This is an in-depth review of the Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4 prime lens, also known as “Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R” that was released initially together with the Fuji X-Pro1 on September 21, 2011. Fuji specifically wanted to target professionals and enthusiasts with its X line, so it first introduced a professional-level mirrorless camera, the X-Pro1, along with three prime lenses: Fuji XF 18mm f/2, Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4 and Fuji XF 60mm f/2.4 Macro. And hence, being part of the Fuji X mirrorless interchangeable lens system launch, the Fuji 35mm f/1.4 played a big role in the success of the product line.
Thanks to its compact size, a fast aperture of f/1.4 and a versatile focal length, the Fuji 35mm f/1.4 undoubtedly became the most popular of the three lenses. I have had the pleasure of shooting with this lens a number of times by now. First, I used it for a few months at launch, then when I re-evaluated the Fuji X Pro1 after about a year and lastly, after I made the decision to make Fuji X my mirrorless system of choice. Today, I am a proud owner of this lens – it pretty much stays glued to my Fuji X-E1, making it a very powerful combo for my everyday photography needs. In this review, I will provide a thorough analysis of the Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4 lens, along with image samples and comparisons to the Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 lens.
1) Lens Specifications
- Using a glass-molded aspheric lens at the 5th element minimizes spherical aberration.
- Achieving beautiful bokeh in out-of-focus areas as well as excellent in-focus reproduction to create a natural sense of depth according to the aperture setting and the subject.
- The 35mm (135 equivalent: 53mm) lens has a standard focal length with the angle of view similar to that of the human eye.
- With the bright maximum aperture, the lens is ideal for snapshots.
- Mount Type: Fujifilm X
- Focal Length (35mm format equivalent): 35mm (53mm)
- Lens construction (elements/groups): 8/6
- Angle of view: 44.2°
- Number of diaphragm blades: 7 (rounded diaphragm opening)
- Maximum aperture: f/1.4
- Minimum aperture: f/16
- Focus range (normal): 0.8m – ∞
- Focus range (macro): 28cm – 2.0m
- Max magnification: 0.17x
- Weight (approx): 187g
- Dia. x length (approx): 65.0mm x 50.4mm (distance from camera lens mount flange)
- Filter size: 52mm
Detailed specifications for the lens, along with MTF charts and other useful data can be found in our lens database.
2) Lens Handling and Build
The build quality of Fuji lenses is excellent and the 35mm f/1.4 is no exception. Unlike some of the plastic lenses we see on modern DSLR lenses today, the lens has an all-metal barrel, a metal mount and even a metal hood. Thanks to its compact construction, small size and half the amount of glass when compared to full-frame lenses (the lens is only designed for APS-C sensors), all that metal does not add that much to its weight. At just 187 grams, it is pretty comparable to the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G. It balances pretty well with every Fuji X series camera.
The Fuji 35mm f/1.4 has two rings on the lens barrel – a focusing ring on the front of the barrel, and an aperture ring close to the mount of the lens. Since the Fuji X system uses a fly-by-wire system, which means that the focus ring is not mechanically tied to any of the lens elements, but rather controlled electronically, there is no focus scale on the lens and the ring will rotate in either direction without any hard stops or extra resistance. If you choose to manually focus with the 35mm f/1.4, a focus scale is provided inside the viewfinder or on the rear LCD of Fuji cameras. The aperture ring goes from f/1.4 to f/16 and then the last mark is “A” (marked in red), which is “Auto” mode. The good news is, you can actually go in 1/3 steps between apertures and the clicks are pretty smooth. The bad news is, the aperture ring sometimes feels too smooth / loose – some more tension as on some other Fuji lenses would have been nicer. Looks like the tension problem is pretty common for this lens – all three of the units that I used had this issue. Still, it feels better than handling the Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8, which has an even more loose aperture ring.
The metal lens hood protrudes quite a bit and is shaped as a square to preserve space. While it might sound like a good idea, there are a couple of problems with this design. First, it makes it impossible to keep a lens cap on the front of the lens. Fuji addressed that issue by providing a second rubber cap that attaches on the hood itself. However, the rubber cap comes off too easily and it does not securely sit on the hood. Out of the three lenses that I’ve used, I lost two of those rubber caps! I really wish Fuji designed the hood like a traditional one, so that it could be attached normally, or reversed to preserve space. Not a big deal, but certainly worth mentioning when handling and transporting the lens.
3) Autofocus Performance and Accuracy
Fuji had a number of different problems with autofocus performance when it first launched the Fuji X system. One of the big annoyances was the audible “chatter” during AF operation, which was pretty loud on the Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4. While Fuji did a great job at going back and fixing most of those AF issues, the chatter issue on this lens was never fully addressed. Yes, new firmware certainly did reduce it, but it is still there. The reason for the chatter is the loud aperture that stops down for metering purposes. That’s what creates the “chatter” noise. Fuji took care of this problem on recent lenses (which are pretty much dead silent), but the 35mm f/1.4 was never updated. Hopefully Fuji will address this in a future iteration of the lens.
