Fujifilm XF 33mm f1.4 R LM WR review
Written by Gordon Laing
The Fujifilm XF 33mm f1.4 R LM WR is a bright standard prime lens for X-mount mirrorless cameras. Announced in September 2021, it delivers standard coverage roughly equivalent to 50mm on full-frame, while the bright f1.4 focal ratio provides plenty of opportunity for shallow depth of field effects. Meanwhile the LM and WR in the title refer to linear focusing motors and weather resistance.
The XF 33mm may be Fujifilm’s first prime in the series with this exact focal length, but it’s actually their fourth X-mount lens to deliver roughly standard coverage, and does not officially replace any previous models. In my video review below I’ll show you everything you need to know about the 33 and how it compares to other options, but if you prefer to read the written highlights, keep scrolling!
The original XF 35mm f1.4 was one of the first lenses to launch the X-system back in 2012 and while it lacks weather resistance and is no longer the sharpest tool in the box, it’s still loved by many owners for its attractive rendering and fairly compact size. You can pick it up for around $599 or 529 pounds.
Meanwhile the XF 35mm f2 was launched in 2015 as a smaller, more affordable alternative, losing a stop of aperture but gaining weather resistance and also still on sale for around $399 or pounds. As R lenses, all three sport manual aperture rings, but none have optical stabilisation.
Then there’s the XC 35mm f2, part of a simpler budget series pitched below the XF models, launched in 2020 and costing $199 or 169 pounds.
There’s also lots of third party options, most recently the Sigma 30mm f1.4 DC DN, launched in early 2022 albeit based on a design from 2016. It costs around $339 or 289 pounds and I’ve made a separate review directly comparing it against the XF 33 1.4 if you’re interested.
So Fujifilm’s latest standard prime lens is the most expensive of its siblings and in this review I’ll show you what it’s capable of, make some direct comparisons against the compact XF 35mm f2, and ultimately help you decide if it justifies the asking price.
At 67x74mm and weighing 360g, the 33 1.4 is the heftiest of the three standard XF primes, roughly double the weight of both the 35 1.4 and 35 f2 models and noticeably longer too. Working backwards from the front of the lens, there’s a 58mm filter thread, smooth free-spinning motor-assisted focusing ring, a clicky aperture ring with a lockable A-position for body-based control, and a rubber grommet to seal the mount.
Here’s the XF 33 1.4 on the left with the compact XF 35 f2 on the right and the difference in overall size is striking. If you have one of the smaller Fujifilm bodies or simply desire the least obstructions on an X-Pro optical viewfinder, you’ll feel most comfortable using the smaller f2 lenses.
Place the equally new XF 23 1.4 on the left with the XF 33 on the right though and you’ll see Fujifilm’s latest pair of premium lenses share very similar build, size and styling. Notice how Fujifilm’s latest lenses also lack the retractable manual focus clutches of the early f1.4 models in the series.
To put them in perspective, here’s the XF 33 1.4 mounted on an XS10 body, and now fitted with its supplied cylindrical lens hood, before switching to the XF 35mm f2. Note the smaller lens may also have a dedicated aperture ring, but unlike the 33 1.4, its A position for body-based control is not lockable. And now here it is fitted with its tiny hood, clearly providing much less shade, but also substantially smaller.
Ok, now for my tests, starting with focusing on the XF 33 1.4 mounted on an XS10 body and using a central AF area in AF-S mode. Here the Linear Motors are driving the focusing system quickly, quietly and confidently with a brief contrast wobble at each end to confirm.
For comparison, here’s the XF 35mm f2 proving it too can focus essentially as fast as its premium sibling, albeit with less glass to shift back and forth during the process. A good result from both lenses.
Next back to the XF 33 1.4 but this time for movie AF with a central AF area and in continuous autofocus. Here the refocusing between the bottles is smooth and silent with no overshooting or wobbling to confirm, although like my other tests with X bodies of the same generation, there’s often a pause between pulls as if it lacks the confidence to complete the process in one step. This is a body issue though, not the lens.
To confirm this, here’s the XF 35 f2 again showing much the same performance, equally smooth, quiet and lacking wobbles, but again pausing halfway through most pulls as if to reassure itself. Again a body not a lens issue.
