A Beautiful Workhorse. Fujifilm 23mm F1.4 R WR LM Review

I’m going to preface this review with something upfront: I will keep my original Fujifilm 23mm f1.4 and this newer one. The newer one is a fantastic workhorse of a lens, but the original has the character I’ve come to know and love from Fujifilm. With that said, the Fujifilm 23mm f1.4 R WR LM is most likely the best lens I’ve ever used from Fujifilm. It checks all the boxes. And if you liked the previous 23mm, you’ll probably understand why I want to keep it.

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Too Long; Didn’t Read

The new Fujifilm 23mm f1.4 R WR LM is nearly everything a Fujifilm photographer could want. It boasts significantly faster autofocus and weather sealing. The lens is also a bit larger than the original. But, despite this, it’s also going to be my new workhorse lens.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Fast-focusing
  • Sharp, even too sharp at times
  • Weather sealing
  • Even though it’s big, it’s still a small lens in the grand scheme of things.
  • Pretty good pricing at both Adorama and Amazon. Try it first at LensRentals.
  • Breathes new life into the X Pro 1 and makes the X Pro 3 shine even more.

Cons

  • It’s a bit large.
  • Some of us might not like how sharp it can be.

Gear Used

We tested the Fujifilm 23mm f1.4 R WR LM with the:

  • Fujifilm X Pro 3
  • Fujifilm X Pro 1
  • Profoto B10

Tech Specs

Specs are taken from the LensRentals listing.

Angle of View

63.4°

Aperture Blades

9, Rounded

Aspherical Elements

2

Autofocus

Autofocus

Brand

Fuji

Diameter

2.6″

Extra Low-Dispersion Elements

3

Filter Size

58.0mm

Focal Length

23.0-23.0

Format

APS-C

Groups/Elements

10/15

Hood Included

Yes

Image Stabilization

No

Item Type

Lens

Length

3.1″

Lens Type

Wide Angle

Max Aperture

1.4

Maximum Magnification

0.2x

Mfr. Model Number

16746539

Minimum Aperture

16.0

Minimum Focusing Distance

0.6feet

Mount

Fuji

Weight

0.8 lb.

Innovations

The Fujifilm 23mm f1.4 R WR LM isn’t particularly innovative. It has a linear motor, but others have that too. Compared to the original, it has faster autofocus, weather resistance, and is sharper. But, the Fujifilm 23mm f1.4 R WR LM isn’t an innovative lens.

Ergonomics

The Fujifilm 23mm f1.4 R WR LM has a 58mm filter thread on the front. Throughout this review, you’ll read about how I believe this is a long lens. And for all intents and purposes, it indeed is. But it’s also thin, far thinner than the original optic that came out nearly a year ago.

Note that it has the “WR” moniker on it, which means it’s weather-resistant.

Here’s a fuller view of the lens. You’ll control it via two different rings. There is an aperture control ring and a focusing ring. The aperture control ring has an “A” setting, so you can control that via the camera body. Personally speaking, as a Fujifilm user, that seems like blasphemy.

That big giant focusing ring on the lens gives it quite a bit of extra grip. This translates into a better feel in the hand.

Build Quality

Unlike its predecessor, the Fujifilm 23mm f1.4 R WR LM has weather resistance. This, perhaps more than anything else, is the most welcome change. I didn’t get time to take it into heavy rain or snow during our testing, but I took it out into light rain and fog. When paired with the weather-resistant X Pro 3, the Fujifilm 23mm f1.4 R WR LM shrugged off the precipitation. We also simulated heavy rain in our studio, and the lens kept working fine.

In the hand, the Fujifilm 23mm f1.4 R WR LM feels like a long, thin lens. If you’re a Sony user, think about the Sony Zeiss 55mm f1.8 lens for full-frame, and imagine an aperture ring on it. The exterior feels like plastic that gets cold the way metal does. If you like the Canon AE-1, then think about that to envision what this feels like. The aperture and focusing rings are easy to use and hold. Further, the length helps it feel balanced with the X Pro 3 and X Pro 1. 

Overall, I can’t fault the build quality here. It’s a solid lens, though compared to the original, I like the shorter and fatter feel that lens embodied.

