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A mysterious firmware update turns the Viltrox 85mm F1.8 lens into an even faster F1.6 prime

The $400 Viltrox 85mm F1.8 lens is a popular choice for Sony E and Fujifilm X users due to its compelling blend of performance and value. Owners have remarked that the lens delivers sharp image quality even when shot wide open. It now appears that wide open can be made even wider with a firmware update allowing the lens to become an F1.6 prime.

Photographer Stefan Malloch has published a video tutorial, seen below, which shows how to use the USB port on the lens to update the lens. This update allows the lens to open its aperture wider, changing the maximum aperture from F1.8 to F1.6. With a simple firmware update, you can get an extra one-third of a stop of light gathering capability.

As PetaPixel notes, there are conflicting reports as to the origin of the firmware. Sony Addict reported that the firmware was released officially in China. FujiRumors, on the other hand, reached out to Viltrox and was told that firmware to turn the F1.8 lens into an F1.6 lens had not been released. All this is to say that installing (possibly unofficial) firmware into your lens is a risk with unknown consequences.

Supposing you still want to update your lens using Malloch’s video above, what can you expect from the Viltrox 85mm F1.6 lens? Malloch also published an overview video of the lens, including sample images.

As mentioned earlier, the Viltrox 85mm F1.8 (or F1.6) lens is available as a full-frame lens for Sony E mount or for the APS-C Fujifilm X system. The fast, autofocus-capable prime lens can focus as closely as 2.62′ (0.8m). The lens includes 10 elements across 7 groups, including 1 ED lens element and 4 ‘short-wavelength and high-transparency’ lens elements. The lens has a 72mm filter thread and weighs 636g (1.4 lbs.). You can learn more about the lens on Viltrox’s website.