The Fujinon XF 23mm F2 R WR was a lens which I looked forward to with gleeful anticipation. The older XF 23mm F1.4 R lens was no alternative for me, because I am favouring weather resistance to a one stop aperture advantage.
Fuji XF 23mm F2 R WR, well-known Fuji quality
The XF 23mm is quite similar to the XF 35mm F2 R WR in terms of built quality. It’s made from metal all around and feels like you expect it to be: light, robust and compact. The focus ring is moving smoothly, and the aperture ring has the same characteristic clicking like the XF 35mm and the XF 90mm.
The focus ring is perfectly smooth and very well damped, there is no scratching, squieking or rubbing. There are no changes in resistance the focus ring offers to your fingers, it’s perfectly well balanced all around.
The lens get’s narrower at the front, which is a good thing when you use it on a rangefinder camera like the Fuji X-Pro 2. By this way, the lens is not covering your sight in optical viewfinder mode. The lens hood supplied with the lens is made from plastic. I personally I don’t like that, since it ruins the overall high quality characteristic of the lens in a way. But since the lens hood is quite small and there is no Fuji-made alternative to buy, I have to cope with it.
What to expect
All in all, when buying the Fuji XF 23mm F2 R WR you get what you expect. It’s a perfect everyday lens for street photography, casual shots, architecture etc. The XF 23mm delivers good center performance and acceptable corners even wide open. That’s one of the reasons, why I prefer this lens in combination with the X-Pro 2 over the X100T. Although you get the same field of view with both cameras, the XF 23mm delivers significantly better optical performance than the built in lens of the X100T.
The second reason is autofocus speed. The XF 23mm is fast, and I don’t mean fast in comparison to the slowness of the X100T. The XF 23mm nails moving subjects like a pro: cyclists, joggers, skateboarders, motorcycle riders, … this lens is obviously built to catch all these city situations with no sweat, and it does that almost noiseless. The new XF 23mm puts even the XF 35mm F2 in it’s place, when it comes to autofocus performance.
The new XF 23mm F2 R WR puts the XF35mm F2 R WR in it’s place when it comes to autofocus performance.
Although the XF 35mm seems to be comparable to the XF 23mm, I believe that the latter delivers a bit more contrast in some scenes. That’s something I will have to keep track in the future in order to show it to you. The bokeh of the XF 23mm F2 is quite nice, especially for a wide-angle lens. You will notice slightly uneven highlight discs in the image corners and some edginess from F2.8 on. But that’s moaning on a high level. More important for me is the fact, that the XF 23mm is not remarkable prone to flares when shooting against direct light sources. At least that’s what I discovered.
One more detail which I really like is that the filter thread diameter is 43mm. It is the same on the XF 35mm F2 R WR, so you may use your filters on both lenses.
The XF 23mm F2 R WR is currently one of the three lenses I am using nearly every day. If you’re upgrading from Fuji’s X100 series to an interchangeable lens camera, this lens will reward you with better image quality. It’s fast, silent, furthermore it is small and lightweight, and it will add weather resistance to your portfolio. With this lens, you will get a very good wide-angle allrounder for your daily photo walks. Honestly, there are no real drawbacks at all. Considering the acceptable price Fuji is charging for it, there is no reason to think twice about buying it!
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