Thoughts About The XF 23mm F2 Lens

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-10-25-09-pmImage courtesy of Jonas Rask

To attempt product-photography for the purpose of this blog entry would be a giant waste of our time. We are just not capable of producing  better X products images than those done by the visual virtuoso, Fujifilm X-photographer Jonas Rask. Make sure to check out his review of the XF 23mm F2 lens and follow his blog.

I always knew there was something off about me. It is well known that the 35mm focal length (50mm in FF) is the natural equivalent of a human eye’s field of view. But it’s not so for me. My seeing somehow feels confined and limited, grasping for just a little bit more frame space.

For years my always-with-me camera has been the X100/S. Its portability, quietness, fun-factor and its 23mm field of view (35mm in FF) was exactly what I needed for everyday shooting. However, with the recent release of the X-Pro2 and the X-T2 (22MP, Joystick, Double-card slots etc…), my X100S had hard time competing for my attention. I have to admit I cannot wait for the next iteration of this camera (Fujifilm – are you listening!?).

In the meantime, I have been working on several projects including a very cold wet one with the working title R-A-I-N, which not only requires the 23mm field of view but it also demands a light, weather-sealed lens. When Fujifilm announced a brand new XF 23mm F2 lens I knew that this would be a perfect match for my X-Pro2.

Before I share a few thoughts with you about this new lens please keep in mind this is not a review per se. Although I know that such a lengthy review would benefit this blog, we are just too busy shooting and working on several projects to devote ourselves to such in-depth analysis. With this disclaimer out of the way here are a few thoughts.

  • As mentioned earlier, the 23mm (35mm FF) field of view is the way we see the world around us.
  • The new 23mm F2 lens is very small and light – a huge plus.
  • Its build is all metal and it’s solid – it feels great in the hand. Having said that, the lens hood is something of an anomaly – cheap, plastic and ugly.
  • The lens shape is not to our liking but the X-Pro2 optical viewfinder plays a role here.
  • The aperture clicks sound and feel the best of all the XF lenses (Fuji finally got it perfect).
  • Similarly, the focus ring feels just right.
  • Weather-resistant (WR) – we didn’t pay attention to this feature until we started to shoot our R-A-I-N project. Yes, now we want all lenses (and the next iteration of the X100 camera) to be WR!
  • This lens is so QUIET.  
  • The autofocus is super-fast, a huge improvement over the first generation of XF lenses such as the XF 35mm F1.4.
  • Wide-open, the lens displays some softness, especially at short distances, but somehow we embraced this feature. After reviewing our recent imagery, we were positively surprised with the creamy, almost poetic look of our images shot at F2. At other apertures, the lens is tack-sharp (sharp is so overrated – maybe the next frontier for Fujifilm and other lens manufacturers should be achieving a unique rendering/look/depiction – just a thought).
  • There is a noticeable increase in micro-contrast in comparison to older XF lenses.

One of the most common questions we receive from people who are starting with the X-series system is: Which lens should I get first? Short answer: XF 23mm F2. It’s a perfect field of view to master first, it has great rendering, is inexpensive, small, light and weather-resistant (WR). Go for it!

Below please find a few images shot for our project R-A-I-N. All shot with the X-Pro2 and the XF 23mm F2.

osztaba_rain_20161027__dsf0340

osztaba_rain_20161027__dsf0383  osztaba_rain_20161027__dsf0341

osztaba_rain_20161027__dsf0335

osztaba_rain_20161027__dsf0357

osztaba_rain_20161027__dsf0311-edit

osztaba_rain_20161029__dsf0509-edit

osztaba_rain_20161027__dsf0307-edit

osztaba_rain_20161029__dsf0488

osztaba_rain_20161029__dsf0420

osztaba_rain_20161029__dsf0485-edit

2016 © Kasia & Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

     

12 thoughts on “Thoughts About The XF 23mm F2 Lens

  1. Absolutely amazing shots. You convinced me to keep my 23f2 and not try the 23f1.4.

    Olaf, I noticed you are primarily a XP2 shooter. How frequently are you utilizing the OVF and do you have any thoughts on the balance of the camera with zooms (like the 50-140 you have, or even the 18-135, 16-55). Awesome blog!

    • Dave,

      Thank you for your kind words. I would say 70% EVF, 30% OVF.
      Regarding the balance: the X-Pro2 feels great with almost all lenses except the 50-140mm, which feels unbalanced and heavy. I haven’t had a chance to shoot with the XF 18-135. I only take the XF 50-140mm with me if I travel by car and I don’t have to carry it everywhere with me.

      All the best,

      Olaf

  2. Great shots ,they work so well in capturing rain and what it does.
    Nice review of the lens too i will be getting one soon probably once i can get over my infatuation with vintage lenses on my Xpro 1!
    The meyer optic 50mm is a wonderful lens with dreamlike bokeh and film like rendering and i could get about 8 of them for the price of the fuji 23 mm f2 .Not that I’m saying its in any way overpriced as its not, but if one is prepared to manual focus the lenses out there that are available at such cheap prices( sometimes 18 quid or less)is amazing and i don’t know of modern lenses that render such lovely colours and wonderful resolution.

  3. Thank you for the mini review. I sold my X100T to get this for my X-pro2. Interesting pictures, story and mood. Keep up your excellent work and blog.

  4. I agree totally. I was initially concerned about the softness at close range, but it’s only a problem at f2 in very close focusing distances, at around 30 cm or so. And in that case, simply stepping down to f2.8 or more solves the problem.
    I actually sold a 23mm f1.4 in order to buy the 23mm f2 (I wanted something smaller, and faster focusing), and I have no regrets whatsoever. Really, really liking it so far.

  5. Nice thoughts and great images. I always felt 50mm too constrained but I liked the images so much I persisted. I got the 23mm F2 and haven’t taken it off my camera since. For a daily shooter capturing the kids and life, it is amazing and the lens is just fantastic. I concur with your views!

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