The Fujinon XF 35mm F1.4 R Lens Review For The Fuji X-Pro1

by Patrick on April 15, 2012 · 8 comments

in Equipment Review, Other Reviews

The Fujinon XF 35mm F1.4 R Lens for the Fuji X-Pro1:

When the Fuji X-Pro1 was first announced, I wasn’t completely surprised because it seemed like the next logical step after the X100.  What did surprise me were the announcement of fast lenses, particularly the XF 35mm F1.4 R lens.  I must admit, I’m a big fan of the 50mm focal length.  I probably would’ve like the Fuji X100 a lot more if it came with a 50mm attached to it.  The Fuji X-Pro1 system didn’t just offer a 50mm equivalent; it offered a FAST 50mm equivalent.  I was impressed, and very eager to try this lens. Now that I have the XF 35mm F1.4 R lens in my hands, I’ve been using it almost everyday, and the more I use it, the more it impresses me.  This lens and the Fuji X-Pro1 make a great combo.  But is the 35 F1.4 XF lens the ultimate 50mm equivalent?  Is the 35mm F1.4 lens the best lens to get with the X-Pro1?  What are it’s pitfalls?  If you want to find out more of what I think of XF 35mm F1.4 R lens, please read on.

Build Quality of the Fujinon XF 35mm F1.4 R lens:

My first impression was that the XF 35mm F1.4 R lens was a little light.  In fact, the whole Fuji X-Pro1 kit is light.  The lens also feels a little hollow.  But don’t let this lightness deter you because it’s still solid with no hint of structural integrity issues, and the image quality is excellent but more on that later.

↑ Top view of the Fujinon XF 35mm F1.4 R lens.

If you’re use to using Leica lenses, you probably won’t like the feel of the focusing ring.  There’s actually a lack of feel but I’m sure many who are interested in the X-Pro 1 will probably be shooting in autofocus.  That’s what I do at least.  The aperture ring clicks in third stops, and for the most part it’s a solid feel although slightly light feeling.  But please keep one thing in mind: If you buy the Leica version of this lens, it’ll cost you $3,995.  The XF 35mm F1.4 R lens only costs $599.95.  My guess is that most of what you’re paying for is the quality of the lens not the material that it’s made out of (which isn’t bad at all) because image quality is superb.  Personally, If I had to choose, I’d rather have a camera company, in this case Fuji, spend the money I spend on the optics of the lenses rather than just having them build heavier lenses with higher quality materials that perform poorly.

↑ Side view of the Fujinon XF 35mm F1.4 R lens.

Plus, the XF 35mm F1.4 R lens feels real balanced when mounted on the X-Pro1.  The weight is very evenly distributed between the camera and lens.  For you Leica users, the 35 F1.4 XF lens is slightly more bulky than the Summilux but it’s surprisingly a very easy lens to walk with all day.  You never really feel the bulk.  The lightness, and the balance of 35mm is just a joy to use and carry from day to night.

↑ The Fujinon XF 35mm F1.4 R lens mounted on the Fuji X-Pro1.

↑ The Fujinon XF 35mm F1.4 R lens sided by side with the Leica 50 Summilux ASPH.

The Fujinon XF 35mm F1.4 R Lens Sharpness, Detail, and Contrast:

On to what’s important: image quality.  I hate to jump on the bandwagon, and say that XF 35 F1.4 R lens is the lens to get with your Fuji X-Pro1 but in many ways it is :) .  This lens, when mounted on the X-Pro1, becomes a 53mm F1.4 similar to something like the Leica 50 Summilux ASPH.  When I first mounted this lens on the X-Pro1, I was pleasantly surprised.  Scratch that because I should really be saying that I was fantastically surprised :) .

↑ I shot this at F1.4 in Chinatown.

 ↑ I shot this at F4.0 on the High Line.

The files are beautiful, and all the photos in this review are just jpegs that are coming straight out of the camera with no photoshopping.  I haven’t even had a chance to check out the RAW files yet.  The XF 35 F1.4 R lens is razor sharp, contrasty and the colors are nice, deep, and velvety but never over done.  Colors and tones are so rich.  The images shot with this lens are very three dimensional even when photos are shot with smaller apertures.  On a side note, I also find the XF 18mm F2.0 R lens produces images with a very three dimensional quality to them.  There is also a sense clarity to the photos that’s hard to match.  Seriously, anyone taking a leap forward, and purchasing an X-Pro1 with the 35mm F1.4 XF lens will be in photography Heaven because the results from this lens are mind blowing!

 ↑ This photo was shot at F1.4 in Chinatown.  Check out the man and his daughter: they seem to “pop” out.

