Fuji GF 32-64mm f4 R LM WR

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Let’s start by saying this is not a detail lens review of this beefy Fuji GF 32-64mm f4 R LM WR medium format zoom lens. In fact, I don’t even own this beast. I was just lucky that a friend of mine was kind enough to let me use it for a weekend (thanks Marcos!..).

So, if anything, what you are about to read is just a collection of my thoughts and impressions using this lens. And also a couple of unedited photos using this lens coupled to the GFX 50R – just scroll all the way down if you want to skip my BS writing and check the photos directly.

Now, let’s start by enjoying some nice product shots.

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The usual superb build quality and finishes from Fuji. No exceptions here.
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Side-by-side with the (much) smaller Fuji GF 63mm f/2.8
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On the GFX 50R. This, of course, is not a small lens…

 

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…and it grows even bigger with the hood attached and extended at the far end of the zoom.

My impressions

Perhaps by checking my comments above it’s no surprise that this lens is quite big and heavy. To be precise, it weights 875 grams. To put things in perspective, it’s 103 grams heavier than my Fuji GFX 50R that weights 772 grams.

The whole combo is quite cumbersome, weighing a total 1.6 Kg. And obviously this lens is not small. With the lens hood installed, it takes up even more space.

Did I enjoy carrying it around?

Frankly, not at all. I know this is a medium format camera and what this means in terms of size. But I’m just objectively talking about my experience as a user. Attached to the GFX 50R, the camera becomes very front heavy.

Turning the zoom ring is a bit of an exercise, because you are balancing the weight of everything with only your right hand. The lack of a decent grip in the GFX 50R for this jumbo-sized lens doesn’t help and my wrist was not happy after a couple of shots. I guess this lens makes more sense coupled to the DSLR-styled GFX 50S.

Practicality

In 35mm terms, the Fuji GF 32-64mm f4 R LM WR gives you the equivalent 25-51mm length. It’s very useful indeed. I’m not a fan of zoom lenses, but I admit it’s very practical to have such focal length on hand, in one single lens.

I’m a fixed-lens photographer, and I never go out with more than one lens with me – gone are the days I’d change lenses on location. So to me the Fuji GF 32-64mm f4 R LM WR is the equivalent of having a 24mm, 35mm and 50mm all-in-one. And I can’t deny how flexible it is.

Lack of reach

All other zoom lenses I used in the past would start at 24 or 28mm and go longer on the tele end, to either 80mm or even all the way to 135mm. This was my experience using Canon EF lenses, Micro 4/3 and also the XF 18-55 f/4 that I still own and use with my Fuji X-E3.

So my initial impression using this GF 32-64mm f4 R LM WR on location was like “oh, it doesn’t zoom closer?”… I’m not complaining here and I know having a longer zoom range would massively increase the size and weight of this beast. I don’t even want to imagine that.

Plus, I guess having a shorter zoom range allowed Fuji to better control the image quality. Talking of which…

Image quality

… I was surprised by how good the photos looked when I uploaded the images to my iMac. Everything seems to be in good control: sharpness, colour rendition, light fall-off..

I’ve read somewhere that at the wide end the images get blurry at the edges, but I didn’t seem to encounter this type of issue. Then again, I perhaps I did not pixel peep that much… In short, image quality seems excellent to me. And this is coming from a medium format zoom lens, which is remarkable.

Nice to have

Image Stabilization would make sense in this lens. Yeah, it would add bulk and weight as well, I know. Just sayin’…

Conclusion

I’m not passionate about the GF 32-64mm f4 R LM WR because of its size and weight. Again, I understand this is a medium format system, but the reason I went mirrorless over 10 years ago and sold my Canon 5D plus all my DSLR gear was because I wanted to go light. I was sick and tired of carrying cumbersome DSLR systems.

Using the GF 32-64mm f4 R LM WR with the GFX 50R reminded me of those days, which I definitely don’t miss. I’m not going back… Plus, with the petal-shaped hood attached, the whole thing looks frightening.

Call me superficial, but I don’t like to project that image of myself – the image of a pretend-to-be-professional guy carrying all that gear, like going to war or something.

No offense to whoever, but here in Macau I see a lot of guys fully equipped when going photo shooting like if they were engaged on a mission impossible to save the country from terrorists. Not me. This is why I prefer subtle and small cameras, rangefinder style cameras. And this is why I bought the GFX 50R in lieu of the GFX 50S.

Then again…

Having said that, I admit the GF 32-64mm f4 R LM WR is very practical. I can see myself using this lens if, say, I’m going on a trip where I expect a lot of landscape photo opportunities. And I stress landscape because on urban trips I’m likely to use my smaller cameras.

On a landscape trip this zoom lens would be very handy and save me the headache of deciding which lenses to bring with me. And of course it would save all the anxiety and hassle of changing lenses again and again on location, and the risk of exposing the GFX 50R’s precious sensor to the elements and dust.

But… At USD$ 1800 this lens is not cheap. So definitely for the time being the GF 32-64mmF4 R LM WR is not on my list.

If needed I can still bring 2 cameras with me: the GFX 50R with the 63mm f/2.8 that I already own; And, say, the Fuji X-E3 with the 18mm f/2 to cover the wide end.

Yeah, I know APS-C is not the same as medium format, but for me it will do the job… And amazingly, the overall weight of these 2 cameras and lenses would still be lighter than the GFX 50R with the GF32-64mmF4 R LM WR !

So, for now… I’m saving the USD$ 1800 for something else.

All photos below are unedited and taken with the Fuji GFX 50R and GF32-64mmF4 R LM WR lens. Click for full size and EXIF data.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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