To evaluate the real-life performance of the Fujinon XF 23mm f2 lens, I shot this exterior scene at every aperture setting using a Fujifilm X-Pro2 mounted on a tripod. The X-Pro2 was set to 200 ISO and the lens focused on the center of the composition. The corner and center crops shown below were taken from the areas marked with the red rectangles below and presented at 100%.
For my lens tests on other systems I normally shoot in RAW and process the files with corrections disabled to see what’s happening behind the scenes. But the more I shoot with the Fuji X system, the more I appreciate the out-of-camera JPEG performance, especially when using Lens Modulation Optimisation (LMO) with Fujinon lenses. I’ve also found few RAW converters which can do justice to the X-Trans sensor. So in line with my other XF lens tests, I’m going to present crops from unaltered out-of-camera JPEGs here (with LMO enabled as default) as I believe they show the lens in the best light. I did of course also shoot the scene in RAW and if I find a workflow which delivers good results in the future I’ll update this review with RAW comparisons as well.
Anyone who’s interested in the XF 23mm f2 will of course be weighing it up against the earlier and brighter XF 23mm f1.4 lens, so moments later I shot the same composition with that lens throughout its aperture range. I also believe many potential buyers of either lens will be wondering how they measure-up against the XF 10-24mm f4 zoom, so I repeated my tests once more for this lens, set to 23mm.
Note that while the two XF 23mm lenses may share the same focal length on paper, they actually deliver fractionally different fields of view with the newer f2 version being a tad wider; as such since I cropped the same area of the actual frames below, the two lenses show different sections of the scene. As for the 10-24mm zoom, I decided to match its field of view to the newer XF 23mm f2 where revealingly its EXIF data reported a focal length of 22mm, so the newer prime really is a little wider than it reports.
The older XF 23mm f1.4 kicks-off the sequence as the only model in the threesome to open-up to f1.4. With the aperture wide-open, there’s a little softness and some vignetting visible in the far corner, but compared to some other bright aperture lenses, it’s not at all bad.
At f2 the newer XF 23mm f2 joins-in with a result that again is pretty respectable in the far corner, only a tad soft with minor vignetting. Meanwhile the older XF 23mm f1.4 doesn’t benefit noticeably from closing by a stop – you’ll need to go further to enjoy a boost in sharpness.
At f2.8 the older XF 23mm f1.4 becomes a little crisper in the corner, arguably taking it slightly ahead of the newer XF 23mm f2. But it’s not until they’re both closed to f4 that the XF 10-24mm zoom can join the comparison. At this point with the aperture on all three lenses set to f4, the older XF 23mm f1.4 takes a more decisive lead, delivering the crispest details in the corner. Meanwhile the newer XF 23mm f2 still isn’t noticeably improving that much, although it’s a tad better than the XF 10-24mm in the corners at 23mm.
At f5.6, the older XF 23mm f1.4 attains optimal sharpness, and while the XF 23mm f2 also enjoys an improvement, the older lens remains ahead in terms of corner sharpness. Sadly a focusing error has prevented me from including my 10-24mm comparative sample at f5.6, but based on other tests I’ve performed, it too enjoys a boost in corner sharpness at this aperture.
The three lenses roughly maintain a decent level of quality across the frame between f8 and f11, although the effect of diffraction begins to soften the results beyond this point. Once again the optimal aperture for all three lenses is around f5.6, although at this point it’s the eldest XF 23mm f1.4 that’s still sharpest of all in the corners.
Scroll down and you can see a comparison taken from the centre which confirms the story: the XF 23mm f1.4 is the sharpest of the bunch (even taking the magnification difference into account), but all three lenses benefit from being closed to f5.6.
Next check out my sample images or my in-depth review!