Fujifilm XC 35mm f/2 first look preview

First of all happy new year! I took a well deserved break from blogging since my review on the 7artisans 35mm f/1.2 back in late November of 2019. But this is a new decade, and behold – the first gear writeup of the new century on my blog is yet again a 35mm lens writeup.
I will not deny the fact that I have two favourite focal lengths on APSC. One being the 23mm, the other being the 35mm. As a Fujifilm user I’m definitely spoiled when it comes to these two focal lengths. There are a lot of great lenses to choose from out there, and I think I have written about most of them on my site at some point. The very weird exception to the rule is the magical XF35mm f/1.4R. I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to writing about my all time favourite Fujinon lens.

Today is small post about a “cheap” lens. Fujifilm today announced their brand new budget option in the 35mm focal length segment. The Fujinon XC 35mm f/2.

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X-Pro3 | XC35mm f/2 @f/2

Fujifilm released a slew of new products today, including the GF45-100mm f/4, the X-T200 as well as this lens. I had all of the products at my house over the holidays, but I simply didn’t have the time required to do write-ups on all of them. I chose to do a writeup on the product that spoke most to me. And oddly enough, that was this budget 35mm lens.

Before we get going for real, I need to do a couple of disclaimers just to set everything straight. Feel free to skip everything but number 3 😉
Disclaimer 1: I’m an X-photographer. That’s spelled brand ambassador for Fujifilm. I don’t get paid for doing these write ups (and I have been doing them even before getting involved with Fujifilm). I get sent the gear when I do the editorial packshots for Fujifilm Japan (and for this I get paid, just as I should be!) – So I get to play around with the gear a little bit when they’re around the house. This means that I’m just about as biased as I can get, and whether you choose to believe my views or not is entirely up to you. I expect you to be adults, capable of forming your own opinions based on presented information.
Disclaimer 2: All the images in this article has been shot using a very early prototype of the XC35mm f/2 lens. Image quality might therefore not be final.
Disclaimer 3: All shots with- and of the product has been shot by me, and is not to be used without my explicit permission.

I surely wasn’t expecting this lens, so when it showed up at my door step for product photography back in the beginning of December 2019, I was quite curious to see what it was all about. I have shot, and actually quite liked the small XC15-45mm mini-zoom lens. Especially on the smaller XT30 body. I also rather like some of the images that I have shot using the XC50-230mm. So when I wrapped it from the bubblewrap I was actually a little bit excited. For a guy like me who own so many high quality performing lenses, it might seem a bit weird to be interested in a budget option like the XC35mm f/2. But you know what? It’s the same thing as with the 7Artisans 35mm f/1.2 lens, the Mitakon 35mm f/0.95 mk2 lens, or even the mighty XF35mm f/1.4. It’s all about differences in character.

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X-Pro3 | XC35mm f/2

But is the XC35mm f/2 really a completely different character than is premium quality XF lens sibling, the XF35mm f/2R? Well upon further inspection. Not really that much!

Build and feel

As most of you probably already know by now, the XC series from Fujifilm was created to offer a budget range of optics to go with Fujifilms X-series entry models. The XC16-50mm, the XC50-230mm and lately the compact XC15-45mm all shared a common build base. Whereas the XF lenses are metal barrel and metal lens mount builds, the XC lenses are manufactured using plastic materials. Saving cost, but also weight. In some of the earlier versions, I think some of the lens elements where made from plastic. But I’m not entirely sure of that, so please don’t hold me too accountable for that claim, until I have the time to verify that directly from Japan.

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Nifty fifty

The XC35mm f/2 features the same plastic X-mount as the XC lenses before it. The barrel is also plastic. One thing that users will probably notice right away is the missing aperture ring. Thats right. Aperture must be set using a camera command dial. No biggie for some. For others like me, it’s pretty goddamn annoying! I usually use the front command dial of my X-Pro3 as the ISO-dial, for fast exposure switching. When I have the XC35mm f/2 on there I need to switch between the two functions using a toggle-key.
On the other hand it does save construction parts, hence cutting down costs. There has to be trade-offs I guess. It’s the name of the game.

The XC35mm f/2 is not weather resistant. So don’t expect it to make through a torrential downpour! Some light danish drizzle  (read: heavy ass dark winter downpour) didn’t do anything bad to it over the course of the last month, so it does withstand a little something. But it is not classified weather resistant. So cover it with your hands out in the rain.

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X-Pro3 | XC35mm f/2 @f/2

Because of the all plastic build, the XC35mm f/2 is actually a lot lighter than its XF 35mm f/2R counterpart, even though they’re almost exactly the same size.
The front of the XC35mm shares the same 43mm filter diameter, AND the same lens hood bayonet, so you can mount your nice vented LH-X35-2 metal lens hood. That is a very nice touch!

Specifications

Looking at the specifications of this lens, and comparing them tho those of the XF35mm f/2R, it becomes more and more clear that these two lenses are actually almost identical in formula.

  • Both 9 lens elements in 6 groups with 2 aspherical elements.
  • Both with close focusing distance of 35cm
  • Both with EBC coated elements
  • Both with 9 rounded aperture blades.
  • Both with 0.14X magnification and 44.2degree FOV (35mm)

These lenses are to the best of my knowledge built completely optically alike. I don’t know if they used different glass or whatever, but formula-wise they are identical. So that will definitely give you the lead in on what to expect in terms of image quality.

