A Closer Look at the New Fujifilm Tilt Shift Lenses

One of the most exciting things Fujifilm announced recently was their new tilt shift lenses. Indeed, the new Fujifilm GF 30mm f5.6 tilt-shift and Fujifilm GF 100mm f5.6 tilt-shift Macro will be coming soon. Within the industry overall, These are the first tilt-shift lenses announced in many years. Photographers who have wanted critical perspective control within the camera or who wished for some sort of fun, creative effect are going to get it!

This was a development announcement, so we don’t know what the final specs will be. But we got to handle two mockups/rough prototypes of the new tilt shift lenses at the Fujifilm X summit. From our initial hands-on, the knobs on the Fujifilm tilt shift lenses felt a bit loose. If you’ve used tilt-shift lenses before, then you understand how odd that seems. When you think of tilt-shift lenses, you think of manual gems with knobs and dials akin to the finest watches made. Now that could mean a few different things:

  • They really were just prototypes and concepts of some sort. So they weren’t meant to be anything near the final render.
  • The loose feeling doesn’t mean the tilt-shift mechanism will be analog based like older tilt-shift lenses such as those from Rokinon. Instead, it might mean that it works similar to the focus by wire mechanism that is on many modern lenses.

Tilt shift lenses controlled electronically? Fascinating! At least, that could be the case if it’s really going to happen. Since this is a development announcement, we don’t know all the facts yet. But if this is the case, it would be a completely different move than what other brands have done in the past.

The 30mm f5.6 is obviously a wide angle around the 24mm f4.5 equivalence in full-frame. And the 100mm f5.6 is around an 80mm f4.5 lens equivalence. When most brands made tilt shift lenses, they didn’t have a whole bunch of them. Hasselblad used to have an adapter that made every single lens of theirs operate like a tilt-shift. But obviously, Fujifilm isn’t taking that approach.

These lenses are going to most likely be used for architecture, real estate, landscapes, cityscapes, and other types of photography where perspective control is incredibly important. Beyond that, what’s always been fun is the miniature effect the tilt-shift lenses provide. I remember, back in college, looking at the tilt-shift lens series at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The prints were excellent. And with GFX cameras we’re sure that they could be even better.

What’s going to be fascinating here is how, if at all, the autofocus will work. If the tilting and shifting are happening, it’s difficult to make autofocus happen, especially at shallow apertures. It makes more sense to manually focus the lens, check the focusing on the LCD screen, and ensure it’s perfectly set up how you want it. But that brings up another problem: the LCD screen.

The resolution of back LCD screens haven’t changed in years, and they’re desperately in need of an upgrade of some sort. The EVFs are very small, but can help with seeing lots of information involved with focusing. However, there’s a big need for a larger screen. Perhaps tethering to an iPad Retina display is the answer?

Then, of course, you’d have to bring your iPad along to every shoot you do with the Fujifilm tilt-shift lenses.

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