First and foremost, I appreciate Mr. Keitaro So, Divisional Head of Fujifilm Asia Pacific, for his generosity in providing the loan for the XF23mm f1.4 R LM WR and Fuji X-S10. By the time this review is online, the units had returned back to Fujifilm Asia Pacific.
On a side note
XF23mm f1.4 WR (I remove the R LM to shorten the wording in this article) is announced during the Fujifilm X-summit in September 2021. It is priced at USD 899 and it is supposed to launch on 30 November 2021. But due to the global chip shortage, the original shipping date has been pushed to sometime in February 2022.
1. All the shots taken here are shot by me.
2. Some of the shots are straight out of the camera while others are edited via In-Camera Raw Processing and Adobe Lightroom Classic.
3. The opinions are based on my experience. If there is any mistake, please kindly drop me a message and I will gladly make the amendment.
4. I reserve ownership of these images, if you wish to use my images, please notify me.
Fujicron XF23mm f2 WR is the first prime lens I have with Fujifilm. I love almost everything about it except for the softness in image quality at wide-open and that’s probably due to my personal preference. Years later, I have my first ever X100 series, the X100V. Love it to bits. It has become my daily weapon of choice wherever I go.
At 23mm (35mm in full-frame equivalent), the focal length is one of the most versatile lenses out there in the market. For greenhorn, it is easy to pick up and enjoy the fun experience with a fixed focal length.
Also, I have previously shared my staycation with this lens. You can have a look over here.
Design & Build Quality
The design language of this lens follows the same as its two new brothers, XF18mm f1.4 WR and XF33mm f1.4 WR. The build is a premium one too. Full metal-built and the weight is well balanced across the lens. The aperture ring is clicky, gentle, and not too loose like its predecessor. It is an enjoyable experience to rotate and change the aperture.
According to my wife’s kitchen scale, it weighs 375 grams & 402 grams with the lens hood on. The weight is also merely heavier as compared to XF18mm f1.4 (@370 grams) and XF33mm f1.4 (@360 grams) but I am not able to tell the difference in weight by holding them on my hand. With similar sizes and weights, my guess is that it will benefit videographers from saving time for recalibrating their gimbals when swapping among these 3 lenses.
The glass optic of this lens is similar (or even the same optic formula) to the XF18mm f1.4 and XF33mm f1.4 and the image quality is very sharp at wide open. Maybe I should use the term called “clinically sharp” to best describe this lens. I know some people prefer more characteristic results than “clinically sharp” ones. But personally, I accept it and have zero picky reasons to point out any flaw with the image quality.
The bokeh produced by this piece of glass renders very beautifully and the fall-off is seamless. This is kind of in my expectation since I have tested the XF18mm f1.4 and XF33mm f1.4 before. I mean the standard should be at least on-par and should not be worse than its brothers. How about the shallow depth field of view? Is it too shallow or just nice or love it? Share with me your opinion.
How good is the sunny star shot taken with this lens? I think the result is pretty decent. Nothing to complain about over here. At f16, the star shape is sharper but I prefer the result at f8. Besides that, the lens flare is well-controlled. A decent amount of flares is acceptable for me and it does create some mood to the photos.
As for chromatic aberration, not really obvious in my opinion. At least I do not observe any in my test.
What can I complain about the autofocus speed? Absolutely nothing. The focus speed is very fast, very silent, and very accurate. Sometimes, the lens focus locked is so fast that I thought I did not half-press the shutter button. You should probably try it out and you will understand.
For dim light situations, the focus performance can be slightly slower but the accuracy remains the same top performance and the lens focusing still remains silent.
Minimum Focus Distance (MFD)
According to the internet, the MFD is 20cm and it is the same MFD as what XF18mm f1.4 WR is offering. The close-up result is breathtaking and it does not render soft images like some of the old lenses do. Fujifilm really works hard on improving the optic!
Side by Side
I do not own an XF23mm f1.4 but I have the opportunity to try it out from a friend who has it. Visually, the new XF23mm is taller and slimmer than the old XF23mm. And the new XF23mm also missing the clutch mechanism that the old XF23mm has.
Although the older generation is 70 grams lighter, I cannot really tell the difference in weight when I hold both of them together. Like I mentioned earlier, the aperture ring of the old XF23mm is much looser than the new one.
As for the autofocusing performance, the old XF23mm is slower and noisier. At wide-open, the sharpness is not as sharp as the newer one and again, this is a personal preference. Also, let’s not forget that it does not equip with Weather Resistant as well.
Who is this for?
In my humble opinion, this lens is really suitable for most photographers out there, be it professional or casual photographers. The focal length is really versatile in that it can use in most genres; streets, editorial, documentary, landscape, cityscape, environmental portraits, astrophotography, and the list goes on. With its sharp IQ at wide-open and easy to adapt focal length, this lens is suitable to bring on any occasion, including taking night streets photography or low light situation.
If you are looking for your first-ever prime lens, maybe you should give this lens a try. I will recommend you try it out in your local camera store or try renting it for a week or so. I think you will like this lens a lot. While the price might be a little steep to some, I think it will be a good photography investment for years (or decades) to come.
If you are the existing owner of the XF23mm f1.4 R and you do not mind missing out push/pull clutch mechanism, you may consider upgrading to this successor. Considering it is a decent update, I think you will love this lens a lot more.
As for me, I love this lens, it really grew on me during this period of testing. I can see this lens will replace my f2 variant eventually. And honestly, it is a nice upgrade from the f2 variant with improved IQ and AF accuracy. Yes. The new lens weighs almost 2 times the f2 variant but I am acceptable with the weight because nothing beats the results coming out of f1.4
Thank you for reading.
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4 thoughts on “XF23mm f1.4 WR: The King of Street Lens”
Hi Alwin, thanks for the great and insightful review!! I’m a hobbyist photographer using an X-Pro2 and currently do not have a 23mm lens in my setup. I’m looking between getting this new 23mm f1.4 wr or an X100V haha. Any thoughts and recommendations between these two? Thanks!!
Hi Zachary, in my opinion, 23mm F1.4 will perform faster than x100v in term of AF speed and having that extra stop of light. So you have to decide between over compact size and performance.
I have both the 23mm lens and X100V. I will bring them out base on the day I need. Usually for me, I prefer to bring X100V out because it is compact and discreet for street photography.