Fujifilm XF 35mm f2 Review

Introduction

In a world where there’s an abundance of 50mm full frame equivalent lenses, it is a focal length where competition is fierce and the options are boundless, and that’s good news for us consumers as it offers us choice.

This holds true in the APS-C realm, in this case, the 30-35mm focal length range fits into that category. So how does the Fujifilm XF 35mm F2 fair in the ever saturated market of fifties? Who is this lens for? And is it the niftiest of them all? Let’s find out.

The Fujifilm XF 35mm F2 has been in my kit for over 4 years, making it one of the first lenses I’ve owned since switching over to the Fujifilm X system, meaning I’ve shot with it extensively and being it one of my favourite focal length to shoot with once upon a time, I have a thing or two to say about it.

I often see the Fujinon 35mm f/2 being compared exclusively with the renowned Fujinon 35mm f/1.4. While I get why that is, as those two were the only lenses at that focal length at the time. But I’ve always felt it’s such a pointless comparison as they serve different purposes and the design in them are so different, that outside of the focal length, there’s actually nothing similar about them.

Specs

NameFUJINON XF35mmF2 R WR
Lens configuration
9 elements 6 groups (includes two aspherical elements)
Focal length35mm (53mm in FF equivalent)
Angle of view44.2°
Max. apertureF2
Min. apertureF16
Number of aperture blades9
Step size1/3 EV
Focus range35cm - ∞
Dimensionsø60.0mm x 45.9mm
Weight170g
Filter sizeø43mm
Accessories includedLens cap FLCP-43
Lens rear cap RLCP-001
Lens hood
Wrapping cloth

Build Quality

Weight and dimension

One of the many things I like about this lens, is its size and weight. Weighing at only 170g/6oz, with a dimension of 60mmx45.9mm. Making it a very compact, and practical for all day shooting without fatigue.

In fact this lens is paired with my XF 23mm F2 most the time, whenever I’m out shooting travel or street photography because of how portable they are.

Aperture ring

Like all other Fujinon lenses, the XF 35mm f/2 has the similar standard in build quality that Fujifilm abides by. It has an all metal exterior construction that feels premium when handling it. It has a manual aperture ring that clicks into place with confidence, and has a 1/3 adjustment with each step.

This is the newer superior design in aperture ring, that’s seen on the XF 23mm and XF 50mm as well, you won’t accidentally bump it and change the aperture, like I do a lot on the XF 56mm mk I, which practically has zero tension to keep itself in place and can get quite frustrating.

Focus ring

The focus ring has a decent throw to it, and like most other Fujifilm X lenses, it uses the focus by wire technology. Some people hate it as it’s not as consistent and precise, which is something I never found to be true with the precision part.

Focus by wire means that the focus ring doesn’t have a “hard stop” at the closest focusing distance to infinity and will just keep on rotating.

However, personally I do like the mechanical focus technology better when it comes to user experience aspect, it is consistent in the sense where you know exactly what the focus is set to and the camera won’t override the focus point from half pressing the shutter down if that’s the style you shoot in.

Weather resistant

The Fujifilm XF 35mm f2 is weather resistant making it safe to shoot in harsh environments. Which I can attest to, in my own shoots where I’ve shot in rainy, stormy, very humid, and even sandy/dusty condition without any issues.

As an example, I was in Bali recently and taking my kit out from the room which was very chilled from the A/C, to the outside where it was around 90f and 90%+ humidity, the outside of the lens quickly built up a lot of condensation, but none of it accumulated inside of the lens and I was able to use it straight away by giving it a quick wipe after the temperature of the lens matched the environment.

Lens Hood

Unfortunately, the lens hood for the XF 35mm f2 falls into the worst category for me here.

Not only is the length of the hood being too short that if you’re shooting into the sun during sunrise/sunset not being able to block it out, but it’s also uses the filter thread to have it attached, meaning you won’t be able to use any filters if you decide to have the lens hood on.

One could argue why you would, when it is kind of pointless since it does such a poor job at blocking out light sources from reaching into the lens. But that’s not really good enough. Design a better lens hood for it please. The application to have it on and the actual practicality are both poor.

It’s no secret that many people are not fans of Fujifilm’s lens hoods for their lenses. Which I never really thought to be the case until I used this lens.

On top of that, I recently got to play around with one of my best friend’s Sony system when I went back to Australia to visit family and friends. And I have to say I am blown away by the attention to details that Sony put even just into their lens hood!

They have what you would expect such as an adequate length to block out light source when needed. But the impressive part is that the end of the hood is rubberised, so when you put the lens down on a service, it’ll grip onto the service and not move around but also serves as not easily putting scratches on the thin edge of the hood.

Last but not least, and this is a big one. They have a lock on the lens hood that will make it just stay on! Given that all the lenses I played around with were G Master and I’m not sure if they have it to their other lower quality lenses and that these glasses are a lot more expensive. I think Fujifilm could learn and follow the steps of Sony, or any other manufacturers that has the same concept.

*Image for lens hood*

Image Quality

Sharpness

From my experience with this lens, the XF 35mm f2 has exceptional sharpness in the centre, I’m talking about impressive level sharpness, where it gives the more expensive counterparts a run for its money. The corners has noticeable softness to it, but since I primarily shoot portrait, it is more than adequate for my use. 

Stopping the lens down to f2.8, and you immediately ripe the benefit of both centre and corner sharpness being enhanced. By f4-f5.6 and you’re hitting maximum lens sharpness, before a slow degradation due to diffraction, but I will say, unless I’m pixel peeping, which I don’t do often at all, it won’t be an issue, and never thought to myself “Man, I wish I hadn’t shot this at f11” etc.

Bokeh

For a lens that has an aperture of f2, you obviously won’t be seeing a crazy shallow depth of field like the faster lenses. Having said that, the Fujifilm XF 35mm F2 produces very pleasing bokeh that I quite enjoy.
 
One thing to note, I don’t shoot pictures for bokeh balls. I don’t deliberately look for backgrounds that’ll produce them, I don’t care or have no interest in them.
 
Whether it’s a perfect circle or the stretchiest of cat eyes, that is never the focus of what I look in an image, be it my own or others. The main subject and the emotion that an image produces will always comes first and foremost for me.
 
Ok, I’ done with the tangent on bokeh balls, it was actually kind of hard to find pictures with them in archive, but here are a few along with other images that will hopefully showcase the level of quality in bokeh this lens is able to produce.

Contrast

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Sunburst

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Performance

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Auto Focus

The autofocus on the XF 35mm f2 is lightning fast. It’s confident in locking focus with precise accuracy and accuracy on a subject. This is in large due to its size in optics construction, moving the minuscule of glass within the lens, all whilst using a step motor which is more than enough power to drive such lens. 

The autofocus works flawlessly whether in single servo or continuous focus mode. 

The motor sound is near undetectable when filming in video mode, and I’d say it is perfectly fine to use this lens for video even in near silent environment or scene. 

It is one of the lenses where I can fully trust in it to do its job every time. This level of confidence is not given lightly as some of their older lenses are just not up to par when it comes to the AF department. 

With the XF 35mm f2 being such a tiny nugget, it is no surprise that the autofocus on this lens is lightning fast, considering it’s more of a “mid tier” lens. 


Comparison to other 35mm

XC 35mm f2

Viltrox 35mm 

XF 35mm f1.4

XF 33mm f1.4

XF 30mm f2.8 macro

Conclusion

Scoring Chart –

Build Quality

Image Quality

Performance

Value

Build Quality
95%
Image Quality
90%
Auto Focus
90%
Performance
90%
Value
90%

Final Thoughts

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