User Report: Is this the ultimate budget 75mm portrait lens for Fujifilm X Series users? By Simon Kimber

Is this the ultimate budget 75mm portrait lens for Fujifilm X Series users?

By Simon Kimber

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Well the actual answer if of course no, but for under £40 this 50mm CCTV lens for APS-C cameras is remarkably good and if your cash strapped, a serious contender to Fuji’s excellent but pricey XF56mm F1.2 lens. Using CCTV lens or ‘toy lens’ is quite popular amongst micro four thirds camera users, and there are many devotees to the swirly bokeh and vignetted images they create. However, having tried one of those tiny lenses, whilst fun, I felt the fiddliness of the tiny focussing ring and lack of defined aperture stops, meant they would never be more than a fun ‘toy’.

optional image 13

This lens however is quite a different beast, and size wise is nearly the same size as a standard Fujifilm lens. Compared with my XF35mm lens, it’s a bit longer but narrower. Whilst idly searching a certain ‘bay’, I came across CCTV lens that fit APS-C sensors available in 25mm F1.4 (40mm in 35mm equivalence), 35mm F1.6 (50mm equivalent) and 50mm F1.8 (75mm equivalent). It’s obviously a manual focus lens, but it has marked F stops and focussing distance marked on and is solidly constructed from aluminium. The lens hood (46mm) and cap are an addition I bought myself. A range of C-Mount adapters are available for Fuji, Sony, Canon and Nikon APS-C cameras. Having recently bought a Fujifilm Xpro1 in their end of line deal, I was looking to expand my lens line up currently having nothing longer than 35mm (50mm equivalent). I thought I would try this focal length to see if I liked it and then maybe in the future save up and buy the XF 60mm (I know it’s not the best lens, the XF56mm is way to expensive).
So what’s this lens like to use? Well it’s not perfect, but you mustn’t forget the price. Image wise as you can see from my not great comparison shots (I should have moved positions really for a better comparison) it’s a little soft, and the colours seem a little washed out compared to Fujifilm’s fantastic XF35mm F1.4 lens. But…. That is a fantastic lens, so being not bad in comparison is a great accolade for a lens costing nearly ten times less.

50mm F1.8 CCTV Lens vs Fujifilm XF35mm F1.4

image 3 cctv lens

image 4 xf35mm

Like other CCTV lens, the only issue is that the glass doesn’t appear to be coated, so the lens is very susceptible to flare, and this can be a major issue. I added a lens hood and often you need to shield the lens with your hand. In many ways it looks and shoots like a vintage lens. I have a vintage Russian Jupiter 8 85mm F2 as well for my Xpro1 and in behaves in a similar way. Focus peaking on the Fuji Xpro1 seems to work quite well with this lens. It doesn’t look like a CCTV lens at all and more like a traditional vintage manual lens. I’m curious about its manufacture as it seems to be far too big for any CCTV camera. Perhaps it is made for just for digital camera using CCTV glass, but I don’t know.

Lens flare in bright evening sunlight can still be a problem even shielding with your hand

image 5 lens flare can be a problem

For me I find this lens works best shooting in black and white and either indoors and in evening or morning light. If you accept that it’s not great in strong sunlight, you can get some nice shots from this lens. In a recent trip to Cologne in Germany, I used this lens quite a bit. I found it actually quite easy to manual focus as there is actually not much distance in the focussing ring from 10 metres to infinity, so manual focussing is quick. I will admit I’m not a great photographer, but I really enjoyed using this lens, and I got (for me) some good photos from this lens)

image 6 Koln riverboat party

image 7 Koln riverboat party 2

A summer party on a Rhine riverboat – everyone was dressed up in white – not sure why

image 8 Koln cathedral

image 9 Koln Cathedral

image 10 Koln Cathedral

I am really pleased with this lens and think it’s a hidden ‘secret’ that people need to know about. This is not a normal ‘CCTV toy lens’! Note – the one I bought says ‘50mm F1.8 APS-C’ on the body of the lens. It does not vignette at all and the images speak for themselves. A number of people on a certain ‘bay’ website sell them, but be careful as there are other lenses being sold that do not that APS-C written on them and appear much smaller. I have no idea what they would be like.

And finally, I think this lens goes quite well with my Fujifilm X-Pro1! Lens wise it has to be the best value for money around at under £40.

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22 Comments

  1. Its interesting how much people don’t seem to like this lens which is very soft in style particularly at F1.8. The ‘toy lens’ movement does have a lot of followers though. The only issue about legacy glass is that the for example M42 adapters are really bulky and double the size of the lens. In addition it can be a gamble buying old lenses – which some might not like.

    I was very pleased with it as for a small amount I’ve found I like the 75mm focal length on my Fuji Xpro 1. As I don’t think I will ever spend the amount needed for the Xf56mm lens – then my other options are a second-hand xf60mm Fuji lens or maybe a better legacy lens.

