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!
39 thoughts on “Fuji 35mm f/1.4 vs. Fuji 35mm f/2”
And here I thought I was quite contempt with my 1.4 till you showed edge to edge comparisons.
And this lens is WR to boot! Arrrrggggggg!! Decisions, decisions….
The 1.4 examples look (slightly) better in the head to head examples, actually, coming from a place of non-bias and having not read all of what you wrote either. The bokeh in the f2 lens seems to have more of a coma effect to it also, even if it is slightly more smooth across the board. The 1.4 looks sharper all around.
Are you sure you’re looking at the right lines? At the edge it’s not even close, and the f2 is dramatically sharper at wide apertures at the edge.
I’ve got to agree with Peter Stevens the 1.4 lens looks a lot sharper than the f2 from f2 up. Edge to edge no comparison really. By the way I own the 35 mm f2. I’m now considering trading upto the 1.4
Honestly. What are you two looking at? You have to be looking at the wrong line.
Haha, some folks are crazy the 35mm f2 looks better end of story. Thank you for the review. f.y.i. I had the 1.4 and would sell all over again for the f2 the feel of this lens is wayssss better.
The 35mm f/1.4 you tested here is shocking. I shoot my copy almost exclusively at f/1.4 and it is stellar right across the frame. If my 35mm lens looked as bad as this it would have been rejected/ swapped for a new one years ago. Definitely repeat the test with another lens. My 18mm f/2 was bad at the edges so I got rid of it when I bought the 18-55 zoom but my 35 f/1.4 is sparkling.
Thats what I thought when I saw the examples, your 35/1.4 looks like a bad example. Thanks for the test of the 35/2 anyway though 🙂
Thats what I thought when I saw the examples, your 35/1.4 looks like a bad example. Thanks for the test of the 35/2 anyway though 🙂
While I can’t say that my 35/1.4 is perfect without comparing it to many other copies, the results here are in line with the differences that other sites have noted, both subjectively and empirically. Lenstip shows the 35/2 also having a strong edge in resolution, especially near the edges of the frame, with a huge advantage at wide apertures in the edge…just like my test reveals. In fact their numbers have the 35/2 as sharp at the edge at f/2 as the 35/1.4 is in the center.
I have to agree with others; the samples from your 35/f1.4 don’t match the performance of mine, I get much better edge and center sharpness than yours seems to. I think you need to test with another version of the 35/1.4.
Results are in line with lenstip’s results. Resolution isn’t everything,don’t get hung up on it.
“..but the 35mm f/2 shows what Fuji can do with an extra few years of lens design for the X-Series.”
Good review, but this conclusion has nothing to do with the reality of optical design. It’s just physical compromises and marketing decisions. Fuji knows how to design reference lenses since decades. They made trade offs to offer a compact f1.4 lens with the launch of the system. They could have done a bigger 1.4 with much improved corner sharpness, but it woudn’t have fit the size of the body. And they could have launched the system with this f2.0. But f2.0 doesn’t draw that much attention.
Those are the usual compromises being done in optical design. Look at Nikkor 50mm f1.4 versus f1.8. Same thing. 40 years back.
In the closeup view of the bridge stone pillars, the view at f8 appears to give the edge to the 1.4. I base that on the conduit coupling on one of the conduits in the shot.
Perhaps it’s a focus issue but the coupling seems to be considerably sharper to me.
I also think that you have a really bad copy of the 35 / 1.4. The corner sharpness I get from mine is far, far, far better than what I am seeing here – even at f1.4 or f2.
Corner sharpness from your 35/2 looks impressive though. I am going to try it out someday.
Lens performance variety is allways an issue, with some manufacturers more than with others… I have experienced issues with Fujifilm quite a lot though, so maybe here’s a comparisson between an outstanding 35/2 copy and a rather poor copy of the 35/1.4.
I have to agree that this test shows that the f/1.4 copy is terrible. It looks nothing like what my old one produced on a consistent basis. Though, the f/2 version isn’t extremely impressive. I shot a few of both while testing them at a camera shop, inside and outside as well. The thing is, the f/1.4 IS definitely sharper (if only slightly) than the f/2 version from f/2 on up. Slight, but noticeable. Even with the ‘paper specs’ being different, the f/1.4 only loses in the autofocus department, and softness in the corners (which, for a lens with this sort of aperture is expected anyway.)
As far as size is concerned, the f/2 is only slightly smaller from what I was seeing, it’s a bit awkwardly shaped which may matter to some. Also of note is the stupid lens hood that’s included isn’t even the GOOD one, which you have to buy separately. Overall for me, it wasn’t enough to convince me that it was worth a trade in or 400 of my dollars.
The f/1.4 right now with current rebates (12-14-15) is going for only $50 more than the f/2. So…. It’s really a decision that boils down to focus speed, aperture and price.
To all those saying that the 35/1.4 is a bad copy: I doubt it. The results shown here are in line not only in line with many other photographers’ observations, but also mirror both Lenstip and SLRGear’s MTF testing. Take a look at SLR Gear’s review and you will see that they also tested the 35/1.4 to have very soft corners wide open and taking to around f/5.6 to properly sharpen up. http://slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1487/cat/105
I’ve been using the 35/1.4 for years, and the thing is, I wouldn’t have predicted this either based on my general experience, and the main reason for that is that the 35 is sharp wide open in the parts of the frame where you’d be shooting at f/1.4…namely, shooting people or isolating subjects…unless you put the subject right at the edge or corner, you won’t see this softness wide open, and how many f/1.4 shots put important details in that part of the frame? Very few. When you need cross-frame sharpness, you generally stop the lens down to f/5.6 or f/8, where the 35mm f/1.4 is very sharp indeed, even into the corners.
