To evaluate the real-life performance of the Fujinon XF 35mm f2 lens, I shot this exterior scene at every aperture setting using a Fujifilm XT1 mounted on a tripod. The XT1 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.
I believe many X series owners who are interested in the XF 35mm f2 will be weighing it up against the original XF 35mm f1.4, either as potential owners or existing ones. So in my first two tables below I’ve compared the sharpness of both lenses on the same view in the corner and centre of the image; in each comparison I’ve made, the XF 35mm f2 is on the left and the XF 35mm f1.4 is on the right.
In all the tables below, the XF 35mm f1.4 kicks-off the comparison in isolation with its f1.4 result, and in the case of its corner performance, it’s pretty good. Indeed when the XF 35mm f2 joins-in at f2, it’s clear the older lens enjoys the advantage in the extreme corner at larger apertures. Both lenses steadily improve as their apertures are gradually closed, but the older XF 35mm f1.4 remains ahead at each step. I should however note that the XF 35mm f2 sharpens-up pretty quickly once you move away from the extreme corners and I have another test lower on the page which illustrates this.
If you were expecting the older f1.4 lens to out-perform the new model, you may think it’s safe to move onto the next page, but I’d urge you to scroll down to view the performance in the middle where the f2 version surges ahead. I also have a full set of results with both lenses at night lower on the page.
If you’ve seen enough though, feel free to skip to my Fujifilm XF 35mm f2 sample images or head over to my verdict.
Fujifilm XF 35mm f2 vs XF 35mm f1.4 quality in the centre
In the next table of results I’m presenting crops from the middle of the frame and as promised above, there’s a surprise if you were expecting the older XF 35mm f1.4 to out-perform the new model. As you can clearly see in the crops, the XF 35mm f1.4 is noticeably soft in the middle at f1.4 and f2, and only begins to sharpen-up when closed to f2.8 or smaller. Meanwhile the newer XF 35mm f2 is crisper at larger apertures.
I repeated this test several times across several days to ensure it wasn’t a focusing or user error, but found the same result. You can also see the same effect in my night shots below where the newer lens is simply sharper in the middle. At first I thought this might be a poor copy of the XF 35mm f1.4, but if you look at the official MTF charts for each lens from Fujifilm, it’s clear the newer lens boasts higher resolution. It’s a newer design and out-performs the older one in terms of resolution until you reach the extreme corners of the frame.
Scroll down further if you’d like to see my comparisons at night, or skip to my Fujifilm XF 35mm f2 sample images or head over to my verdict.
Above right: XF 35mm f1.4 at f1.4. 100% crop from centre
Fujifilm XF 35mm f2 vs XF 35mm f1.4 night scene
To evaluate the real-life performance of the Fujinon XF 35mm f2 lens at night, I shot this exterior scene at every aperture setting using a Fujifilm XT1 mounted on a tripod. The XT1 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%.
In my daylight scene you saw how the older XF 35mm f1.4 was sharper in the extreme corners than the XF 35mm f2, especially at larger apertures, but if you move in just a little from the corner you’ll enjoy a dramatic increase in performance from the new lens. As seen in the crops below, the XF 35mm f2 lives up to its MTF chart by delivering a great performance at f2 and out-performing the older XF 35mm f1.4 in the mild corners up to around f4; you’ll need to close both down to about f5.6 to match their sharpness here.
Scroll further down and you’ll see my final table, showing a crop from near to the centre of the image to reveal how each lens handles diffraction spikes on point(ish) sources of light. The seven aperture blades of the older XF 35mm f1.4 seem to be better-suited to delivering crisply-defined spikes here. There’s some minor focusing errors on the f2 crops at the larger apertures, but still its higher number of aperture blades and their more rounded shape means more spikes with less defined shapes.
Ultimately while I’d give a nod to the XF 35mm f1.4 here, it really it a matter of personal preference. Like the bokeh blob comparison on the main review page, you may simply prefer the way one lens renders certain objects more than another.
Fujifilm XF 35mm f2 vs XF 35mm f1.4 diffraction spikes
Next check out my sample images or skip back to my verdict.