First Impressions: Fujifilm XF 23mm F2 R WR

Fujifilm photographers, there is a new lens on the block, just released this past week, it’s Fujifilm’s new Fujinon 23mm F/2 R WR–the second release in their new compact weather-sealed prime lens series following the 35mm F/2 R WR. Designed to provide the ultimate image quality, while remaining small, compact, weather resistant, and most importantly for X-Pro2 shooters, out of the way of the optical viewfinder on the X-Pro2.

We just got our hands on this beautiful new lens, and while more time will be needed to draw full conclusions in our final review, today we have some initial impressions for those of you who have been thinking about picking this bad boy up. 

Tech Specs

Tech specs below pulled directly from Fujifilm’s website, here.

Type XF23mmF2 R WR
Lens configuration 10 elements 6 groups (includes 2 aspherical elements)
Focal length f=23mm (35mm format equivalent : 35mm)
Angle of view 63.4°
Max. aperture F2
Min. aperture F16
Aperture control
  • Number of blades : 9(rounded diaphragm opening)
  • Step size : 1/3EV (19 steps)
Focus range 22cm – ∞
Max. magnification 0.13x
External dimensions : Diameter x Length* (approx.)
* distance from camera lens mount flange
ø60.0mm x 51.9mm
Weight* (approx.)
*excluding caps and hoods
180g
Filter size ø43mm
Accessories included Lens cap FLCP-43
Lens rear cap RLCP-001
Lens hood
Wrapping cloth

Ergonomics

In terms of the ergonomics of this lens, it is virtually identical to that of the 35mm F/2 R WR, just slightly longer. That is a thicker base that tapers towards the front of the lens down to a 43mm front filter ring. Just as with most other Fujifilm XF primes, it does not have any buttons or switches, just the aperture dial towards the base of the lens and the larger focus ring on the front third of the lens.

The handling of the lens on the X-Pro2 is what we would call about as ideal as a lens/camera combination could be. The balance and weight difference between holding the X-Pro2 with this lens or just the body is negligible, and the focusing ring is the perfect distance away from the body for a person with average to medium sized hands to have the base of the camera in your palm and your fingers rest comfortably on the focusing ring.

Build Quality

The build quality of the XF 23mm F/2 R WR is spectacular! We have found the aperture ring to have a little less resistance than the 35mm F/2 R WR, this made changing the aperture while out and about on the street a little bit easier than in a similar situation to the 35mm F/2 WR (though that is not to say the aperture ring on the 35mm F/2 was hard or difficult, but the 23mm is noticeably less resistance, and we like it).

This design itself is something really odd to see, not typical by today’s lens design standards for sure, but in real life use, the lens performs wonderfully, and the build quality helps to ensure it is a pleasant experience all around with this lens.

Autofocus

So we have not had much chance to really put the autofocusing on this lens through a true test, but in terms of acquiring focus, noise, and overall speed – all seems to be in line with the 35mm F/2 R WR, in other words, it’s fast, quiet and very accurate when paired with the X-Pro2. While at a local park with young children the X-Pro2 when paired with this lens was able to acquire focus quickly and accurately with the kiddo running both towards the camera, away, and side to side. This was utilizing single-point, single-shot – we did not really test the tracking performance yet.

This is is also, hard as it may be to believe, is even quieter than our copy of the 35mm F/2 R WR, possibly one of the quietest focusing lenses there is. So, that is something to note.

Image Quality

As you should expect by now from Fujifilm, and with all other XF series lenses, the image quality of this lens as far as we can tell so far is incredible. It is sharp, and the distortion is well controlled by Fujifilm’s processing. Here are a few straight out of the camera (X-Pro2) jpeg samples for you to feast your eyes on.

_a888750

_a888837

For those of you looking for some RAW conversion samples, here are a few RAW conversions processed via Adobe Lightroom with the standard Fujifilm Provia profile applied, but otherwise untouched.

As you can see, in this shot just above, when shot wide open the lens can display some chromatic aberration on sharp lines in area of high contrast. It is easily corrected for in Lightroom or any other image processor, and also goes away quickly by stopping down. Overall, though, in our limited testing so far, the image quality feels like it is on par with the rest of the XF series, and most specifically right in line with what users of the 35mm F/2 R WR see on a regular basic (FoV differences aside). Here are a few more samples for you before we move on.

First Impressions

Admittedly our time with the lens so far has been limited so there is still much testing and use before we can be confident in producing a full review, but as far as initial impressions go, ours so far with this lens has been about as good as one can be. The lens has performed perfectly, and we think it will make the perfect addition to any Fujifilm kit, but most especially X-Pro2 owners and fans of the 35mm F/2 WR.

Is it worth trading in an 23mm F/1.4 for? For now, we can’t say for sure, but if you already own the 23mm F/1.4 we feel like unless you require the smaller form factor, faster AF, or Weather resistance then sticking with what you have is likely what we would recommend.

However, for photographers looking to choose between the two, this lens definitely holds its own. Stay tuned for more-complete thoughts and conclusions in our full review. For those interested, the Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm F/2 R WR is available in stores now (limited stocks) for the retail cost of $449 in both black and silver.