Fstoppers Reviews the Fujifilm 35mm f/2 WR

Fstoppers Reviews the Fujifilm 35mm f/2 WR
On an APS-C sensor, a 35mm lens is the "standard" lens. It is the equivalent of a 50mm on 35mm full-frame; a go-to for many. It took me a long time to learn to love this focal length, but once I got hooked, there was no turning back. I've written about my love affair with the Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G here on Fstoppers, and have included Fujifilm's 35mm f/1.4 in my top lenses for the system. However, I was more than a little skeptical about the introduction of the 35mm f/2 lens. That was, until I spent some time with it. 
Let's dive right in an talk about this fantastic little piece of glass.
 

Size and Weight

Right from the get-go, you'll notice how tiny this lens is. It's even tiny for a Fuji X lens. In fact, it can actually be hard to mount to the camera because there is really no room to grip the lens. I found myself turning the aperture or focus ring instead of actually mounting the lens quite a few times.
 
Not only is it small, but it weighs practically nothing, as well. A further 17g reduction over the f/1.4 lens makes it even easier to just toss in the bag. 
 
The telescoping barrel construction may not be for everyone, including myself. Personally, I have always disliked the look of lenses shaped this way, but if it helps to conserve weight and size even further, I'm all for it. 
 

Build and Feel

It's a Fujifilm lens. Nothing to really report about the build quality. It's fantastic. Weather sealing is a nice addition as well. I've been using this little guy in the dusty countryside of Myanmar for a week now, and have had no worries taking it through any conditions. 
 
In terms of the feel, it seems to be a little less sturdy than the 35mm f/1.4, but only by a little. Nothing you would really notice unless you had the two together. A couple of things of note are the focus and aperture rings. The tiny focus ring might look diminutive, but it has a reasonably long through for precision manual focus folks, and a great feel to it. the usual 'grippiness' of Fujifilm lens construction is present, but it offers a little more resistance than lenses like the 16mm f/1.4 or 23mm f/1.4. The aperture ring could be my favourite on a Fujifilm lens so far. It clicks audibly into place for each stop and has great tension. You won't be accidentally turning past the stop you want with this one. 
 

Sharpness & Out of Focus Elements

Now on to the good stuff. This lens is sharp. Really sharp. For such a tiny piece of glass at a great price, it really performs well. From examining my images compared to the f/1.4 version, I would say it's an improvement over the older lens. 
 
The 9 blade aperture also produces pleasant out-of-focus elements, even when stopped down. Personally, I prefer the 'lesser' quality of the f/1.4 version. However, as with all aesthetic decisions, this is a matter of taste. 
 

Autofocus

Autofocus on this lens is on par with Fuji's best to date. Unlike the old 35mm f/1.4, you won't find this one hunting so much, or missing focus in low light. It's truly a huge improvement. The snappiness of the focus also means you won't miss moments when shooting portraits or street. Not only that, but it's silent. Gone is the whirring of the older lens as it hunts for its subject. Finally, the new lens is also a completely internally focusing construction, so the front element no longer telescopes in an out during focus. 
 
Perhaps the only downside to this construction is the serious focus breathing. It's enough to give you vertigo at times. This is quite distracting, and would be especially out of the question for video shooters.
 
 

Versus the 35mm f/1.4

After spending a few days with the 35mm f/2, I'd be hard pressed to decide which of the lenses I prefer. Honestly, they're just about equal in quality. The edge in sharpness goes to the 35mm f/2, and the edge in speed goes to the 35mm f/1.4. However, if you consider focus speed and the silent operation of the 35mm f/2, it is overall a better choice. Value for money also goes to the 35mm f/2. 
 
Does it have the f/1.4 magic? I would say it does. That special flare is there, as is the beautiful fall-off to out-of-focus. 
 
 

Which One would I buy?

Having used them both extensively now, I'd say that this comes down to your personal requirements. Both are fantastic lenses, and have their purposes. I thought I would miss the extra stop of light, but I really don't. With the extra sharpness and 9 rounded aperture blades, it is a worthy replacement for the f/1.4 version.
 

What I Liked

  • Sharpness
  • Auto-focus speed
  • Size & Weight
  • Price

What I Didn't Like 

  • Shape
  • Focus breathing
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2 Comments

Glad to read your review just a day after ordering it.

Jay Jay's picture

I have the 23mm 1.4, and though i thought long and hard about buying that vs the WR 2.0, i went with the 1.4 since like this 35mm version, quality between the WR and the standard version is very similar... with the main reason being that it's nice having those extra stops of light. I'll settle for not shooting out in the rain and suffer just a tad on absolute image quality if it means i can nail an exposed shot in lighting where a 2.0 wouldn't be enough go even capture the shot cleanly. Kind of wondered why they just didn't make their WR line go down to 1.4 to begin with?