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.

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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 😛 )

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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.

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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.

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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! 😀

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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

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Streets of Århus


Mixed snapshots