First off, I have to say that I'm absolutely loving the Zach Theatre production of the play/musical, "Matilda." I have the song, "My Mommy Says I'm a Miracle." bouncing around in my head most days now. The play is wonderfully written and the huge miracle is that a cast of Austin, Texans can do a better English accent than most people I know who are actually from the U.K.
As you know, one of my favorite assignments is going to the theater for the dress rehearsals (many times it's the first performance with full costumes and completed scenes and props!) to make photographs that will be used for marketing, public relations and other uses that effectively sell tickets; even non-profits have budgets to hit...
I like to lean on tried-and-true equipment for the shoots so I don't stumble because there aren't any "do-overs" but lately I've engineered in some comfort factor that allows me to be a tiny bit more ---- experimental. The new padding is that I now hit both the technical rehearsal and the dress rehearsal. There's no audience at the Tech rehearsal and there might be one or two visual rough spots that the crew is still working on but I get a great preview of the show which helps me understand how to best shoot it. I also shoot hundreds of shot in the first night so I can go back to the office and see how everything worked out.
If all is good then I am more disposed to bring a new toy or two along to the dress rehearsal.
And that's exactly what I did last week. Twice. One monday I brought along the 14mm f2.8 lens for a bit more emphasis on wide stage shots. Then, on Tuesday, I brought along the 90mm f2.0 XF lens to see if it was really so super groovy as everyone says.
Of course, it wouldn't be much of a test if I took a fast, well corrected, single focal length lens and used it stopped down to f5.6. That would only tell most of us what we already know; that almost every prime out there is great once you've stopped it down past the trouble spots...
So, I put the 90mm on an X-H1 and shot it wide open. f2.0. And I took a good look at the files I got. They were all pretty much as good as I thought they'd be. Which, if you think about it, makes talking about all really good lenses a bit boring. What do you really say after you've mentioned how sharp they are and how nice the blur is and how well controlled the flare is? I guess you could dive into the rough and talk about focusing speed and accuracy but those seemed fine, too.
If you don't mind spendy, and you have a recurring need for a moderately fast prime that's about the equivalent of a classic 135mm on a full frame camera, then this is the best choice in the Fujifilm collection. It's also the only one. Unless you include the same focal length setting on a zoom. But if I wanted that I would have used a zoom.
Where this lens shines is the close portrait; from waist up, or even tighter, in an environment where there is fun stuff to put out of focus in the background. I wish I had a couple of jobs like that right now. Maybe I'll go out and look for some. Could be fun.
Do I regret splashing out for the 90mm? Not at all. It's a nice, classic focal length and (sometimes) fits my style of shooting. I must say though, that shooting live theater is always easier done with nice zooms. Framing on the fly is golden. The 90mm is one of those "serious" lenses you pull out when the focal length is right and the potential for an extremely beautiful photograph exists. At least you'll know you pulled out all the stops...