The Fujinon GF30mm F3.5 | The Courage to Take Perspective
The only reason I haven’t owned a (true) wide-angle lens in my time with the GFX50S has been the lack of availability of the right one. Sure, there has long been the certainly fantastic GF23mm F4 as well as the no less outstanding GF32-64mm F4. However, investing in a super wide-angle lens for the GFX system was too nonsensical for my purposes and the zoom, well, the rest of the story on that can be found here. That part of the story is now over – medium format meets wide angle – mainly because the GF30mm has been released…
The GF30mm F3.5 R WR
The GF30mm is not a particularly beautiful lens – from an aesthetic point of view. Even more than the GF45mm, its shape is a bit strange… it’s relatively long and much thinner in the front than towards the bayonet. Somehow that looks a bit odd to my eyes. I would have liked it to be a little bit shorter – and thus a bit more inconspicuous. In its current form, many people could think you’re pointing a small telephoto lens at them.
Fortunately, we don’t have to judge lenses by their looks, but by their performance and usability. In these areas – I anticipate – we have a real winner here. And, to put the paragraph before a bit into perspective, for a medium format wide-angle lens it’s not that big, of course. Most importantly, with 510 grams it’s also quite light and handy on the camera and well balanced.
As mentioned above, I decided against the significantly larger and above all heavier GF32-64mm for exactly this reason – and I am extremely happy with this decision. The GF30mm has the potential to become my favourite lens on the GFX100S – even surpassing the wonderfully small GF50. Yes, it’s that good…
Mechanically, the lens is as good as any other GF lens: excellently manufactured, weather resistant, high quality. Even hypercritical minds will have a hard time finding a weakness. This flawlessness here – in contrast to the GF50 – also includes the aperture blades, which close silently. No chattering to be heard at all…
The optical performance of the GF30mm is simply off the charts. I did expect it to be good – but not this good. It really blew me away. It’s already incredibly sharp and contrasty at open aperture. The bokeh is excellent for such a wide angle, the closest focusing distance is reasonable. In addition, chromatic aberrations and flare are also very well controlled. Apparently, two aspherical and two ED glass elements show their full strength here.
I’m sorry, but I didn’t notice any optical weaknesses. I would rate it a 10 out of 10 in this respect. There is nothing more to say.
Even though the GF30mm does not have a linear motor, the AF is very fast and very quiet. To be honest, I can hardly see any difference to the GF50mm, which is known to focus very quickly. For my part, I am highly satisfied with this AF performance.
Since I don’t notice any loss of speed, the lack of the linear motor is even a small advantage: there is no noise from the constant „stabilizing“ the focus block.
This point is very individual with the GF30mm, as there is no special feature (such as speed, size, etc.) to mention. It is rather a question of whether someone appreciates and needs this focal length. For a wide-angle photographer like me, the benefits of this lens are enormous. I can’t wait to actually use the GF30 on the road or for a real documentary project.
There is one more aspect, especially related to the resolution monster GFX100S: 65:24. Experts of the GFX cameras will immediately know what I mean by that… 65:24 is the panorama ratio you can choose with these cameras. This was already great with the GFX50S, but at 100 megapixels it gets a decent boost. We still have 50 megapixels of resolution left even in this crop. Wow.
So, what does this have to do with the GF30mm? Quite simply… you can also take interesting pictures with longer focal lengths in this mode, but wide-angle lenses are actually more predestined for this. The large image diagonal in the slim panorama is often the decisive factor for the effect. Like the use of fisheye lenses, this should not be overdone – but it is fun to search for images for this in your head and then also realise them.
Perhaps another thought about versatility. OK, this is of course a Fujifilm promotional video – but nevertheless the Belgian photographer Pieter D’Hoop shows very nicely the great usability of such a wide angle lens – also for (documentary) food photography.
From my personal point of view, the GF30mm is one of the best GF lenses. In fact, I would put it almost on par with the GF45mm – and that’s saying something. I’m not the only one who thinks the GF45mm is a truly exceptional lens – it’s almost perfect. And I think the same goes for the GF30mm.
To be honest, I can’t really find a weak point with this lens. It is optically outstanding, mechanically excellent like all GF lenses, has a fast and quiet autofocus and is still good to handle in terms of weight and size. In contrast to the GF50mm, it also has absolutely no shortcomings when it comes to the closest focusing distance and optical performance at open aperture.
If there could be any criticism at all, it might be related to the maximum aperture of “only” 1:3.5. An initial aperture of 1:2.8 would certainly be desirable, but would come at the price of more weight and size. In this respect, I don’t have any problems with it.
The GF30mm is simply an incredibly good lens.
There is always light somewhere – go out and shoot!