Both lenses also feature the same focussing motor, and I found that they focus exactly the same in terms of speed, and accuracy.

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This is actually a dual exposure. Portrait shot at f/2.8. Bokeh is from a closeup of some christmas lights shot at f/2.

Image Quality

Alright, enough with all the mumbo-jumbo! What does the IQ look like? Well I’m glad you asked that question, cause I’m here to give you tell you that it’s actually…. quite good!
I didn’t shoot side-by-side direct comparisons, but from having shot the XF35mm f/2R extensively the past 3 years, I know the characteristics of that lens quite well.
You will see the same kind of optical distortion in the XC35 as in the XF35. It is corrected in software/raw files, but in software like Capture One you can turn that feature off, to see the true distorted image.

The out of focus areas are quite good in this XC35mm lens. Just like with the XF35mm f/2R, it gives you nice rounded, smooth specular highlights, and it swirls a little near the edges. Fall-off from infects to out of focus is really nice and clean.

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Bokeh looks nice and clean

Sharpness is good. I found it to be just as sharp, or maybe just a tad less sharp than the XF35mm. This leads me to believe that the glass inside the XC35mm might indeed be a little different than that inside the XF35. But again, I’ll need confirmation on that before I can conclude anything final. But in daily use you will never notice any difference between the two. For all purposes the XF35mm f/2 and the XC35mm f/2 produce equal image quality! The difference between the two is found in the build-features. Not IQ!

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X-Pro3 | XC35mm f/2

Conclusion and Samples

The XC35mm f/2 marks the first prime lens in the Fujifilm XC budget lens lineup. It fits perfectly with the entrylevel cameras such as the X-A7 and the just released X-T200. It doesn’t feature an aperture ring, nor does it feature weather sealing. But it will give you identical IQ and focusing speed as the XF35mm f/2. It is a great little lens, that actually gave me some very nice shots that I really like when I used it over the holidays. And you know what? It’s damn cheap! This is indeed Fujifilms first real plastic fantastic “nifty fifty”

I don’t shoot brickwalls. I’m not a reviewer, I’m a photographer. Thats why I don’t do SOOC comparisons etc. You can probably find those elsewhere.
Samples are from RAW files that have all been shot on the X-Pro3 and the XC35mm f/2. The metadata are all in the files. They have been resized to 3000px long-end. They have been processed to my liking in either Capture One or Lightroom.

20 comments

  1. It’s great that Fuji are offering something for every budget and taste. I imagine this will be popular with entry-level Fuji users or people who want a cheap lightweight 50mm equivalent focal length in their kit. Lovely images by the way Jonas!

  2. One of the images above has metadata stating f1.4. Accidentally included with the other samples? Love the images by the way!

    1. Hey Anders. Don’t know what happened. Maybe it’s because It’s a composite image. I ran those through a lot of software. But that makes no sense really. It was indeed two images shot on the XC35mm. I uploaded a new version that havn’t been run through the same export procedures, and it reads the right metadata.

  3. Thanks for the review. This lens is extremely interesting to me. I live in the Dominican Republic and imported camera gear above $200 is taxed at 70%. I saw this is listed at $199.95 pre order on Amazon, meaning I can have this shipped in with no hassles. Although I mostly shoot 56 +/or 18 primes, I do have the XC15-45. Despite its shortcomings, the image quality is pretty banging, so the XC moniker on this 35 doesn’t bother me

  4. Hello there,
    Thank you so much very interesting your review also I impressed your article too.
    I had an interest XF35mm f2 compare with f1.4 but I will get this XC35mm f2. I don’t mind not WR even looks ” plastic “. 🙂
    Again,thank you.

  5. Hi, great review and looks like a good budget prime. I was curious about one thing – you mention having to toggle the front dial on your X-Pro3 between ISO and aperture for this lens, but I thought I’d read elsewhere that the front dial on the XP3 no longer “clicks” as a toggle in that way – so how do you achieve this? Thanks.

  6. I really want to believe that Fujifilm will release an excellent 50mm or so XC lens, may be f2 or less.

  7. I have WR lens. There`s one thing I miss. A reversible lens shade like the one for WR 50/2. Vented metal one maybe ok for some but it`s big and expesive like hell.

  8. Hi Jonas,
    I love reading your blogs as they are a true reflection on how you feel about the Fujifilm system.
    I’m have a Fujifilm X-H1 and love it. I DID have a Fujifilm GFX50s with five lenses only to sell it because of the weight (bad back) and climbing up mountains and hill with it was just to much.
    Since reading your review on the X-Pro 3 I’m very tempted but will hold on just a little longer, as I feel something nice is coming. (I work in the trade) I not saying something is coming, but just a feeling.
    Keep up fantastic work and look forward to reviews and image making.
    Regards Frank (UK)

  9. Thank you for the review, I was interested to see your mention of the XC 15-45 – I got this as a no regrets price holiday lens – and really like it. Found I mainly use it as a compact 15mm prime – about 95% of shots I think – I’d be interested to hear your views on this lens, especially as a wide angle

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