“It can’t resolve the sensor,” is something lots of manufacturers have told us for years about their older lenses. But that’s wrong: older lenses can indeed resolve newer sensors, but just not with the same level of clarity of newer lenses. That’s part of the big idea of the Fujifilm XH2. If you bought this camera, would your older lenses be suddenly useless? Well, I tested the Fujifilm 35mm f1.4 on the XH2, and I’m overjoyed with how it performs.
Fujifilm doesn’t list the 35mm f1.4 R lens as one designed to take “full advantage” of the new high-resolution sensor. They like to say this statement, but it’s sometimes misleading. The Fujifilm 35mm f1.4 R does something else that I like to call “bring joy.” I mean, if a newer lens can take full advantage, then an older lens can truly bring joy, can’t it? And an older lens can take full advantage of all the benefits a new body presents it with.
I remember when the X Pro 1 was launched and I called in the 35mm f1.4 R for review. Then I set the camera to Velvia mode and just shot photos to my heart’s content. When I look back at those images, they still bring me joy. They remind me of a more carefree time in my life as well as gorgeous colors. By all means, that combo recorded vivid memories I still cherish today.
It’s nice to know that lens will deliver beautiful, fuzzy memories with softness and charm that I yearn for in a world where every camera and lens manufacturer is racing for clinical perfection. In the end, all those lenses will look the same. But not this one.
So how does the Fujifilm 35mm f1.4 R bring joy when mounted to the XH2? Well, there are a bunch of ways:
- The autofocus is very fast. It’s also just better. Even with a strongly backlit subject, it was able to find the eyes with face detection and nail the subject. I didn’t test it for street photography, but I’d probably not use this lens and combo for that. I’d use it for some sort of candid photography.
- The XH2 provides skin smoothing, so I don’t need to spend more time in post-production than I spent shooting. This is great for portrait photographers, especially those who understand how fantastic the film simulations are when combined with the right lens filters. Pop a PrismFX lens filter of some sort on here or use Lensbaby’s OMNI kit and you’ll get image quality you’ll fall in love with. For the record, this combo made me really love the Nostalgic Negative film simulation.
- Before I go on, these images were all shot with a Profoto B10. So it’s delivering even more specular highlights on Lili (the model.) Additionally, it’s showing exactly what’s possible.
- The older lens still provides character. There’s still that gorgeous swirly bokeh towards the edges that we love. And it brings me joy to know that Fujifilm didn’t try to add a ton of in-camera corrections to what that lens does. This is in stark contrast from the clinically perfect lenses Fujifilm is making these days. This recent trip reassured me that this spirit is very much alive within the fans. A bunch of journalists there either had X Pro 3 or X100v cameras. Seriously, they just can’t be beat.
- The colors are even better. Higher-resolution sensors typically have better colors. Something about the colors here don’t exactly look like 35mm film, but they do look very nice. In fact, I’d probably say that some of the colors remind me of medium format in certain ways because of how rich they are.
So what are you getting here? Well, when you mount the Fujifilm 35mm f1.4 R on the new Fujifilm XH2, you’re not getting super sharp images. But, you’re getting the best sharpness the 35mm f1.4 is capable of. It’s not going to take full advantage of what the sensor is capable of doing by giving you tons of contrast, clarity and more. But instead, it’s going to simply bring you joy.