Continuing the blog serialisation of my popular X-Pro Series lust/hate/love story:
Part 79: The XF23 F1.4 and the XF23 F2: Part One
This is a three part series. This is Part One. Part Two will be next week. Part Three the week after.
As I’ve previously mentioned, Fujifilm Portugal lent me the XF23F2 WR for me to test alongside my XF23 F1.4.
I’ve a bit dreaded writing it up to be honest!! Not least because articles like this really are a lot of work, but also if the forums and Facebook groups are any barometer to go by (and they kinda are) then people get quite evangelical about their gear, so there’s a real danger that if one were to suggest that product XYZ is worse than product ABC, then people might get upset.
So let’s start this off by saying Fujifilm don’t really make any bad lenses, just ones with different features that work at different price points.
For example – is the XF50-140mm lens a better optic than the XC50-230mm? Almost certainly. Does this make the XC50-230 a bad lens? No of course not.
So with this in mind, today we’re going to talk about the two XF23 lenses.
Whenever you compare two things that do the same job, eg two XF23s, but with different specs and characteristics, it’s always win some/lose some and the F2 Vs the F1.4 lenses are no exception.
Each have pros and cons.
Some of you will favour the pros of one of the options so much that the cons will be negated, others will find those cons so abhorrent that there’s no way you can live with them.
Some of you will own both choices and be able to select the desired unit for your preferred shoot
This is why we have choices.
So, let’s start off with the least potentially contentious differences between the two XF23s
The XF23 F1.4 is considerably more expensive than the F2 version
The XF23 F1.4 is significantly bigger than the F2 version, don’t believe me? 🙂 🙂 🙂
I can at least prove that categorically!
Side by Side Comparison
Ariel view comparison
As this site of mine is basically all about the X-Pro range of cameras, let’s take a look at what this extra size does to our OVF view.
Most reviewers correctly note that the bigger lens protrudes more into the OVF, but let’s see just how much (and we’ll be doing this with no hood attached).
XF23 F2 OVF at minimum focus
XF23 F2 OVF at infinity focus
XF23 F1.4 OVF at infinity focus
XF23 F1.4 OVF at minimum focus
As you can see – there is a significant incursion into the OVF viewing area when the XF23F1.4 is attached.
Now let’s take a look at some of the things about the two lenses that aren’t so clear from reading the online specs.
When I test a lens, I like to take a look at it with zero in-built lens profiles and corrections applied, and the two XF23s were no exception.
XF23F2 @F2 zero lenses corrections applied
XF23F1.4 @F2 zero lenses corrections applied
As we can see – both lenses are commendably low distortion, however the F2 does vignette and the resultant image is tangibly darker than the XF23 F1.4
Although of course the XF23F2 isn’t able to open up to F1.4, I thought you might to see how the XF23 F1.4 does behave wide open
XF23F1.4 @F1.4 zero lenses corrections applied
When I shot the above image, there was shadow in the room. So here’s the same shot straight out of the camera, so you can see what’s being corrected and what isn’t
XF23F1.4 @F1.4 SOOC Jpeg
It’s a close run thing, but I think the F1.4 exhibits slightly (and I mean slightly) less vignetting at F1.4 than the F2 does at F2.
With both lenses set to F2, in terms of vignetting, the F1.4 is the clear winner.
Now I realise that the software on the camera or on your computer will compensate for this, and sincerely – its no real drama.
However what this means is that the software is brightening the image before you are, which in practice means that if you want to push the file +1EV in post from the in-camera selected ISO, then you’ll effectively be pushing the file 1 + x stops (where x = the amount of digital push the camera needs to provide correction for the native vignette)
I was given some reader questions when I announced I was getting this lens to test:
1. Are they both the same focal length, because some say they aren’t?
2. Is the F2 lens softer?
3. Is there any colour/contrast/rendering differences between them?
Let’s get question number one out of the way immediately
XF23F1.4 on the left
Maybe neither lens is really 23mm, maybe the F1.4 one is really 25mm or perhaps the F2 one is really about 21mm.
Hard to say. But what isn’t hard to say is that in every single comparison shot, all taken with a tripod, these two lenses do not share a common focal length
I’ll do my best to answer the other questions next time, so please join me then when we go through some sample images from each lens and we discuss the findings.
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