    I also have a Jupiter 9 85mm lens on the M39 / ltm / Leica mounting. Its a bit long focal length wise, but the Jupiter is no sharper than this CCTV lens at f2. What I have found is the M39 adapter is tiny – so maybe a budget 50mm m39 lens is in order. – looking at the costs – only really the Jupiter 8 50mm or other Russian lenses are really good value – but a gamble on Ebay. Anyone had any use of the 50mm Canon ltm lenses

    Still – I still think this CCTV lens is good value – but I seem to be in the minority

  2. At least in the old world, and North Amerika, there are so many vintage, cheap and opttically excellent 50mm lenses arround that there is no point to use this exotic CCTV lens. For the quoted price you will get a vintage SLR film body thrown in for free.

  3. These Fuji lenses are for Fuji only cameras are not they? It seems that this is a total waste of money.

    • Actually, Leica glass works well on Fuji cameras. You should say, you don’t see the point of using cheap glass on them.

  4. These images are not so much “out of focus”(a commom mistake; if they’re out of focus something should be in focus), but they are soft; a lens characteristic, that some of the “legacy” examples mentioned above certainly don’t share.

    My main observation is that these look flat, muddy. “all dressed in white”? No they’re not, these ladies are dressed in white dresses that have seen so many incorrect washing cycles that noone would want to walk around in them.

    I can’t imagine that to be an intended, artistic (hipster?) result.

  5. I use many vintage lenses on my x-t1,most of my 45 to 55 mm payed less than 40 pounds,try a konica,minolta,even jupiter are better than this ccttv lens,and if you try a contax g lenses…

  6. While I admire your efforts in portraiture, I must reply to your comment that the Fuji XF 60 Macro “is not the best lens”…I shoot it on an XT-1, and though I admit it’s not the speediest in terms of AF, if sharpness and image detail is what you’re after, it IS exceedingly sharp! If interested, I have several sample images on my site that were taken with this lens (Red Pepper, Kettlebell Necklace, Chinese Yin Yang Candles, etc.) that show the kind of fabulous detail which the Fuji X System is capable. As a “sharpness fanatic”, I’d be hesitant to use a “toy” lens on this system for that reason, though I certainly agree that it is good for that “dreamy, ethereal” look. Thank you.

  7. I like the flower photo, but I would look for more contrast in my lens, and there are any number of proven 50mm manual focus lenses from Pentax, Nikon, etc. I have a Minolta 50mm F/1.4 Rokkor that is wonderful on my Fuji X-E2. That was a lens I picked up for free, but I noticed that they are very inexpensive used.

    However, if you like that focal length, go ahead and buy the Zeiss 50mm f/2 Planar in the M-mount (ZM, as Zeiss calls it). You won’t find a nicer — both image and build quality — 50mm lens for under $600. Yes, I know that this is outside the budget for many, but I have owned a handful of Zeiss ZM lenses, and they hold their value. I have never sold one for less that I paid for it. The CCTV have no used market value, and no rich image quality.

    • ” I have owned a handful of Zeiss ZM lenses, and they hold their value. I have never sold one for less that I paid for it. ”

      Then you must buy them used. The Zeiss ZM lenses are excellent, but I have bought them all used (in perfect shape) for about 60% of the price that they are new. Same thing with the Zeiss ZF lenses.

      Nice shots Simon (click on them to open them up bigger and sharper), and sure there are ‘better’ lenses for less, but sometimes it is fun to experiment and use something less main stream. I dig it.

  8. I’m not sure you can get a Takumar 50mm for £30. Had a quick check on Ebay UK and they generally seem to be going for much more than £30, plus then you need an M42 adapter which are bulky. Not all will like the idea of buying a 2nd hand lens and the risks involved.

    I think the original full sized pics look much clearer, I think the website makes them look more soft – but yes, the lens is very soft. I quite like that though and when printed out the images look better

  9. On my behalf – if you open up the photos view them at a higher resolution they look much sharper. They do look very very soft here – but my full sized originals look quite different. Then its really not a bad lens.

  10. Don’t know about ‘out of focus’ but they look soft and mushy. Was £40 paying too much?
    May be that’s what you wanted in which case my apologies but you can pick up many Tamrons, soligors etc for £20 or less which will put this lens to shame. A decent 50mm takumar f2/f1.8 can be bought for £30 – and its full frame coverage and coating will blow the socks of this lens.

    • That’s a damned good point. I’m inclined to agree. SLR lenses on small sensors work really well, almost all the time.

      And while some photographers will pay out hundreds for lenses with ‘Nikon’ (or even ‘Zeiss’) written on them, the same or better performance can be had with cheaper optics a lot of the time.

        • There must be a lot of cheap 50’s out there; Yashinon 1.7/50 or 1.4/50 f.i. in c/y mount, but they probably all need an adapter.

          • here some photo made with an old Yashica 50mm f1.9 (all photos in my stream without lens information are shot with this lens).
            There are a lot of options for under 50/60€.
            https://flic.kr/p/r9CL9P

            I’m thinking to buy some good and old wideangle and maybe something longer than 50mm…

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