Review: Fujifilm 23mm f2 R WR (Fujifilm X Mount)

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The Fujifilm 23mm f2 R WR is a lens that’s designed to go along with the company’s weather sealed bodies. It lives alongside the 23mm f1.4 R and works in conjunction with the 35mm f2 R WR. It’s also at a shockingly lower price point than its larger aperture cousin despite having the ability to survive a rainstorm with ease. With nine aperture blades and some of the most pleasant aperture and focusing rings I’ve ever felt, it’s bound to be a hit for many.

Yet for me, there’s something missing.

Pros and Cons

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Pros

  • Good image quality
  • Seriously and surprisingly fast focus. This lens is officially Fujifilm’s fastest.
  • Fast focus on the X Pro 2, X-T2 and even the X Pro 1. The latter completely shocked me.
  • Nice colors
  • Compact size
  • Weather sealing
  • Turning the aperture ring feels nice and smooth until the clicks come in. It’s a tactile experience that’s just lovely.
  • Sharp images
  • Fairly nice bokeh
  • Affordable price point

Cons

  • Something about this lens just simply doesn’t have the magic that the 23mm f1.4 R does.

Gear Used

We tested the Fujifilm 23mm f2 R WR with the X-T2, X Pro 2 and X Pro 1 in addition to using it with Adorama Flashpoint Zoom Li-On flashes.

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

Taken from our first impressions post.

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In terms of the ergonomics of this lens, it is virtually identical to that of the 35mm F/2 R WR, just slightly longer. There 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 any 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

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Overall the lens feels pretty solid in the hand. When you hold it, it seems to be made of some sort of metal. Plus considering how both of the rings on it are fairly large, you’ll have plenty of gripping power. But for what it’s worth, it’s a bit too small for my paws. I personally much prefer the 23mm f1.4. However, the f1.4 lens doesn’t have weather sealing. This lens can take an excess amount of abuse in the rain and keep clicking. In fact, if you’ve been following us on Instagram, you’ll know this.

In the image samples section of this review, you’ll find areas where there is significant blooming sort of, but that’s because water drops were on the lens.

Ease of Use

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This lens is easier to use than the f1.4 version. That variant has a focusing ring that pulls back to allow for manual focusing. But, as I spoke about it with Anthony, most people don’t think they’ll use manual focusing. So this lens is perfect for them. Just mount it to the camera, point, focus, shoot and that’s it.

If you’re using it with the optical viewfinder on the X Pro 2 or the X Pro 1, know that you can use the lens without any trouble and have it deliver parallax correction.

Autofocus

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The speed when focusing with this lens on the X Pro 2 is very impressive. It’s by far the absolute best lens in Fujifilm’s lineup for street photography and candid shooting due to its autofocus speed. When the focusing point is at its smallest, it will be a bit slower. But increase it and what it become a complete speed demon. With that said, let the camera choose its own focusing point and it will seriously surprise you with how fast it focuses.

What impressed me even more is how fast it focuses on the X Pro 1. That is Fujifilm’s first mirrorless ILC camera and it breathed lots of new life into my otherwise aging but still very good X Pro 1. So if you want the fastest focusing possible with an old camera, simply slap this baby on.

Image Quality

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The overall image quality from a lens like this is to very good. However, there are just things about it that make me like the f1.4 more. The bokeh is overall the same but I feel that the f1.4 is slightly sharper–at least my copy is. For the money though, lots of photographers will love this lens. Anthony swears by and absolutely loves his.

Bokeh

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The best bokeh from this lens comes when you focus up close and personal on a subject and shoot wide open. The nine aperture blades do a good job of making the background nice and creamy, but I still personally have an affinity for what the 23mm f1.4 does instead.

Chromatic Aberration

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In my tests, I found a bit of chromatic aberration, but not a whole lot that post-production can’t get rid of. Most photographers won’t have anything to worry about when working with this lens.

Color Rendition

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The best thing about this lens has to be the color rendition. As always, Fujifilm’s color rendition is second to none in part from the Fujifilm film profiles built into the camera. But then consider that this is a high quality lens and you’ve got a winning combination.

Sharpness

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As with any lens, the best sharpness that you’re going to get from a lens comes when you use a flash. For those working with ambient light though, you’ll get the best sharpness when stopped down to around f5.6. Beyond f8, I honestly wouldn’t even bother due to how APS-C sensor cameras work.

Extra Image Samples

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Conclusions

Likes

  • Sharpness
  • Color
  • Weather sealing
  • Fast focus

Dislikes

  • I still prefer the 23mm f1.4

So why do I prefer the 23mm f1.4 more than the f2? A part of it has to do with how it physically feels in the hand. I prefer the beefier feel vs the thinner feeling despite the f2’s weather sealing. Additionally, I get really excited for that little bit of extra out of focus area that the f1.4 lens gives me. But with that said the f2 isn’t at all a slouch. It’s still sharp, is by far Fujifilm’s fastest focusing lens, has a low profile, nice colors, and a lot going for it. It’s just not a lens for me personally.

With that said though, I can’t recommend it highly enough for most other photographers out there.

Phoblographer-Star-rating

The Fujifilm 23mm f2 R WR receives five out of five stars. It surely deserves it. And for $449, it can be yours.