- Wonderfully constructed and compact lens – feels like a high-end rangefinder lens
- Beautiful haptics on the aperture ring and focus ring
- Fast, silent and accurate autofocus
- Sharp over almost the whole frame right from f/2
- Good resolution into the corners stopped down
- Very pleasing bokeh
- Excellent color and contrast that renders like the other excellent Fuji primes
- Good control of chromatic aberration
- Good flare control
- High native barrel distortion that is digitally overcorrected to pincushion distortion
- Included lens hood provides only minor shading of the front element and feels cheaper than the rest of the lens; the optional bayonet mount hood costs $60
- Some softness at the corners when focused at infinity, even stopped down
- Blurred specular highlights are distorted away from the center (which may or may not matter to you)
The XF 35mm f/2 R WR is a lens that makes life difficult for Fuji users, because it provides better optical quality, better autofocus and better construction than the more expensive f/1.4 lens, but loses a stop of light. Deciding between the very good 35mm f/1.4 and the slower, but overall better 35mm f/2 is going to give some people fits.
The 35mm f/2 R WR is a very good lens. It doesn’t quite measure up to Fuji’s top optics such as the 90mm f/2, 16mm f/1.4 or 14mm f/2.8, but it does a nice job balancing small size with very good performance. It’s sharp across almost the whole frame right from f/2, has very pleasing bokeh, good chromatic aberration control, a very fast and dead silent focus motor and has the added benefit of weather sealing as well.
On the down side, the high native distortion requires digital correction that by default is actually too strong, resulting in some pincushion distortion in the JPEGs and RAWs for converters that support the correction metadata. This leads to some loss of resolution in the corners, preventing truly tack sharp images across the entire frame. Also, the included screw-in lens hood, while very small and discreet, doesn’t provide too much shading for the lens and feels flimsy compared to the rest of the package. It’s frustrating that the higher-end metal bayonet mount hood is an extra purchase, and a pricey one at that.
Still, I feel the lens gets so much more right than it gets wrong, and I think for most people will be the smarter choice for a normal prime on the Fuji X cameras. If you really need that extra stop of light, though, the original 35mm f/1.4 is also a good performer with a wonderful rendering. The choice is yours!
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