Once you’ve been on the photography horse for some time, you’ll soon realize that a 35mm prime lens is an essential part of your kit. A 50mm prime is a good standard, but the 35mm provides a slightly wider viewpoint, with arguably more scope for creativity. For the Fujifilm platform, one of the contenders in this department is the FUJINON XF 35mm f/1.4 R.
This lens is part of the X line, with the aim of capturing the attention of professional photographers. This means that this lens may initially seem expensive, but with solid optics to back up its functionality, the FUJINON XF 35mm f/1,4 R should make a great walkaround solution. It’s light and compact enough for anything from street photography to portraits.
Onto the basic specifications of this lens, it has a very usable f/1.4 aperture, with an optical arrangement of eight elements in six groups, plus one aspherical element and a Super EBC coating. Internally, the lens also has a seven-blade rounded diaphragm and when used on the FUJIFILM X-mount mirrorless cameras, has an equivalent focal length of 53mm.
While this isn’t exactly a macro lens, the close focusing distance of 28cm is reasonable, along with a maximum magnification of 0.17x. At the front of the lens is a 52mm filter thread which is non-rotating. The whole lens weighs in at a lightweight 187g.
The lens barrel has an all-metal construction, with the external features being the clicked aperture ring and a smoothly turning focus ring. The aperture ring has an ‘A’ for auto-mode to allow the camera to do the heavy lifting in the aperture department. Focusing is controlled by fly-by-wire, which means focus duties are done electronically, without any mechanical linkup.
This lens is designed to be a straightforward lens, with simple operation. This means that it’s down to its optical progress to truly cut the mustard.
The Fujifilm FUJINON XF 35mm f/1.4 R in Use
One of the initial gripes with the FUJINON XF 35mm f/1.4 R was it’s audible workings when using autofocus. Firmware updates have reduced the problem to an extent, but the more recent lenses in the lineup have a much quieter operation. As the autofocus is still audible on this lens, it may not be the go-to solution for video applications.
Apart from the audible noise, autofocus is very quick to lock onto a subject with the latest Fujifilm cameras. There was never a need for tweaking the focus with manual adjustments, but for the most peace of mind, it’s better to try before you buy with your own particular model of camera.
As for overall sharpness levels, this lens is wonderfully sharp in the center at f/1.4, with the edges coming into equal detail at f/2.8. Contrast and color rendition is excellent, helped along by the X-Trans sensor to produce professional-level images straight out of the camera. On the likes of the Fujifilm X-T1 and the X-Pro1, color rendition and sharpness were consistent with a high degree of detail.
For the sharpest results across the frame, f/5.6 provides the most clarity with an exceptional level of detail. There are no complaints with the sharpness of this lens throughout the aperture range. Fuji cameras produce wonderful color renditions and the results are no different from this lens.
An f/1.4 lens begs for the bokeh effects to be tried out from the start. The lens produces a good transition between sharp and blurred areas, with the only downside being only the slight onion effects on points of light in very bright areas. As a portrait lens, the bokeh can provide a great way of separating the subject from the background.
When it comes to lens anomalies, the FUJINON XF 35mm f/1.4 R does display some vignetting at f/1.4. When the lens is stopped down to f/2.8 the corners clean up nicely.
Ghosting and flaring are handled well, mostly down to the Super EBC lens coating. Stopping down to the likes of f/16 produces nicely defined sun stars and direct sunlight shows minimal flaring. Barrel distortion is also extremely low as with chromatic aberration which is surprisingly non-existent, even at f/1.4.
How Does It Compare?
Lining up high-end lens offerings against the FUJINON XF 35mm f/1.4 R usually brings the focus onto the ZEISS Touit 32mm f/1.8. ZEISS optics usually speak for themselves and in this case, you will need to be putting up a good few hundred dollars more than the FUJINON for the privilege.
The ZEISS has a smaller f/1.8 aperture than the f/1.4 version found on the Fuji. The Fuji is actually a touch sharper than the Zeiss and displays lower levels of lens anomalies, which is quite surprising. This means that as the FUJINON XF 35mm f/1.4 R also comes in at a smaller price point, it’s the obvious winner of the two.
|FUJINON XF 35mm f/1.4 R||ZEISS Touit 32mm f/1.8|
|Optics||8 elements / 6 groups||8 elements / 5 groups|
|Diaphragm Blades||7 rounded||79 rounded|
The Fujifilm FUJINON XF 35mm f/1.4 R isn’t perfect with its overall features. The autofocusing is audible and the aperture ring is quite loose in operation. When it comes to optics, this lens delivers in all departments. For both RAW and JPEGs, sharpness is very good at f/1.4 and outstanding at f/5.6.
On an APS-C camera body, the focal length is the equivalent of 53mm, which is a good standard for most types of photography. The f/1.4 aperture is going to work great in low-light conditions and even for stargazing. This lens is light enough in weight to be carried around all day long and is highly recommended as a go-anywhere lens.