Landscape photographer, Bryan Minear, describes how FUJINON professional zooms have ended his days as a self-confessed ‘prime lens snob’ and transformed the way he creates.
“Typically in photography, the ‘holy trinity’ of prime lenses for photographers has been considered to be the 35/50/85mm combination, because you can shoot just about all you need with those three primes, “ says Bryan, whose latest project explores a different approach using FUJINON professional zooms. More specifically, the XF8-16mmF2.8 R LM WR, XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR and the XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR.
“I was opposed to shooting with zoom lenses for a long time,” he continues, “mostly because I considered the image quality to be far superior with a prime. That was until I got the XF16-55mmF2.8 and XF50-140mmF2.8. They completely blew me away with their optical quality, so I softened my stance on zoom lenses and began to change my shooting style to include them.”
For this project, Bryan used the three lenses to frame the rural landscapes of Michigan and, with such changeable conditions, he was thankful for their durability and weather sealing. “I encountered just about every type of weather you can imagine. From 60°F and sunny to snow and hail, all over the course of a week,” he tells us. “I hope to show that these Red Badge lenses can absolutely compete optically with prime lenses, while also highlighting the benefits of zoom lenses over primes for a landscape photographer.”
“They completely blew me away with their optical quality, so I softened my stance on zoom lenses and began to change my shooting style to include them”
When choosing a lens to add to his gear, Bryan takes a very pragmatic approach. In landscape photography, he tells us, getting yourself into the perfect position is difficult enough without the added worry of whether your lens will be able to make the most of the opportunity. For this reason, the biggest thing he looks for is versatility – and that’s where these lenses definitely check all the boxes.
“The XF8-16mmF2.8 is a phenomenal lens for big and wide landscape scenes, but it’s also good at interior spaces and architecture. On top of that, the constant F2.8 aperture makes it really excel at astrophotography,” he explains. “In the same way, the XF50-140mmF2.8 is probably my most-used landscape lens. I love nit-picking my compositions, but it’s also great for framing the moon when paired with a teleconverter, and it’s a wonderful portrait lens.”
He continues: “I feel the XF50-140mmF2.8 gives this amazing sense of scale that I just can’t get when I am using the XF8-16mmF2.8. But, when you are using a telephoto, oftentimes you miss out on the ability to utilize a wide angle to include a foreground element in your scene. With the XF16-55mmF2.8, I can effectively have both options. At the wide end, you can shoot with foreground, and at the long end, you have the ability to compress some elements of the scene together.”
During this project, Bryan not only made full use of each lens’ individual capabilities, but also loved the way they complemented each other. Aside from the previously mentioned durability and weather sealing, the long reach and optical image stabilization (OIS) of the XF50-140mmF2.8 was perfect for the shots of a horse and the moon, while the ultra-wide angle of view that is possible with the XF8-16mmF2.8 provided a mesmerizing perspective that helped to boost his creativity.
“If the ‘Red Badge’ is any indicator of a professional series lens, these three lenses all deserve to wear it”
“These three lenses complement each other perfectly. They cover an effective range of 12-200mm in 35mm equivalence and that is massive. The fact the XF8-16mmF2.8 can shoot that wide and still provide you with such a level of sharpness and limited distortion is beyond me – all while maintaining an F2.8 max aperture throughout the range. That makes it a lens with countless possibilities,” he enthuses.
“And the XF50-140mmF2.8 is basically permanently fixed to my X-T4. The handholdability that is possible between the IBIS of the camera and the OIS of the lens is astounding. I have made handheld images at 140mm as low as 1/4 sec and still gotten a sharp image. It’s for sure my workhorse lens.”
In conclusion, although he used to think that zoom lenses took away from his photography, Bryan tells us that since using the FUJINON professional zooms, he believes the total opposite. “If the ‘Red Badge’ is any indicator of a professional series lens, these three lenses all deserve to wear it,” he explains.
“They have definitely redefined the way that I shoot. I used to think a ‘zoom’ lens was the lazy photographer’s way to get a shot, but what I’ve found with my personal experience is quite the opposite,” he reveals.
“I still think just as intentionally about how I shoot. Having the ability to step back even further and zoom in – or get even closer and zoom out wide to make the most creative image possible – has made me a better photographer overall. Why limit yourself when the possibilities are wide open?”
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER
With roots in fine-art photography and graphic design, Bryan Minear’s striking landscape, lifestyle, and commercial photography has led to him working with a long list of high-profile clients.