23 and 2 – A small look at the Fujifilm XF 23mm f/2 WR

One of my favourite songs is  “Forty Six and 2” by Tool. – Divide 46 by 2 and you get? Yeah. You get it. – I have been waiting for this lens for so so long. As in a really long time.

It’s no secret that my go-to camera as of late is the X-Pro2. But prior to this, it was always the X100 series. It’s what started it all for me. The X-Pro2 with the 35mm f/2 is behaving like the X100t in so many ways for. Small, silent, OVF. – Of course by now the X-Pro2 as a camera body is way superior to the X100T in so many ways. – But there was always something missing.

DSCF0290

That 23! That small inconspicuous lens with the f/2 moniker. Yes, I know there’s the completely awesome XF 23mm f/1.4 with bokeh that is out of this world, and color rendering much like the old 35mm f/1.4. But it is simply too big for me when I do street photography. It shouldn’t matter much, cause the system is small as is, but it does to me.

But now they finally did it. Fujifilm decided to make a “babybrother” to the exceptionally great 35mm f/2. And they made the XF23mm f/2 WR.

Now. I got my sample 4 days ago! I had to do packshots of it for Tokyo, keep curing patients, take care of my children, and on top of that I had to remember to eat and sleep! 😛 So this is NOT my full review. This lens deserves SO much more from me. And I will give it more. I will live and breathe this lens. I will write more in-depth about it when I feel like I’m ready ( it only took me a year with the X100T 😛 )

DSCF3635
XT2 – XF23mm f/2 – f/2 – 1/20.000s – ISO200

For now I will just touch down on some of the questions that I know some of you might have. How big is it? Compared to the XF23mm f/1.4? Compared to the XF35mm f/2? – How fast is it? What kind of bokeh does it produce? Is it sharp? You know. Basic stuff that is kind of neat to know before handing over your hard earned money to Fujifilm.

Build

If you’ve handled the XF35mm f/2 WR, you will know what the XF23mm f/2 WR feels like. Aperture clicks and focus ring feels exactly the same. Nice firm clicks. Nice and smooth to the turn. The build is every bit as good as alle the other XF lenses. Metal and glass.

The lens coating is a greenish tint similar to the XF23mm f/1.4 whereas the XF35mm f/2 WR has  a more reddish coating. The front element is slightly smaller on the XF23mm f/2 WR. It has 9 rounded aperture blades, just like the XF35mm f/2 (and the XF60mm f/2.4).

WR = Weather Resistant = Badass. Thats all I’m gonna say about that for now 😛

Size

The XF23mm f/2 WR is 6mm longer than the XF35mm f/2 WR. The added length has resulted in a wider focus ring which is really great. The XF35 is a great fit to the X-Pro2 but the 23mm f/2 is even better. It certainly looks its part! They both share the 43mm filterthread, and as an added bonus, they can both use the accessory metal lens hood LH-XF35-2. Fujifilm has announced a new silver version of that lens hood to match the silver lenses. It’s a great fit, even though the new standard funnel hood included with the 23mm is really cool in its own right.

Compared to the XF23mm f/1.4 the new XF23mm f/2 WR is tiny. I will let my quick comparison shot speak for itself.

Speed

I’m getting tired of writing it, and you’re all probably getting tired of reading it. But the autofocus speed of this lens is fast. But not as in fast. it’s FAST! – Did I get that point across? Fast?

The XF35mm f/2 had an official measurement of 0.09s to lock on. I don’t know anything about how those numbers are measured. The XF23mm f/1.4 always seemed to focus faster for me anyways. – The new XF23mm f/2 WR has the same arbitrary number reduced to a mere 0.05s. – Now. Those numbers tell me nothing. But on my camera these past three days I’m more than convinced. It’s extremely fast.

DSCF0537
X-Pro2 – XF23mm f/2 – f/5.6 – 1/2500s – ISO200

Skaters, street action, my kids. It doesn’t matter. It just locks on faster than any lens to date in the XF system. This is evident on both the X-T2 (my pre-production unit, mind you) and the X-Pro2.