That’s a good point.
I want to test the 35F2 anyway now. I find its size and look very appealing which also is an important thing with Fuji gear 😉
I said earlier that lenstip didn’t support your claims… After reading your comment I decided to revisit the site and I was wrong, lenstip does support your claim but I do maintain that the difference is a contrast issue and not so much a pure resolution issue.
Thanks for the review Jordan.
Like others have said I think there is some sample variation in the mix here. I tested both lenses at near and far distances and found similar centre performance to you, but my 1.4 sample was consistently better as I moved towards the corners. Some reviews like the Lenstrip one agree with your findings, though of the many many reviews I have read the majority state the 1.4 to be the better performer. As I say this could be sample variation, or the fact that the 1.4 is optically corrected whereas the F2 just uses software. The resolution charts are also not the be all and end all for sharpness, Lenstrip does point out other problems the F2 has in the corners which are likely to affect real world sharpness.
Either way it seems that if buying either lens it is worth ensuing you can take it back if you are not happy.
Thanks for a great summary. On the market for a Xt-1 and are looking for a prime.
Did you get a chance to measure the AF?
Again, for those who are insisting that my copy of the 35/1.4 is poor because of how much better the f/2 shows to be, compare SLRGear’s tests as well, as they just completed reviewing the 35/2 and you will see their sharpness map mirrorors my results almost exactly. This is typical performance for these two lenses.
As a matter of fact, Fujinon has, in my experience with several 1.4/35 to compare, rather tight tolerances. I strongly doubt, there are any noticeably better copies out there than the one used for this comparison. As for the results, I can only confirm your findings.
What’s more, these results were to be expected and are compliant with what you generally get from similar lenses of other manufacturers. E.g. compared to their closest siblings by external apearance, the 1980’s y50mm Summicron/Summilux, you will find allmost exactly identical behaviour in terms of sharpness.
I personally own both of these lenses. The 2/35 is a delightful lens to work with. Actually, you will have a hard time finding any more pleasant to work with lens than this. As oposed to the 1.4/35, which is noisy, hard to manual focus, has an easy to knock over aperture ring, etc. This has moved to my secondary bag, reserved for cases calling specifically for it.
And I would second that…
I had the opportunity to try both, with an unprejudiced choice to make, cost irrelevant. I found the operation of the f2 to be in a whole different league, I think no-one disputes that, but optically they were closer than I thought. The f1.4 was really nice from f4 down into the corners, where the f2 stays a bit smeary until f8. In the centre the f2 was superb, especially at f2.8.
So much sample variation goes on, even in expensive semi handmade lenses, so what you show here may well be typical. My only real disappointment was with the level of native distortion. I know software correction is the norm, and surely necessary to get the lens this small (it is really tiny considering!) but optically corrected lenses are always preferable when possible, because you can hit close to perfection with the f1.4 stopped down to f8, which the f2 will never achieve. And shooting focus/recompose is always much easier with a flat field lens. The often overlooked 27mm pancake manages a better compromise in my opinion.
But the focus speed is so good my XE1 now doubled in response time. 🙂 like a new camera!
I have to agree with the “bad copy” comments. I have owned the f/1.4 with my X-E1 going on 3 yards now and in reviewing my landscape images I hav NOT seen the bad edge resolution that is mentioned here. Just recently I have used this set-up I mentioned on my eastern sierras photo roadtrip and I am very happy wih the results at mid to small apertures I used. I made sure the Mt. Whitney mountain range was sharp from edge to edge, and with success it is. The rocks, mountain peaks and tree details are sharp as heck, unlike the examples posted here. So I agree, you may have acquired one from a bad batch, or your X-T1 doesn’t like your f/1.4.
You need to test the f2 lens in the extreme corners where it is not sharp even stopped down. Optically I find the f1.4 lens to be superior across the whole frame
Many people here do not agree with reviewer’s conclusion about 35/1.4 sharpness. But nobody does prove their statements with photographs…
I provided a link with examples, but it said awaiting moderation and was never approved.
Lenstip reviewed both and they do not support this claim that the f/2 is sharper, it isn’t.
Just to add some balance to the supporting links you’ve provided in the comments; the results on Patricks page show the opposite of what you’re seeing with your 1.4.
His 1.4 gets very noticeably sharper in the corners by f4 and all the way through.
I’ve just ordered the 1.4 to see for myself because I’ve missed that extra stop from the f2.
There are issues with these samples…
1. What you call a lack of sharpness is actually a difference in the way the lens handles contrast for the first shots.
2. The 35 f/1.4 lens is completely out of focus for most of the crop samples.
3. Shooting test charts actually shows the center of the two lenses are identical sharpness, but the 35 f/2 never manages to catch the 35 f/1.4 at the edges.
Basically, something is either wrong with your 35 f/1.4 or you need to find a better focusing point.
Don’t get me wrong, the 1.4 is far from perfect and there have been times I wished for a better option.
I think the f2 lens has a higher contrast than the 1.4 which can be mistaken for sharpness. In the picture of the bridge pier the bench in the background is sharper with the 1.4 at f2. The 1.4 is a traditional fast lens, sharp in the centre and weaker at the edges until stopped down, great for portraiture but not for photographing brick walls. One weakness of the 1.4 is its autofocus, it’s failed me a couple of times and I’ve had to manual focus.