The X-Series was well received when it launched despite some major early issues with the X-Pro 1 and the limited 3 lens set, and a large part of that is due to the excellent quality of images produced by Fuji’s lenses. The 35mm was often billed as a must have lens, with the 60mm followed closely in praise.
Having owned or reviewed nearly every Fuji X lens over the past two years, I have to say that while the XF 35mm f/1.4 doesn’t quite reach the lofty pure quality that later lenses like the 14mm f/2.8, 16mm f/1.4, 56mm f/1.2 and 90mm f/2 do, it impresses with quality that is both empirically good and subjectively beautiful.
Fuji did a very nice job in designing the XF 35mm, especially considering the compact size and fast aperture. The lens produces images with good sharpness over about 70% of the frame right from f/1.4, while the edges soften at these wide apertures. Stopping down to f/2 brings the center up to excellent levels of clarity while the edges improve a bit. However, stopping down to f/4 , or even better, f/5.6, dramatically improves cross-frame sharpness. The edges become very sharp by f/5.6, with the corners only lagging slightly behind, but still showing plenty of detail.
As such, the lens performs very well for typical environmental portrait applications at wide apertures, as subject placement in these situations almost always falls in the areas where good resolution is displayed, and the lens is excellent for landscape or other uses where cross frame sharpness is paramount. It’s not the sharpest fast lens Fuji makes, nor the sharpest fast normal prime I’ve tried, but it is quite good.
Bokeh on the 35mm f/1.4 falls short of perfect, but in my opinion is one of the nicest things about the way the lens draws. Backgrounds are generally creamy and soft with beautiful falloff from the focus point. Specular highlights are generally evenly illuminated and soft, especially at wide apertures. Stopped down, a slight bright ring can be seen, but is rarely bothersome. Foreground bokeh is also largely excellent, as the character in front of and behind the focus point is consistent. The overall look is quite beautiful to my eye.
Color, Contrast and Chromatic Aberration
The XF 35mm f/1.4 shows a contrast profile very similar to many other fast lenses in the Fuji lineup. At wide apertures, contrast is good, but slightly muted, while a significant contrast increase comes when stopping down to f/2 and beyond. Color is largely accurately rendered, perhaps with a slight warm bias.
The XF 35mm f/1.4 controls chromatic aberration fairly well considering the speed. Lateral CA is quite well controlled and is largely invisible in field use. Some slight longitudinal CA can bee seen in the right circumstances, but again is generally minor.
Distortion, Flare and Vignetting
The XF 35mm f/1.4 is well corrected for distortion, with only a very slight bit of barrel distortion that you’d be hard pressed to ever notice in photos. For almost all applications, it’s effectively zero. The lens also performs very well against bright light, with only minimal flare induced in most situations with bright light in the frame. Only upon placing the sun directly in a corner can somewhat nasty ghosts and streaks be readily produced.
The 35mm f/1.4 does have rather strong vignetting, with pronounced corner shading at f/1.4 that eases as you stop down to f/2.8 or so, though it never fully goes away. If this bothers you, you’ll need to apply some vignetting correction in post processing. I generally like some vignetting in my fast lenses, so the look at f/1.4 is rather appealing to me, especially in conjunction with the other imaging characteristics.
Overall, I simply love the look of the images the 35mm f/1.4 produces. It’s not the sharpest, nor the best corrected lens, but is sharp enough and the overall drawing style is simply gorgeous. There is a definite ‘look’ the images the 35mm f/1.4 produces, and it’s one that I personally very much enjoy.
18 thoughts on “Review: Fujifilm Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R”
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
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!
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!
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.
Marco (from Italy)
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!
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.
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.
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!
The XF35 f1.4 is my most used lens and I think this review is spit on
Sorry should read spot on ?
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.
I couldn’t agree more with your view. The 35/1.4 has been my only lens for months, I’ve used it for portraits, street and landscape and never once felt that I was missing something – it’s by no means perfect but what defects it has it more than makes up for in versatility and character. Later on I got hold of the XF 14/2.8 – now that *is* a perfect lens imho, but I find the images I take with it don’t have quite the same charm as the ones taken with the 35.