Today I’m taking a look at the second lens in Fuji’s compact f/2 prime range, the 23mm f/2 R WR. This lens joins the existing 35mm f/2 R WR, and recently announced 50mm f/2 R WR, creating a trio of small weathersealed lenses with good optical quality. The 23mm f/2 fills the classic moderate wide-angle niche, with a field of view equivalent to a 35mm lens on a full-frame camera. Since the faster 23mm f/1.4 R was released in 2013, Fuji shooters have been hoping for a slightly slower and much smaller alternative for better handling and further size reduction. It’s here now, so let’s see how it performs.
Construction and Handling
If you’ve handled the 35mm f/2 from Fuji, you’ll have a very good idea as to the construction and feel of the 23mm f/2. The lens looks almost identical to the 35mm f/2, but is slightly longer. The narrow profile and light weight means that the 23mm f/2 takes up minimal space in the camera bag and can be carried all day long without a second thought.
The lens, like almost all XF lenses, has a completely metal exterior, with finely ribbed focus and aperture rings. The build quality is top-notch from an exterior perspective. The lens is very solid and there are no loose parts anywhere. The aperture ring on the 23mm f/2 has that same wonderful geared feel that the 35mm f/2 has, providing excellent tactile feedback when changing the f-stop. The focus ring is freely spinning, but well damped for accurate manual focus.
Fuji abandoned the tiny screw-in hood that came with the 35mm f/2 in favor of a bayonet mounting plastic hood that provides some protection from stray light while staying very small. If you own both lenses, you’ll be pleased to know that the hood from the 23mm f/2 will fit on its 35mm brother just fine. The down side to this hood design is that the lens cap clips on the outside of it, rather than recessed into it, which makes the lens a bit longer than it needs to be when packed for storage. Still, with such a small lens, this is really nitpicking, and overall I prefer this lens hood to the one that comes with the 35mm.
The XF 23mm f/2 does carry the ‘WR’ tag for weather resistance, indicating that the lens is sealed against intrusion of dust and moisture, and the rubber gasket that surrounds the lens mount made good contact with the Fuji X-T2 I used for testing.
The 23mm f/2 is a very fast focusing lens, and the stepping motor used in the lens is effectively silent as well. As such, the lens locks focus quickly, surely and quietly, making it an excellent lens for discreet shooting. A lot of street shooters enjoy the field of view a lens such as this provides, and I’d imagine many will want to pick one of these up for the compact size, angle of view, reasonably fast aperture and speedy AF.
I didn’t have any autofocus issues in my time testing the lens. Overall, the lens locked very quickly, even in lower light, and accuracy was quite good.