Recently, I had the opportunity to try out the Fujifilm GF 23mm f/4 lens along with two other lenses and a GFX 100S, and I have to admit it has left a lasting impression on me. As landscape photographers, we value wide angle lenses for capturing wider vistas with stunning detail, and this lens didn't disappoint.
If you have already invested in the GFX system, you won't be surprised at the retail value of the lens at $2,599, a price you would expect to pay for this quality of lens. Considering you are mounting the lens onto a medium format body with 50 or 102 megapixels, I would expect to pay this and perhaps even more considering the quality of images it produces.
The resulting images are sharp and richly detailed, with great color and contrast throughout As you would expect from the focal length, this lens is aimed at landscape photographers as well as architectural and interior photographers who require detailed images with minimal distortion and very little post-processing work. So, how did it perform?
First and foremost, the build quality of the lens is exceptional. It feels solid, is well constructed, and is weather-sealed, which you would expect of a lens at this price. Weighing in at 845 g, the lens is relatively lightweight and measures 89 mm x 103 mm. The lens is compact considering the focal length. Weight-wise, for carrying around on the GFX 100S, I had no concerns whatsoever. It was a step up from the X-T5, but it simply felt that I was back to shooting with a DSLR again.
It carries an aperture range from f/4 to f/32, and the aperture ring has noticeable indents when moving, and in the time of using it, I never once knocked it from its set aperture. The manual focusing ring had enough dampening to allow for precise focusing, although admittedly, I only used this on a couple of occasions, as the autofocus worked quite well. The front 82mm filter thread allows for a vast majority of filters without the excess need to go and buy an adapter or even a new filter system.
The 15 elements in 12 groups, including one super ED and three ED elements with 9 rounded diaphragm blades, provide clean and sharp images. The lens itself doesn't have image stabilization, but I never found this limiting for what I was using the lens for, as it was mainly landscapes and product shots while mounted on a tripod. A couple of the images below, however, are handheld.
With a linear motor, the autofocus is fast and silent and worked accurately for me every time. I had no hesitation in relying on it for the photographs I took.
Finishing off the lens is a plastic, petal-shaped lens hood that locks firmly into place and releases easily when the lock button is depressed.
The autofocus of the lens is fast and accurate. It has a minimum focusing distance of 38 cm, which I tested with a few of the product shots below. Being able to focus so close with this lens just added to its versatility. No, you can't do macro shots with it, but with the intricate details and sharpness of the lens, you could capture creative macro-like shots, if there is such a thing. As I mentioned, the autofocus was so reliable that I very rarely used the manual focus, and when I did, it was simply for this review. The image quality from this lens is outstanding, with exceptional sharpness from edge to edge. There's very minimal distortion, and even with the seascape images I captured, I didn't have to correct any distortion on the horizon.
Post-processing is, of course, a personal choice, but I did find that there were very minimal adjustments needed to balance the raw file to get the image I was after. Sharp images, thanks to the lens being coupled with the GFX 100S, provided very pleasing results with minimal editing, meaning less time spent in front of the computer and more time photographing.
I only shot between f/4 and f/16, never venturing above so I can't comment on the smaller apertures and how they performed. Admittedly, I should have for the review, but in all honesty, I was so enamored with the sharpness of the wider apertures that I forgot, so my apologies to you for this.
The lens handled fantastically with every situation I presented it with and provided excellent detail, with accurate and vibrant colors and unbelievable sharpness that was a pleasure to work with.
- 82mm filter thread
During my time with the lens, I didn't find anything that I felt would detract from the quality and performance that the lens provided. Secretly, however, I did wish for a wider focal length at times, but then, you are talking about a completely different lens with higher costs and perhaps another filter system purchase.
If you are a GFX shooter and are considering this lens, it is definitely worth thinking about. There are a couple of other compatible lenses from other manufacturers with similar focal lengths. I'm not saying these are any better or worse as I haven't tried them, but in my opinion, if you are spending this type of money on a lens, you want to be sure that it has quality glass, and that's one thing that you know Fuji provides.
If you are passionate about landscape, architectural, and interior photography, the lens will provide outstanding image quality with a robust build and versatile focal length. The price is what you would expect if you have already invested in the GFX system. You know that professional-grade quality comes at a price if you are seeking top-notch optics. I have no doubt that the GF 23mm f/4 will not disappoint and will become your go-to lens for your wide vistas and architectural shots for years to come, which is why I recommend it.
You can find out more and purchase the lens here.