I fell in and out of love with wide angle lenses so many times in the past. For creative reasons of course, because depending on the work, going wide wasn’t always the way. The past few years, I’ve been a portrait and commercial photographer. I photograph artists, performers and athletes, and I am always trying to find new ways to capture them. Having options is always a good thing for me, it helps me explore in different directions in order to find a unique perspective.
Context is important in my work. I like to create and compose with the elements that are surrounding me. Locations inspire me, so that’s why I need to include them in my portraits, and wide angle lenses help me do that. I always have at least a 30mm lens in my bag with my Fujifilm GFX100s but I wished for months that I had a single lens that would give me more flexibility, and that would allow me to go wider.
Enter the GF 20-35mm lens!
Wide angle lenses give me access to a whole new world. I can get close, be at the heart of the action, show the world surrounding my subject and take advantage of the location I am working in. I consider this lens a must have for anyone into environmental portraits. I’ve done an entire dance urban photoshoot with the GF 20-35mm alone.
We have the GF 23mm in the GFX line up but this zoom lens goes a little further. It doesn’t seem much but at 20mm you definitely have more in your frame. In certain circumstances it also allows you to work in tighter spaces. Versatility is key, and the range that this lens offers from 20mm to 35 mm is just what I need for this type of imagery, suitable for a wide variety of situations.
At 20mm you can have so many things in your frame, it can become overwhelming. So playing and creating with such a lens can be tricky, especially when you go after those low angle shots. I chose to lean in those perspective distortions every time I shoot from the ground up. Plus, most dancers I photograph love having slightly longer legs.
It handles the 100 Megapixels of the GFX100S nicely, the flares are limited, and controlled, and I haven’t seen any ghosting so far. The lens is sharp, and delivers amazing images overall. For a wide angle lens, and given that this lens was made for a large format camera, it is not too big, it doesn’t stick out from the rest of the line up. I sometimes use filters, square and circular, and I was glad to see that I was able to use my φ82mm filters and adapters, a common size for this type of lens.
The smart move here was to opt for an inner zoom system. What you see is what you get. I hate it when my zooms extend, and retract in and out. I don’t want the size of my lens to change every time I am choosing a new focal length. I want everything to happen smoothly inside.
It is well built and feels robust, the minimum you would expect from a lens for the GFX line. It is also weather resistant and has a fluorine coating that repels dust and water. I had multiple sessions outdoors lately, under the rain, near lakes, and waterfalls, so I have to be able to trust my gear. The GF 20-35mm doesn’t disappoint, it is tough and ready for my wildest sessions.
I used to always have a wide angle lens in my bag even during that time I wasn’t using them as much. The past few months I have been using one at least once during a session. This lens will definitely be out of the bag more as it offers more possibilities. I love the look of the images, but I am aware it’s not for everybody. But if you have the opportunity, you have to try it! For a client, this lens will allow me to create a wide variety of shots. The GF 20-35mm sets the tone, the vibe, shows the location and main subject. It’s a bit like an establishing shot in a movie.
When working with dancers and athletes, it’s that surreal look I chase. I want to play with the architecture of the location, with all the lines. I want to exaggerate parts of the image, play with my perspective, and give my subject that powerful epic look. And you know what? The best part of all this is that it can all be made with this lens, in camera.
I was hoping that someday a lens like this would enter Fujifilm’s line up… and here it is. Once I had it in my hands, I knew this lens would quickly find its way in my kit.