Viltrox 56mm f1.7 Review – Punching Above Its Weight

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How Did I Just Hear About This Lens?

I follow the photo blogs and YouTube channels pretty closely, and I somehow missed the release of the Viltrox 56 f1.7 lens. I saw it mentioned on Reddit or something and immediately went to check it out. I legitimately thought the price was a typo at first. This bad boy is currently going for $139. There has to be a catch right? For $139 I was willing to find out. I immediately ordered it. To me, a sub-$150 portrait lens with autofocus is impulse buy territory.

Build Quality

While you can definitely tell where they cut corners, places like a plastic body and lens hood instead of the metal body on my Viltrox 23mm f1.4, it still doesn’t feel like a poorly made lens. It’s plastic, but it’s sturdy feeling plastic and the actual lens mount is still metal.

It comes with a plastic lens hood, a carrying bag, and the back of the lens features the standard for Viltrox USB C port for firmware updates. At 171g it’s easily the lightest lens I own, and at 54.7mm or 2.2″ it’s also the shortest. This makes for a pretty damn compact package when paired with my X-S20, which is already a pretty small camera.

Sample Pictures

In the interest of full disclosure, SOME of this is just an aspect of the focal length. This is the first 85mm equivalent lens I’ve owned and also the first telephoto prime, so I might be easily impressed. Before this, the longest lens I owned was the Sigma 18-50, which gives you 75mm full frame equivalent at the long end.

I told my daughter Ava I was going to need a model for some pictures on the day I knew the lens was showing up, and she came through for me. First I got some indoor pictures at F1.7. Ava was channeling Harry Potter. I’m pretty sure these are Classic Negative.

The weather was nice that day and I was already planning on doing grilled fish for dinner(Y’all the mahi mahi from the frozen section at Costco is way better than it has any right to be), so I took to the back yard for some more photos in between cooking tasks. Ava insisted on a wardrobe change. I think it might have made her sassier.

The next day, I brought my camera to work with me and took some pictures around the shop. Apparently the dandelions were really doing it for me, I keep taking pics of them everywhere.

Finally, I took the lens with me a local cemetery

Image Quality

Overall, pretty damn impressed with this lens. Pick pretty much any of the pictures I’ve posted and zoom in, it’s sharp corner to corner even wide open. The color rendition is great. Bokeh is soft and pretty, especially wide open. I will likely end up installing my absolute favorite diffusion filter, the Cinesoft Subtle on it because I love the slight softening and the halation that filter gives me, but for this review I felt I should use the lens out of the box, in order to show how sharp it is.

Nitpicky Problems

This lens isn’t perfect. Focus is not as fast as my other lenses, including my Viltrox 23 1.4. It’s not really BAD, it’s just not amazing. I see that as mostly a non-issue for the use cases this lens will be used for. If you’re pointing at a subject who’s standing still and posing, which seems like one of the most common use cases for a portrait lens, it’s totally fine and locks onto an eye and stays there. It’s even fine for someone walking normally, like in a street photography setting. I did notice that it wasn’t keeping up with Ava when she was on her swing like my other lenses do on this body.

Minimum focal distance is also pretty far. You will not be using this for macro photos, you need to be around 2 feet away for focus to work. Again, not a huge issue because you would get some really bizarre portraits if you are taking them from 2 feet away from the subject, but I feel like it’s worth mentioning.


Overall, I’m very impressed with this lens. If it were $300, it would still be a good lens, but for $139, it’s an absolute no-brainer, especially if you don’t already own a lens in this focal length. I’m probably going to take it out to try out some street photography at some point soon, and it will get regular usage for product photos and portraits, making it a very worthy addition to my kit.

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