Friday, July 25, 2014

Two lens portrait shoot-out -- the Zeiss Touit 50mm macro and Fuji 56mm f/1.2 on the X-T1

This is not a contest to see which lens is best. They are both exceptional at what they do, but do have differences that make them suitable for different tasks when shooting portraits. For this very reason, for my Nikon system I keep both the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 and the Nikon 105mm macro lenses for photographing beauty and portraits.

I do comparison shoot-out like this with new equipment so I can gain experiential knowledge I can apply to later shoots. It helps me decide quickly what lens I need in any given situation.

For most portrait situations it isn't going to make much of a difference, but when you need a distracting background thrown completely you'll be wishing you had the f/1.2 aperture of the Fuji 56mm, and when you try to move in for a tighter composition with the model's face you will appreciate the macro capabilities of the Zeiss Touit 50mm allowing you to get as close as 1:1.

In most portrait situations the two lenses it won't matter what lens you use. Here, for instance, the lens had to be used with its aperture closed down enough to keep both the flower and the girls eyes in focus. Plus, the distance from the model is easily covered by either focal length. 

When you are working with a model and start moving in closer to tighten the shot, as I did here and for the shot below, you will appreciate the focusing range of the macro lens. 

A chief difference between the two lenses is going to be the bokeh they produce in selective focus situations, and here it is hard to beat a lens that opens to f/1.2.

The Fuji 56mm f/1.4 lens is an absolute champ at producing pleasing bokeh effects. Its equivalency of about 85mm is the perfect portrait focal length, and with a maximum aperture of  f/1.2  it throws the background completely out of focus even when stopped down a bit, as it was here at f/1.6.

A maximum aperture of f/2.8 does not give much wiggle room to soften up the distracting background.

Of course when you need to get in really close a lens like the Zeiss Touit 50mm f/2.8 macro comes into its own. With a 1:1 reproduction capability, exceptional sharpness even  with a wide open aperture, super close-ups shot at f f/2.8 are possible with an auto-focus that works in tight. 

Extreme close-ups like the one above of the eye is why I appreciate the Zeiss Touit 50mm macro. When you are in this tight on a moving subject the ability of the lense to maintain auto-focus on the moving pupil of the eye, especially with a wide open aperture, is going to be critical to the success of the shot. The poor auto-focus of the Fuji 60mm macro would never be able to pull off a shot like this, and you would need extreme close-up filters to make the Fuji 56mm get this close.

On the other hand, the Fuji 56mm delivers an exceptionally beautiful bokeh while maintaining excellent sharpness at its more open aperture settings.

For the type work I do, I tend to rely primarily on the focal length represented by these two lenses. So I have opted to have both of them in my working kit, just as I have both the Nikkor 85mm and 105mm macro for my Nikon kit.

If you are planning on buying either of these lens, you can help support this site at no extra cost to you by purchasing from one of our affiliate sellers listed below -- and thanks for your support.

The Zeiss Touit 50mm f/1.4 macro lens can be ordered from:  BH-Photo   Amazon 

The Fujifilm 56mm f/1.2 lens can be ordered from:  BH-Photo   Amazon


  1. Can you please correct the typo in the title? I think you meant to say, "56mm f1.2" not f1.4.

    Again a very good article. I have the 56mm f1.2 and the Fuji 60mm f2.4 Macro. I also have the Nikon 85/1.4 and the 105/2.8 Micro on a D4.

    Great to see your comparisons. Many thanks.

    1. Just noticed this in 2017 so still not corrected :)

  2. which one is better ? sharpness ? optics ? autofocus ?

  3. Good article. I also have the Fuji 56/1.2 and the 60/2.4 as well as the Nikon 105mm Micro and used to have the Nikkor 85/1.4

    The Fuji lenses, I am told, better interface to the camera's cpu in correcting CA (aka Lens modulation) than the Touit lenses. Having the 56mm and the 60mm Fujinons, I get both the bokeh from the former and the close focus of the latter. So I am happy.