Review: FujiFilm XF23mm F2 R WR

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Last year I began transitioning my photography equipment from Nikon to Fujifilm. The shift was primarily driven by my experience lugging my D700, D300s, 70-200mm f2.8, 24-70mm f2.8, and (usually) a 14-24mm f2.8 around the globe. The setup was rock solid, producing beautiful images, but it had become too cumbersome for my liking. I wanted to travel with a camera, but even the D300s and 24-70 took up too much space in my backpack. The pendulum hasn't quite swung the opposite extreme of my old Nikon setup, like me ditching everything for a single X100F, but I have so enjoyed the form-factor of the X-T1 that I don't see myself going back.

My first Fujinon Lens was the XF35mm F2 R WR, which I picked up shortly after my Oregon Coast trip back in January 2017. I loved the images it produced, and after having it on the X-T1 (exclusively) for six months, I began to dream of acquiring the 23mm version. A lot of this stems from my secret, or not so secret, desire for an X100F and by the images produced by some of the photographers I follow (Take Kayo, Rinzi Ruiz, Zack Arias) with the lens. I have found myself traveling more in urban areas, and I wanted an uncomplicated, fixed-focal-length lens that I would walk around with.

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

  • 35mm Equivalent: 35mm
  • Maximum Aperture: f/2
  • Minimum Aperture: f/16
  • Angle of View: 63.4°
  • Lens Elements: 10
  • Lens Groups: 6
  • Diaphragm Blades: 9
  • Min Focus Distance: 22cm
  • Filter Size: 43mm
  • Approx. Dimensions DxL: 60mm x 51.9mm
  • Approx. Weight: 180 g
  • Price: $399.95

My Thoughts: Construction

overland travel, DP Review, Digital Photo Magazine, Fuji Love, Mirrorless, AdoramaThe XF23mmF2 R WR boasts the same rock-solid construction as it's 35mm F2 counterpart, just in a slightly heavier and longer package. Despite weighing 10 grams more and being 6mm longer than the 35mm F2, the XF23mm F2 balances well with the X-T1.

The fit and finish is light years ahead of my old Nikon fixed-focal-length lenses. Like the 35mm F2, 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. 

My Thoughts: Performance

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Ghosts of the Past - National Civil Rights Museum

Focus:

I have been primarily shooting with this lens using zone focusing, where I set the camera to manual focus, select the desired aperture, and set the minimum focus to between three and four feet.

I read where a lot of people felt the 23mmF2 focused faster than the 35mmF2. For the times I used the autofocus system, I don't know that I could detect the 23mm to be faster. Neither are slouches and 23mm consistently focused without hunting.

Distortion:

I enabled FujiFilm's in-camera lens correction for all of the images I captured. The lens profile rendered images with minimal distortion. I am really pleased with how flat all of these images are, something I was not expecting with a 23mm lens.

The image to the right shows minimal signs of barrel distortion. 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:

I was really impressed with the sharpness of the images I captured with the XF35mm F2 R WR so I was optimistic with the images the XF23mm F2 R WR would produce - I was not disappointed. It is tough to tell, but I think the XF23mm is actually sharper than the 35mm. Images are crisp, and I love all of the detail produced!

Conclusion:

The FujiFilm XF23mm F2 R WR proved to be a phenomenal lens during my travels. I've enjoyed using it so much that I hardly ever use the 35mm these days. I like the images the 35mm produces, but I think the 23mm is probably a better lens for the travel photos I take. I think I may sell the 35mm and purchase the 14mm or 16mm as a companion to this lens. I highly recommend the XF23mm F2 R WR to anyone looking for a fast 35mm 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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