Why Viltrox 56mm f/1.4 is quickly becoming my favourite lens

Jun 20, 2023

Mark G. Adams

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Why Viltrox 56mm f/1.4 is quickly becoming my favourite lens

Jun 20, 2023

Mark G. Adams

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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Regular followers of my photography will know that as a general rule of thumb, I love the Viltrox 23mm F/1.4 and the Olympus 17mm F/2.8 (for my Olympus Pen E-PL8), both approximately 35mm focal length equivalents in full frame terms. In fact, either of those lenses generally lives on one of my cameras. However, in recent months, my Viltrox 56mm has been getting more and more use.

To put things in context, the 56mm (85mm equivalent on a full-frame camera) is in the same range focal length as my Fuji 50-230mm lens (75mm-345mm), and I only ever tend to use that zoom lens for birds or general landscapes at mostly the longer end. I really struggle with it at 50mm, so it rarely gets used unless for a specific purpose. Strangely though, I don’t get the same problem with the 56mm, and of course, a lot to do with that is because it is a prime lens.

As I’ve written about many times, a prime lens puts you in a very different frame of mind, and so you are forced to see the world differently. Without the option of zooming in and out, your mind and your minds eye, see things very differently.

So, why is the Viltrox 56mm F/1.4 becoming a favourite? Here are five points that really make me enjoy this lens.

  1. The 56mm is equivalent to 85mm on a full frame camera, so for portraits, landscapes and images where you need some subject isolation, it’s a perfect focal length.
  2. At F/1.4 you can use the lens in extreme low light with no issues at all, meaning you can take it anywhere and use it indoor and outdoor without worrying about a flash or light.
  3. At F/1.4, combined with the focal length, you get extreme bokeh and subject separation. For many images, you get an amazing, full-frame look from the APS-C format with just the right amount of compression.
  4. The Viltrox 56mm renders images beautifully, one could even say it has an analogue look to its output.
  5. Being a small, light prime lens, it really does force you to think differently. Many people dismiss this, and say it is restrictive, but yes, that is the point, you are restricted, so you are in full control of composition. You dictate through limited choice, you’re not given the option of being lazy and zooming in and out, unless you physically move yourself in the scene.

Of course, the lens is not perfect, just like most lenses it has a couple of flaws. As mentioned in my short-term review of the lens, it does suffer from chromatic aberration in high contrast situations. Thankfully, this is simple to get rid of with software, so really not an issue.

A second little issue is the focus speed. While it is indeed fast and accurate, there are occasions when it will not find its subject, but this is usually because you are too close to your subject, or there is too much contrast in the scene.

As I’ve said, I’ve reviewed this lens already, and I think since that review, I have been enjoying using it more and more. I’ve posted many photos lately using it, and I’ve always been very happy with the results. Never did I think I would be using the 56mm more than the 13mm lens!

But, like life, everything changes in photography on a regular basis. Thankfully, nothing stays the same, and I can’t imagine liking the same things now as I did 5 years ago. With change, we adapt, we evolve. It’s what makes photography so interesting.

About the Author

Mark G. Adams is a documentary photographer, blogger, and writer based in Port Talbot, Wales. On his website One Camera One Lens you’ll find plenty of his photos, as well as interesting articles about photography. Head over to InstagramFacebook, and Twitter and follow Mark for more of his work. This article was also published here and shared with permission.

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