The XF 35mm f2 lens is Fuji’s updated version of the XF 35mm f1.4. It was released back in 2015 and has proven itself to be a solid lens that deserves a spot in any photographer’s camera bag. This Fuji 35mm f2 review will help you decide whether it’s the right lens for you or not.
This Fuji 35mm f2 review will explain why it’s a must-have lens in your kit bag
The older f1.4 was always a great lens, so when the f2 was released people wondered if it could really top it. Well, it did and here’s why.
The XF range of lenses are all designed for mirrorless bodies with APS-C sized sensors, so to take that into consideration you have to times the focal length of these lenses by 1.5 to get their full frame equivalent focal lengths.
In this case, 35mm x 1.5 = 52.5mm.
And what is every photographer’s favourite focal length? The one that they would choose if they could only use one lens for the rest of their life? Most likely a 50mm.
52.5mm/50mm, tomato/tomato? It’s close enough is what I’m trying to say.
It’s the focal length that the human eye sees in so you get images with minimal distortion and everything is nicely proportionate.
Fujifilm does make a 50mm f2 which looks almost identical (build wise) to the 35mm f2 but after you factor the crop in you get an equivalent focal length of 80mm which is too tight for an all-purpose and versatile lens, at least for me anyway. Great for portraits though.
Sharpness of the Fuji 35mm f2
The old 35mm f1.4 was a fantastic lens and still is, especially if you need that extra stop of exposure. If having a max aperture of f1.4 is crucial to you and you really can’t make do with f2, then I highly suggest you get the f1.4 version.
But if that isn’t a deal breaker, then the f2 version is better in almost every other way.
When both lenses are stopped down to f2, the new 35mm wins every time when it comes to sharpness. Which is no small feat especially considering f2 is at its widest and lenses don’t always perform the best wide open.
At f8 and higher, it’s hard to tell the difference between the 35mm f2 and 35mm f1.4.
Paired with something like the X-Pro2 or X-T3, this lens is going to produce amazingly sharp and crisp images. But even with one of Fuji’s entry-level cameras like the X-T20, this lens is going to amaze you.
There’s really no need to bore you with pictures of a wall to demonstrate what I’m about to say, there are already enough of those floating around online and it’s really very simple.
The 35mm f2 is extremely sharp all the way from f2 to f8 apart from in the very extreme corners. The softness in the corners does improve slightly as you go from f2 to f8 but never truly disappears. Above f8 image quality begins to deteriorate anyway due to diffraction but that’s the same with most lenses.
The corner softness issue is limited to the extreme corners (almost as far into the corners as you can go) and in most cases simply isn’t an issue. All in all, I don’t think you’ll find a lens this sharp for such an affordable price.
Fuji 35mm f2 vs f1.4
We’ve just spoken about the similarities and differences between the f2 and the f1.4 versions of this lens. It’s hard not to.
But if you’re only interested in somebody helping you decide which one to go for, here’s your answer.
I would choose the Fuji 35mm f2 over the Fuji 35mm f1.4
Now here’s a slightly longer answer.
You’ve probably heard that there is no perfect lens a million times and that the best lens is down to personal preference blah blah blah…
However, in my opinion, the only reason why anyone would ever choose the 35mm f1.4 over the 35mm f2 is that they really need that extra f-stop. That’s it, because in every other way the 35mm f2 is better.
The Fuji 35mm f2 is:
- Sharper at f2
- Weather sealed (the 35mm f1.4 isn’t)
- Available in silver (I love the retro looking silver Fujifilm gear)
At f2 the DOF is pretty thin anyway, especially up close. Ask yourself, do you really need an extra f-stop more than you need the things I’ve listed above?
The answer is most likely no. I know I don’t.
Build quality of the Fuji 35mm f2
The short answer is that it’s perfect.
Like most Fuji products, the thing feels like it would survive being run over by a bulldozer. It’s an all metal design and, as it’s also weather sealed, I think you would have a hard time damaging it.
It feels quality, the aperture and focus rings are firm but easily adjusted. The aperture ring confidently clicks into place every 1/3 of a stop and the whole thing generally feels great to use.
The f2 version is considerably smaller than the f1.4 version and perfectly compliments the small form factor of Fuji’s X-Series range of mirrorless cameras.
The Fuji 35mm f2 is a lot cheaper than the 35mm f1.4. So, considering the only positive to the 35mm f1.4 is the extra f-stop, you have to really decide if it’s worth the extra money.
With the 35mm f2, you are getting great value for money. You’re getting pro-level glass in terms of image quality. With other brands you would end up paying a lot more to achieve the image quality this lens produces.
The Fuji 35mm f2 is one of the fastest focusing lenses I’ve ever used. It locks on to the subject as soon as you depress the shutter button.
Paired with one of Fujifilm’s newer X-Series cameras with the latest firmware installed, it’s blazing fast.
Being such a compact lens means it doesn’t have as much glass inside to physically move around in order to get things in focus. This results in lightning fast autofocus speed.
What kind of photography is the Fuji 35mm f2 best for?
At 35mm (or roughly 50mm on a full frame camera) the Fuji 35mm f2 is perfectly suited for street photography or environmental portraiture.
But, in certain circumstances, the lens can also perform well when shooting landscapes. Obviously, it’s a little more restrictive in this case but I’ve often used it while shooting mountains and other subjects that are far away. When it’s on a camera like the X-T3 you have the ability to extend its reach even further by cropping in post-production thanks to its 26-megapixel sensor.
|Mount||Fuji X mount|
|Focal length||35mm (52.5mm full frame equivalent)|
|Aperture range||f2 – f16|
|Physical aperture ring?||Yes|
|Weight||6 oz / 170 g|
|Size||2.36 x 1.81″ / 60 x 45.9 mm|
|Minimum focusing distance||1.15″ / 35cm|
Fuji 35mm f2 sample images
No review of the Fuji 35mm f2 would be complete without showing you a few sample images. Below are four photos shot with this lens that demonstrates it’s sharpness, beautiful bokeh and how it performs as a street photography lens.
I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
Final words for this review
My Fuji 35mm f2 is constantly stuck to the end of my X-T30, it’s the perfect lens for street photography in my opinion. But also does a great job at being an all-purpose lens. Wide open, it’s sharper than the f1.4, it’s autofocus is faster, it’s smaller, it’s weather resistant and, oh yeah, it’s cheaper.
If you’re looking to get into prime lenses, or simply can’t stop collecting camera gear (guilty), then the XF 35mm f2 is a great, affordable choice.
I hope this Fuji 35mm f2 review has helped you decide if it’s the right lens for you or not. If not, what other lenses are you considering? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll try to help you decide!