This is a short review of the Fuji XF 35mm lens for the Fujifilm mirrorless system. I have the Fuji X-E1 with this lens, and wanted to test how this lens renders backgrounds and if the Fuji XF 35 is good for portraits and general subject isolation. The bokeh is a non-scientific term that denotes (subjectively) the quality of background blur and how the transition between areas in focus and out of focus look.
The Fuji XF 35mm F1.4 is available on Amazon for $599, or as part of a kit with the original Fuji X-PRO1.
Read a more thorough explanation of ‘bokeh’ on Wikipedia »
When Fuji launched the Fujifilm X-E1, together with a very interesting “kit lens” – the Fuji XF 18-55 F2.8-4 – I knew that it was time to try this system. Coming from a Canon DSLR with a constant F2.8 zoom I had to check a few areas where I was uncertain how the Fuji mirrorless performs compared to my old camera.
This is not a full review of the Fuji XF 35mm – I am still learning the new system – and still have to shoot a lot with the two lenses to really understand them. The Fuji XF 35mm f1.4 is very well-regarded on the photozone website where I read most of the lens reviews. However, nothing beats personal experience. And one area where I had doubts if I really needed the Fuji XF 35mm is in the bokeh department.
Generally speaking, to get the greatest subject isolation you have to shoot with the aperture wide-open, with a long focal length and from as close as possible. Also it helps if the background is some distance from the subject and if it is less detailed. I tried to pick a “worst” case scenario to test the Fuji XF 35mm. As I still had the Christmas tree, I found the mix of branches, lights and specular highlights useful. If the little Fuji XF 35mm behaves with the irregularities of a Christmas tree I feel It will do great when shooting most subjects.
Of course, a more interesting subject for the Fuji XF 35mm is portraiture. I took the Fujifilm X-E1 with this lens at Comic Con, and a few of the pictures are below.
Looking at these samples I feel that the rendering of out of focus lights and details is pretty nice. There are no noticeable edge doubling, geometric shapes, halos and other artifacts that are generally considered “bad” bokeh. I will pay close attention in the future and add more examples, but for the moment I am very satisfied.
Because I also have the Fuji XF 18-55mm I feel it is important not to have too much overlap between the lenses. But the prime lens not only cannot be replaced by the kit lens, but also can act as main lens. I intend to try some projects where I only shoot the XF 35mm!
Update: I took a few more quick photos with the Fuji XF 35mm and I have to say that I really love this lens.