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Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 R WR Review

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 R WR Review - John Riley reviews the compact Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 R WR lens for X mount cameras.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Fujifilm XF 23mm f/2
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Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Fujinon Xf 23mm F2 Vertical View

Fujifilm has been gaining an enviable following with their X Mount range and now have released two compact prime lenses that evoke the form factor of the traditional rangefinder lens. The first of these to be reviewed is the 23mm f/2, the second is the 50mm f/2. Both are compact, weather resistant and are ideally matched with the X-Pro2 used in this review. Let's see first how the 23mm f/2 works out in practice and how it performs.

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 R WR Handling and Features

Fujinon Xf 23mm F2 Front Oblique View

This delightfully compact lens weighs in at a modest 180g. It looks as though it could be at home on any classic rangefinder camera body, and it is easy to see how this style of optic and the Fujifilm X-Pro2 could appeal to those who have previously used Leica or Voigtlander cameras. Could this be a perfect combination for the purist street photographer?

Starting at the front of the lens, we have a small but effective bayonet lens hood, surrounding a very small 43mm filter thread. Immediately behind this, we find the manual focus ring, which operates electronically. It is nicely damped, although it is perhaps a pity that it has no function when the camera is set to AF. The lens is multi-coated, using Fuji's Super EBC Electron Beam Coating.

The only other control on the lens is the aperture ring, a very solid affair that feels quite superb in its action. It clicks smoothly into place in third of a stop increments, ending with an A setting that can be used if the camera is to control the aperture. Different cameras and lenses can suggest different techniques, and here it was found to be most convenient to use the aperture ring on the lens. Apart from anything else, there is a certain tactile pleasure in operating a lens that feels like a traditional, metal, quality optic.   

Fujinon Xf 23mm F2 On X Pro2

Focusing is down to 22cm, a maximum magnification of 0.13x. This proves to be reasonably close, but nowhere near macro distances. Optical formula is 10 elements in 6 groups, with two of these elements being aspherical. The diaphragm has 9 blades, rounded to improve the bokeh.

Finally, construction is weather resistant, always a bonus. The quality of finish is superb. There is nothing else adorning the lens, which is simple and straightforward in operation. 23mm on APS-C has a 35mm-equivalent value of 34.5mm, almost exactly the 35mm “wide standard”, used by generations of reportage/street photographers as a lens of choice. Purist street photographers may well find the lens and X-Pro2 to be a compelling choice. The combination has an instinctively good feel about it, an indefinable quality that we know when something fits perfectly.

Fujinon Xf 23mm F2 Rear Oblique View

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 R WR Performance

Looking first at the resolution results, we see some very impressive figures. Centrally, sharpness is outstanding from f/2 right through to f/11. It remains excellent at f/16, which is an amazing performance. The edges show slightly lower figures, as we might expect, but results are excellent from f/2 to f/11 and still very good at f/16. Basically, all apertures give totally satisfactory sharpness, both centre and edge, and it is hard to imagine a performance that could be significantly better.

Fujifilm XF 23mm f/2 MTF Charts

How to read our MTF charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Fujifilm X-Pro2 using Imatest.

 

CA (Chromatic Aberration) is moot with some MFT and with the Fuji X cameras, as there is software at work in the cameras in both the RAW and JPEG output. This means that correction of CA is almost perfect, both centre and edge. Using Fuji lenses on Fuji cameras this doesn't have a downside, but the thought does occur that results using the lenses on other marques might well need some attention in software as well. That is, always assuming that suitable adapters can be sourced. The SLR lens manufacturer does not have quite the same freedom to enhance corrections in camera as the lenses might be used on many different bodies via the plethora of possible adapters available.

Fujifilm XF 23mm f/2 Chromatic Aberration Charts

How to read our CA charts

Chromatic aberration (CA) is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimise the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Fujifilm X-Pro2 using Imatest.

 

Distortion likewise is corrected before we become involved, and hence measures a very low -0.16% barrelling, as near perfect as makes little difference.

Flare is not a problem either, images shot against the light showing no sign of loss of sharpness or contrast.

Bokeh with wide lenses is not so marked as with longer lenses, so even with rounded aperture blades, the effect is not dramatic. The bokeh is not over fussy and out of focus areas are handled well without them being exceptional.

The results generally though are exceptional, and optically, albeit it perhaps with some software assistance, we have here a superb lens. It also has an attractive rendition, an abstract concept maybe, but the “look” that images have that show the “character” of a lens. This is something less tangible that cannot be measured, but more an aesthetic comment.


Fujifilm XF 23mm f/2 Sample Photos

 

Fujifilm XF 23mm f/2 Aperture range

 

Value For Money

The Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 R WR lens is priced at £419, which seems to be a reasonable cost for a high-quality prime lens. The Fuji X alternative is the faster and bulkier Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R, costing £748.

Other marques have their own priorities, but perhaps the closest in APS-C lenses is the HD Pentax-DA 21mm f/3.2 AL Limited lens at £429.

To put it in perspective, alternative 35mm f/2 lenses for 35mm format DSLRs suggest the Fuji is well priced and good value for money. Examples are the Canon EF 35mm f/2 (£469), Tamron 35mm f/1.8 SP Di VC USD (£599), Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S G ED (£449) and the SMC Pentax-FA 35mm f/2 (£549).

For more options have a look at the Top 10 Best Fujifilm Lenses.

 

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 R WR Verdict

The Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 R WR gives a sparkling optical performance, compact size, weather resistance and high-quality manufacture, which all inspire confidence in this Fujifilm lens. Absolutely worthy of an Editor's Choice award.

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 R WR Pros

  • Outstanding sharpness
  • Low CA
  • Low distortion
  • Low flare
  • Beautifully made
  • Weather resistant
  • Well priced
  • Compact

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 R WR Cons

  • No manual focus in AF mode (on default settings)

Features4/5
Handling5/5
Performance5/5
Value5/5
Overall Verdict

 

Fujifilm XF 23mm f/2 Specifications

ManufacturerFujifilm
General
Lens Mounts
  • Fujifilm X Mount
Lens
Focal Length23mm
Angle of View63.4
Max Aperturef/2
Min Aperturef/16
Filter Size43mm
StabilisedNo
35mm equivalent35mm
Internal focusingNo Data
Maximum magnification0.13x
Focusing
Min Focus22cm
Construction
Blades9
Elements10
Groups6
Box Contents
Box ContentsLens cap FLCP-43, Lens rear cap RLCP-001, Lens hood, Wrapping cloth
Dimensions
Weight180g
Height51.9mm

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Comments


12 Jun 2017 10:30AM

Quote:Sadly, it does not offer manual focus during AF operation.


A correction, there is a custom setting that does enable full time manual focusing in AF. Its default appears to be "off". When switched on it works as expected and allows manual tweaks to the AF focus position.

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