mm which focuses internally. Throughout my testing the fuji performed excellently with focus accuracy. So the natural next question is does this make a difference? Well, for me it can! With landscape photography, we often use an array of filters on the front of the lens to control the light, and in my case I regularly use the Lee Expandable Lens Shade or as it is called the Universal Lens Shade in combination with one or more filters. That means the front of the lens can get a little heavy (around 300gm) and so far I have gotten multiple lens error warnings due to this weight causing me to have to turn off and on the camera. I have sent off an email to Fuji regarding the problem I'm experiencing, but as of yet I have not got a response regarding the issue. I am hoping there maybe some menu setting tweaks that may help with this or a firmware update. As I understand it, the 63mm lens is the only lens in the current Fuji GFX lineup that has external focusing so I suspect no other lens would suffer from this current issue that I'm facing.
My next move was to review lens sharpness. Now I am no guru in professional lens testing. I'm just looking at real world result that I can expect between these two lenses attached to their relevant system camera. Now this is where it can get a little tricky and there is a huge resolution difference between these two cameras. So the first direction I took was just to simple see if the fuji lens appears to be as sharp or sharper than the Sony 55mm. DXOmark rates the 55mm as one of the sharpest lens ever made and from my real world experience with the lens I would say that is correct. Comparing edge sharpness against other camera systems I owned and used over the years, the Sony 55mm is top notch. So how well did the Fuji 63mm which is almost twice the price fair? Again it is hard to pit them against each other and as I am not technical enough to calculate the various aspects to make an accurate direct comparison, but to my eye the Fuji 63mm is the clear winner. Now to explain how I arrived at that conclusion. I shot both cameras at the same f-stop (f5.6) at 6m distance from a lens chart I downloaded from the internet and using a solid tripod with a 2 second timer, auto focus single point at the centre of the lens, then compared the files in Adobe ACR with all sharpening turned off and reviewed the results. Here are the results cropped in for you to make your own conclusions. Remember the 63mm Fuji has a larger sensor size than the 35mm full framed Sony. Taking into consideration the sensor size factor difference, that would make the 63mm equivalent to a 50mm in 35mm full frame terms, so a slightly wider angle of view than the Sony 55mm FE lens. So my conclusion from this is I have not sacrificed any lens sharpness from including the Fuji GFX line in my workflow.
In conclusion, I am extremely happy with how the Fuji 63mm f2.8 WR compares with my well tested Sony 55mm F1.8 lens. The 2.4x resolution gain from the GFX while maintain as good if not better sharpness allows me to create amazing images. Currently the only reservation I have with the fuji 63mm is with the above mentioned weight issue when the universal filter hood is attached causing the camera to error. It is possible to attach the hood after focus has been achieved, but I'm hopeful fuji can find a fix to keep things as simple as possible.