First Outing with Fujifilm 23mm f/2 WR lens

For my birthday my lovely wife got me the recently released 23mm f/2 lens from Fujifilm. I had an immediate opportunity to try it out as we went up to the Napa Valley and surrounding area for the weekend. Below are some pictures from that trip.

I've been waiting for this lens eagerly as I love this focal length on my X100S, but I didn't like the size and weight of the interchangeable f/1.4 version that Fuji had launched earlier, and which they still sell. Size- and weight-wise the new lens is between half and 2/3 the f/1.4 (due to the smaller maximum aperture). Furthermore, I've been super impressed with the 35mm f/2, and I expected the 23mm to have the same traits of small/tapering size, light weight, and very fast and quiet focusing. I wasn't disappointed.

Fuji’s new, small 23 & 35mm f/2 primes have a real rightness to them.

The 23 f/2 is just a joy to use. Like its brother the 35 f/2, it's may not be quite as optically good as the f/1.4 version (though that's debatable for the 35 - the newer lens is at least as good at just about everything). But the new 23's discrete size, light weight, and perfect ergonomics make it much more desirable for me in every other respect than the 1.4 version.

Compared to the 23mm on the X100S, it's at least as good, especially wide open, where the older X100S lens could get a bit soft and glow-y, especially at close distances. So far I haven't seen that at all with the new 23. In fact, I could see this lens on my X-T1 largely replacing the X100S - it's not that much of a bigger package (especially as I have a hood on the X100S), and these days I really now prefer an EVF to an OVF (and the EVF in the X100S isn't very good by comparison). Plus, the X-T1 has a flippy LCD which makes it even better for street photography.

Fuji has sorted out a couple of usability factors that had been hit and miss on previous lenses, namely the aperture ring detents, and the focus ring. On the 35 f/1.4 for example, the aperture ring is quite loose and easy to knock out of position. Even worse is the 14mm f/2.8, marring what is otherwise a terrific lens. If you inadvertently move one of these aperture rings from "A" then your pictures are likely to come out pretty poor as it's going to land on f2/2. It's super annoying. And the focus rings have often felt under-damped and hard to control precisely, or require an unnatural number of turns to focus.

Both the 35 and the 23 nail these two items perfectly. The aperture ring requires just the right amount of force to move, and manual focusing is a pleasure because the focus ring has just the right weight and damping to it.

Enough talky-talk. Here are some shots from the quick trip out of town. These were shot as jpeg in camera (I almost never shoot RAW anymore with Fuji). These mostly use the Velvia film simulation, which I don't use very often as it can be over the top for my taste, but it suited the landscape changing to fall colors, and the greens bursting after a fall rain. I've done some mild tonal adjustments in Lightroom, haven't done anything with sharpening.

As you can see I was shooting quite a bit into the sun in order to get the backlighting on the leaves. I didn't have the (tiny) hood on the lens, but it wouldn't have helped in all cases anyway. While there are some artifacts, overall I think the lens did a commendable job of controlling flare in this harsh situation. Chromatic aberration/fringing is basically non existent so far.

These next shots were taken at Shed, a terrific restaurant/deli/cookware/gardening supplies/classroom in Healdsburg. Well worth a visit if you're in the area.

Adam Richardson