I’ve recently been selected to review loan equipment by Fujifilm Australia, the first of those was the acclaimed XF35mmF2. When Fujifilm announced the XF35mmF2 it was well received throughout the Fuji community but I believe that’s largely due to the reputation of the original XF35mmF1.4 which was and still is an amazing lens. Although they both share the same focal length they are different in almost every respect, having used the lens for almost a good solid month I will share my experiences with using this lens. As with all my other reviews, there’s no charts or pixel peeping here, I’m only concerned about real world performance and user experience.
With a focal length equivalent to 50mm full frame, it is not uncommon to see lenses in this focal length in just about every photographer’s kit, hence why the original XF35mmF1.4 is popular among Fuji X camera users. But like most things original, they are not all perfect and often have some minor flaws which later revisions are set out to address and that’s what happened here.
The original XF35mmF1.4 is a very capable lens hence why it is very popular until this day, however, at times it struggles with locking focus, as a result, it would hunt back and forth before acquiring a lock. Although this is almost near absent in perfect lighting conditions, but outside of that is when it becomes noticeable. The original also lacked WR which many people would have liked. In comes the new XF35mmF2.
Focal Length: 35mm (52.5mm full frame equivalent)
Maximum aperture: F2
Minimum aperture: F16
Filter Size: ø43mm
- Quick AF
- Weather Resistance
- Tack Sharp
- Nothing worth mentioning
Let’s start with the build quality, like with all the other Fujinon lenses, this lens is well constructed, anyone handling this lens will not have much to complain about. It’s almost pointless talking about build quality and may be something I’ll skip altogether in future reviews as all the Fujinon lenses possess a premium feel to them. The lens itself has undergone a slightly new facelift, it tapers down towards the front of the lens, at first, I did not like the new design, however, it slowly grew on me. It could be that Fujifilm had in mind the X-Pro1 hybrid viewfinder so when using the OVF the front element won’t obscure the OVF framing.
Performance & Image Quality (IQ)
Having used both the F1.4 & F2 versions of this lens I found that both are on par when it comes to image quality. Both produces tack sharp images with pleasing out of focus areas (bokeh). I know what you’re thinking, the F1.4 should have the upper hand in this category over the F2 but remember this is a practical review I’m not going to lose sleep over which of the two produces smoother and more circular bokeh balls. But if you want to be critical then sure the original F1.4 nudges in front. However, when it comes to AF speed that is where the XF35mmF2 shines. The AF speed and accuracy of this lens is superb and quiet, point it at any object at any distance and you’ll be surprised at just how quick it locks on. It also performs admirably in low light situations, I find it difficult to come to grips how an F2 lens focuses so well in low light environments. In one scenario the lens was able to focus and lock onto an object even though it was nearly impossible to see on the back of the LCD screen.
There really isn’t much to fault on this lens, no matter what or where you’re shooting this lens is sure to perform as expected.
Once again there’s not much to complain about in this category, the smaller form factor and light weight allows for a pleasing and easy handling of this lens, hence why it is no surprise why this is a popular choice among Street Photographers. The aperture ring is smooth and has just the right amount of resistance between clicks so you won’t accidentally shift and set it to a different aperture, unlike the XF14mmF2.8.
One thing worth noting is that the front element no longer shifts in-and-out while the lens is focusing, unlike the previous F1.4 version.
The XF35mmF2 makes a great travel companion and can be used in almost all sorts of shooting environments and still deliver. The WR is a great addition and when mounted on the X-T1 provides a full WR kit, it is also 1 of 3 prime lenses that are equipment with WR (XF16mmF1.4 and XF90mmF2). Despite the F2 aperture, you can still achieve good results in low light. Smoother bokeh can be achieved as you get closer to your subject, the size and weight allow for it to be mounted on just about every Fuji X camera body without feeling front heavy or the need for a handgrip just to balance the weight.
All in all the XF35mmF2 is a great little lens, with improvements in the AF and the addition of WR it is hard to look past this lens. It also comes with a slightly cheaper price tag which could be the deciding factor. But for those who already own the F1.4, is it worth the upgrade? Personally, I don’t think it is worth owning both the F1.4 and F2 (unless you have a money tree growning in your backyard), they are both optically amazing lenses, I would personally go with the new XF35mmF2 simply for the AF performance and WR factor. I can see this replacing my XF27mmF2.8 as my main go-to lens, it’s a pity that Fujifilm Australia’s recent $200 cash back promotion is only on selected lenses (the XF35mmF2 not being one them) otherwise this would be in my kit.
Highly recommend / Must have