↑ This photo was shot at F1.4 in Madison Square Park.  The colors are so rich and velvety.  I’m seriously loving what the X-Pro1 system can deliver.

↑ Here’s a photo taken at Central Park at F11.

↑ I put this photo in my Fuji X-Pro1 review but I thought that I’d put it here as well.  This was shot at F1.4 in Central Park. 

I absolutely love this lens.  But then again, I love 50′s so I might be slightly biased :) .  The combination of sharpness, color, contrast, clarity, “pop”, and balance on the camera make this 35mm a huge delight to use all day.   That’s one thing that I should mention to you all; while the whole Fuji X-Pro1 system is a little light for my taste, it actually works for it.  The camera system is small and discreet.  Plus, since it’s light, it makes it really easy to carry around all day.  

↑ This was shot at F1.4 in Hop Kee Restaurant.  I love this lens for how it can make an image glow.

↑ Here is another photo of a fish market shot at F1.4.

↑ Here is my brother in law’s dog Kopi.  This was shot at F1.4.  Check out the detail below.

↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the photo above.

↑ Here’s another 100% crop of the photo above.  Keep in mind that the center of focus wasn’t even the carpet.  It was her eyes.

↑ Cab in New York shot at F1.4 with the help of my new ND filter.

↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the photo above.

Fujinon XF 35 F1.4 R Lens Bokeh:

For those people whose sole purpose for purchasing this lens to shoot at F1.4 to create beautiful bokeh, you will not be disappointed.  The XF 35 F1.4 R lens produces velvety smooth bokeh that seriously up there with the best.  Fuji really did a good job on this lens.  Sometimes a lens like this can be either too soft or too hard but this lens has the perfect balance between the two.  When I look at photos shot with the XF 35 F1.4 R lens, the out of focus area or the “bokeh” is smooth but it’s not so smooth and blurred out that it becomes distracting.  The lens is also extremely sharp but the sharpness never invades the smoothness, and ruin the atmosphere of the photo.  To think; you’re getting this for $599!  In my opinion, this is really a steal for what you get in return.

↑ Here’s a photo of some flowers I found on the High Line shot at F1.4.  Check out how creamy smooth that bokeh is but notice that it never suffocates you.

↑ Here’s another photo taken at Hop Kee Restaurant shot at F1.4.  The bokeh is smooth but where it needs to be sharp, it’s sharp.

↑ Here’s another photo taken near Madison Square Park at F1.4.  Smooth bokeh, sharp subject, and a really nice glow to the overall photograph.

↑ Check out the nice round bokeh balls.

Macro With The Fujinon XF 35mm F1.4 R Lens:

I know the  XF 35mm F1.4 R lens is not Fuji’s macro but I love using it in macro mode because the results are really nice, especially for you bokeh lovers.  When you put the Fuji X-Pro1 in macro mode, and you’re using this 35mm, some images actually remind me of one of my favorite lenses of all time: the Leica 75 Summilux (which I reviewed HERE).  The colors are great but they are never overdone.  I mentioned this before, and the reason I keep repeating it is because it’s so true.  You get this really delicate look, and this slight glow that makes many bokeh-filled photos so pleasing to the eye.  Fuji really mastered it when they made this lens.

↑ Here’s a photo shot with the macro mode on in the X-Pro1.  It was shot at F1.4.  A great lens does not just great color, contrast, and sharpness.  It has to produce images that have a delicate look, and “pop”.  The XF 35mm F1.4 R lens definitely can do this.

↑ Here’s another shot in Hop Kee Restaurant at F1.4.

↑ Another example at F1.4.

↑ I have this photo in my Fuji X-Pro1 review but I thought I’d use it here as well to show you the detail that this lens can produce.

↑ This is a 100% crop of the photo above.

Also, because of this macro ability, I get to fill the frame with portraits.  Personally, I love using the macro mode to get really close for portraits.  I’m pretty sure many of you with DSLR’s don’t have this problem (plus you have telephotos) but don’t forget, this is a new phenomenon for me :) .  I’m a Leica M user, and unless I buy the 90 Elmar, I can’t use macro.  Plus using the 90 Elmar is never going to be as easy as using this Fuji.  I love being able to fill the frame.

↑ Here’s another photo I also have in my Fuji X-Pro1 review.

 Things That I Don’t Like About The Fujinon XF 35mm F1.4 R Lens:

I really love the XF 35 F1.4 R lens but there are a few things that I find annoying about it.  These aren’t really big issues but since this is a review, I thought that I should mention them.

1.  Fujinon XF 35mm F1.4 R Lens Lightness:

First off, as I mentioned before, the lens is a bit light.  I knew it was never going to have the Leica heft but it seriously surprised me when I first held it in my hands.  But if they sacrificed a little heft for better optics then I’m okay with that.  The truth is, the quality of the photo is all that matters to me, and I really love what this XF 35mm F1.4 is producing.

