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Jan 21

Review: Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 R WR

Image Quality

Sharpness

Given the excellent sharpness wide open on the 35mm f/2, I had high hopes for the 23mm f/2, and for the most part, they were met. Wide open, at moderate to far focus distances, the lens starts out reasonably sharp in the center, with a bit of softness as you get towards the edges.  Stopping down yields very sharp images across the entire image frame.

The one caveat is shooting at wide apertures in the close-up range.  This includes shooting from the rather impressive minimum focus distance of 8.6″ to around 3 feet or so.  At these closer focus distances, the lens shows some softness. It’s not bad, and decent prints can still be made, but it won’t yield critical sharpness in these conditions. Given how good the 35mm f/2 is in these conditions, it’s a bit of a letdown, but not necessarily a deal breaker.

Icy Columbus - Fujifilm X-T2 with Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 R WR @ f/11, 8s

Icy Columbus – Fujifilm X-T2 with Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 R WR @ f/8, 12s

Color, Contrast and Chromatic Aberration

The 23mm f/2 yields images that have great contrast right from f/2, and the contrast profile stays consistent throughout the aperture range.  Color response is also excellent, with rich color that matches the other prime lenses in the Fuji lineup.

The 23mm does display just a touch of lateral chromatic aberration, but it won’t be visible in the vast majority of images and is easily corrected.  Longitudinal CA can show when shooting high contrast subjects at wide apertures, with a bluish background fringe and a magenta foreground fringe.  It’s not terrible, but it is noticeable, so some images may require some correction if it bothers you.

Bokeh

With environmental portraiture, being able to blur the background is often a desirable trait.  The 23mm f/2 is fast enough to give that nice blur on closer work, but it’s not quite fast enough to provide a lot of separation on a bit more moderate and distant subjects.  That said, in those closer situations, the bokeh from the 23mm f/2 is very nice.  The blurred areas are evenly illuminated and have a nice soft falloff that yields nice and creamy backgrounds.  Specular highlights are nice and even as well, with only a slight outline surrounding the blur discs.  I find the overall look very pleasing.  Some nervousness can creep into the background when focusing at medium distances of around 6-10 feet, but it’s not bad.

Ready to Cook - Fujifilm X-T2 with Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 @ f/2, ISO

Ready to Cook – Fujifilm X-T2 with Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 @ f/2, ISO 1250

Distortion, Flare and Vignetting

In the great merry-go-round of Fuji’s distortion correction, you’ll find that some lenses are very well corrected optically for distortion, while others rely heavily on software corrections.  The 23mm f/2 is one of the former lenses, as almost all distortion is handled optically, and the result is excellent, distortion-free images.  Lines remain straight and linear.  The image below has had some perspective correction to remove keystoning, but no optical distortion correction has been performed.

Statehouse at Night - Fujifilm X-T2 with Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 R WR @ f/2, handheld

Statehouse at Night – Fujifilm X-T2 with Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 R WR @ f/2, handheld

While essentially my entire testing period was filled with clouds, and therefore I didn’t get to test the lens against sunlight, I did shoot quite a bit among bright streetlights, and the 23mm f/2 performed quite well against bright light. Little to no ghosting was visible in my shots, and veiling flare was also very well controlled.  Only when placing a bright light source at the very edge of the frame, did I notice a green ghost shoot into the frame from the edge. Some minor ghosting can be seen with light sources near, but not quite at the edge, but they’re still well controlled.  Overall a very nice performance. It’s also worth mentioning that the 9-bladed aperture makes for excellent light stars when stopping down, producing beautiful 18 pointed stars around light sources when shot at smaller apertures.

While vignetting is also corrected for in the built-in lens profile, some residual vignetting is visible at wide apertures.  Uncorrected, it’s rather pronounced, so the correction will increase noise a bit at the edges, especially at higher ISOs.

In all, the 23mm f/2 is a good performer optically, but not without its flaws.  It doesn’t quite match the optical prowess of the 35mm f/2, but will still produce very nice images in most any situation.

Continue: Conclusion and Image Samples

About the author

Jordan Steele

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Admiring Light; Photographer; Electrical Engineer and Dad

3 comments

  1. Tom Bell

    Jordan …thank you as ever for a thorough and photographer focused review. I am a life long Pentaxian who is slowly ever slowly dipping his toes in the Fuji X world.
    I have the X100 ltd edition and love and hate it in equal measure. Love the look, love images when I dont miss them etc. I bought an Xpro1 with an 18 and 27 almost but really couldn’t cope with the poor focusing.

    However I have recently bought the XT1 which I am loving. But having the compact 18/27 I am missing the 35 mm equivalent and I need to balance the speed and excellence of the 1.4 with the compactness and WR of this little beauty ….still not sure …but your review is very helpful

  2. Casey Bryant

    that first photo os excellent. great sense of depth.

  3. Dogman

    Thank you for an excellent practical use review. I’ve seen a bit online about the 23/2 in comparison to the 23/1.4 and the WR 35/2, both of which appear to optically superior. I’ve yet to see a comparison of the WR 23/2 and the 23/2 from the X100 series. I think that would be an interesting comparison. Optically, I would presume the WR 23/2 would have the edge but I’m not certain.

    Personally, I can’t see me having any use for the WR 23/2 since I already have the superb 23/1.4 as well as two X100 series cameras.

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