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Better Than the Price: Viltrox 56mm f/1.7 Initial Review for Fujifilm X-Mount

When viltrox asked me if I wanted to try out the new 56mm f/1.7 lens for Fujifilm X-Mount, I thought… nah. I have a whole bunch of other lenses similar in focal length, from the Fujifilm “Fujicron” 50mm f/2, to the Sigma 56mm 1.4 and all the way to the big 56mm f/1.2 WR from Fujifilm.

But then I saw that this lens was only $140, and I had to try it. Could a lens THIS cheap actually be any good?

Let’s find out!

To do that I’m going to show you real-world examples for work I’m doing documenting rural Nebraska, and then to the local garden to see how the lens does photographing some spring flowers. I used the Viltrox 56mm 1.7 as was my “seperator” lens. That just means for me, it’s a lens I use when I want to isolate the subject matter from the foreground and/or background. Because of this, the way the out-of-focus areas render is important for me, and for the most part, the Viltrox does a nice job.

Below is a shot of an old truck I found next to the highway. The Viltrox lens makes the truck stand out by blurring both the foreground and background. For an f/1.7 lens on APSC, the blur isn’t as extreme as it could be… but it’s still doing it’s job. The truck stands out, and in this example the contrast and color rendition the lens captures is just wonderful at f/1.7.

When I zoom into this photo, the areas in focus look crisp and clear. The sharpness looks great, even wide open. For a $140 wide-aperture lens… that’s pretty awesome.

Screenshot

I moved around and got a little closer for the following detail shot of the truck’s rear-view window. This is also at f/1.7 and zooming in reveals a ton of detail in the rust. This is impressive since this is on the Fujfilm X-H2, which has a 40-megapixel sensor. It seems to me that it’s capable of resolving quite a bit of detail with that sensor.

When I’m using a lens like this, I really like to get close and fill the frame. This shot, also at f/1.7, impressed me a lot. The detail in the chrome is fantastic, and on the same plane of focus down here, we can see the license plate has great detail, even at the edge of the frame.

This next shot, again at f/1.7, is probably my favorite of the entire adventure with the Viltrox out in Nebraska’s rural dirt roads. The lens fully fulfilled my vision of what the photo would look like after editing. The light was kind of lame, and I knew I’d have to really push the file later to get the contrasty, moody feel I wanted. The Viltrox gave me all the information I needed to create the art I had in mind:

There is some vignetting at f/1.7 that you can see in this photo… but it’s not too bad, and for the kind of stuff I shoot, it’s easy to correct for.

In photo after photo, the details look great where they matter, and the background is blurry enough to not call for attention. Another lens like the 56 f/1.2 would blur the background much more… but for $140, I’ll take it.

I moved on during this stormy, overcast day and took a few more photos using the Viltrox 56mm 1.7 for Fujifilm X-Mount:

Next up, I took a trip to the botanical gardens.

Here you can see a weakness of the lens. At the absolute minimum focus distance, the details are a little softer than I’d like. There’s definitely less detail resolved by the lens, and you can see a slight glow in the photos.

Still, you can just step back a bit and things get much better, like in these photos, which are still very close:

And for these kinds of nature shots, the look of the background blur is important to me. I’ve had some lenses render scenes with a lot in the background a little rougher, but I’m pretty happy with what I see with the 56mm, especially in these shots:

The autofocus is fine, but a little on the slow side. If I were using this for slow moving people or even weddings, I think it’d do fine. But for fast moving subjects, I bet this lens would struggle. I had to take five shots to get this daffodil in focus because it was a little windy. The lens just wasn’t focusing as fast as I would want.

But again, for my style of shooting, I thought it did fine.

Ultimately, For $140, this is a no-brainer if you want to experiment with this focal length without spending much money. It’s not a magical lens, and it focuses a little on the slow side, but I really like the images I took with the lens, which is really awesome for something so affordable.

Here is a selection of images taken with the 56mm f/1.7 from Viltrox:

Watch my video review on YouTube

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