XF23mm f1.4 R – is the Classic still worth buying in 2022?

After three months of delay, the successor of the classic XF23mm f1.4 R has finally arrived on our shore this month. While the price of the newly launched lens is priced at USD 900, the predecessor is easily available between USD 600 to 700~ ish. Is it worth saving the $200 ~ $300 difference? In this post, I will share some of the experiences I had with both lenses and hope to help you in your own decision journey.

XF23mm f1.4 R
XF23mm f1.4 R
XF23mm f1.4 R

Before I start my sharing, I would like to thank Ivan Joshua Loh for lending me his XF23mm f1.4 R for a shoot. This has actually landed me an opportunity to have a full 2 days of hands-on with the classic lens.

Image Quality

The classic one gives an overall decent image quality all most focusing distance but I noticed soft results at its minimum focus distance. Chromatic aberration is also quite noticeable, especially in an outdoor sunny environment and shooting wide open. As for the new one, it produces sharper image quality and addresses those flaws that I mentioned earlier. The rendering of the bokeh also seems to be better than the classic one. More pleasant to the eyes if you ask me.

For the new F23mm f1.4 R LM WR, you can have a look at photos taken here and here.

Autofocus speed

This is a very subjective topic when comes to focusing performance. How fast or slow depends on how the individual defines it. Unfortunately, I have both the classic and new lenses mounted on different camera bodies (due to different loan periods) but the cameras are equipped with X-Trans 4 (if that is the concern). For reference, X-E4 is for the classic lens and X-S10 is for the new lens.

To my surprise, the classic one is not that slow with the newer camera. The focusing speed is acceptably fast and I do not really experience any slow-focusing or focus hunting under dim light conditions. However, it is surely noisy.

For the new lens, the focusing speed is indeed very fast and silent. It locks onto the subject really quick and precise.

Minimum Focus Distance

If you are like me who like to take as close up as possible, the classic is not for you. It’s minimum focus distance is at 28 cm as compared to 19cm on the new one.

Size and Weight

To be honest, they are somewhat close to each other. The overall size and weight is nothing much to shout about or compare. While one is slightly wider and shorter, the other is slightly taller and slimmer. Both are about the same weight and still bigger than the f2 variant.

Appearance

The classic one comes with the push/pull clutch manual focus ring. The aperture ring is close to clickless. Overall, the lens gives a very vintage style design element.

As for the new one, it is totally the opposite of the classic. Fujifilm has removed the push/pull clutch, gives the aperture ring better clicky feedback and modernize the overall lens design. Plus it includes the Weather Resistant (WR).

Conclusion

The successor iso truly the winner here. I can see how much effort Fujifilm has improved the lens in almost every aspect of the classic one.

Back to the question. Is it worth saving the $200 ~ $300 difference? Ideally, getting the latest glass is always the better choice. If you have no financial constraints, this is the way to go.

X-E4 . XF23mm f1.4 R @ F5.6

But if you are just picking up photography with a limited budget, I think there are a few more options besides getting the used XF23mm f1.4 R. I think starting off with 3rd party lenses from Sigma and Viltrox is also another good option (if you are willing to accept their strengths and drawbacks).

X-E4 . XF23mm f1.4 R @ F1.4

What is your opinion? Share with me in the comment below or DM me in instagrams. Cheers!

As for me, I have a lot of concerns when purchasing a used lens and that’s just my two cents. I am kind of biased to the successor and that’s because I started using the successor before using the classic lens. On that account, I have unconsciously set a high standard for image quality and I cannot turn it back. Yes, it is not a cheap lens but it is unarguably a futureproofing lens for the newer camera bodies which will harness the power of the lens.

X-E4 . XF23mm f1.4 R @ F1.4

Disclaimer:
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.

Thank you for reading.

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