Image Quality

 A little disclaimer here. This lens that I have been testing is not a final production unit. It’s a pre-production unit. I used to think it didn’t matter much. But after testing a pre-production 16mm f/1.4 that had horrible sharpness in the mid-distance range of 8-10m and seeing that it was not present in the production models, I’ve started to be hesitant in concluding anything IQ wise with the early test-versions. This is no different with the XF23mm f/2 WR. Image quality is great, but it might not be final. Hence I’m not uploading full size RAW files or anything just yet. I might do that later on 🙂 – Also, I’m an official fujifilm X-Photographer, so my opinions are biased as hell! – Take this for what you want .

Writing this is getting to be just as repetitive as writing about the AF performance. – The IQ of the Fujinon lenses is downright amazing. They have been spitting out lens after lens after lens after lens with exceptional image quality. The XF23mm f/2 WR is no different.

Compared to the 23mm f/1.4 the image quality is not on par. I really didn’t expect it to be. The XF23mm f/1.4 is one of the best lenses created by Fujifilm. Its bokeh is fantastic and its sharp corner to corner. But the IQ of the 23 f/1.4 comes in a very big package. – When you account for the size factor, the 23mm f/2 is just as amazing. On the other hand the lens is way better than the 23mm in the X100 series. It has better bokeh, and has more microcontrast, probably because of the new design which has added enhanced resolving power for use with the new 24mp X-Trans III sensor in the X-T2 and X-Pro2.

DSCF3815
XT2 – XF23mm f/2 – f/5.6 – 1/3200s – ISO200

The 23mm f/2 WR is sharp and has great bokeh through the entire aperture range. – It does seem to soften up at wide open aperture when used for close focusing, a bit like on the X100 series, although not nearly as bad. –  Again, I’m not drawing too many conclusions on this, as described in the disclaimer. Colours are fantastic with this lens. It has that nice subtle warm tone to it, which I love!

This is all for now. As I wrote in the beginning, this is really just a 3 day quick preview of the new XF23mm f/2 WR. I really can’t conclude too much by now. And I can’t wait to give this lens a proper run for its money on the streets over the next many months. So far I’m really impressed. Lets hope it stays that way! 😀

DSCF0515
X-Pro2 – XF23mm f/2 WR – f/2 – 1/1500s – ISO200

Below are various samples. Developed in Lightroom CC from RAW except the B&W’s which are processed Acros jpegs.


Kristian from Relic motorcycles and his newest BMW R45 build

DSCF3772DSCF3767DSCF3735DSCF3659DSCF3635


Streets of Århus


Mixed snapshots

jr050680

82 thoughts on “23 and 2 – A small look at the Fujifilm XF 23mm f/2 WR

  1. Thanks Jonas! Really lovely pictures as always! The order is placed for the XF 23/2. Looking forward to more great pictures and a full review after you have had a break with your loved ones. 🙂

  2. Thank you Jonas.
    Do you know the minimum focus distance of this lens? That’s one thing i love about the wider lenses like the 18 and 16 – they focus really close.

  3. Fantastic first look and Images Jonas! How far off is the IQ from the F/1.4? Also what is the close focusing distance of this lens? If i remember correctly the F/1.4 was soft on close focus as well how does it compare to that?

  4. I’ve been waiting for the first review, and yours is the first I’ve seen, thank you Jonas.
    So i was on the verge of buying the 23mn f1.4, but now have the f2 Choice.
    I have the 35mm f1 .4 and absolutely love this lens so I am still edging towards the 23 f1.4, despite the size and no WR, the aperture and IQ are the main reasons. I am often in low light situations.
    What to do?

  5. Lovely pictures. The 35mm focal length (35mm equvialent) is just so right. I used to think I was 50mm guy, but 35mm feels so less compressed and has so much more air in comparison. And for the typical use of a 35mm lens – on the go, snapshots, etc. – this form factor is perfect. Could be a tad shorter maybe, but not as bad as I feared initially.

    Oh, and thanks for the review. I enjoy your posts a lot. All the best.

  6. Many thanks Jonas for this very early sharing.
    Looks like F2 is a very attractive piece of glass. Nevertheless I wonder how is longitudinal chromatic aberration ? Actually, this is the only F1.4 slip I know, and I suspect (from dscf0226.jpg) we may have the same issue for F2, do you confirm ?