The autofocus speed of the lens is very good. The camera locks on to a subject quickly, thanks to the fast electronic focus motor used on the Fuji X lenses. As for autofocus accuracy, that obviously largely depends on the AF system of the camera. As I have pointed out before, I was not impressed by Fuji’s autofocus system initially. However, thanks to Fuji’s continuous efforts and new firmware updates, the AF system is now excellent and very accurate – something that I cannot quite say about all other mirrorless systems. One thing that I noticed while testing Fuji lenses using Imatest software, is that they all locked on to the target very well, rarely needing any manual adjustments. I tried to use both autofocus and manual focus, and I had a hard time coming up with better sharpness and Imatest numbers when focusing manually. In comparison, Sony cameras and lenses were more difficult to work with – I often had to rely on manual focus to get the best sharpness, since AF would have very slight accuracy problems that pretty much invalidated test results.
4) Lens sharpness, contrast and color rendition
As I reveal below, the sharpness of the Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4 lens is excellent. Since all high-end Fuji mirrorless cameras utilize the X-Trans sensor that has no anti-aliasing filter, you get the maximum performance out of all lenses attached to the Fuji X mount. Compared to many other prime lenses that often need to be stopped down to yield sharp images, the lens is pretty sharp right at f/1.4, so you can use it wide open for your photography needs and only stop down to increase depth of field. The corners are a little weaker, but improve a bit when stopped down. Contrast is excellent and color rendition is superb. Color is definitely one of the strengths of the Fuji system and the X-Trans sensor is not solely responsible for the beautiful colors you get from these cameras – Fuji’s proprietary image processing pipeline is what makes the magic.
5) Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4 MTF Performance
Fuji clearly applies some funky optical corrections to its JPEG images. While it certainly helps push sharpness in the center all apertures, it strangely results in decreased mid-frame and corner performance between f/1.4 and f/2.0. In addition, Adobe software automatically applies optical corrections to Fuji’s RAW files, making it impossible to see what corrections do to images. Since I measure MTF performance using Imatest and DCRaw, the below results reflect lens performance without any corrections, so you can see what the real optical capabilities of a lens are.
It is extremely important to point out that cross-brand comparisons with Imatest data should never be done. Meaning, you should not compare data from a Nikon lens to a Fuji lens. That’s because Imatest analyzes the lens + camera combination to quantify lens performance. This means that such variables as sensor resolution, image processing pipeline and low-pass filter could have a serious impact on the produced data. For example, the Nikon D810 can yield fairly large numbers in Imatest, thanks to its 36 MP sensor and lack of a low-pass filter. If I were to mount the exact same lens on the D750 (which has a 24 MP sensor and a low-pass filter) Imatest numbers would be noticeably smaller. That’s why I never change cameras when testing Nikon lenses and always stick to my D810, which is my standard for evaluating lens performance on the Nikon system. Similarly for the Fuji system, I decided to standardize on the Fuji X-T1, which I will be using for all lens tests going forward. I recognize that Fuji might release a higher resolution camera in the future, but my tests will still have to be done with the same X-T1 to stay consistent.
Let’s take a look at the lens performance measured by Imatest:
The center performance is impressive even wide open at f/1.4 and it shines at f/4, which is its sweet spot. The mid-frame performance is also very good, falling a tad behind from the center. Corner performance is not as good as the center and the mid-frame (but that’s expected from a fast prime) – it starts out a little weak at f/1.4, but improves as you stop down, reaching the best performance at the f/5.6 mark.
In summary, there is not much to complain about this lens sharpness-wise. When shooting JPEG, it seems like there is practically no difference between f/1.4 and and f/5.6 in the center (which is remarkable), thanks to the smart lens corrections applied by Fuji. Corners are a little weaker at large apertures, but that’s about it. When shooting RAW, results will vary depending on what RAW converter you use. Based on my tests, I would say that Photo Ninja is probably the next best thing to JPEG images.
The quality of bokeh from the Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4 can vary depending on how bright the light sources and reflections are. I found bokeh to be very smooth and beautiful when the source of light is large and not as bright. However, if the source of light or the reflection is very bright, the lens tends to produce onion-shaped bokeh that can be distracting to look at. Take a look at the below image:
As you can see, the “layered” highlights are clearly visible in the middle portion of the frame where the highlights are fairly strong. However, if you look at the left side of the image where the highlights are not as strong, the onion shape is much less pronounced. I would not be too concerned with this, since you would not encounter such strong highlights very often in everyday photography. Plus, I would not expect a standard lens to create flawless bokeh – that’s more in the court of specialized portrait lenses.
A bokeh comparison between the Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4 and the Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 can be found in the Lens Comparisons section of this review.
As for vignetting, the lens shows a little darkening in the corners wide open, but it is not too pronounced. Imatest measured approximately 1 EV on average in the extreme corners and if you stop down to f/2, it is reduced significantly. By f/2.8, all traces of vignetting are practically gone, as illustrated below:
If you are bothered by what you see wide open, you can take care of vignetting easily using post-processing software like Lightroom or Photoshop.
