Review - Viltrox AF 85mm F1.8 lens Fuji X mount - Full Frame version

 Last week I received email from Shenzhen Jueying Technology offering to review their new autofocus lens for Sony E and Fuji X mounts – Viltrox 85mm F1.8. I was very surprised about this offer, and of course very curious to try that lens. I was wondering how the autofocus performs on Fuji X camera, and also interested to evaluate optical and mechanical quality. So I answered that it’s good chance to explore more details on Viltrox 85mm F1.8 and I’m also potentially interested in lens disassembly to take a look how it is built.

Today I received package and the new Viltrox lens was there! : ) Big thanks to Jueying Technology for providing this lens sample for review!

Monday was quite busy, to spending evening exploring interesting lens was nicely balanced and relaxed time spending.

Few Images

I’ll begin article with few image samples, all taken with Fujifilm X-T30 and Viltrox 85mm F1.8 lens at F1.8.

100% crop of above

Shot @ F4.0

More pictures on Flickr – Viltrox 85mm F1.8 lens group

Lens unboxing

Looks like Jueying Technology engineers and designers spent significant effort on lens package, so I’d like to cover unboxing as well. Viltrox 85mm F1.8 lens sample I received was sealed with factory tape.

First thing I saw was protective bag and some colorful bars behind.

It’s nice to have bag for protection especially when lens body is made of metal. This one is also large enough.

It was positive surprise to see some Quality Control paper saying “This product is permitted to leave the factory after strict inspection”. That is a good sign, and it raises the lens quality expectations.

Lens is safely secured in the box with foam inserts,

and protective wrap.

Finally here is first look to the Viltrox 85mm F1.8 lens. There is bright red metal bar on the side with letters which I read as “DF” and “RBW”. Hope I’ll discover what does it mean later.

Lens hood has its own name “PL-07A”. It’s nice to see two things there – hood can be attached in storing mode, and also focus ring is still accessible.

I’ve checked the hood – it is made of plastic (so can absorb hit damage), outer surface is smooth and inner surface is little bit textured. Viltrox made large and easily noticeable deeply engraved and painted “85” marking together with “F1.8” which looks interesting.

White dot and “X-mount” are also engraved on top. That is nice idea to put all information on the lens top.

The front lens glass looks huge! Viltrox 85mm is accepting 72mm diameter filters (Like Fujifilm XF 50-140mm F2.8). It’s expected since it is full frame coverage lens. In hands this lens very much reminds me Nikon AF 85mm F1.4 lens I used a lot while shooting with DSLRs before mirrorless cameras appear.

The most unusual thing to see is the Viltrox lens mount. It is secured with torx bolts and there is micro-USB connector! Well, I previously saw some Viltrox autofocus adaptors online and noticed such port there, but I didn’t expect to see it on a lens mount. That is one more interesting area need to be clarified later. Maybe it’s needed to update firmware? Will see.

Viltrox rear lens cap has its own design as well. The front lens cap is conveniently made for easy removing when hood is attached.

Lens mechanics

Viltrox 85mm F1.8 looks very solidly built and looks like all surface is made of metal including the focus ring. I like very accurate and precisely engraved letters and markings on the surface. The focus ring texture feels much better than Fujinon lens, also the grooves are not as deep and should collect much less amount of dust (which I don’t like about Fuji metal focus rings). Looks like it is “focus-by-wire” ring because nothing is moving inside optics when I rotate focus with switched off camera. Focus ring is very wide and comfortable, it’s easy to find it for fine-manual focusing if needed. However I’m expecting that autofocus is working good. Personally I’m big fan of manual focusing lens, thoug using Fuji XF 50-140mm F2.8 and Fuji XF 100-400mm lens primarily with autofocus.

There are no aperture ring on the lens body, it’s designed to be controlled from the camera only. I didn’t do that for a very long time, most Fuji lens have aperture ring (except e.g. Fuji XF 27mm F2.8). On the Fuji X-T30 I’ve set rear dial for the aperture control. From what I see inside there are 9 aperture blades, which don’t form nice circle on closed settings due to straight edges. I also noticed that closed aperture doesn’t form equal sides polygon, there are noticeable shifts, will see how it influences pictures later.

Good thing having electronics in this lens – it stores shooting Aperture value and focal length in images EXIF.

Viltrox 85mm F1.8 is a full frame lens, so it’s quite large and relatively heavy. However the weight is properly distributed when mounted on Fuji X-T30, and this set feels comfortable in hands. However I’d recommend using additional Hand Grip (I’m using cheaper Meike version) – it delivers better grip and also allows to put camera on a table in horizontal position.

Lens mount quality is very high – it’s attaching to camera X mount with normal effort and stays very firm without any movements or play. I like a lot that lens is more slim in the mount area, so there are plenty of space for comfortable camera grip.

Lens Autofocusing

I think it’s most important of this lens after the optical quality which I’ll review later. I don’t have other Fuji autofocus primes at the moment so can’t compare autofocus speed directly. So I’ll try to comment on the convenience of using Viltrox 85mm F1.8 lens autofocus. Fortunately Fuji X-T30 is very quick autofocus capable camera thankfully to newest quad processor.

I expected to hear some autofocus noise or slow movement but it went much better. Autofocusing is completely silent, I can not hear any noise, that is very good. Also the focusing speed with Fuji X-T30 is very good. Subjectively it feels similar to focusing with XF 50-140mm F2.8 lens I use. I plan to do side-by-side comparison to that Fuji zoom most likely during next weekend. Generally saying autofocusing with Viltrox 85mm F1.8 lens on Fuji X-T30 is surprisingly convenient. I played with different focus area size, and just to clarify that I’m primarily using single focus point mode, and single focusing by configured rear Fn (AF-L) button.

Image Quality

I expected to see good image quality with this lens taking into account its price and precisely made exterior. So after walking photoshoot reviewed pictures on UHD screen with about 89% RGB coverage. Looks like Jueying Technology invested a lot of time designing and implementing optics of Viltrox 85mm F1.8 and they know what are they doing – color reproduction and image details are on quite high level to my personal taste. I’m posting unedited JPEG shots resized to 1500px width, and few 100% crops from the center so you can make your own opinion on the IQ.

All shots above are taken @ F1.8. Now adding more shot samples with different apertures used (mostly F1.8 though).

More pictures on Flickr – Viltrox 85mm F1.8 lens group

Viltrox 85mm F1.8 lens has longitudinal aberrations wide open which can be observed on most fast primes. Visually it is not much influencing, but good to know while shooting wide open.

I’ve also checked field curvatures, it’s expected to see quite straight lines at this focal length. Shot is taken @ F1.8. You may notice that there is light vignetting in the corners.

100% crop from the center @ F1.8

100% crop from the corner @ F1.8

Very brief conclusions

I’m wrapping up article because it’s a bit late here. However I plan to use the lens in active mode during next few weeks and write more details. Particularly I’ll investigate autofocus performance in low light, more about image quality and aperture influence. Also I’m waiting for the clarification from Jueying Technology regarding conditions they have for this review lens sample, because I’d like to run some explorative non-destructive disassembly to look how the lens is built.

More picture samples @ F1.8

UPDATE (Jan 10 2020) – Viltrox 85mm F1.8 lens got tested with X-T30 on Opticallimits (former I’m highly recommending this resource for deeper understanding of lens resolution and other optical performance details (I’m personally often checking lens tests there before optics purchase).