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My New Favorite Lens: The Fujinon 35mm F1.4 R

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Before I switched to Fujifilm I was a Canon EOS user. My favorite camera was the EOS 5D Mark II and my favorite lens the 85mm f/1.8. I liked that lens because it was ideal for portraits, and for close-ups revealing details.

When I switched to Fujifilm I expected the Fujinon 56mm f/1.2 lens, the closest equivalent (on an APS-C crop sensor camera) to the 85mm, to become my new favorite. It’s a great lens, especially for portraiture. But, to my surprise, the humble 35mm f/1.4 lens, bundled with the X-Pro 1, has become my new favorite.

Favorite lens 35mm Fujinon f1.4

At first I was a little puzzled as to why. With Canon I owned a 50mm lens, and while I tried to use it in practice, it didn’t get used much. It was more of an experimental lens – I used it with extension tubes, and reversed for experimental close-up and macro photography. Occasionally I used it while out shooting, but always ended up preferring either the 85mm (short telephoto) or a wide-angle.

So what happened with the 35mm f/1.4 lens (which has the same angle-of-view, and is a normal lens for an APS-C camera)? I think, a number of things happened.

  • The 35mm suits the X-T1, the camera I use most of the time, very well. The camera feels well balanced, and is light enough to carry around all day.
  • This camera and lens combination is ideal for taking candid photos of people, without being too far away (losing the sense of intimacy and closeness) or having to get too close to fill the frame (where I would be getting close enough to bother people). People may notice me with it, but they don’t seem to be worried by it.
  • It’s an ideal focal length for environmental portraiture. I used it the 35mm lens a lot during a recent trip to China, where I had a lot of fun photographing people. It allows me to capture a scene with people in it, without revealing too much (always a danger with wide-angle lenses) or too little (as can happen with short telephotos).

These two photos are great examples.

Favorite lens 35mm Fujinon f1.4

Favorite lens 35mm Fujinon f1.4

Another thing I like about the 35mm lens, is that it focuses quite close to the subject, allowing me to move in close for detail shots without having to use a close-up lens or extension rings. The 85mm lens that I used with my Canon camera didn’t focus quite so closely, and I had to use a 500D close-up lens (filter) with it for close-up photography. Here’s an example.

Favorite lens 35mm Fujinon f1.4

One of the benefits of a mirrorless camera system, with an APS-C sensor, is that the lenses are smaller and lighter than those made for camera systems with full-frame models. The 35mm lens is small (it’s only 55 mm long) and light (it only weighs 187 grams, 6.5 ounces). Compare those dimensions to a 35mm f/1.4 lens made for a full-frame camera and you’ll see what I mean (Canon’s 35mm f/1.4 is 20.46 oz., or 580 grams).

That wide aperture comes in very useful when shooting in low light, or if you want to use a wide aperture for creative effect. This lens gives me the best of two worlds – small size and wide aperture. This photo, taken at f/1.4, ISO 6400, shows how useful a wide aperture is in low light.

Favorite lens 35mm Fujinon f1.4

Another benefit of this lens is that I can take photos that aren’t affected by converging verticals. With wide-angles, even moderate ones, any slight tilt of the camera results in converging verticals. Vertical lines are crooked rather than straight. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes I prefer the straightness and order, imposed by the 35mm lens. This candid photo shows the point – with a 35mm lens it was easy to frame the photo and make sure the pillar (and the other verticals) were straight.

Favorite lens 35mm Fujinon f1.4

The focal length also works very well when I shoot in the square format. There is something a little magical about the results, and I have been using it a lot for that lately. Here is a photo I took recently in Spain.

Favorite lens 35mm Fujinon f1.4

Your turn

Have you used the Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 lens? Or indeed any other normal or standard lens? Let us know what you like, or dislike, about these lenses in the comments. It will be interesting to hear what you think.


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Andrew S. Gibson is a writer and photographer living in New Zealand. He is the author of over twenty photography ebooks – please join his monthly newsletter to receive complimentary copies of The Creative Image and Use Lightroom Better.

  • Tom Scott

    My first lens purchase for my X-e2 (outside of the “kit” 18-55) was the 35 f/1.4. I have since added the 16 f/1.4 and the 55-200 zoom but the 35 stays on the camera most of the time. For studio portrait work the 56 or the new 90 are amazing, but out in the world I find the 35 in terms of performance, size/weight, field of view, and IQ, to be superior. I would disagree with you slightly regarding this lens’s ability to close focus as that has not been my experience, especially in low-light or when there is not a lot of contrast in the scene. Speaking of low-light performance, although it is 1.4 this was one of the first X series lenses so it does hunt a bit. I’m looking at the 50-140 (to replace the 55-200) and adding the 23 but the 35 will always have a place in my bag.

  • Xerxes Adrianwalla

    I use a fujinon 35mm f1.4, on a X-T10 body and it is as near as perfect as I can get, tack sharp, amazing lowlight capability and great fov. In fact a combination of a 35mm and 60mm f2.4 seems to me to be a perfect combo for street photography. I carry a second body, an old X-E1, mounted with the 60mm.

  • gtvone

    I’m really enjoying the Sony 35mm f/1.4 ZA Distagon… It’s fast and sweet and sharp and sturdy.

  • Anthony Pineda

    The article is about the Fuji 35mm 1.4 not the Sony. And that Sony loses hands down to the Fuji 35mm

  • Guest

    Not sure if you read the last part, the author was asking if you like the fuji 35mm or another normal or standard lenses that you like and put it in the comments 🙁

  • gtvone

    Yep, pays to read bud…. “Or indeed any other normal or standard lens?”

    Cheers.

  • gtvone

    Hi Anthony,

    Insults, really? Are you 12? Though I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, your interactions with other people online are super unhelpful, too. That’s a shame.

    If you want to discuss more about being a douche online, feel free to email me directly – simon@digital-photography-school.com

    Cheers.

  • gtvone

    Oh, maybe you were just on a “You’re a douche” rampage?? …or maybe you’re just plain rude? – That’s a shame.

  • Rt

    It’s my go to lens with X-Pro 1.

  • waynewerner

    I recently purchased the Canon 40mm f/2.8 to go on my Rebel T5 so I could do available-light photography of my newborn son.

    It’s been an insanely delightful lens and I rarely touch either of the lenses that came with my camera.

    The Bokeh is so good: https://goo.gl/photos/26KFadTMwwwKrKLj9

    And it’s sharp enough even at a distance: https://goo.gl/photos/GsscnBDCKiDc3uHs6 (sure, I probably won’t be winning any competitions… but it’s always possible (http://petapixel.com/2016/02/24/point-shoot-photo-made-smithsonian/)

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