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Sep 08

Review: Fujifilm Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R

Today I’m taking an in-depth look not at a new lens, but from a lens that’s been a staple of the Fuji X-System since the very beginning.  The XF 35mm f/1.4 R was well received among the photographic community when it was released, and I bought my copy alongside my first X-Series body, which was the X-E1, though somehow reviewing it was pushed to the back burner.  As such, this will be a very long-term review, as I’ve notched many thousands of frames and over two years of shooting with this little lens.

The XF 35mm f/1.4 on the Fujifilm X-T1

The XF 35mm f/1.4 on the Fujifilm X-T1

Construction and Handling

The XF 35mm f/1.4 is one of the trio of lenses that debuted with the original X-Series camera, the X-Pro 1. Along with the XF 60mm f/2.4 Macro and the XF 18mm f/2, it’s the oldest lens in the XF lineup. Starting the X-Series with an f/1.4 normal prime was a fairly big deal: it showed that Fuji was catering to the serious shooter, and it displayed a commitment to fast glass: something the other mirrorless makers left until much later in the development of their systems.

Fuji also started the X series with high quality in mind and the 35mm f/1.4 features an all-metal construction with nicely ribbed focus ring. The 35mm f/1.4 is a solid lens and feels very much like some of the older manual focus 50mm lenses from the 60s. The 35mm’s focus group is the front element group, which moves and extends during focusing, which feels a bit behind the times with regards to many of the other XF prime lenses, most of which feature internal focusing.

The aperture ring on the 35mm f/1.4 is fairly average by Fuji standards. It is not on par with the well-damped ring with solid detents that the XF 90mm f/2 or the f/2.8 zooms display, nor is it as loose as the terrible aperture ring on the 14mm f/2.8. The f-stop is selectable in 1/3 stop increments from f/1.4 to f/16 and generally, the ring stays where you put it. The focus ring is well damped, though not as silky smooth as the rings on several of the later XF prime lenses. It’s not bad, but it does feel slightly ‘scratchy’ due to some resistance against the barrel.

Despite the fast f/1.4 aperture, the XF 35mm is a very compact lens. It’s similar in size to f/1.8 standard lenses from Sony and Zeiss, despite the extra 2/3 stop of light gathering. It handles beautifully on any of the X-series cameras, from the X-T1 all the way to the diminutive X-M1 and X-A series cameras. The very small XF 27mm f/2.8 is notably thinner than the 35mm, but I have found I will grab the 35mm almost all the time when I’m simply packing my X-E2 with one lens in a small hip pouch, as the small increase in size is well worth the extra two stops of aperture over the 27mm.

The XF 35mm has a non-reversible pinched hood with rubber cap

The XF 35mm has a non-reversible pinched hood with rubber cap

The lens comes with a metal “pinch” style lens hood that requires its own cap, as it’s neither reversible nor capable of use with the standard lens cap.  The hood is effective and looks cool.  Unfortunately, it’s also supremely annoying. The rubber hood cap constantly falls off when pulling the lens out of the bag, and it dramatically increases the stored length when in use.  Because of these frustrations, it’s one of the few lens hoods that I almost always leave at home.  It’s just not worth the hassle.

Autofocus

The XF 35mm f/1.4 has a standard micromotor for autofocus, making it one of the slower and louder lenses in the Fuji lineup. Focusing is quite audible and, when using contrast detect focus, only moderate in speed. With the later release of lens firmware coupled with phase-detect autofocus (PDAF) capable Fuji cameras, the 35mm f/1.4 is capable of quite quick operation in decent light when PDAF is used. Overall focus accuracy has been quite good for me over the years, with only very rarely missed shots, even at f/1.4.

Continue: Image Quality

About the author

Jordan Steele

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

11 comments

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  1. Red Slater

    Jordan,

    Great shots and honest review of this fantastic lens (and that’s not just because you are a fellow EE). I love my 35mm, too. It is a perfect fit on my X-T10. I just got mine a couple months ago, and I find that the lens is actually very quiet and fast to focus. Maybe I have V2.0. Keep up the good work….Red

  2. Robert Picard

    Your really on a roll Jordan. This review as well as your previous post, “The Sliding Scale of Camera Capabilities” are great reads – abundantly insightful and intelligent!

    Regards,

    RP

  3. Steve P

    Thanks very much for the mine of useful information to be found on this site. For all those who share your frustration with the self-detaching lens cap, one solution is to get the Op-Tech hood hat – mini; a neoprene lens cover which, for not much money, allows you to leave the hood permanently attached to the lens. Sorry for sounding like an advert but those crappy caps used to drive me mad!

  4. Marco G.

    Such a brilliant and insightful article. Bought my XF 35/1.4 a few weeks ago, used, for less than half the (italian) price. Attached to my X-T1 just feels right and, despite all the defects you’ve perfectly highlighted, it’s just unique. I totally agree with you and I’m saying that from atop a 10-year experience with Nikon and a full range of zooms and primes.

    Regards,

    Marco (from Italy)

  5. Chris R

    Hi Jordan, I really like your reviews, but something strange is happening to your RSS feed. I keep getting older articles marked as new (particularly the XT-10 review), and this article did not show up at all. I’ve just tried to resubscribe, thinking you might have changed your feed details, but NetNewsWire tells me I am already subscribed. Not sure what’s going on, but I’d be surprised if I’m the only one affected!

  6. hpchavaz

    The plastic cap of the lens hood is dreadful, I lost it the first week.

    To understand the form this hood, you need to take in account the XPRO1. This hood form has the advantage of not to be too much intrusive in the Optical View Finder and is somewhat more convenient in this regard than a vented hood as the one of the X100s.

    For XPRO1 owners, this hood is a must.

  7. Pat

    Great review on a truly great lens. I use it on all my Fuji bodies but my favourite is on the X-Pro1. Beautifully balanced, wonderful with the OVF and stunning bokeh.

    Mine is not overly noisy, the aperture ring is about par with my other X lenses and bonus, the lens fits the leather Fuji X-Pro1 case. It is such a pleasure to use.

  8. Mark T

    Thanks for the review Jordan. I love my XF35 on my X-E1 where it feels really well balanced. The images have a fabulous quality to them that I really like. The focus speed is not super quick but not terrible.

    I actually really like the hood as it is – my solution is to leave it always on the lens and not bother with a cap. If it is stored front down in the camera bag the end of the hood protects the front element. Plus it looks sexy on the camera!

  9. Angus

    The XF35 f1.4 is my most used lens and I think this review is spit on

  10. Angus

    Sorry should read spot on ?

  11. Kit Laughlin

    Jordan, Kit from FM here. There really is something special about the lens and the ways it renders a whole scene, and its drawing style changes, as you note, when stopping down, Mine lives at ƒ2 mostly, apart from the occasional times I need forward to backward DOF. I am still in two minds about the hood and cap; I might get a Nikon cap (and black the name out!). Great review.

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