  7. really nice photos here jonas! i have the x-e2s and am really waiting for this new lens, so i appreciate it that you tried to put it on that body. but does the new 23mm also focus fast on the x-e2s? is the af speed comparable when used on the x-t2 or x-pro2? hope to hear from you. 🙂

  8. is the AF of the 23/f2 as fast as the 23/f1.4 or faster/slower?
    How about AF speed compariosn on an old X-Pro1 or an X-E1?

  9. Great shots to go with your mini write up Jonas. As always, I love your monochrome shots but in the case I really like your color shots as well. Nice work

    This is a lens I have told myself “I don’t want” because I still own my x100t. But, as always, I totally want it. You’re not helping my friend. 😉

  10. I am looking forward to read a full review., from your hands. I agree, the 23 mm on the X100 series is a very brilliant lens. On the Xpro2 camera, the new 23 mm f2 will the new workhorse for streetwork, for many Fuji photographers. My next lens would be the 14 mm f 2.8, I thought, but not anymore.. Now it will be the brand new 23 mm f 2. Thank you for quick review. As allways you are positive and sharp in your writing.

  11. Hi Jonas, is this 23mm f2 as sharp as 35mm f2? I remember from your 35mm f2 review that the 35mm is extremely sharp. Thank you!

  12. Hi Jonas, I’m a big fan of your reviews and buy tow camera based on your reviews. (Well, not for myself actually; a x-t10 (body only) and x70) and based on my budget I’m looking forward to see a review about upcoming x-a3 by fuji and how it can handle portrait and street photography. I would really appreciate that if you considering it.
    (sorry for my crisis level english :D+ding!)

  13. I love your photography, and your reviews. You were definitely a determining force in my decision to go FUJI. BUT NOTHING PREPARED ME FOR THE SWEET TOOL HOMAGE with this lens! There is not a better blog on the entire internet.

  14. Hey Jonas,
    This is probably the lens I’ve been waiting for – since abandoning the X100-ship in favour of the X-T10.
    Any idea when this lens will be available in DK, and what price range to expect in DKK? 3.500 perhaps (considering the US price of 449 USD I’ve seen advertised)?
    Thanx
    Soren

    1. Hey Søren.

      The black version should be in stores by late September/start October and the silver later on. And from Goeckers site I can see that it’s priced around 3800,-

  15. You have convinced me, this lens is going to be (pre) ordered very soon.
    I have the 18mm and the 35mm but there was always the need for something “in-between” but the 23mm 1.4 was not affordable which this version seems to be. So the other 2 lenses can be sold, I always wanted a 35mm equivalent.

    Thanks Jonas!

  16. You have solved my problem – I was going to purchase the X100T but now It will new 23mm instead for my XT10
    Thank You
    Keith C

    1. But with the x100t you can shoot wide open in bright sunlight – thanks to the built in ND filter. Not to mention the leaf shutter.. just saying 😉

      1. @Marcus,

        Not quite. The X100T’s leaf shutter will only properly operate at 1/1000th/sec while stopped open to f2. That’s the real reason the ND-Filter is there. That’s just the nature of leaf shutters. That being said, if you account for three stops, that make’s it the equivalent of shooting at 1/8000th/sec on a normal shutter, only one stop better than the X-T10, and the same as the X-T2.

        So yes, it’s it slightly better, but not so much so that it negates the focus and IQ benifits of using the X-T10+23mmF2 combo.

  17. I’m a big fan of the X Pro2 — and as a long term Leica M user, this is the interface that Leica should have developed. I’m using mostly the 23/1.4 and 35/2, so adding the 23/2 will be a tough sell. The 35/2 I find has really fast AF, faster than the 23/1.4 (and reviews say that it is much faster than the 35/1.4). But it took much arguing to get Capture One to correct for the significant barrel distortion in the 35/2. That’s fixed in C1 9.2.1, and I hope the fix also works for the new lens. The problem has something to do with reading parameters deep inside the RAF files, without any help from Fuji. Incidentally, I compared the corner detail sharpness with and without distortion correction, and the correction does not seem to reduce sharpness, so it’s a limitation of the lens in the 35/2. I’ll be interested in your results with a production level 23/2, close and around the edges of the frame

  18. Great read and early thoughts!
    I even got some vintage lenses off the back of your post a while back and have loved all your reviews ever since.

