Review: Viltrox 85mm F1.8

I regularly participate in discussions at the Fujifilm ClubX which has many active members based in Singapore. During one of these discussions, I had mentioned that the official distributor of Viltrox did not allow me to try the new Viltrox 85mm F1.8 lens at the store, so I did not think I would want to purchase it.

To my surprise, I got a message from the Fujifilm X-Photographer – Ivan Joshua Loh who had just posted his review of the lens and he asked me if I would like to loan it from him so that I could make up my mind. So without hesitation, I drove over to his place and picked up the lens. What a generous guy!

It just so happened that around the same period, my family decided to have a quick weekend in the Genting Highlands, giving me ample opportunity to shoot a few portraits with the Viltrox 85mm F1.8.

The Viltrox 85mm F1.8 is one of the few 3rd party lenses that isn’t a manual focus. Viltrox has somehow reverse-engineered the Fujifilm protocols and came up with a lens that can auto-focus. This is a tremendous advantage, given that the 85mm focal length is ideal for portrait shots, and therefore takes full advantage of the auto-focusing capabilities of my X-T3.

The lens is huge… and heavy. It feels sturdy enough that if you flung it at an animal… you would probably kill it on the spot. One strange design decision is that Viltrox did not place an aperture ring on the lens, so you have to control everything form the camera – which I disliked because I sometimes forget to adjust my aperture from time-to-time.

The bokeh is nice.. most of the time. I do find that in some shots particularly with lots of greenery… it does tend to get whirly or busy… which I find distracting.

Others might like it though, so it is a personal preference.

One thing to note is that there is no weather resistance… so I hesitated using it when the weather got foggy (and damp) or close to the pool.

In low-light, the Viltrox 85mm F1.8 tended begin to hunt for focus a great deal. To my surprise, the sound of the motors was rather loud – I was concerned that something had broken but later realized it was normal.

The loud sounds also meant that this was not a lens that I would be using for shooting video.

In conclusion, my family was delighted with the shots that I took with the Viltrox 85mm F1.8 – and that is what seals the deal for me. Not being a professional, I have the luxury of not having to seek perfection in my tools – and the Viltrox 85mm F1.8 costing just SGD499 is a steal compared to the Fujinon 90mm F2 which costs 2X more.

7 thoughts on “Review: Viltrox 85mm F1.8

  1. You covered it perfectly, I think. I owned the Viltrox for a few days myself. For the price it makes incredible images; it doesn’t have the color contrast of the Fuji 90 but it seemed just as sharp, not silent, but half the price. And you can always adjust colors in post so it being less contrasty isn’t a big deal. Ultimately I sold both as I just don’t shoot enough portraits to justify either but looks like you’re enjoying yours!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, it does look a bit busy, which is interesting considering the 90 has fewer aperture blades. But your nature and parks are ideal for showing the busy-ness. I was shooting in the city and never noticed. I’d say for the price it’s a fair trade.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great shots of your family. The colors are beautiful. The bokeh does feel a tad nervous sometimes, but I think it’s if I try to nitpick. Overall, it looks like a keeper to me… 🙂

    Like

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