Viltrox X-Mount for Fujifilm (23mm F1.4, 33mm F1.4, 56mm F1.4) how to shoot portraits on each.
In the past two months, I have been testing the new Viltrox X-mount lenses (23mm F1.4, 33mm F1.4 and 56mm F1.4). I want to write a little bit about how I would use each lens and what location you need to be aware of. Here is the agenda for this blog post:
Viltrox 23mm F1.4 - environmental portraits
Viltrox 33mm F1.4 - multi-purpose portraits
Viltrox 56mm F1.4 - specialized portraits and sunset backlight
Before I start going over each lens, I want to say that Viltrox has a very good price to quality ratio. I was impressed on the image quality (sharpness & contrast) it produced at this price point. For budget minded shooter or Fujifilm beginner, choosing Viltrox over Fujifilm lenses will be a good choice to start with.
The area of improvement I would say on the Viltrox lenses are chromatic aberration. When zooming in closely to inspect the backlight situation, you will find some chromatic aberration on the edge of backlight. Hopefully, future mark ii version of these lenses will fix it. On the other hand, I found that Viltrox lenses generated different shape and color for the sun flare. In some cases, the flare are stronger than Fujinon lenses. However, I find it as advantage for my own usage because I like to use the flare to frame the portrait.
Viltrox 23mm F1.4
Viltrox 23mm F1.4 is at the same focal length of Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4, which is about 35mm equivalent full frame. Here is my video on more detailed side by side:
Here are some of the real life use cases that I will choose the Viltrox 23mm F1.4 to shoot in:
Coffeeshop - usually, the tables in the coffeeshops are very small. If you are shooting some coffeeshop portraits, 23mm F1.4 is the perfect fit with the right amount of bokeh in the background. Viltrox 35mm in this situation will be too tight and the crop will be around upper arm level and up on the person. Cropping too tight won't help viewers to understand the context of the coffeeshop environment. One of the benefit of the 23mm bokeh is that it is subtle but still shows the environment outline. You want your audience to look at the photo and understand it's a coffeeshop related story that you want to tell.
Retro car (inside or outside the car) - If you have a chance to shoot portraits in the context of retro car, I will suggest using the Viltrox 23mm to do it. It's also about spacing and providing enough room to work with. For example, to photograph a model in the front seat, I would like to include the context of the front car dashboard and steering wheel to give a sense of the retro interior environment.
Lines/Texture interesting background - sometimes I found some interesting background such as interesting pattern of a church door or some interesting leading lines from a cactus plant, I will use Viltrox 23mm F1.4 for these situation because it tells a story of the background and provides enough room for the leading lines. Below are two examples of using interesting background for portraits.
The next photo is using leading lines and similar color tones of the brick wall to complement the portrait.
Viltrox 33mm F1.4
Viltrox 33mm F1.4 is at the similar focal length of Fujinon XF 35mm F1.4, which is about 50mm equivalent full frame. Here is my video on more detailed side by side:
Here are some of the real life use cases that I will choose the Viltrox 33mm F1.4 to shoot in:
Half body portraits in the city context / or needing a bit more pop - Since the 33mm F1.4 is between the 23mm and 56mm, it generates enough pop while shooting half body style and still seeing the outline of the building behind the portraits. Below is an example as you can see the window shapes in the background building:
Backlight portraits - one of the interesting thing I found out is that the Viltrox 33mm F1.4 has an orange sun flare when shooting against the sunlight. Some people like this flare while some people not. I like this effect and the rounded shape to frame the foreground of the portraits.
Through the windows shots - At the 50mm equivalent, I usually like to use to shoot through windows to create interesting blurred out foreground and background. Below is my tutorial video on the window shots. I will choose Viltrox 33mm F1.4 for the window shots since it provides the right amount of the blur for the foreground rain drops and background as well.
Viltrox 56mm F1.4
Viltrox 56mm F1.4 is at the same focal length of Fujinon XF 56mm F1.2, which is about 85mm equivalent full frame. Here is my video on more detailed side by side:
Keep in mind that, Fujifilm XF56mm F1.2 was the first lens I purchased for X-T1 eight years ago. 56mm has been the most used focal length in my portraits photography. I think the 56mm is intended for specialized portraits with blurred background. At the full body, you can still see the environment context, but half body it is harder to tell the environment. Here are some of the real life use cases that I will choose the Viltrox 56mm F1.4 to shoot in:
Sunset Backlight - I think I have been using 56mm focal length for backlight portraits the most since it creates a nice concentration on the portrait and the light highlight. You can use Viltrox 56mm F1.4 for half body or full body portraits. Below are the two examples:
In summary, for budget minded shooter or Fujifilm beginner, choosing Viltrox over Fujifilm lenses will be a good choice to start with. At half of the price or even less than the Fujinon lenses, the price to quality ratio is very good. If you are under a limited budget to start with, or with only 1000 dollars to spend on the lenses, you can buy the Viltrox 23mm F1.4 and 56mm F1.4 combo to start with. This combo will cover most the situations.
Below are the links to the Viltrox official store if you are interested:
Thanks for reading :) More photos will be uploaded in my Instagram account: @caliallstaring.