    Will you be adding the X-T2 to your lineup when it officially releases? I’m torn from which to choose – the Xpro2 or X-T2!
    I’ve previously owned the X-T1 but always loved the range finder style look of the X-pros … I shoot mainly street and gym/fitness style photos for the moment. I’d be grateful for any thoughts and opinions! 🙂

  19. Nice review Jonas – thanks. I’ve never been a fan of the 23mm f1.4 – i found the IQ just average compared to allot of the other XF lenses (in partocular the 16, 35 & 56/60…) I actually even prefer the x100T 23f2 – which has a more interesting look ‘to me’. I’ll definitely be adding this new one to my Christmas list!

  20. -x100t is more thin and has ND filter built in, it can be the everyday camera.
    -xpro2/xt1-2/xt10 with the 23mm f2 has better IQ, faster faster autofocus and is WR.

    It’s a very complicated choice.

    But if we have an updated firmware for the x100t… maybe I’ll go for it

    1. Adding to the complicated life:
      A nicely handled 2nd hand purchase of X100S (T) and a XT-1. Then you have 2 different shooting styles!

      1. I’d order on amazon the x100t and the 23mm f2 for my xt1. I’ll test for 29 days and only then I’ll take a choice by returning one of them.

        by the way an x100t with acros and a better af will be definitely my choice (x100f maybe?)

        1. Sorry, Acros is not with X100T due to processor’s capacity.

          http://fujifilm-x.com/en/x-stories/the-newest-film-simulation-acros/

          But I find BW Red and +2 on tones gives a good BW retro feeling.

          By ordering the 2, you will be happy and confused, as it is 2 totally different tools. They are very similar in menus, controls etc but with the XT-1 (which is by the way not in production anymore) you can loose you way in lenses.. I still have not found what is best, the X100S or the XT-1.
          The X100S reduces you need to thinki on ” what lens/zoomed focal length shall I use now, what lenses shall I carry with my XT-1, etc” whoile the XT-1 gives you more capabilities.
          It is also a q about optical or evf, for me I mostly shoot from the hip, using the green horizontal line to get camera in level and focus either by pre-focus or using manual and the AF button to lock.

          An alternative would be the XE-2 – it is 99% of the XT-1 in the shape of the X100… bur far cheaper.

          -J!

  21. Jonas thanks for this. I enjoy your blog a lot and you are at the top of my favorites bar. Have you noticed a bump in focusing speed with the two new “little brother” lenses the 23 f2 or 35 f2 when using the Xpro1? Thanks.

  22. The nd filter and the leaf shutter on the x100t makes just a little sense nowadays because the electronic shutter allows you to shoot at 1/32000. and it’s completely silent.

  23. I’m getting this lens and selling my 18 mm. That is a certainty! Coupled with the 35 1.4 it becomes an awesome duo that I just cannot resist. I certainly missed the 23/35 mm focal length when I swapped out my X100 for the X Pro 1- but now I can have the best of both worlds with lenses that suit my street photography practice. And if I’m lucky enough to get the X Pro 2 at a later date I will be over the moon. Thank you, Fuji.

  24. Dear Jonas,

    We have a few things in common (both M. D., love for Tool and Fuji). I can only hope to one day be half as good a photographer as you are. Thx so much for the inspiration.

