Fast And Slow - The Hare And The Tortoise In The Studio

on May 28, 2017
Move over Mr. Aesop - we're going to do science, not fables... Here at the Lawrence Liverwurst Laboratories we are dedicated to finding out the truth. What we do with it is our business, but we’ll let you have little samples occasionally. In this instance we have taken a piece of given wisdom and pulled it apart to look at the gears and cogs. If a major manufacturer makes two lenses that have roughly the same focal length and wants to sell both of them, there must be some point of differentiation between them. In the case of the Fujinon 60mm f:2.4 and the Fujinon 56mm f:1.2R the quick answer is the different apertures and the close-focusing ability of the 60mm f:2.4 lens. It isn’t a true macro as it does not go down to 1:1 unaided but it is sold as a closeup specialist. The 56mm f:1.2 is touted as a low-light lens. All very well to read the perceived wisdom…but how low is low light and how close is close-up. Is there a significant overlap in capabilities? Would both lenses be necessary for you? When do you lean to either? This subject was chosen for a test of the focusing. It is an M-48 tank in USMC service. The paint is dull, the colour is deliberately dark, and there are indefinite surfaces to focus upon. The green rectangle overlying the image shows where the focus point was put. Three lenses were used: Fujinon 60mm f:2.4 Fujinon 56mm f:1.2 Fujinon 18-135mm f:3.4-5.6 OIS WR The 18-135 is a control lens available to me out of my own kit. Surprisingly versatile. They were mounted in succession on a Fujifilm X-E2 that was held in a studio stand. The main exposure lights were set to give a constant 1/180 sec and f:16 exposure…WB set at 5900ºK. The camera body was set to allow a release only when focus was achieved. For the initial set of each lens the body control was turned to manual focus and the lens wound round to infinity. Then the control was reset to AF and the shutter button depressed. As it was held down the lens cycled through its search for focus and then fired the camera. If it did not get to focus it would not fire. I think there might be a circuit setting inside the body that gives up in disgust at a certain point and fires the thing regardless - just to give some result. It sounds like mechanical cynicism to me. The lighting for the model was set deliberately low - In the first sequence of shots taken, the two modelling lights that normally shine down on the table were directed at the ceiling and a diffusing screen was inserted into the stack. This meant a very soft and foggy light was reaching the table. In the second sequence even less light was allowed the thing - I turned off the modelling lights on the Elinchroms and just let the room light do the job. This might approximate the sort of poor illumination that one finds in interior and wedding shooting. So…Did anything come out? Is there any point to any of the lenses' choice? Read tomorrow and see what I found.