In the last couple of years, I’ve ventured more and more in the direction of Fuji. With their retro good looks and funky ergonomics, taking photos with a Fuji is just plain photographic fun!
Overall it’s been a bit of a love hate relationship for me, I grew up in digital and am very accustomed to a mode dial. Fuji dances to the beat of its own drum control wise. For me, this has meant some initial hiccups getting over the Fuji interface learning curve. Over time I got used to it, and virtually all of the initial sins and frustration I had with utilizing the system are forgiven when I look at the results.
I’m a working pro and as such most of my attention has been paid to Fuji’s higher end lens offerings. I’ve reviewed several here on Photofocus. One thing Fuji has done a remarkable job with is the quality of their lenses — at least the high end ones, anyway.
Speaking for myself, when I’m not working and just want to make images for fun, big, heavy, pro lenses aren’t always my first choice. wanted to take a look at some of Fuji’s more consumer oriented options, and the 35mm f/2 fit the docket perfectly.
- Awesome, lightweight, weather sealed build quality
- Spectacular image quality — in the frame center
- Stunningly fast, accurate autofocus
- Video autofocus is smooth with very little “jackhammering”
- Killer price to value relationship
- Beautiful bokeh
- Only f/2
- Though the aperture ring is more firm than most Fuji’s I’ve used, there’s still a propensity to unintentionally knock it from it’s intended position.
- Minimum focus distance is a bit long at 18 inches
- Focal length: 35mm
- Aperture range: f/2–16
- Aperture blades: 9, rounded
- Elements/Groups: 9/6
- Dimensions: 2.36 x 1.81 inches
- Weight: 6 ounces
- Angle of View: 44.2°
I find myself referring to the 35mm f/2 as “pocket Hercules” — it’s small and mighty! I got the silver version of the lens, which better matches my silver XT-3. However, if you don’t prefer silver, Fuji also offers the 35mm f/2 in black. I just happen to believe the silver looks a tad more retro.
Coming in at a paltry six ounces, the 35mm is more in line with the f/1.8 primes from Olympus. It’s so light! However, in spite of its scrawny physicality, the lens is actually built to a very, very high standard. The housing is made out of metal and the lens is weather sealed. The focus and aperture rings are tactile, smooth and refined. It reeks of quality … color me impressed!
I love using this lens on a photo walk or a hike! Given its small size and weight, the 35mm is a joy to carry around all day. When combined with the XT-3, the combination won’t wear you down or get in the way of capturing images.
The aperture ring is a bit more stiff than other Fuji lenses that I’ve used, meaning it’s less likely to get bumped from it’s intended setting — something that happens far too often in my experience with Fuji lenses.
The f/2 aperture will be considered ‘slow’ by some, and in a sense I agree with them. If you’re a working pro who needs that extra stop of light, then I can see the one big drawback of this lens may be a dealbreaker. So as long as you know and understand that shortcoming going in, I think you’ll still fall in love with this lens.
Autofocus speed and accuracy
One word — FAST! Really, really fast! And more importantly, in shot after shot after shot, the 35mm is stunningly accurate too! Even wide open at f/2.
Fuji employs a more economical stepper motor, and it is silent and quick! I found that AF is very smooth in video too. It captures and latches on to faces without a lot of jackhammering around.
AF speed and accuracy simply don’t get much better (or faster) than this. It has outstanding performance for a lens in this price category. If there’s one shortcoming, it’s the minimum focus distance which is a rather long-ish 18 inches. That means there isn’t much value for macro.
We know it’s a (relatively) inexpensive lens that has great build quality, simple ergonomics and stellar AF speed and accuracy. But how are the optics? In my experience, very, very good to outstanding.
When I’m shooting smaller format cameras like APS-C and micro four-thirds, I find myself shooting wide open the majority of the time. Especially when I’m using a slower lens like the 35mm f/2.
What I’m trying to say is the bulk of my shots were in fact taken at f/2, meaning my experiences measuring the optical quality are primarily based on shooting wide open. I have not been disappointed.
Center performance is great to excellent. If shooting your subjects in the center of the frame or slighting off center — think rule of thirds — I think you’ll find as I have, image quality is excellent.
Fuji has an internal image engine that fixes most lens aberrations. To that end, chromatic aberrations, distortion and vignetting are well controlled to non-existent.
Edge performance is still very good and perhaps the extreme corners suffer just a little bit. Bottom line — the 35mm is an excellent performer; it’s even more excellent because of its price!
If there’s one attribute where I believe Fuji has just blown it out of the water with the 35mm, it’s value. There is so much optical goodness in this tiny package.
Usually a lens with this price and aperture combo suffers from some limitation — either physical or optical. It’s true the 35 is only f/2, so if there’s a limitation, that’s it.
Apart from that, Fuji has made an outstanding lens here that’s the very definition of the word value. Well built, weather sealed, sharp optics, lightweight, easy handling and easy on the wallet. The 35mm has me grinning from ear to ear.
FUJIFILM XF 35mm f/2 R WR Lens
Achieving the perfect balance between size and performance, the XF 35mm f/2 R WR from Fujifilm is an elegant normal-length prime featuring a compact profile and apt image quality. Featuring a stepping motor with an internal focusing design, the 35mm provides quick and quiet focusing performance. Two aspherical elements are used in the optical design to reduce distortion and spherical aberrations in order to produce greater sharpness and accurate rendering. A Super EBC coating is also used to control flare and ghosting for improved contrast and color fidelity when working in bright and backlit conditions.