This is my Fujifilm XF35mm f/2 WR lens review and real-world write up with a gallery of images taken with that lens.
I think many people question why Fujifilm have decided to release a second 35mm lens, when the existing f/1.4 35mm lens is so highly praised and so damn good! Optically the original 35mm f/1.4 lens is fantastic, it was the first lens I bought to go with my X-Pro1 on the day it was released and that combination remains a firm favourite despite the X-Pro1 going on for 4 years old. I’ll shoot happily with it despite the fact that newer cameras are faster and technically ‘better’, there is a special place for me for the X-Pro1 and XF35mm f/1.4 combination, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that.
Having said that, it’s hard to not see with a objective mind that the original 35mm is somewhat outdated compared to the latest lens offerings from Fujifilm. The AF motors are slow and noisy, it hunts more than newer lenses, and it does have the feeling of being an ‘early’ lens rather than the more refined ones that have been released since then.
X-Series bodies have also continued to get smaller, and with that, smaller lenses make sense. In steps the XF35mm f/2 WR. WR meaning Weather Resistant, whatever that means exactly! My f/1.4 35mm has been soaked on many occasions, dropped, dragged around the world in the bottom of a bag and still works fine. I guess the new model must be for people working under a shower a lot! I joke, it can’t be a bad thing to have seals around the various places where moisture and dust can get in, and there is definitely something reassuring about having a seal between the body and the lens as there is on the f/2 WR lens.
I will point out here that I purchased this lens myself, this isn’t a loaner from Fujifilm. I suppose it may be hard to comprehend why you would purchase the f/2 when you already have the f/1.4. Well, in my case it’s nothing to do with the weather sealing, and more to do with speed and size. On the X-T10 this lens makes so much sense as a carry around daily combination. The compact design of both items means it’s easier to pack and lighter to carry around on a daily basis, and the faster, silent focussing combination means it does make a certain amount of sense. I was asked to shoot a carol service in church, using the X-T10 and XF35mm meant I could work almost silently when compared to the f/1.4 version, which also has a tendency to hunt more when focussing, especially in low light.
The only thing I really don’t like is the nasty plastic hood that comes with it as standard. What’s even worse is that I bought the silver version, which comes with a black hood, and that combination just looks awful! My solution was to spray the hood silver myself. There is an official bayonet fitting metal hood available, but again, only in black. If you’re going to do a silver lens, do matching silver accessories too please! The X100 series comes with optional black and silver accessories, I don’t see why this lens can’t too. Speaking of the hood, I doubt it makes much difference to flare as it is so small, but personally I tend to use them as protectors for the lens as much as anything else anyway, and in that regard it just keeps the front element set back enough should you drop the lens, or knock it against something, so it is worth keeping in place.
Build quality is excellent. This is a full metal body lens, just because it is one of the cheaper lenses doesn’t mean it is plastic. It feels very well made and the aperture and focussing ring have a nice weighted feel to them. The aperture ring doesn’t have quite the positive clicks into full-stop positions that the f/1.4 version feels to have though. I’m not saying that it is bad, there are nice positive clicks between 1/3rd stops, but where the f/1.4 is very definitely more positive when you hit a full-stop value, the f/2 version is harder to judge.
Optically the f/2 is just as good for my use as the f/1.4 and I’d be hard pressed to tell the difference. I’ll happily shoot wide open with it, though no doubt there will be someone one the Internet somewhere that tells you one isn’t as sharp as the other at various f/stops and distances, I personally think that modern lenses, especially the Fujifilm ones, are so good that you’d find it difficult to buy one that wouldn’t be good enough for all but the requirements of the highest paid photographic jobs, and you’re likely to be shooting medium format by then anyway.
Out of focus areas are pleasing to the eye even with quite fussy backgrounds.
It is still more than possible to create a very shallow depth of field with the f/2 lens, and even wide open this lens is more than sharp enough to produce excellent results.
This is an odd one, because when you see photos of the two, they really don’t look all that different apart from the f/2 version being narrower at the end, but when you’re holding them in your hand or when you have them attached to a Fujifilm body the f/2 really does show up how much more compact it is. One of the advantages of this is that when packing lenses into a bag, the f/2 version can fit into a truly tiny space and when choosing what to take with you, it’s almost always in the bag with me as it is so small it makes pretty much no difference to put it in the bag.
See the gallery at the bottom of this pages for size comparison images. Although as I said, it’s hard to really tell from the photos, it is better to actually get your hands on one.
The XF35mm f/1.4 is now available at a street price of around £370 (compared to the original price, which I think was £549), and the XF35mm f/2 is £299. That’s not so far apart as to make the choice an obvious one. In the future, the price of the f/2 version will soften and increase that gap, but that may not happen for a while as it is a newly released lens. For the moment with the increase in AF speed, compact size and WR, the f/2 lens offers very good value for money.
Silver or Black?!
I thought I’d hate the silver version, but I had the chance to have a play with one and I was totally sold on it, despite my camera bodies all being black. If you want stealth then of course the black version is best, but personally I think the silver looks fantastic.
I have to say that if I had neither of the 35mm lenses on offer I’d find it a really difficult choice to make. Personally if I didn’t have the f/1.4 version I would probably still go for that as my only 35mm lens, but I could well be influenced by the fact that I have an affinity for that lens anyway. If you’re after a daily carry around lens the f/2 WR version most likely makes more sense these days. Smaller and lighter body, weather sealing, faster and quieter focussing combined with a lower price tag means that it offers better value if you don’t need that extra stop offered by the f/1.4, and with the Fujifilm X-Series bodies able to produce excellent results with higher ISO, that could easily be compensated for by increasing the ISO by one stop.
At £299 the f/2 version of Fujifilm’s 35mm offering provides excellent value, combined with the feeling of security offered by WR, it should be seriously considered even if you already own the f/1.4 version due to the faster and silent auto-focus it offers.