Fuji 23mm f2 Review
The compact, affordable and yet capable Fuji 23mm X-series lens
Thanks to Leo’s Camera Supply in Vancouver for making the Fujifilm 23mm f/2 R WR available to me for my lens reviews. I was able to try it out over the course of a weekend spent with friends who were visiting from Denmark.
One of three X-Series 23mm lenses
The XF 23mm f/2 R WR rounds of three options in the X-Series for 23mm lenses giving you a documentary style full frame 35mm equivalent. The other two being the XF 23mm f/1.4 R and the 23mm f/2 on the X100F. I have reviewed both here:
Having done the X100F review just a few weeks ago and comparing it to the XF 23mm f/1.4 R, I was excited to try out this final option of 23mm lenses in the X-series. I had friends visiting Vancouver from Denmark, and what better way to test this compact lens than sightseeing in Vancouver. I have the f/1.4 version and have been using it extensively over the past 3-4 years. I decided to test the XF 23mm f/2 exactly how I would use it, as a portable compact solution for travel. So I mounted it on my X-Pro2 and off we went on our bikes for a scenic tour of Vancouver and for some street photography later in the day.
Handling / Built Quality
I totally adore this lens. Not sure if that is a term in the lens review world but I will use it anyway. I really wanted to like the lens from the offset as it is such a good fit for the X-Pro2. No wonder Fujifilm has been selling this combination as a kit. The lens is light at 180g and you barely feel the weight of it on the X-Pro2 and yet it feels sturdy and well made. The aperture ring has a nice feel and clicks into place with confidence and is not easily moved out of position. The provided lens hood is small and very inconspicuous. I like it, as it keeps the overall lens size to a minimum and does a good job of protecting the front element. The XF 23mm f/2 has an inner focus AF system which silent and fast. For those who like to count it features two aspherical lens elements. The lens is weather sealed.
Fujifilm XF 23mm f/2 R WR vs. XF 23mm f/1.4 R
I have spoken highly of the XF 23mm f/1.4 R in my review but have also admitted that I have left it behind on occasion. This happened on a six week ‘backpack only’ trip around South East Asia where I only brought my two smallest lenses; The XF 35mm f/1.4 and XF 14mm f/2.8. So why fret over this? When planning a trip I contemplate what I will encounter on the journey, what types of images I hope to come home with, and how to capture them with the gear I bring. We plan to pack very light for our next trip and trust me, everything counts when you are packing. What will fit where and how much does it weight? The XF 23mm 1.4 weighs 300g so the weight saving is not huge when comparing to the 180g for the XF 23mm f/2 but when it comes to bulk the difference is noticeable. You could easily stick the f/2 version in a pocket for a day trip. I have done this for the f/1.4 version but it gets bothersome after a while. Note the f/1.4 has a nice clutch mechanism manual focus ring which is very smooth and is easier to set to infinity focus.
Fujifilm XF 23mm f/2 R WR - Image Quality
A quick disclaimer on the following comparison. I did two 25K bike rides over the weekend. I decided to bring the f/2 version on day one and the f/1.4 version on day two. I was touring the city with friends so didn’t have time to set up proper comparison photos. It did, however, give me a nice feel for the differences.
Like the X100F, the XF 23mm f/2 surprised with excellent image quality. I think perhaps I thought I owned the perfect image-making tool in the f/1.4 version. They are much closer in quality than you’d think. For your normal day to day shooting or as a travel lens, you would be hard-pressed to tell any noticeable difference. It is more about size and convenience than pure image quality. With that said, I had to zoom into 100% before I could see that the XF 23mm f/1.4 is a hair better. In my limited test, I quite enjoyed the bokeh from the XF 23mm f/2 wide open. I has 9 rounded diaphragm blades compared to 7 in the f/1.4 version.
Fujifilm XF 23mm f/2 R WR Conclusion
I dig the XF 23mm f/2. So much so, that I am slightly torn. Should I switch it out with my XF 23mm 1.4 before our next trip? I will make that decision sometime this fall. If I didn’t already have a 23mm and was looking for a 23mm travel lens, I would pick the f/2 version. It is super compact, light and still delivers on image quality. Autofocus is faster, silent and the lens is weather-sealed, which is nice in dusty or rainy conditions. If you shoot in low light and need f/1.4 the debate stops right there. The 1.4 version is for you.
Please check out the photos below and I hope this write up along with the sample images are helpful. Please drop me a line in the comments below with any questions you may have.
We travel with Fujifilm X-Series cameras and lenses visiting 50 countries in 50 months. Tag along for Photography Inspiration - 5050 Travelog