Reviews |Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4 R LM WR

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4 R LM WR Review

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4 R LM WR review
Review

Price when reviewed

£819

$899.95
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Our Verdict

It may be a bit bigger, heavier and more expensive than its predecessor but the Fujinon XF 23mm f1.4 R LM WR is an excellent 35mm-equivalent lens and a great choice for street, documentary, environmental portrait or general photography. Its large maximum aperture enables backgrounds to be blurred attractively, especially when shooting at the 19cm closest focusing point, the focusing is fast, quiet and accurate, and sharpness is maintained extremely well into the corners of the frame. It all adds up to make the XF 23mm f1.4 R LM WR highly desirable.

For

  • Weather-sealed
  • 'A' lock on the aperture ring
  • Excellent sharpness into the corners

Against

  • No declick option for the aperture ring
  • More expensive than the non-WR XF 23mm F1.4 R
  • Fujifilm's biggest, heaviest XF 23mm lens

What is the Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm f1.4 R LM WR?

Announced in September 2021, but going on sale in early 2022, the Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm f1.4 R LM WR is fast wide-angle prime lens for use on X-series cameras such as the Fujifilm X-T4, X-S10 and X-T30 II. It has an effective focal length of 35mm, making it a good choice for street and documenatery photography.

The Fujifilm XF 23mm f1.4 R LM WR is an upgrade to the existing Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4 R. In addition to improved resolution and better autofocusing speed, the new 23mm f/1.4 lens has a dust and weather resistant (WR) construction and is capable of operating in temperatures down to -10°C.

Specification

  • Product type: Wide prime lens
  • Announced: 2nd September 2021
  • Mount: Fujifilm X
  • Focal length: 23mm
  • Effective focal length: 35mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.4
  • Minimum aperture: f/16
  • Construction: 15 elements in 10 groups with 2 aspherical and 3 ED (extra low dispersion) elements
  • Diaphragm blades: 9
  • Minimum focus distance: 19cm
  • Maximum magnification: 0.2x
  • Filter size: 58mm
  • Length: 77.8mm
  • Diameter: 67mm
  • Weight: 375g
Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4 R LM WR review

Features

Perhaps unsurprisingly as they were announced at the same time, Fujifilm has used a similar design to the XF 33mm F1.4 R LM WR for the XF 23mm f1.4 R LM WR. Both lenses are constructed from 15 elements arranged in 10 groups, and feature two aspherical elements and three Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) elements. These specialist elements are designed to deliver high-quality images with good detail levels in the corners and minimal chromatic and spherical aberrations.

Fujifilm indicates some of the key features of the XF 23mm f1.4 R LM WR with the letters in its name. The ‘R’, for example denotes that it has an aperture ring, while ‘LM’ means it has a linear motor focusing mechanism and ‘WR’ indicates that it has a weather-resistant construction. Fujifilm has put seals at 11 locations around the lens to keep dust and moisture out.

The focusing group is arranged towards the centre of the lens and has a relatively small range of movement to help speed the focusing. Fujifilm claims that focus can be acquired in as little as 0.04 seconds. In addition, the movement is entirely internal so the lens doesn’t change length nor the front element rotate during focusing, which is important if you’re using a polarising or graduated filter.

According to Fujifilm, the use of smaller elements in the focusing group and optimal positioning of the focusing group help keep the lens relatively compact at 77.8mm in length and 375g in weight.

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4 R LM WR review

Build and handling

The Fujinon XF 23mm f1.4 R LM WR slips in smoothly amongst Fujifilm’s XF lenses with a familiar design, metal barrel and high-quality feel. At 77.8mm in length and 67mm in diameter, it’s longer and fatter than the XF 23mm f1.4 R it replaces (72mm long and 63mm in diameter), which means it doesn’t look quite so neat on Fujifilm’s APS-C format X-series cameras, but at 375g (75g more than the older lens) it still feels nicely balanced.

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4 R LM WR review

Interestingly, despite the increase in the size of the lens, the XF 23mm f1.4 R LM WR has a 58mm filter thread rather than a 62mm thread like the older optic.

Fujifilm also offers the Fujinon XF 23mm F2 R WR, which at 60 x 51.9mm and 180g, is considerably smaller and lighter than either of the 23mm f/1.4 optics, and makes a more affordable alternative.

