Is the smaller and lighter 23mm f/2 R WR XF a match for the older but faster 23mm f/1.4 XF R? Michael Topham finds out
Fujifilm XF23mm f/2 R WR review: Build & Handling
The saving you make choosing this lens ahead of the Fujifilm 23mm f/1.4 XF R might suggest you have to make some compromises in terms of its build quality. The good news is that this isn’t the case and for the money you spend you’ll receive a lens that’s constructed to an exceptionally high standard. Put it up against the XF 35mm you can clearly see where this lens takes its inspiration from – it even has the same difference in diameter between the rear and the front of the lens resulting in the aperture ring being slightly larger than the manual focus ring in front.
Whereas the XF 35mm f/2 R WR is quite a short and stubby lens, this optic is a little longer. It’s not as long or as thickset as the 23mm f/1.4 XF R, and by making it more compact there are weight gains to be had too. The older 23mm f/1.4 XF R wasn’t a particularly heavy lens at 300g, but this lens manages to shed 120g off it to bring it under 200g. Unlike its senior relative you don’t get the option to snap the manual focus ring back to engage manual focus and there are no focus distance markings on the barrel. The only markings you do get are those on the aperture ring, which clicks through its range in 1/3-stop increments and offers firmer resistance than the 23mm f/1.4 XF R when it’s turned.
The resistance of the manual focus ring is similar to before, albeit a fraction smoother and more fluid. One possible explanation for the improved feel of both the aperture and manual focus rings is the addition of internal weather seals. When you uncouple the lens from the camera you’ll also notice a rubber ring at the rear that effectively seals it against the metal lens mount.
To shade the front element and prevent lens flare causing issues it’s supplied with a small plastic hood that twists on to the front. Alternatively, it can be used with the vented metal hood (LH-XF35-2), which is also compatible with the XF 35mm f/2 R WR and costs £49. Our review sample of the lens was supplied in black, but those who chose their camera in a silver finish will be pleased to know that it’s available in silver to match.