    Kind regards,

    Gert

  25. Great review and blog as always Jonas, thanks. I’m new to Fuji and have the X-T2 and both the 16mm f1.4 and the 35mm f2 – and I’m really struggling with the RAW conversions. I currently use up to date LR and no matter what I do, I can’t get the images as crisp and noiseless as my Canon’s – nor more importantly – as crisp and noiseless as I see pretty much every other Fuji X photographer achieving with the same kit on every Fuji X blog I have found over the last 6 months. (a lot of my shots in lower light suffer from ‘watercolour’ effect on skin as well) Can you give me some pointers on what works best for you for RAW conversion please?
    I’m loving the Fuji X system and I’m desperate to switch my wedding photography business from FF Canon’s to Fuji, but with these RAW conversion struggles I’m finding it difficult to justify. Many thanks – Matt

  26. I have been using EOS 600D and 18-135 kit for 4-5 years, and I’m very interested in joining the Fuji eco-system! I’m planning to get the X-Pro2, and I quite enjoy shooting 35mm, 50mm. But I just couldn’t decide which lens to get! Both 23mm and 35mm f/2 sound so great! Which one do you suggest or recommend or prefer? I couldn’t sleep for the past few weeks because of this!!! Thanks!

    1. Hi Martin,
      Don’t rule out he XF 35mm f1.4.
      This lens gives stunning results, some of my photos have that 3D look. It’s also not much bigger than its f2 sister.

      1. Thank you for your reply, Angus,

        I know that 35 1.4 is still an amazing lens, but it seems a little bit soft at the corners compared to the f2, although centre sharpness is very close for both at f2…

  27. Thanks for the article – supreme photos, beautiful colouring!

    Brief question, do you think the X-E2s can get similar results out of this lens? Or at least better results than the X100T produces with its very own 23mm lens?

  28. Jonas, wow, your photography is just amazing. I won’t say more! I read so much reviews and yours are the best too, love your directness.

    Would you please help me out here. Just got X-T2. First time mirrorless camera for me. I use Nikon D810 for landscape and street photography. Fuji will be secondary camera for when I can’t carry the D810. I don’t do portrait, wedding, wildlife or macro. Purely street and landscape in very low light. What should I get?

    1. I already got the 10-24mm. Should I replace it with the 14mm or 16mm? I prefer having the 10mm.
    2. Want just one zoom. Should I get the 18-135mm or 18-55mm kit or the 55-200mm? Which of these are best in low light, WR and OIS?
    3. If I have the above two, do I really need a prime 23mm or 35mm f/2 WR, why and which one? I think I’m sold on the 23 based on this review 🙂
    4. Should I even bother with the 27mm pancake? I got it and the sharpness is very poor in normal day light. Keep it or return it? Thanks!!!

    1. answering some of your questions

      2. i got a 18-55, it’s an extremely good kit lens for travels.
      3. i got both 23 f2 and 35 f1.4 now. i use mostly the 35 for portrait and the 23 is practically will be on my camera everywhere i bring it. depending on your usage, 35 might fit you better for portrait, 23 for everyday shoots.
      4. the 27mm pancake is not a bad lens at all, but sharpness wise, it is not comparable to Fujifilm’s “trinity lenses” (my term for 23, 35 and 56mm). i got the 27mm as well and thinking about selling it after i got the 23mm

  29. Hi Jonas! Thank you for the reviews! Just got my 23 F2 today and i love this lens!

    IQ is definitely on the top 5 of Fuji sharpest lens, build is clearly amazing, and it is super light installed on my XT10.

    I’m saying goodbye to my 27mm pancake now, as this lens covers wider coverage compared to the 27mm.

  30. Hi Jonas,

    Just got my new 23 mm f/2 today, and so far I love it. But I am surprised to see that I can’t get the lens cover to fit when the (very minimalistic) lens hood is attached. Am I doing something wrong? Thanks!

  31. Great post Jonas. I just bought my first ever Fujifilm camera. The xt2. It came with the kit lens. I am a canon shooter mainly on 35mm. That thing is permanently on my camera. I was just wondering if the 23mm would be a great everyday lens? I take photos mainly of my family as a hobby. My issue is space. I feel like a 50mm is never wide enough lol. And sometimes my 35mm just doesn’t get everything into the shot. Any recommends would be awesome! Thanks San

    1. Well, if the kit lens, I assume it is the 18-55, is not wide enough you have some choices:

      I can recommend some lenses from what I own:
      Fujinon
      27/2,8 = 42 mm FF
      18/2,0 = 27 mm FF

      Samyang/Rokinon
      12/2,0.

      Out over this, Fuji has the zoom 10 – 24, should be wide enough ;-), and there is the Fujinon primes 14 and 16 mm

      -J!