As usual with a Fujifilm XF R lens, the aperture ring sits close to the mount, making it easy to locate quickly. There’s no option to ‘declick’ the ring but the feedback is subtle and quiet.

Like other recent XF lenses, there’s a lock button for the aperture ring to ensure it stays in ‘auto’ mode when it’s rotated to the ‘A’ position so the camera sets the aperture value. It’s just a question of pressing the button to release the ring so that it can be used to set a specific aperture value.

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4 R LM WR review

The aperture values are marked from f/1.4 to f/16 and the ring rotates in 1/3EV steps.

The broad manual focusing sits further away from the camera, just where your hand reaches to support the camera and lens. This ring moves smoothly when called upon, but as the focusing is by wire there are no physical end points. There’s also no distance scale, but one is visible in the viewfinder and on the screen in Manual Focus (MF) mode. Also, if ‘Focus Check’ is turned on in the menu, the image under the selected AF point magnifies as soon as the focus ring is rotated in MF mode.

It’s worth noting that the XF 23mm f1.4 R LM WR doesn’t have a focus mode switch or clutch which means you have to set set the focus mode via the camera. With the X-T4 and X-T30 II, this means flicking the switch on the front of the camera to swap between AF-S, AF-C and manual focus but on cameras like the X-S10 that don’t have a switch, you have to dip into the Quick menu.

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4 R LM WR review

Performance

I used the Fujifilm XF 23mm f1.4 R LM WR on the X-S10 which has Fujifilm’s Intelligent Hybrid AF with up to 425 selectable AF points. This proved very fast and effective when the XF 23mm f1.4 R LM WR was mounted. The lens gets subjects in focus very quickly and quietly, even when the focus distance is close to the minimum (19cm). Consequently, there were very few occasions when I actually needed to switch the manual focus mode.

Further good news is that focus breathing is controlled well and there’s only a very slight change to the framing when the focus shifts from infinity to the closest point.

While the level of sharpness at the centre of the frame is very good, what’s really impressive is how well it is maintained into the corners of the frame at every aperture setting.  I’d have no qualms about using the XF 23mm f1.4 R LM WR at any aperture.

As has become common, there’s a correction profile that’s applied automatically to Jpeg and raw files, but you can turn it off for the raw files when you’re processing them in software such as Adobe Camera Raw. Removing the profiles for the XF 23mm f1.4 R LM WR reveals that there’s slight barrel distortion, but if you allow the profile to do its job, straight lines look straight.

Even with the profile applied, you may spot some vignetting in images shot at f/1.4 , but it’s not dramatic and closing down the aperture to f/2.0 effectively eliminates it.

I spent quite a bit of time trying to capture images with flare with the XF 23mm f1.4 R LM WR and, despite removing the petal-shaped lens hood and shooting with bright sunlight falling across the front element, it was remarkably difficult to achieve.  As you’d expect, you can get some flare if the sun or another light source is in the image, but even then, it’s usually not bad.

I haven’t been able to find any problematic chromatic aberration in the images I shot with the XF 23mm f1.4 R LM WR – and I shot a lot of images with backlit edges.

Generally, out of focus areas look good and thanks to the large maximum aperture, there’s plenty of scope to isolate a subject when using the XF 23mm f1.4 R LM WR, especially when it’s closest to the nearest focusing point of 19cm. The rounded, 9-blade aperture ensures that most small highlights are rendered circular with only a few having a cats-eye shape. There’s also some soap-bubble bokeh, where the highlights are brighter around the edges of the circle, but it’s not strong.

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4 R LM WR sample images

Follow the link to browse and download full-resolution images shot with the Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4 R LM WR.

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4 R LM WR image gallery

Verdict

With the Fujinon XF 23mm f1.4 R LM WR Fujifilm has brought its 23mm lens offering bang up to date with weather-resistance, linear focusing and improved performance. It’s a bit bigger and heavier than the lens it replaces but it delivers top-notch images that are impressively sharp across the frame.

The Fujinon XF 23mm F2 R WR is a smaller, lighter and more affordable alternative for Fujifilm X-series photographers looking for a 35mm equivalent lens, but the XF 23mm f1.4 R LM WR is a great all-rounder and should be high on the list of anyone who is seriously interested in street, documentary and environmental portrait photography.

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