Review: FujiFilm XF35mm F2 R WR

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overland travel, DP Review, Digital Photo Magazine, Fuji Love, Mirrorless, AdoramaIn September 2015, I rented the FujiFilm X-T1 and the XF35mm F1.4 R lens to take to my sister's wedding. I rented this setup because I had grown tired of dragging my pro-body Nikon cameras and associated lenses on family trips. The setup was just becoming too bulky and too much of a hassle to travel with. The images the FujiFilm setup produced were beautiful, and I loved how compact everything was.

Flash forward to fall 2016 when I found myself gearing up for a series of trips for the magazine and vacation. I debated dragging my D700, 24-70mm, and 70-200mm lenses on trips to Hawaii, Las Vegas, and Oregon. I ultimately found myself looking back to the little FujiFilm X-T1, looking for used copies online. I eventually pulled the trigger and contacted FujiFilm to see about borrowing the new XF35mm F2 R WR to take along on these trips.

Specifications:

  • 35mm Equivalent: 53mm
  • Maximum Aperture: f/2
  • Minimum Aperture: f/16
  • Angle of View: 44.2°
  • Lens Elements: 9
  • Lens Groups: 6
  • Diaphragm Blades: 9
  • Min Focus Distance: 35cm
  • Filter Size: 43mm
  • Approx. Dimensions DxL: 60mm x 45.9mm
  • Approx. Weight: 170 g
  • Price: $399.95

My Thoughts: Construction

overland travel, DP Review, Digital Photo Magazine, Fuji Love, Mirrorless, AdoramaIt has been well over a year since I took the XF35mm F1.4 R to my sister's wedding so it will be hard for me compare it to the new XF35mm F2 R WR. I can, however, talk about my thoughts regarding the construction. I was pleasantly surprised, upon opening the box, with how nice this little lens is. I was expecting this lens to have the fit and finish similar to that of my Nikon 50mm f/1.8G or the DX Nikon 35mm f/1.8G we reviewed back in 2014.

I am happy to report the XF35mm F2 R WR is constructed nothing like those Nikon G lenses. In fact, I believe this lens is better built than any of the prime lenses available from Nikon. The aperture ring feels very precise, with noticeable detents and smooth operation. The focus ring is also smooth and exact, without any obvious play in action. 

For me, the most notable upgrade in the lens' construction, over its F1.4 counterpart, is the weather resistance (WR). Although I did not subject the lens and camera combination to torrential rainstorms, I had the opportunity to travel with it to humid Hawaii and rainy Oregon. I never noticed any fog on the interior lens elements during either trip, leaving me feeling confident to quickly transition between photographing outside and inside without worrying about temperature differentials causing fogging.

My Thoughts: Performance

Focus: 

overland travel, DP Review, Digital Photo Magazine, Fuji Love, Mirrorless, AdoramaImproved focus speed is another notable upgrade to the XF35mm F2 R WR, over its F1.4 counterpart, that is preached online. To be honest, I do not remember thinking the old F1.4 was a slouch when it came to autofocus speed. This lens is fast and accurate, and I never encountered any issues with it not being able to accurately lock onto a subject. The image to the right was taken along Portland, OR's dimly lit MAX Light Rail stop. The lens/camera combination didn't have any trouble acquiring an accurate autofocus lock on the man applying salt to the sidewalk, even with the poor lighting conditions.

Distortion:

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I enabled FujiFilm's in-camera lens correction for all of the images I captured. The lens profile rendered images with minimal distortion. That is not to say the 35mm does not produce any distortion. The image to the right shows signs of barrel distortion, even with the in-camera correction enabled, but it isn't anything I wasn't expecting. As with other 35mm lenses I have used, the closer you get to your subject, the more noticeable the distortion becomes. I am impressed with the relative lack of distortion and am pleased with the images produced with the lens.

Sharpness:

overland travel, DP Review, Digital Photo Magazine, Fuji Love, Mirrorless, Adoramaoverland travel, DP Review, Digital Photo Magazine, Fuji Love, Mirrorless, Adorama
2017 Toyota TRD Pro Tacoma - Straight out of Camera

I was really impressed with the sharpness of the images I captured with the XF35mm F1.4 R so I was optimistic with the images the XF35mm F2 R WR would produce. Not only did this lens meet my expectations, I think it exceeds the quality found in its predecessor. I was so impressed with the sharpness of the images produced that I felt confident cropping the above image and using it for the Fall 2016 Issue of Toyota Cruisers and Trucks Magazine.

overland travel, DP Review, Digital Photo Magazine, Fuji Love, Mirrorless, Adorama

Conclusion:

The FujiFilm XF35mm F2 R WR proved to be a phenomenal lens during my travels. I enjoyed it immensely and was disappointing when I had to mail it back to FujiFilm after my allotted review period. That disappointment didn’t last long because I quickly went online and purchased the lens for myself. I think FujiFilm did a great job with this lens and I look forward to purchasing additional lenses from them as I begin to replace my Nikon kit. I highly recommend the XF35mm F2 R WR to anyone looking for a fast 50mm equivalent prime lens for their FujiFilm camera.




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Author
Overland Expo, Living Overland, ToyotaBeau Johnston is an engineer, writer, and photographer who is dedicated to proving you can find a balance between work and life. He is the Co-Founder and Publisher of Living Overland and a member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. When he isn't working, you can find him exploring National Parks, fly fishing, and camping with his wife (Krista) and their two dogs.


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