Next for focus breathing, starting with the XF 33 1.4 manually focusing from infinity to the closest distance and back again. Sorry for the wobbly view, but the important part is the magnification change, which here is pretty mild. Just a small reduction in the field of view as you focus from the furthest to the nearest.
Now let’s switch it for the XF 35 f2 and as I turn the focusing ring from infinity to the closest distance you’ll see a much greater magnification in the image. And in fact you’ll see the field of view continue to reduce as I keep turning the manual focusing ring – again sorry for the wobbles. So in terms of focus breathing, the more expensive 33 1.4 behaves much better than the compact f2 lens.
Right now for sharpness across the frame with a distant subject, and as always I’ve angled the view so that details run into the corners. I’ll start with Brighton Pier, photographed with the XF 33 1.4, here wide-open at f1.4 and when you take a close look in the middle the lens is resolving a tremendous amount of fine detail, as you’d hope for its age and price.
Next let’s keep the 33 1.4 at 1.4 on the left and bring in the XF 35 f2 at f2 on the right. Here I’d say the results are almost identical although the little lens on the right is operating one stop slower, so let’s now switch the 33 1.4 on the left for a version taken at f2 to match their apertures. I’d say the 33 on the left has improved a fraction to slightly overtake the f2 model on the right, but when both are closed one stop further to f2.8, the lens on the right looks a little more contrasty to me. But this is serious pixel-peeping. Both lenses are performing well in the middle of their frames even at their maximum apertures and represent a step-up in contrast and sharpness over the original 35 1.4.
Returning to the 33 1.4 image wide-open once again at f1.4, let’s head into the corner where you’ll see the lens remains impressively sharp with only a little darkening due to vignetting. Introduce the XF 35 f2 on the right and you’ll immediately notice how the cheaper lens is noticeably softer in the corners than its pricier and newer sibling. Close the 33 1.4 to f2 and its result improves even further with a mild boost in sharpness and a lifting of the vignetting. Close both lenses to f2.8 and you’ll see the cheaper 35 f2 on the right improve a little but remain well behind the 33 1.4 on the left. So while both lenses share similar sharpness in the center of their frames, the 33 1.4 takes the lead in the corners at large apertures.
Next for a portrait test, starting with the XF 33 1.4 wide-open to f1.4 where you can see it capturing a sharp subject with an attractive blurred background. But how much less blurry is the cheaper XF 35mm f2?
Here’s the 33 on the left and the 35 on the right with one stop of aperture between them, and while the 33 1.4 on the left definitely has a shallower depth of field, the 35 f2 on the right still has a reasonable degree of separation.
Taking a closer look at their subject details shows both lenses are very crisp in the middle of their frames. I’ve got no complaints and no preference in terms of the subject. In terms of their background rendering, the 33 1.4 on the left is unsurprisingly a little creamier and less busy, but the 35 f2 on the right isn’t at all bad. So a closer result here than you might have thought.
To better reveal any differences in rendering, here’s my close-up bokeh ball test shot from the same distance with both lenses. Here’s the 33 1.4 wide-open at f1.4 where the subject in the middle is nice and crisp, surrounded by bokeh blobs with minimal out-lining but some faint onion-ring textures within, especially towards the edges.
Place the 33 1.4 on the left at f1.4, and the XF 35 f2 on the right at f2 and you’ll notice the latter has a softer subject but that its bokeh balls are actually bigger than you might expect, down to the magnification at close-range from focus breathing as I showed earlier. The shapes may be more elongated but arguably have slightly fainter patterns within. Certainly the rendering result from the 33 1.4 on the left isn’t the slam dunk I expected over its cheaper sibling.
But as well as a sharper subject, the 33 1.4 does have one ace card up its sleeve and that’s the ability to focus 5cm closer than the 35 f2. So here’s the 33 1.4 on the left versus the 35 f2 on the right, both at their closest focusing distances respectively. This has in turn allowed the 33 to deliver bigger blobs.Check prices on the Fujifilm XF 33mm f1.4 at B&H, Adorama, WEX UK or Calumet.de. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book, an official Cameralabs T-shirt or mug, or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!