It’s common practice for many people to opt for a 35mm lens, but as the FUJINON XF 23mm f/1.4 R is specifically designed for the APS-C X-mount mirrorless format, it provides the 35mm focal point nicely. A 35mm lens is a good alternative to the usual 50mm prime as it produces slightly wider angle shots, which can be very useful for anything from landscapes to portrait images.
A 35mm lens works great for portrait shots as its the most adept at placing a subject in the context of a scene. An f/1.4 aperture provides not just good low-light capabilities, but also a nice separation between the subject and background. There are also other plus points to a 35mm lens, which include it being a great solution for street photography or simply as a standard lens for general use.
As we’ve established the usefulness of the 35mm focal length, it’s now up to the FUJINON XF 23mm f/1.4 R to prove its worth on the Fuji platform. Along with justifying its price point and line up against the competition.
The FUJINON XF 23mm f/1.4 R isn’t officially weatherproofed, but its full metal construction feels sturdy enough to take the odd drop of rain or harsh weather condition. The lens benefits from an optical arrangement of 11 elements arranged in eight groups with one aspherical element and a Super EBC coating for improving contrast and color, along with reducing ghosting and flares.
The lens also comes in at a reasonable weight of 300g, with a respectably wide focus ring that needs to slide back to engage manual focus and locks into autofocus mode at the top position. A manual aperture ring gives the feel of a traditional old-style lens, while also providing another means to quickly change the aperture on-the-fly.
Other pertinent features of the lens include a minimum focusing distance of 28cm, along with a seven-blade rounded diaphragm and a healthy size 62mm filter thread. This example is nonrotating, which means it can fit many types of filters such as the circular polarizing type.
The FUJINON XF 23mm f/1.4 R in Use
The main benefit of owning such a wide lens is to gain the full use of its f/1.4 aperture. At such a wide aperture there will always be instances of softness at the edge of the frame, which the XF 23mm f/1.4 R does exhibit, but only in tiny amounts. In real terms, this means that the lens will not have a problem capturing the majority of scenic portrait shots.
The rest of the frame at f/1.4 is extremely sharp and f/2 produces the most tack sharp results right across the frame. The other benefit of shooting at f/1.4 is the wonderfully shallow depth of field which can produce silky smooth bokeh, especially with close-up subject matter.
As for general lens anomalies, the lens does exhibit a slight amount of vignetting at f/1.4, but this quickly goes away by stopping down to f/2. There is literally no evidence of chromatic aberration at the widest aperture, which is the same for barrel distortion.
The included petal-shaped hood does a good job of keeping out of the frame and stopping the majority of unwanted light rays.
How Does It Compare?
High-quality lenses for the Fuji platform generally come from the makers themselves, especially when trying to match up like-for-like. This means for those who want a more standard viewpoint of a 50mm lens, the FUJINON XF 35mm f/1.4 R is a likely option.
The FUJINON XF 35mm f/1.4 R comes from the same range with largely the same build and optical qualities, while still providing a very useful f/1.4 aperture. The lens also benefits from being a few hundred dollars cheaper than its wider focal length sibling. This lens is still fantastically sharp when the aperture is wide open, which means the choice between the two will depend on which viewpoint you prefer.
However, viewpoints and focal lengths can be very subjective from a personal point of view and I prefer the look of a 35mm lens as there is a wider scope for creativity. This means, although the FUJINON XF 23mm f/1.4 R is the more expensive option, it’s well worth it in the long run for that added peace of mind of a high-quality lens for the 35mm focal length.
|FUJINON XF 23mm f/1.4 R||FUJINON XF35mm f/1.4 R|
|Minimum Focus Distance||28cm||28cm|
The plus point about the Fuji lineup from which the FUJINON XF 23mm f/1.4 R derives is that is also features an f/2 version of the lens. The f/2 is a lot cheaper than the f/1.4 version, but it doesn’t benefit from the same low-light capabilities. This does mean, however, that there are options in the range for different shooting circumstances.
As for the overall workings of the XF 23mm f/1.4 R, the lens provides wonderfully sharp images throughout the aperture range and won’t let you down on any type of professional shoot. The lens is also lightweight enough for travel purposes or even discreet street photography. And while it may seem initially expensive, its an excellent all-rounder 35mm, so versatile that you will never be thinking about its initial cost.