Introduction

The 50mm focal length—long considered to be closest to how we see and commonly referred to as “normal”—has produced innumerable legendary lenses. From bokeh to sharpness to nocturnal capabilities, there’s a lot on offer. Fuji’s original set of XF primes included a 50mm equivalent, the XF 35mm F/1.4. It didn’t ship with mind-bending specs, but instead, as a lens with exceptional image quality, and compact size.

To this day, it remains one of the best lenses in Fuji’s line up, despite it being short on special feature, and a second lens at the exact same focal length being released. Here’s my review.

Specifications

Lens Construction 8 elements 6 groups
(1 aspherical)
Focal Length (35mm format equivalent) 35mm (53mm)
Aperture Range f/1.4 – f/16 in ⅓ stop increments
Aperture Type 7 blades (rounded diaphragm opening)
Focus Range Approximately 8cm - ∞ (infinity)
Maximum Magnification 0.17×
External Dimensions 65mm diameter × 50.4mm long
Weight 184g
205g with caps
218 w caps and hood
Filter Size ø52mm

Features

Weather Sealing (WR) No
Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) None
Linear Motor None
Push/Pull Clutch Manual Focus Ring No
Nano GI Coating No
Fluorine Coating No

Handling

Size and Weight

One thing you can’t complain about is the size of the XF 35mm F/1.4. It can easily come along with you in jacket pocket, especially without the hood.

Build Quality

Since this lens is part of the original 3, which were a bit all over the place when it comes to build quality and consistency, the tolerances are not up to par with more recent releases.

Aperture

The aperture ring can be a bit on the loose side, nothing like the XF 14mm F/2.8, but it can have a little play, and might turn when you don’t expect it to. You will want to get in the habit of giving it a quick glance as you bring it up to your eye, but at least it’s marked so you can actually see your aperture before peering through the viewfinder.

Manual Focus

Like all Fuji lenses, manual focus is “by wire.” The focusing ring is smooth and serviceable, but can have a small amount of “play” to it. How taught or smooth the rotation of this ring is also variable. On the samples I’ve handled, I can feel dramatic“jumps” in the smoothness of the rotation. This isn’t something that affects day to day use, but is worth noting that it does seem to be normal behaviour for this lens.

Also worth noting, this is not an internally focusing lens. The front elements will extend and retract slightly while focusing, but it is so slight it is hardly worth even noting. If you were to only ever use the lens with the hood on, you may never actually realize the front element moves.

Hood

I love the metal hoods that ship with the XF 35mm F/1.4 and XF 18mm F/2, and I’m a little disappointed these premium hoods that helped define Fuji’s place in the market are now being sold as add-ons.

It’s not uncommon to find the hood has slipped out of the locked position on the lense. Likewise, you can’t expect its cap to stay on. I can’t actually remember I time when I’ve taken the lens out of my bag with the cap still on it.

The hood does an excellent job of mitigating flare without obstructing the OVF like some of the large petal hoods do.

Lens Cap

Fuji’s old style cap comes with the XF 35mm F/1.4 for those times the hood has been left off. I replaced mine with a 52mm Nikon cap,→ which is as good as the new caps Fuji ships with their Red Badge lenses.

Image Quality

The other thing you can’t complain about with the XF 35mm F/1.4 is image quality. Whether you are after sharp, yet narrow depth of field wide open, or tight corners and edges with the lens stopped down, this lens has you covered.

Sharpness

Fuji’s seemingly little-known lens-tuning strategy of centre-sharpness at wide apertures, and edge to edge sharpness at smaller ones is especially apparent with this lens. The corners can be very soft wide open, while the centre of the frame stays crisp.

I’ve seen some criticism of this lens’s sharpness wide open, but I have yet to find much to complain about after using 50mm primes from other camera makers.

Distortion

Essentially non-existent. I don’t worry about distortion then shooting with this lens.

Bokeh

Superb. You can find a tiny bit of busyness if you look for it, but for a 50mm equivalent, it is excellent.

Vignetting

There’s a bit wide open, but nothing to write home about. Stopped down I haven’t had any issues mounting a filter on it either.

Flare

There can be gobs of it, but it’s beautiful. Use a hood or your hand to get rid of it, but I definitely encourage exploiting it for creative effect.

Aberrations

Negligible at worst.

Conclusion and Rating

If I wasn’t considering any other lenses Fuji makes, I would call the XF 35mm F/1.4 a must buy. Up until the release of the XF 35mm F/2 WR, I’d still have said that. After the release of a weather sealed 50mm option though? It gets tougher to suggest you run out and buy one of you don’t own it already.

At the risk of appearing lazy and self-indulgent, I would definitely suggest giving my XF 35mm F/1.4 vs. XF 35mm F/2 WR piece a thorough read before choosing. I concluded that if I had to choose, I’d pick the F2, but it would be a struggle, and I’m awfully glad I have the luxury of owning both lenses. I really like the 50mm focal length though. If you’re the sort of person who doesn’t, perhaps having it includes in the range of a zoom will suffice.

Highly recommended

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And example of some of the lovely (IMO) flare and ghosting this lens can produce

And example of some of the lovely (IMO) flare and ghosting this lens can produce

Crazy sharp iris and pupils at F/1.4

Crazy sharp iris and pupils at F/1.4

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Works for long exposure too

Works for long exposure too

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more sharpness at wide apertures

more sharpness at wide apertures