2.  Rubber Lens Cap For The Fujinon XF 35mm F1.4 R Lens

The other thing that I would like to mention (which I also mentioned in my Fuji X-Pro1 Review) is that I’m not a big fan of the rubber lens caps that are designed to go over the lens hoods.  The design is essentially a copy of certain Leica lenses, such as, the 35 Summicron ASPH, and the 28 Elmarit ASPH.  Those caps fell off frequently so what makes Fuji think that their caps are any better?  The ones for the Fuji lenses are worse.  They are really big, cumbersome, and the edges of the caps constantly hook onto the sides of my bag every time that I put them back in my bag.  They always end up popping off.

2.  Fujinon XF 35mm F1.4 R Lens Chatter And Shutter Sound:

Lastly, I think my biggest gripe with the XF 35mm F1.4 R lens is the lens chatter.  This stuff normally doesn’t bother me much but I must admit, it’s pretty annoying, and loud.  I thought my lenses were broken when I first purchased them.  It turns out that the sound comes from the movement of the aperture blades as light changes.  I have no idea why it does this because all of my settings are set to manual.  The Fuji X-Pro1 is such a great camera for discreet photography but how can you bring this camera into somewhere like a courtroom if it’s constantly chattering?  Hopefully, Fuji can issue up some firmware to remedy this problem in the future.

 Pro’s And Con’s of the Fujinon XF 35mm F1.4 R Lens:

 Pros of the XF 35mm F1.4 R Lens

  • Breathtakingly sharp.
  • Colors and tones are velvety, deep, and beautiful.
  • Contrast is excellent.
  • Light and very balanced when attached to the X-Pro1.
  • Fast F1.4 aperture.
  • Very versatile lens that performs well in all conditions.
  • Great one lens system for the X-Pro1.
  • Good build with no creaks or rattles.
  • A great lens for the all day photographer because of its lightness.
  • A great price.

Cons of the XF 35mm F1.4 R Lens

  • I’m not a big fan of the rubber lens caps.
  • The lens is a little light for my taste.
  • The constant lens chatter can get annoying.

↑ Shot near Central Park at F4.0.

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 35mm F1.4 R Lens Verdict:

What’s my verdict on the XF 35mm F1.4?  If you haven’t already, my verdict is that you should run to the store right this instant, and make this your first lens purchase with the X-Pro1! :)  The 35mm XF F1.4 R lens is an extremely versatile lens that I find hard to live without.  You can shoot pretty close with it in macro mode, use it as a landscape lens, go shoot some street photos with it, take beautiful portraits with it, and at the end of the day, take it out to photograph night shots because it’s got a wide aperture of F1.4.  If all you want to do with this lens is lock it at F1.4, and shoot photos with beautiful bokeh all day, then you can do that as well because this lens performs brilliantly at ALL apertures including F1.4.  It’s especially amazing when shot wide open.

↑ Busy streets of Chinatown shot at F1.4.

↑ One of my favorite photos shot with the X-Pro1.  This photo is also found in my Fuji X-Pro1 review.  It was converted into black and white with Nik Software Silver Efex Pro 2.

If you’re going to buy the Fuji X-Pro1, the XF 35mm F1.4 R lens is a great first lens to purchase especially for the price.  It’s $599 and that’s seriously a great deal for a lens of this caliber and quality.  It’s a steal…it’s legalized theft in my opinion :) .  In fact, I would argue that it might be worth it for some to buy the X-Pro1 for the sole purpose of just using this one fantastic lens.  That’s not to crazy when you think about some people who buy the M9 just for the Noctilux.  The quality that you’re getting from the X-Pro1 and 35mm combo are simply outstanding, and I seriously could not ask for more.  The more I use it, the more I love it.  People can say the X-Pro1 is slow, quirky, etc. but with lenses like this, who cares?     Personally, I’m looking for a camera that fits my type of shooting, and that can produce super high quality photos.  This lens definitely delivers the goods!  I can say for sure that the XF 35mm F1.4 R lens is one of the greatest 50′s out there, and it’s an absolute bargain.

That’s it for this review, I hope you enjoyed it :) .  If you haven’t yet, you can also check out my Fuji X-Pro1 review for more info.  Please keep in mind that photos were jpegs straight out of the camera with no photoshopping since the X-Pro1 RAW files are not yet compatible with Adobe Camera Raw.  I will be posting more stuff very soon, and even a comparison test, so please stay tuned.  Comments are always welcomed.  Thanks for stopping by!

If you’re considering buying the Fuji X-Pro1, and my review helped you decide, please help support me by purchasing from one of the links below.  Thank you for your support!

