Viltrox AF 56mm f/1.4 STM review
Lens review summary
The Viltrox 56mm f/1.4 along with the 23mm f/1.4 is Viltrox’s latest Fujifilm mirrorless camera 3rd party lens offering. In this blog post, we will be analyzing image quality, build construction, and focus performance.
Although this is not a full comparison of the Viltrox 56mm to the Fujinon 56mm, I cannot ignore that I have both the viltrox 56mm and the Fujinon 56mm f/1.2 in my possession. Therefore, even though this review is a single product review, it sort of doubles as a comparison review as well.
Can the Viltrox 56mm f/1.4 measure up?
A while back I was amazed at the quality of the Viltrox 85mm f/1.8. This lens was a pure dream. The Vilrox 85mm f/1.8 was fantastic in build quality, image quality, focus performance, and most of all, price. Viltrox just added a new autofocus focal length offering for the Fuji X mount cameras with this 56mm f/1.4 autofocus lens. Let’s see if this 56mm can keep up to the goodness of the 85mm f1.8.
Viltrox 56mm f/1.4 STM lens Specifications
- Focal length: 56m fixed
- F range (Aperture opening range): 1.4 – 16
- 9 aperture blades
- Made for X mount Fuji APS-C
- Non stepped F-ring
- 9 elements in 10 groups
- 52mm filter size
- Weighs 290grams
- Focus motor STM+Lead screw
- Focus range .6m – infinity
- Not weather sealed
- USB firmware upgradable (Cannot test though)
Construction, build quality and feel in hand.
Construction on the Viltrox 56mm f/1.4 is excellent. The lens tube, bayonet mount, and lens hood are made out of very sturdy metal. It has that old school quality feel that many hardcore photographers like having. The construction quality of this lens will not disappoint anyone. Even the plastic lens cap has a solid click when putting it on the lens.
Viltrox has taken an interesting approach to their aperture ring, being that it is non-stopped. The aperture ring does not physically click or step between each aperture value. A non stopped aperture ring has always been a plus for videographers*. However, some photographers like it, and some do not.
*Please note that, although your physical aperture has no steps, the aperture by wire adjustment is stepped. Therefore, only the feel when adjusting is gradual.
I liked the aperture ring feel for both photography and video. I also think that this aperture ring is a better approach than not having an aperture dial at all. The amazing Viltrox 85mm f/1.8 has this problem, forcing you to adjust your lens aperture electronically.
Performance Focus speed
When using the Fujifilm X system, all focussing and even aperture settings are by wire. FBW (focus by wire) means that the focusing ring sends a signal to the body and lens mechanism, which interprets the information to make the necessary adjustments. For both aperture and focusing, the Viltrox 56mm is extremely quick.
Focusing tests at both single and continuous focus settings show that the lens is as fast as it can be. I tested the lens on the Fujifilm X-T3. I was not disappointed.
Both filmmakers and photographers will be happy with this lens. It is reliable at getting focus quickly and very reliable when using point focus or eye detect continuous autofocus.
Optical quality of this lens is quite sharp across the board for a 56mm. For sharpness, it easily matches the Fujinon 56mm f/1.2. However, like the Viltrox 85mm f/1.8, it softens out at the edges compared to its Fujinon counterpart. The difference is totally negligible, however. Personally, I feel that you can ignore this for a lens that retails at $329 on Amazon.
Image quality and color fidelity is spot on. The micro-contrast for the Viltrox 56 is very nice. I was also surprised at the lovely image rendition when processing my photos in black and white. All my images in Adobe Bridge and Adobe Photoshop looked stunning.
Purple fringing with the Viltrox 56mm f/1.4 STM is present and is not something to be ignored. Although it is nothing that you cannot take out in post, be aware that it is there when shooting backlit and very high contrast scenes.
To me, the highlight of this lens is its bokeh. It is smooth and very creamy. It might have a lot to do with the rounded aperture blades and many other technical reasons. To be quite honest with you, I do not really care. The results tell the tale. Please look at the photos below and judge for yourself.
Semi-macro minimum focusing distance
Another cool feature worth mentioning is that the minimum focusing distance on this lens is .6 meters. I tested and measured and found this claim to be true. By playing around with closer shots and a bit of crop hacking, you can get a macro-ish feel to your photos.
USB firmware update port available
Although it is worth mentioning, this 56mm lens also has a USB port at the base. It will, most likely, be for future firmware updates. It is a bit too soon to tell you if it works or not as this lens just came out. Make sure to check the date of this post. If it is more than a year old, drop a comment to make sure that I return and do a small update on this port’s effectiveness.
The retail price of the Viltrox 56mm f/1.4 STM lens is $329 US. Its quality rivals, and sometimes even surpasses, the Fujinon 56mm f/1.2 that retails at about $850.
Although I believe that the Fujinon has a small edge optically, it struggles to justify the enormous price hike. Especially due to the fact that the Fujinon 56mm struggles with sluggish focusing speeds and almost no optical edge on the Viltrox.
In 2020, you will get a whole lot of value for your money, a whole lot of bokeh, stunning image sharpness, and incredible fidelity out of the less expensive Viltrox lens. Anyone looking to get into the portrait photography or street photography game will not be disappointed.
The price of the Viltrox 56mm f/1.4 STM is entry-level, but the lens itself is professional all the way.
I am a photographer, videographer, and copywriter living in Quebec City, Canada. I also have a YouTube channel and an Instagram account dedicated to creation and creativity via my main loves of photography, music, and writing.
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Other pertinent articles
Looking for bokeh but might want to check out other lenses?
The Viltrox 85mm is a dream. Check out my review!
Watch the vlog of my bokeh pursuit with the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 ART lens!
Working with a GFX? Check out this review on the best bokeh lens for that camera system The 110mm f/2
For those of you who want to see why I decided to not compare my copy of the Fujinon 56mm f/1.2 and the Viltrox 56mm f/1.4, watch this video