Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4 R Review
By Yvonne
2022-10-09

Fujifilm Fujinon XF23mm F1.4 R lens combines optical performance and a bright f/1.4 maximum aperture.

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4 R Review

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4 R

The pros

  • Clear optics.
  • Maximum aperture bright.
  • Quick autofocus.
  • Pleasant experience with manual focus.
  • Ring for aperture control.

Cons

  • Omits stabilization.
  • It is not weather-proof.
  • Pricey.

Fujifilm Fujinon XF23mm F1.4 R (889) is a great lens for those photographers looking for shallow depth of field images, or for people who need to capture sharp photos even in dark conditions. The lens produces sharp images even with the modern 24-megapixel image sensor. It also has a manual focus clutch that allows for more precise focus. Although it isn't weather-sealed like Fujifilm's smaller Fujinon XF23mm F2R WR model, an f/2 blurs out background better than an f/1.4. Both editions of the XF 23mm earn our Editors Choice—the 23mm F2 for budget-minded, outdoor photographers who value a light design and weather sealing, and the 23mm F1.4 for those who crave the most background blur.

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Design: Physical, Real Controls

Amazon's XF23mm F1.4 R is one the largest prime lenses available for the X-mirrorless system. The lens measures 2.5 by 2.5 inches (HW), is 10.6 ounces and can support 62mm front filters. Although it is larger than the XF23mm F2 (2.42 by 2.0 inches; 6.4 ounces, 43mm thread filter), the XF23mm F2 captures twice as much light at maximum aperture.

Thanks to the metal exterior, the barrel looks black and is very sturdy. The XF23mm F2 doesn't have weather sealing, but it does include an aperture control ring as well as a manual focus ring. This is a common feature on Fuji X lenses. This allows third-stop adjustment between f/1.4 and f/16. It also supports an A setting that moves the aperture control to camera bodies.

You don't get the focus clutch on all lenses. When the lens is in autofocus mode, it turns smoothly but does not do anything. Pull the ring towards the base of your lens, and you will hear a satisfying click. It now turns slowly with some resistance. There are hard stops at both the far and close ends of its focal range. It's still a focus-by-wire design—turning the ring activates a motor to change focus, rather than adjusting it via mechanical means.

Practically, however, the XF23mm manual focus acts much like a traditional mechanical lens. Manual focus is linear and will always land at the location where it is supposed to. When the lens is set up to manual, printed distance markings and a depth-of-field scale are displayed. The viewfinder also has a distance scale so that you can see where your lens is in action without having to look away from it.

It is very quick to use the autofocus motor. The X-Pro2 was fast enough to get me in focus within 0.05 seconds, if my focus was good. It takes approximately 0.2 seconds to drive the elements from zero to minimum focus distance.

This lens does not have image stabilization. It's surprising considering it is a wide-angle prime that covers the same view angle as a 35mm full-frame camera. You will need to use it in conjunction with a sensor-based stabilizer camera. Currently, the feature is only available on the X-H1.

Near focus can be achieved up to 11 inches. It certainly doesn't put the lens in macro territory—at best it projects objects onto the sensor at 1:10 life-size. While the XF 23mm F2 focuses closer to 1:7.7 captures, it is not the best tool for picking up even the smallest details. You can also choose a macro lens with the Zeiss Touit 2.8/50M or the XF 60mmF2.4 R Macro or the XF80mmF2.8 R LM OS WR Macro.

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High Quality Image: Bright and Sharp

This is our second time testing the XF 23mm F1.4—we looked at it a few years back when 16MP sensors were standard. Fujifilm's 24-megapixel cameras have been upgraded, and we were curious to find out if the optics can withstand this higher-resolution sensor.

It is simple: Yes. It produces 2,322 lines at f/1.4 when paired up with the X-Pro2, which is better than the 1,800 lines that we need to see. The edges are not as sharp as the average but they are very strong at 2,172 lines for an f/1.4 lens.

The overall score is 2,589 lines if you reduce the fstop. This is not quite as impressive as the 2,822 lines produced by the XF23mm F2 at f/2. However, lenses with smaller apertures are more sharp than lenses that open to f/1.4.

At f/2.8 the XF 23mm F1.4 improves to 2,711 lines, and resolution continues to tick up as you narrow the f-stop—2,871 lines at f/4, 3,289 lines at f/5.6, 3,244 lines at f/8, and 3,244 lines at f/11. The expected decrease in clarity is seen at f/16. However, the lens can still be used at the narrowest aperture of 2,875 lines.

A little barrel distortion of about 0.8% is possible, but it's not noticeable in actual-world usage. It's possible to fix architectural images that show slight bowing or straight line distortions in Photoshop. Adobe Lightroom offers a quick correction of the lens.

A small vignette is visible at f/1.4, f/2. The corners are darker than the middle of the frame due to -1EV. This is noticeable but doesn't usually detract too much from the images. Lightroom also has the ability to correct this. The deficit at f/2.8 drops to -0.5EV. This is a slight darkening you won't notice on images.

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The Wide Angle f/1.4 Lens that Doesn't Break the Bank

Fujifilm is known for providing high-quality prime lenses for the APS-C X mirrorless camera system. Although the XF23mm F1.4 R lens is not the newest in the range, its optics can meet the requirements of a 24-megapixel image sensor. It also offers all the advantages of low light and shallow depth-of-field capture you would expect from an f/1.4.

This is not the only Fujifilm 23mm lens. The XF23mm F2 is smaller and weather-sealed, but it costs half as much. It also doesn't have the same manual focus experience and gathers half as much light. They're both excellent lenses and Editors' Choice winners—it's up to you whether shooting at f/1.4 is worth the premium price.