Ease of Use

Compared to the original Fujifilm 23mm f1.4, the new one is much easier to use. The Fujifilm 23mm f1.4 R WR LM lacks the pull-back focusing ring. There are tons of new photographers who may get confused by that. But a lot more will be confused on what to do with an aperture ring. Those who know better won’t have any issues. Specifically, Fujifilm users will feel right at home with a lens like this. Others might set the lens to control the aperture via the body. 

Autofocus

This is one of the most significant upgrades. The Fujifilm 23mm f1.4 R WR LM is noticeably faster to focus than the original. Street photographers and candid shooters will enjoy this combined with the face detection feature. Granted, Fujifilm’s face detection is possibly the worst of the bunch compared to Sony and Canon. I see candid shooters wanting to use this lens the most, and they’ll still be happy due to how beautiful the image quality from Fujifilm can be. 

Comparatively speaking, the Fujifilm 18mm f1.4 is faster to autofocus. But that’s also a wider focal length, so it has a physics advantage.

On the Fujifilm X Pro 1

I still own and adore my X Pro 1. On it, I have FujiXWeekly’s Ektachrome render loaded up. This lens is the fastest focusing optic I’ve used on the X Pro 1. But it’s also just not as versatile as it is with the X Pro 3 due to tech limitations. Still, it’s pretty tough to get an image you don’t like with the X Pro 1 and the Fujifilm 23mm f1.4 R WR LM. 

Image Quality

Here’s another big update to the Fujifilm 23mm f1.4 R WR LM. This lens is noticeably sharper than the original when you’re pixel peeping. If you’re not pixel peeping, it’s pretty hard to tell the difference. As is customary, though, you will rely on the Fujifilm sensor to make the most of the image quality. But overall, it’s tough to not like what comes out from this lens.

A few things before you move forward: personally, the staff and I don’t like our lenses too sharp. Users may find this lens too sharp. If that’s the case, I recommend permanently attaching a haze filter to it. 

Bokeh

The bokeh from this lens is positively divine. I mean, come on, look at this! How can you not like what the Fujifilm 23mm f1.4 R WR LM can produce? This lens has 9 aperture blades that make the bokeh look smooth and creamy. In my opinion, it’s far nicer, smoother, and creamier than the characteristic bokeh Nikon lenses have. If you enjoy bokeh, you’ll love this lens.

Color Rendition

With Fujifilm, color rendition has a lot to do with the sensor and the film simulations. Here I believe I used either the Astia or Provia simulation. For sure, it looks different though still a bit standard. But either way, you’re going to love the colors this lens can produce.

Lens Character

This lens has character, which is also thanks in part to the film simulations Fujifilm boasts. It’s challenging to describe. While the bokeh balls around the corners are smooth and not cat-eye-shaped, it still feels very cinematic. 

Sharpness

The best sharpness from the Fujifilm 23mm f1.4 R WR LM comes from using a flash. We used the Profoto B10 when shooting specific food images. And that makes me realize how much sharper this lens is than the original.

Extra Image Samples

From day one, The Phoblographer has been huge on transparency with our audience. Nothing from this review is sponsored. Further, lots of folks will post reviews and show lots of editing in the photos. The problem then becomes that anyone and everyone can do the same thing. They’re not showing what the lens can do. So we have a section in our Extra Image Samples area to show edited and unedited photos. From this, you can make a decision for yourself.

Unedited

Edited

Conclusions

Likes

  • Weather resistance
  • Fast autofocus
  • Build quality
  • It still makes Fuji’s sensors look good!
  • Pretty good pricing at Adorama and Amazon. Try it first over at LensRentals.

Dislikes

  • It’s a bit too sharp for me.

The Fujifilm 23mm f1.4 R WR LM is a worthy successor to the original. Fujifilm improved the image quality by making it sharper. Some of us won’t want our photos too sharp, so I’d recommend using a haze filter or an intensifier to soften it up a bit. There’s also weather resistance and faster autofocus. At the same time, it’s pretty long. Ergonomically speaking, I personally like a fatter, shorter lens. But practically speaking, this is one of the best lenses Fujifilm has ever made.

The Fujifilm 23mm f1.4 R WR LM receives five out of five stars and our Editor’s Choice award. Want one? You can check out pricing at Adorama and Amazon. Try it first over at LensRentals.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.