Fuji X-Pro1 From Amazon

Fujinon 18mm F2.0 XF Lens From Amazon

Fujinon 35mm F1.4 XF Lens From Amazon

Fujinon 60mm F2.4 XF Macro Lens From Amazon

 

Fuji X-Pro1 From Adorama

Fujinon 18mm F2.0 XF Lens From Adorama

Fujinon 35mm F1.4 XF Lens From Adorama

Fujinon 60mm F2.4 XF Macro Lens From Adorama

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Dane December 4, 2012 at 12:56 am

Yep, this is one sharp lens. I use it in MF and with practice I got the hang of it and can do it fairly fast now. The AF speed is pretty good IMO, coming from a Mk III and 85 1.2L Mk II haha.

Patrick December 4, 2012 at 10:31 am

Yes, my favorite lens for the X-Pro1, and one of my favorite 50mm (equivalent focal length) lenses of all time. It’s really a lens that everyone should experience if they’re getting into the X Series cameras. Wow, that’s actually nice praise coming from an ex-Canon user lol.

Dane December 4, 2012 at 11:53 pm

The 85mm is all glass, and the its similar to Fuji’s focus by wire and the motor is slow because of the weight. But compared to lets say the 100mm 2.8L macro, the Fuji is of course slower. But I’m just glad that the XF lens you can actually do MF because doing that to the X100 I want to pull my hair out!

Patrick December 5, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Yeah, I know, manual focus on the X100 is not fun. BTW, I absolutely love the 85 F1.2 for the Canon. I have a 75 Summilux for my M9 but it had focusing issues (I heard it’s one of the hardest lenses to calibrate for Leica) so I didn’t get to use it often. I really didn’t want to send it back with my camera to get it calibrated (I didn’t want to wait for it). My camera was spot on but it was my lens. I’m hoping it will be ok with my Leica M, and if not, this time I will definitely bring it into Leica.

Jed Orme January 9, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Thought I would read your excellent review of this lens one more time before making up my mind to order one from B&H for use on my X-E2. I had the X100S first & really enjoyed the 35mm FF equivalent focal length & know the new XF23mm f/1.4 is also an outstanding lens. But for me the decisive factors between these two lens choices are (1) I’m still much more comfortable with the 50mm focal length (my favorite lens on my prior Nikon D7000 was the little 35mm f/1.8 which was always on the camera) & (2) the cost difference between these two lenses ($300). And I hope that the firmware updates have eliminated most, if not all, of the 35mm’s lens chatter while metering, but also know that I will just have to live with the lens cap not fitting well & coming off all of the time. I’m ordering it with a B+W UV/Haze filter primarily for lens protection so may just end up not using the lens cap but keeping the hood on while in my bag.

Anyway, thanks again for this detailed & practical review of this lens, & for all of the other work you have been doing to to keep folks informed & educated about Fuji’s new X system & all of its component parts & developments. So glad that you found it to complement what you do with your Leica rangefinders. Will also wait to see what you might have to say about using some of your Leica glass on your new X-E2 even if I can’t afford to get in that game.

Jed Orme January 12, 2014 at 1:05 am

WooHoo – just put my order in for the XF35mm f-1.4 lens & suspect it was this review that got me off the fence. Can’t wait to start capturing the dimmer side of the world at speeds faster than f/3.6 which is what my
XF18-55mm gives me when set at 35mm. Many thanks again Patrick for this valued input. Cheers, Jed

Patrick January 16, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Hi Jed,

Sorry for the late reply. I got sick, and then I hurt my back, so I was basically out of commission for a bit :) . I also prefer the 50mm focal length, so I completely understand your decision. Also, don’t worry about the lens chatter because that was fixed with firmware a long time ago. The lens works great. In terms of the lens cap, I actually stopped using the lens hood, and bought myself a cheap $3 lens cap on Amazon that fits on pretty tightly. Lens hoods are great but most of the time, I prefer to use the lens without a hood because it’s a lot smaller. Fuji also supplies a lens hood just for the lens in addition to the lens cap for the hood but the generic lens caps that I bought from Amazon fits tighter and again, it’s only $3. If you have a filter on, and don’t want to use it with a cap, that’s ok too. Like you, I use filters all the time.

Thanks for taking the time out to read my reviews and rants about the Fuji system. It’s always great to hear from visitors like you, and I’m glad I was able to help in any way. I’ll definitely start posting stuff with Leica glass soon.

All the best!

Patrick

Patrick January 16, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Hi Jed,

It’s great to hear from you again! Congratulations, and it means a lot that my review helped you out. I hope you enjoy that new lens of yours!

Take care!

Patrick

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