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In this review, I’ll take a look at the Fujinon XF23mm F2 WR Lens. If you shoot Fuji and have considered this one – read on to see why I rate it top marks!
With the Fuji XF 23mm F2 WR lens now being offered as a kit with the X-Pro2, and the new X-E3, it’s probably a good time to look at this little wonder if you shoot Fuji. This weather-sealed prime lens is 35mm equivalent field of view in full frame terms and makes a perfect street and general photography lens.
The fast f/2.0 aperture is a stop slower than it’s f/1.4 predecessor, but it’s leaps and bounds faster in the focus department. It also has a much quieter motor, which is important for video and it’s weather resistant.
As the Fuji X-T2 body has 4k video, and with a firmware update to add 4K video to the X-Pro2 due, this is an essential feature for current users looking to do video. Personally, I’m shooting a lot more video of late, both for my YouTube channel and in the creation of shorts in general, so this feature made the lens enticing for me. The original Fuji X camera is, of course, the X100, which has a built-in 23mm f2 lens. The new 23mm lens is a better design though, making it a great option instead of getting an X100F.
For this article, I’m including some “tourist in my own town” style shots as I’ve not had this lens long enough to travel with it – yet!
The 23mm is the widest currently in this range, which includes the XF35mm F2 and the XF50mm F2. In the community, they’ve been nicknamed the Fujicrons, as a kind of homage to the Summicron range of f/2 lenses from Leica. This weather sealed range offers great quality lenses in small, light packages, with quiet motors suited to video work as well as stills.
They focus faster than the higher range primes in the Fuji range, such as the 23mm f/1.4, 35mm f/1.4, and the 56mm f/1.2. (It’s not fair to directly compare the 50mm and 56mm as they’re not quite the same, though they are close enough for this purpose). The F2 lenses are also really well priced; You can get two of them for the price of one of the faster primes.
The XF23mm F2 WR lens has 10 elements in six groups which includes two aspherical elements. The original f/1.4 lens has only one. These elements increase the sharpness, a big plus for this small lens. The housing is metal, making this a robust lens in keeping with most of the Fuji range.
The aperture ring runs in 1/3 EV steps and uses nine blades internally which leads to a smoother bokeh. The minimum focusing distance is 22cm (about 9″). The lens comes in at a sprightly 180 grams (0.4 lbs) too. Good news if you’re looking to shoot video on a gimbal or flying on budget airlines with low weight baggage limits! Fi, ally the filter size is 43mm.
The first lens people want this lens compared with is the Fuji 23mm f/1.4, because that’s usually the choice they’re trying to make. The XF23mm f/2.0 is a stop slower than then the 23mm f/1.4 but is faster to focus. The additional element makes it sharp, but the original 23mm is quite a sharp lens anyway. Weightwise the f/2.0 is 180g (0.4 lbs) versus the 300g (0.67 lbs) of the f/1.4.
For close focusing the f/2.0 has a minimum focus distance of 22cm (9″) compared to the 28cm (11″) of the f/1.4. In terms of cost, the f/2.0 is half the price of the f/1.4 at $449 versus $899. The real question to ask yourself is, does the additional stop of light justify spending twice the money? Only you can decide that.
For street work, a lot of people choose the XF27mm f/2.8 pancake lens. This makes your Fuji very pocketable. The lens doesn’t protrude much and is really unobtrusive. It’s the smallest lens Fuji makes. Yes, it is cute. The XF23 is much longer (52mm versus 23mm), but isn’t too obtrusive. Again it’s a faster lens and wider. Both are the same price, so it’s a question of speed and depth in this choice. The 23mm is the superior lens, but if you must have a pancake, the 27mm is the only choice really.
I’ve found 23mm to be a great focal length to have with you. In fact, it’s probably the most versatile prime lens you could travel with. There’s no issue with general streets scenes, or even general landscapes. It’s great for shots including people in the scene. While it’s not a typical portrait focal length, it looks great for 3/4 length shots in landscape mode (a vertical composition) or portrait mode at a push.
Photos from the lens have nice contrast and are generally sharp, even wide open. The lens focuses quickly, even in low light and I can’t say I’ve particularly noticed many misfires. Couple it with the XF56mm f/1.2 or even the XF50mm f/2.0, and you would have a great two-lens kit that covers most shooting situations.
If you absolutely need a faster aperture, don’t get the Fujinon XF23mm F2 WR lens. Otherwise it’s utterly fantastic at what it does. I voted with my cash and got this over the 23mm f/1.4 and it hasn’t disappointed.