Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Fujinon 23mm f/2 all-weather prime lens review

Ever since I started photography, the one thing that keeps me up for several nights before I travel is what kind of lens I was gonna bring. OK, it does not really cause me to lose sleep but I still get a little anxious about my lens choice every time I travel.

However, when I shifted to Fujifilm, I also discovered the Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 R WR. This is a fine piece of lens that, I discovered, is the perfect companion whenever I travel.


In my latest travels to different destinations here in the Philippines, in those occasions, I only brought the 23mm lens with me.

But first, about the lens…

The 23mm f/2 R WR is the lighter variant in Fujifilm’s lens line up. You see, there is an f/1.4 version of the 23mm. The 1.4 maximum aperture affords you more light but it also means you will have to pay more - bigger maximum aperture means bigger price… Also, the 1.4 variant is not weather-sealed, so, if you go to places where it could get dusty, then you will be better off getting the f/2 version. And one last thing, the 1.4 version is heavier than the f/2 one so if you want to go light, then you should choose the latter.


The 23mm f/2 is a small lens but is a chunky one. I mean, it is small but it feels hefty. It is dense and its build quality feels really superb. It tapers towards the front of the lens as this is also designed for Fujifilm’s range-finder type cameras like the Fujifilm X-Pro2. (If this lens didn’t taper towards the front, then you will be able to see the lens in one of the corners of the optical viewfinder.) This means that the 23mm f/2 uses a small filter; it is 43mm actually and it is the smallest filter size I have used so far. I actually had a hard time looking for such a filter in the many camera shops in Metro Manila…


Paired with the Fujifilm X-T3 camera, the lens feels actually small. The chunky size of the X-T3 dwarfs the lens somewhat. If you have a X-T20 or X-T30 or the like, then the lens would feel more at home with your camera body. But this does not mean I don’t like the lens. Quite contrary! I love it because it has a great build quality and because it takes really great photos!

And speaking of photos, I took my Fujifilm X-T3 with the 23mm f/2 lens to four different tourist destinations in the Philippines, two of which are beach destinations. Yes, we are spoiled for having so many beaches!





Paired with the X-T3, the 23mm f/2 forms a weather-sealed camera system! So, I was not even a little worried despite the very fine sand on the beaches of Boracay! Of course you cannot take the camera and lens combo swimming but at least your camera system is protected when it comes to sand and water splashes.




And the photos taken by the 23mm f/2 lens is short of breath-taking. Focusing is also quick so you won’t have to worry about missing a shot. As a matter of fact, I took a photo of a cyclist and the photo produced was tack sharp. And, yes, this lens is also great for portraits!



However, if there’s one thing that I’d like for the 23mm to have, it would be an optical image stabilisation. In all of Fujifilm’s lens line ups, only the new Fujinon XF 80mm f/2.8 WR Macro has optical image stabilisation. This means that your shutter speed should not be slower than 1/25 of a second. This also means that, when the light goes down, you will have to boost your ISO so you can keep that shutter speed in place. It is thus a good thing that, even at an ISO of 12800, the pictures taken by the X-T3 are still relatively clean! Any slower than 1/25 of a second can mean having the risk of camera shake. And since the Fujifilm X-H1 is the only camera with in-body image stabilisation, you should consider the constraints of shooting with a relatively high slowest shutter speed. If you get what I mean…



But, all-in-all, the Fujinon 23mm f/2 R WR lens is a great lens to have in your collection. It is perfect for street photography, it is perfect for travel photography, it is great for portraiture among others. I even shoot events with it. The build quality is top-notch and the weather sealing can give you some piece of mind when you go places. Also, the price is not that expensive compared to other lenses in the same category.

So for me, having this lens prevents me somewhat from the anxiety of having to choose which lens to bring. I can travel to different locations with only this lens and I will not, have not, regret(ed) it.


Highly Recommended!

Photos of the Fujinon 23mm f/2 R WR and the Fujifilm X-T3 taken with an iPhone XS Max. Some photos post-processed on the iPhone XS Max using the app Snapseed.

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