Test #2: Performance at Infinity
Like test #1, this was performed tripod mounted for all exposures. I focused on the railroad bridge before the city skyline, located several hundred feet away. Again, shots were taken at full-stop apertures from wide open to f/8.
Below are 100% crop from the center of the image, where the focus point was located. Click on the image to open full size in a new tab. Be sure to magnify to view full size.
Again, both lenses perform fairly well, but already we see some minor differences from the close up test. Here, the XF 35mm f/1.4 isn’t as sharp at wide apertures as it is closer up. The XF 35mm f/2 is sharper at both f/2 and f/2.8. It’s not until f/4 that the 35mm f/1.4 catches up and produces images of similar sharpness to its younger brother. Other than the resolution differences, however, the lenses show very similar levels of contrast and almost identical color.
Below are 100% crops from the left edge of the frame. Again, this is where the lenses show notable differences.
Again, the 35mm f/2 shows a very strong lead on the edge of the frame vs. the 35mm f/1.4. It takes until f/5.6 for the 35mm f/1.4 to show similar sharpness on the edge to the 35mm f/2 wide open. While the 35mm f/2 is clearly sharper at wide apertures, at f/8, the 35mm f/1.4 actually takes a slight lead. Partly this is due to the fact that at infinity, the 35mm f/2 shows essentially no improvement at the edge upon stopping down. It’s not quite as sharp across the frame at infinity as it is closer up, but this is still a pretty strong performance. It’s worth noting that the lens shows the added close-up sharpness through most of the focus range. It’s not until these furthest focus distances that it starts to soften a bit on the edges.
Both lenses are quality optics, but it’s clear to me that the 35mm f/2 shows some clear improvement in optical quality over the 35mm f/1.4. Both will do a great job, and the f/1.4 lens draws beautifully while providing that extra stop of speed, but the 35mm f/2 shows what Fuji can do with an extra few years of lens design for the X-Series.
Stay tuned for my full review of the 35mm f/2 WR sometime next week!