Here is the worst case scenario illustrated at f/1.4:
8) Ghosting and Flare
Thanks to Fuji’s proprietary Super EBC lens coating, the Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4 seems to handle ghosting and flare pretty well, especially at large apertures. There is a little bit of rainbow flare visible when shooting straight into the sun at large apertures, but it is not bad. However, when including bright sources of light in the frame at smaller apertures past f/8, you might witness something called a “red dot flare“, which can be very distracting to look at:
This happens as a result of internal reflections and short flange distance, and it is something that can be commonly seen on pretty much every mirrorless camera. So if you see that in your images, keep this in mind and try to use larger apertures to avoid the problem.
Distortion is surprisingly low, whether you shoot JPEG or RAW. Imatest measured just 0.16% barrel distortion on JPEG images and 0.18% on RAW images. Looks like there is very little correction of distortion taking place.
10) Chromatic Aberration
Chromatic aberration levels are very low, as shown below:
Let’s move on to lens comparisons and see how the lens stacks up against the Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8.
11) Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4 vs Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 MTF Comparison
The new Zeiss Touit is an expensive piece of optic at $900 retail, which is $300 more expensive than what the Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4 normally sells for. It is two thirds of a stop slower, but has a nice metal finish typical of Zeiss lenses, a 9-blade diaphragm (vs 7-blade on the Fuji) and Zeiss anti-reflective coating.
At the same time, it has a pretty loud focus motor, relatively slow autofocus speed and the same aperture clicking issue as the Fuji 35mm f/1.4. Let’s take a look at how the lens performed in comparison to the Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4:
There is a clear difference in the center performance between the two lenses, with Fuji 35mm f/1.4 leading the game up until f/2.8. There are also differences in mid-frame performance – the Fuji showed better numbers throughout the range. Lastly, the corner situation is repeated again here – the Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 simply cannot keep up with the Fuji 35mm f/1.4, especially when stopped down to f/4 and smaller.
12) Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4 vs Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 Bokeh Comparison
Let’s see how the two lenses stack up against each other in bokeh. Take a look at the below comparison:
It is hard to decide which one looks better, since there are pros and cons to each. The Fuji shows an onion-ring pattern in the highlights, while the Zeiss does not have the same problem. However, the Fuji does not have very well-defined borders, while the Zeiss does (and they are pretty thick).
13) Comparison Summary
The Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 does not seem to be worth what Zeiss is asking for. I expected to see better overall results when compared to the Fuji, but as you can see, that’s certainly not the case. The Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4 seems to have a good overall performance and very little field curvature issues, while the same cannot be said about the Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8. In addition to being a slower and worse lens sharpness-wise and having other issues highlighted earlier, the Zeiss Touit also suffers from much more pronounced barrel distortion, measuring 1.61% and has twice more chromatic aberration. In short, the Zeiss Touit fails to deliver in comparison, especially with its higher price tag.
The Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4 R is a very impressive lens in Fuji’s current X-mount lenses. Being the first to launch with the X-Pro1, it does have a couple of annoyances like aperture chatter, loose aperture ring and an awkward, easy to lose rubber lens cap. However, it makes up for those flaws optically, being a fast f/1.4 lens with excellent sharpness, as demonstrated in the earlier sections of this review. Thanks to Fuji’s smart lens corrections capabilities, the lens performance is boosted to incredible levels, where the sharpness at f/1.4 is about the same as when stopped down to f/5.6 in the center. So if you shoot in JPEG format, or shoot in RAW and use post-processing software like Lightroom (which automatically applies lens corrections to all Fuji RAW files), you will be amazed by the results from this lens.
The 35mm focal length is ideal for APS-C sensors, because it provides an equivalent angle of view as a 50mm lens on a full-frame camera. Such “standard” or “normal” focal length is suitable for many genres of photography such as street, travel, event and nature. And having a fast f/1.4 aperture, it is also suitable for low-light photography and even astrophotography. As such, I would recommend the Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4 to be among the first lenses to be considered, if you are planning to purchase a Fuji X-series camera. Along with the 18-55mm kit lens, the 35mm f/1.4 was the first lens that I purchased with my Fuji X-E1 earlier this year. Being an “everyday” lens, it often stays glued to my X-E1. And in situations where I need to go wider or longer, I know that I can rely on the 18-55mm, which is also a nice lens to start with.
Overall, I really like the Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4 lens. Its small size, fast f/1.4 aperture, excellent build quality, relatively low price and above all, impressive optics, make it a fine choice for any of the Fuji’s X-series cameras.
15) Where to Buy
16) More image samples
All Images Copyright © Nasim Mansurov, All Rights Reserved. Copying or reproduction is not permitted without written permission from the author.
Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4
- Optical Performance
- Bokeh Quality
- Build Quality
- Focus Speed and Accuracy
- Size and Weight
Photography Life Overall Rating