A simple question that constantly finds itself being asked in Fuji Forum after Fuji Forum is just this; which lens should I get? The Fujifilm XF 35mm F2 or the XF 35mm F1.4, both are good lenses, and both have excellent reviews; but both offer things that the other doesn’t, which is what makes this such a hard decision for many photographers who are new to the Fujifilm X-Series.
So in this post today I will be talking about these two lenses; what I like about each, what I dislike about each, as well as which one I would pick (if I didn’t already own the 35mm F2) and the reasons why I think a photographer should choose one of these over the other one. There will also be plenty of examples of what each lens is capable of, and some direct comparisons as well.
Size Comparison // XF 35mm F2 vs F1.4
In terms of their size, these two lenses are actually not nearly as different as you may think when comparing an F2 lens to a F1.4 lens. As for as the height of these lenses, they are relatively close to eachother, with the XF 35mm F1.4 being just slightly taller than the XF 35mm F2. As well, the XF 35mm F1.4 has significantly more girth than the XF 35mm F2.
The weight difference isn’t even all that much, with the XF 35mm F2 being just slightly lighter than the XF 35mm F1.4. But this is looking at the reported weights and a small package scale, in terms of perceivable weight, these two lenses honestly – to me – feel like they weigh the same. So in terms of actual advantage I would give it to the F2 mode, but in the real world, I would consider this a draw.
Build Comparison // XF 35mm F2 vs F1.4
There is not much here to say about the build quality of these two lenses. In a few words, both are built really well. The casing is solid, the aperture rings feel really nice and the focusing rings feel great too.
So, while both lenses are built well, there are some key differences to particular features of these lenses that differentiate them. Let’s take a look at these real quick…
The XF 35mm F2 is weather sealed and its focusing is all done internally. This is great if you are pairing the 35mm F2 with a weather sealed Fujifilm body like the X-Pro2, X-T2, or X-H1 as this will ensure that your kit is nice and safe should you encounter some less than ideal weather. Since its focusing is internal, this also means that the lens always stays the same length and is very compact – its an excellent companion to any Fujifilm camera.
The XF 35mm F1.4 is not weather sealed and its focusing (in addition to being noisy) is not all done internally. This means that during the focusing process the front element of the lens will move forward and backwards in order to achieve focus. It doesn’t move as drastically as a zoom lens in terms of barrel extension, but it does move and so you need to be aware of that. As well, since it is not weather sealed this lens will be a ‘weak link’ when paired with a pro-level Fujifilm body and could be a point of failure of the weather goes bad unexpectedly.
Autofocus Comparison // XF 35mm F2 vs F1.4
The Autofocus (AF) arena is another area in which these two lenses have some significant differences. As far as locking onto a static or slow moving target (in good light) the two lenses perform roughly the same. However, in good light, the 35mm F2 is much better at tracking a moving subject when used on the same body as the 35mm F1.4.
Additionally, as noted above, the 35mm F1.4 is noisy; and I am talking embarrassingly noisy. Compared to the 35mm F2, which is nearly silent while focusing. If you are shooting in areas where noise matters (such as a quiet church or a performance) then the 35mm F2 will be the lens that you want to purchase. We can only hope that Fujifilm updates the 35mm F1.4 soon so that we can get away from the loud AF motor and the moving front element.
Reasons To Get The F2 // XF 35mm F2 vs F1.4
- It’s Quieter
- It’s Weather Sealed
- It’s AF Tracking is Better
The XF 35mm F2 R WR is an excellent lens; it is smaller, lighter, quieter, faster to focus and is just a more fleshed out product in my opinion. It makes an ideal companion to the X-Pro2, but also works great on the other X-Series cameras as well. It is also cheaper than the 35mm F1.4, so unless you are married to the idea of having an F1.4 lens, I really see little reason to go with that over the benefits of the F2 model.
Reasons To Get The F1.4 // XF 35mm F2 vs F1.4
- It’s Better In Low Light
- It’s Got Better Image Stabilization Performance with the X-H1
- It’s Got Arguably Better Bokeh and Shallower DOF
The XF 35mm F1.4 R is by no means a slouch of a lens; if you decide to go with this lens you will end up with better overall low light performance, better image stabilization performance with the X-H1 (and likely any future X-Series cameras with IBIS), and shallower depth of field for that creamy bokeh that portrait photographers love so much. You just need to be able to live with the negatives of this lens; like the moving front element, no weather sealing, and the loud AF motor.
Image Comparison // XF 35mm F2 vs F1.4
The image quality on both of these lenses is great, and besides the obvious differences in terms of their maximum aperture, they perform very well compared to each other. Below I have some examples of scenes shot with these two lenses at the settings, on a tripod with the same distance to the subject. This way you can judge for yourself if there is a big enough difference between the two lenses in terms of IQ for you to prefer one over the other.
Final Thoughts // XF 35mm F2 vs F1.4
As I have said several times now, both of these lenses are good choices. They both have their advantages and their disadvantages when compared to the other. But in the end, one has to be chosen as you likely don’t need two 35mm lenses in your kit. You may have guessed, based on what I said above, but my personal opinion is that for the vast majority of you, the XF 35mm F2 R WR is the better choice. It has newer and better technology inside of it and it performs better in most situations and by most criteria.
However, you do need to be willing to give up that extra low light performance that comes with the wider F/1.4 aperture. Additionally, on the X-H1, the XF 35mm F1.4 R will also give you better IBIS performance, so if you plan on utilizing the X-H1 for its image stabilization, it may be worth it to you to spend the extra $200 and get yourself the 35mm F1.4.
In the end, it really does come down to what your needs and wants are. For me, I have the 35mm F2 and I do not regret that choice at all. For most of the shooting that I do I have found the F2 aperture to be plenty and the bokeh/DOF is enough for me as well. So, whatever your choice ends up being you are going to have yourself an excellent lens that is going to help you capture some amazing moments and epic imagery. I hope that this post was helpful in your decision regarding which lens to invest in and add to your kit.
“I have been shooting primarily women and more specifically boudoir for the last 5 years or so. About two years ago is when I decided to actually specialize in boudoir and to make my primary focus as a photographer. I love what I do and I wouldn’t trade it for the world! I have always been a bit of a tech and gear addict, which morphed into an interest in web design during my High School years. After High School I ended up going to school for Web Design and Interactive Media, and in the course of earning my Associates Degree I took a few photography classes and purchased my first DSLR camera. From that point on I was hooked, and after some initial dabbling in all sorts of various niches of photography ranging from senior portraits to weddings and sports, I finally settled on where my artistic heart was – boudoir and intimate portraiture.”