Last Updated on 11/07/2015 by Chris Gampat
Of any comparison of lenses that the Phoblographer has done, this one seems to be the most neck in neck. Lots of readers have been requesting a comparison of the Fujifilm 35mm f1.4 and the Fujifilm 35mm f2 R WR lenses. The f1.4 version has been around for years now, but it’s highly regarded amongst Fujifilm users as a favorite. With the company’s latest announcement of the f2 version, there comes extra features such as weather sealing, a smaller body, and arguably the fastest focusing speed of any Fujifilm lens made as of the publication of this blog post.
But to be very honest, they’re not really that different from one another in terms of image quality.
Specs for the Fujifilm 35mm f1.4 R taken from the B&H Photo listing
|Approx. 2.56 x 2.16″ (65 x 54.9 mm)
|6.60 oz (187 g)
|Box Dimensions (LxWxH)
|6.6 x 4.1 x 3.9″
Specs for the Fujifilm 35mm f2 R WR taken from the B&H Photo listing
|Front: 43 mm
|Approx. 2.36 x 1.81″ (60 x 45.9 mm)
|6.00 oz (170 g)
|Box Dimensions (LxWxH)
|5.5 x 5.3 x 4.2″
Both lenses are very similar ergonomically speaking. They both have an aperture ring, a focusing ring and the characteristic Fujifilm red dot for mounting. The 35mm f1.4 is larger, and is on the left in the image above. The 35mm f2 is on the right. It is thinner and shorter by a bit. In practice, this means that you obviously need to get a tad closer to your subject. When the lens hoods are attached, the f1.4 becomes a bit of a monster.
If you’re more partial to manually focusing, then the 35mm f1.4 may be for you due to the larger focusing ring and it being a bit looser. The 35mm f2 gives a bit more resistance and results in a smoother experience overall.
Truthfully though, I rarely manually focus with my 35mm f1.4 and I’ve used it for years. To me personally, it’s Fujifilm’s best lens; though the reviews on the site obviously say otherwise. Of course, the 90mm f2 is sharper; and to be clear, the site has tested every Fujifilm lens except for the XC lenses.
The obvious differences here are that:
- The 35mm f12 is smaller, thinner and weather sealed.
- The 35mm f1.4 is larger and beefier but only by a bit. It feels a bit better in the hand when cupping the camera and the lens.
In a blind head to head test, it’s obvious which lens is which and that can be discerned by the manual focusing ring and the fact that the 35mm f2 gets really small towards the front.
In real life use though, if you’re shooting in tough environmental conditions then mount the 35mm f2 on the X-T1 and shoot away. The reason for this: they’re a weather sealed combo that can stand up the elements very well. However, the obvious difference is that you lose one stop of light gathering abilities that the f1.4 lens can compensate for.
While testing both lenses, I honestly forgot how noisy the autofocus motors of the 35mm f1.4 are. Comparatively speaking, the 35mm f2 is both faster to focus and literally silent. As I’ve said in my first impressions, the 35mm f2 is Fujifilm’s fastest focusing lens.
This is probably one of the biggest difference between the two and the focusing on the newer f2 lens makes the f1.4 look very antiquated.
The testing parameters here involved shooting the same scene with the X-T1 mounted on a tripod. The camera was set to 1/125 and ISO 200 with the aperture and flash output being the variables here. The flash was the Adorama Flashpoint Zoom Li On flash which was triggered via the remote mounted in the hot shoe. The flash was in the same position the entire time and the only thing that changed about it is the output.
The lenses were tested at f2 and f4. At f2, the flash was set to 1/4 output while at f4 the flash needed to be set to full power. Both the shutter speed and the ISO didn’t change while shooting the comparison photos.
After this, the images were brought into Adobe Lightroom, given the Velvia camera profile and had sharpness, clarity and contrast adjusted the same amount using Lightroom’s sync settings feature. This was done to simulate what someone is bound to do with the RAW files to begin with.
The focus was kept to the same spot: the center. The tripod position was kept the same and was the X-T1, which is where the 35mm f2 clearly shows it being the physically shorter focal length.
I’m not at all saying that this is a formal lab test, it indeed isn’t. However, The Phoblographer isn’t a lab test site. Instead, the site tests products in a more real life situation because I believe that photographers don’t spent their days shooting charts but instead shooting what’s dear to them. Take that as you will.
With that said, this test is more than sufficient enough for most people.
- The Fujifilm 35mm f1.4 is sharper at 100%, but no one is going to be able to tell the difference otherwise when viewing the image at full either printed or on the web. It’s impossible.
- The Fujifilm 35mm f1.4 has ever so slightly better bokeh; but again the difference is so slight that no one will be able to tell unless the two are side by side. This is remarkable considering that the f1.4 has seven aperture blades but the f2 version has 9 aperture blades. Further, that’s also just my personal opinion.
- The Fujifilm 35mm f2 is much more silent and significantly faster to focus. In fact, it’s so much faster that it can mean possibly losing a shot if you’re photographing something with fast moving subjects like in street photography, concerts, etc.
- The f2 version is weather sealed and smaller.
- The 35mm f1.4 has a beast of a lens hood while the f2 doesn’t have such a large one. Therefore, it’s less likely to draw attention because of the low profile design.
In real world situations, no one is ever going to be able to tell the differences here. If you want to shoot at f1.4, have more bokeh and better light gathering abilities, then go for the f1.4 lens. But if you need weather sealing and the fastest focus, then the 35mm f2 may be better for you. Consequently, get ready to shoot at a slower shutter speed or to crank up the ISO setting. Lucky for Fujifilm, the high ISO output of every camera is always stellar and they arguably make the best APS-C sensors on the market. However, in real life, there is no way that you can negate light gathering abilities. If you choose to underexpose and push the file, be my guest.
In the battle of the Fujifilm 35mm f2 R WR vs 35mm f1.4 R, it’s so close that the results are pretty much negligible. At the same time, note that the 35mm f1.4’s price has jumped back up to $599 and the 35mm f2 is more affordable at $399.95 as of the publishing of this blog post.
Can’t spend that much money? Well go for the cheaper option; but also be sure to consider the used market for the 35mm f1.4.