      1. Hi Jorgen, Thanks for the reply. Also, I would really like something smaller than the 18-55. Also, I don’t suppose if you know why, but with my xt2 when previewing images there is a 1-second delay for the preview image to focus? if that makes sense? Is this normal for Fujifilm’s? Also, it is sometimes slow in processing the images when taken… the little light flickers red and green for ages sometimes. Do I have a dud? Firmware is all up to date… well there isn’t any firmware to update with. So no idea. Is it just because it isn’t as quick or powerful as DSLRs?

        Hope someone can help!

        Thanks
        San

  32. What lenses would folks recommend for someone new to Fuji and trying to cover the wide spectrum of macro to landscape? I already purchased the 35mm 1.4 as my first lens for my new Fuji X-T2. I went that route because of the rave reviews and how it’s a sharp lens. But now I’m reading about how good the 16mm and this 23mm f2 are, and am wondering if I went with the right choice on the 4 year old 35mm 1.4 that’s sharp but slow and loud and without weather sealing. Decisions decisions.

  33. Great preview/review…thanks!

    Wondering where you put the 23mm f/2 vs the 18mm f/2 in terms of quality, etc. Obviously the focus speed and weather resistance seem to be the big advantages for the 23mm….just curious your thoughts having used both.

  34. This lens has not arrived in Oslo yet, but I will get it as soon as it is in.
    I really like your B/W images! Are they straight out of the camera, or the result of a lot of PP?

  35. It’s always inspiring to study your photos Jonas. And thanks for this “small look” which seems quite large to me anyway 😉

  36. Hello Mr. Rask,
    you wrote: “Compared to the 23mm f/1.4 the image quality is not on par. I really didn’t expect it to be. The XF23mm f/1.4 is one of the best lenses created by Fujifilm. Its bokeh is fantastic and its sharp corner to corner. But the IQ of the 23 f/1.4 comes in a very big package. – When you account for the size factor, the 23mm f/2 is just as amazing” .

    I’d like to know more about that extra image quality rendered by the 23mm f1.4. is it about microcontrast? tonal rendition? transmission? 3D pop-up zeiss look?, sharpness and bright?? how could you explain that? and forgetting about the size and WR, would you say the f1.4 is a better performing lens?

    I’m trying to find a good justification to pay double price. Some people insist that the f1.4 lens is worth every penny, but i’d like to double check with you.
    Thansk a lot

  37. Dear Jonas,

    Thank you ever so much for the very informative review and lovely pictures. If I may ask, have you sharpen your shots?

    My best regards,
    Michael

  38. hi if you “have to choose” between the 35mm f2 and this 23mm f2 for your main lens. I mean like the only lens you really have to choose for everyday usage. which one will be your choice?

  39. Hi Jon,

    Great review.

    I am an amateur using aps-c DSLR shooter from another brand unfortunately a fast 24mm(35efl) lens is not available and I began to search elsewhere. I have been following Fuji for quite sometime for its X-100 series specially the “T”. With the XF 23mm/F2 in the house (I know the XF 23/1.4 has been there, but like you, I detest the size of that lens) I am thinking of getting it together with an X-T10 only. (Wallet dictates)

    Thank you.

  40. Good day,
    I am new to the fuji world and have recently purchased the xt10 body only. I am now in the market for a lens – my first lens. I shoot every happenings, kids, indoor, outdoor, street, travel etc…would you recommend this lens as a first all around lens?

    1. Why did you not get the excellent XC 16 – 50mm 1:3.5 – 5.6 0IS KIT Lens with the body. This is exactly what I received with my X-T10 Body.
      I also have the 27mm and the 50 – 230mm lenses which provide reasonable coverage. Of course, I would like to get the 23mm lens.

    2. well i bought XF 35 as my first and only lens. my interest is more towards lifestyle and fashion kinda photos.
      i assume that XF35 is a very nice lens with beautiful image especially with wide apperture. the only problem i’m facing is the focal length which is kinda “zoomed in” for some indoor situation. (such as in a cafe where the space is kinda narrow, or when you want to capture food on the table).
      But i’m really impressed with the images produced by this lens. worth buying.

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