Introduction

If there was one area of lens design Fujifilm was still seriously lacking in a few years into X series, it was weather sealing. Once they got there, it was initially with larger lenses like their Red Badge zoom, and the chunky XF 16mm F/1.4 WR. The XF 35mm F/2 WR heralded a series of ultra compact f/2 lenses, bringing weather and dust resistance to the essence of what X series is all about.

This is my review of what is still my favourite lens to have mounted on my X-Pro, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I think it will be yours.

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Specifications

Lens Construction 9 elements 6 groups
(2 aspherical elements)
Focal Length (35mm format equivalent) 35mm (53mm)
Aperture Range f/2 – f/16 in ⅓ stop increments
Aperture Type 9 blades (rounded diaphragm opening)
Focus Range Approximately 15cm - ∞ (infinity)
Maximum Magnification 0.21×
External Dimensions 60mm diameter × 45.9mm long
Weight 164g
182g w caps
187g w caps and hood
198g w caps and LH-XF35-2 accessory hood
Filter Size ø43mm

Features

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

Handling

Build Quality

Fuji has called the XF 35mm F/2 WR a reference point in build quality for Fuji lenses going forward. XF lenses have always been excellent save for a loose or rough-feeling aperture rings here, and an inconsistent focus ring there, but the XF 35mm F/2 WR tightened all that up and just feels “right” in use.

These minor quibbles really shouldn’t matter when it comes time to take a photograph, but for me, and I’m sure many others, it can be a distraction at best, and lead to missing the image I try to capture if an aperture ring has migrated on its own accord at worst.

Size and Weight

Fuji’s first 50mm equivalent was already nice and small, but the XF 35mm F/2 WR is wonderfully compact, even with the accessory hood attached.

Aperture

No loose rings here. This aperture ring is solid.

Manual Focus

I rarely focus manually with this lens, but the focus ring—narrowest of the WRF2 lenses—is excellent.

Hood

This is the one beef I have with the XF 35mm F/2 WR. The tiny ring of plastic they call a hood seems laughably cheap, and it’s finish just seems out of place because it’s such a small ring. I couldn’t even bring myself to use it. For the more budget-conscious, it will certainly add protection to the front of the lens, and block at least some unwanted flare.

Accessory Hood

The LH-XF35-2→ on the other hand, is excellent, and I keep one on my XF 35mm F/2 WR all the time. It’s a bit pricey, but given the low MSRP of the lens, it’s not as tough to swallow as it is on the XF 16mm F/1.4 WR.

Lens Cap

I absolutely love Fuji’s new lens cap style. It’s my new favourite unlike the previous style that shipped with the XF 35mm F/1.4 that I felt the need to replace with a Nikon cap.

Image Quality

Fuji set the bar pretty high with their first pass at the nifty fifty. The new entry doesn’t quite match up, but it’s damn close. So close in fact that unless you are locked down tight on a tripod shooting a landscape or a studio session, I wouldn’t give it a second thought.

Sharpness

I’ve got nothing to complain about. This lens meets my sharpness needs, no problem.

Bokeh

Bokeh balls aren’t perfectly round across the entire from, but otherwise the quality is quite good, particularly in the background. The foreground can get a little bit messier.

Distortion

Without correction, distortion should be considered on the high end for a fixed focal length lens. In real world use, it hasn’t been an issue for me. Lightroom and Iridient Developer both do a great job correcting distortion.

Vignetting

Fairly heavy at the wider apertures when shooting RAFs. Negligible if you shoot JPEG, or use software to correct it.

Flare

It’s just ok for me, but it depends what you are after. This is not a lens I would mount if I wanted to smear some ghosting across the frame, but if I needed to shoot towards the sun without ghosting, it’s an excellent choice.

Aberrations

Inconsequential with in-camera correction or profiles applied in software. Even without correction they aren’t terrible, mostly turning up at wider apertures and towards the corners.

Conclusion and Rating

Despite this lens being optically inferior to the XF 35mm F/1.4 when software correction is off the table, there’s something about it that makes me love having it on my camera. It’s the prime I would recommend any newcomer to X series start with. Small, light, fast, weather sealed and affordable.

Strongly recommended.

Many people swear by 35mm for environmental portraiture. I prefer ~50mm.

Many people swear by 35mm for environmental portraiture. I prefer ~50mm.

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A good bokeh example. Notice the shape of in the uppper right of the frame.

A good bokeh example. Notice the shape of in the uppper right of the frame.

It doesn’t count if you can’t see the signs, right?

It doesn’t count if you can’t see the signs, right?

Careful composing can get you excellent background separation at f/2

Careful composing can get you excellent background separation at f/2

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The bokeh can be a little bit “busy” in the foreground if you’re looking real hard, but otherwise it’s pretty great for an f/2

The bokeh can be a little bit “busy” in the foreground if you’re looking real hard, but otherwise it’s pretty great for an f/2

Flare from the sun just out of frame

Flare from the sun just out of frame

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With Fuji’s built in correction, straight lines are certainly possible.

With Fuji’s built in correction, straight lines are certainly possible.

The classic street shot of a person mid-stride doesn’t do much for me anymore. There needs to be something else to it.

The classic street shot of a person mid-stride doesn’t do much for me anymore. There needs to be something else to it.

f/2 Focused at infinity and ACROS at ISO 2,500

f/2 Focused at infinity and ACROS at ISO 2,500