Fuji XF 23mm f/1.4

Anyone else think we are going through a vintage time for lenses? Zeiss Otus 55mm, Sony FE 55mm, Sigma 35mm and 50mm f/1.4, Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.2, Fuji 56mm f/1.2. Lots of fast classic focal lengths and their APS-C and m4/3 'equivalents' / approximations. Not sure I can remember a time when so many top class optics were announced within a short time of each other. Maybe a sign of the growing maturity of digital cameras and a reflection of how sensor technology is improving all the time and giving us the ability to see this hyper-realistic resolution. 

And having a good look at some of the pictures I've taken with the Fuji XF 23mm f/1.4 I think this should be added to the list.

All images Fuji X-T1 XF 23mm f/1.4

Like all the lenses I mentioned the 23mm is extremely good wide open and stopping down a little is heading towards the flawless catergory. Particularly impressive is the lack of CA and fringing. Many of the lenses I use that were designed for 35mm film are very sharp stopped down but wide open can be somewhat soft and plagued with CA. Correctable yes, but that takes time and often takes away the sharpness. 

High quality fast lenses expand our options, make processing quicker and do justice to the sensors on our cameras. They aren't cheap admittedly but then true quality rarely is. Unfortunately the consequence of this is that it can make the other lenses we own seem run of the mill. For example I've just sold all the Minolta lenses I bought for my Sony A7 and A7r since using the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 and Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 lenses has made the results from them look distinctly ordinary. And I'm prepared to loose a certain amount of flexibility to use these top class primes. Since what I use and what I shoot is my choice I can allow myself to do that. With my Fuji system the 18mm f/2 I have may well be on it's way to ebay. It's a nice enough lens but the 23mm is significantly better. And I suspect that once I get my hands on the 56mm f/1.2 the 60mm macro may be headed the same way.

I know I'm not alone in liking these fast high-quality primes and while I freely admit that zooms are far more useful to me and over time I'll definitely use them more, I do really like going out with a couple of wide aperture fixed focal lengths to see what I'm capable of creating with them. As someone who shoots mainly stopped down they can be seen as a bit of an indulgence but then I've never shied away from that. If I can't reap the benefits of making money from my passion then there isn't a lot of point to it. As I've often written I worked hard to become a full-time photographer so that I didn't have to do anything else to make a living. And secondary to that I could add the ability and financial security to buy and use the best gear I can. And the 23mm f/1.4 certainly falls into that catergory.

Today is supposed to be sunny later so I'm looking forward to giving the 14mm f/2.8 a good work out too. Happy days!!

For my ongoing owner assessment of the Fuji X-T1 - CLICK HERE

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N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) at the bottom of this post.


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