Time Tested, Ever Reliable: We Review The Fujifilm XF 35mm f/2 R WR

Time Tested, Ever Reliable: We Review The Fujifilm XF 35mm f/2 R WR

There is a unique series of lenses for the X-Mount. They do not offer the brightest apertures, nor do they use linear motors, but what they lack in features, they make up in beautiful vintage-looking, slanted, weather-resistant, and compact build. Some call them Fujicrons and the 35mm started it all.

Affordable, Yet Premium

The Fujifilm XF 35mm f/2 R WR is a tiny lens. Measuring a mere 45 millimeters in length and weighing barely noticeable 170 grams, you can find very few excuses not to keep it in your camera bag or mounted on your camera body at all times. The body of the lens is made entirely of metal, including the focus ring, the clicky aperture ring, the mount, and everything else in between. Considering the lens currently costs $399 and often just a half when bought used, it is a damn good deal for such a quality build.

I’ve owned the lens personally since 2016 and took it with me to every photo shoot, project, or trip. It has traveled with me to the frontline trenches of Donbas, Ukraine, it survived countless drops onto dirt, concrete, or tiles both on its own or mounted on a body and it has stayed perfectly functional even to this day. Yes, the outside is clearly scratched, but that has no effect on the performance whatsoever.

43 millimeters is not always easy to find in smaller shops, keep that in mind when searching for filters and step-up rings.

The same goes for the weather resistance, as hinted by the “WR” in the name. Throughout the eight years of using the lens, I did not care for the weather and knew I could count on it. I’ve used it in snowstorms where the temperature dropped to negative 20 degrees Celsius, I’ve used it on multi-week-long trips to northern Scotland where the rain just would not stop, it was covered in blood, both fake and real, it got hit by so much mud I could not see what aperture number the control ring was on, and none of that phased it in the slightest. This lens will just not stop and I love it for that. And don’t get me started on the moments it has allowed me to capture, thanks to its stubborn refusal to quit.

Surprisingly, the rubber gasket around the mount shows no signs of wear and tear even after all these years of constant mounting and unmounting. I’ve seen much more expensive lenses that eventually had to be serviced due to their rubber gaskets becoming brittle and not being able to keep moisture out.

The strong patina is only a good reminder of the lens being able to take a beating without missing a beat

Always On Point

The autofocusing mechanism isn’t powered by an ultrasonic motor, nor a linear one. The focusing group is moved by a stepping motor, which is often deemed the lesser of the three mentioned, yet it is incredibly silent, and thanks to the smaller f/2 aperture making the elements smaller, it is also satisfyingly fast. I never ran into an issue of the lens being too slow for my use. Never. Sure, the older bodies had trouble keeping up with tracked subjects or recognizing the correct distance but I could never attribute that to the lens itself because older Fujifilm bodies weren’t famous for their stellar AF performance. 

Once mounted on anything with X-Trans 4 and newer there was never an issue with single-point autofocus. The hit rate with moving subjects is around 90% but that would still be attributed to the Fujifilm AF system in the body. And the AF performance only got that much better with the fifth-generation bodies. Yes, the LM lenses do track considerably better, but this small 35 is not lagging behind too much.

Optically Great Then, Still Great Today

When I bought the lens originally, I was using a 16-megapixel X-Trans I X-Pro1, nowadays I use it with my 40-megapixel X-T5, and it still delivers plenty of detail even at the high resolution of the X-Trans 5 HR. It is incredible that Fujifilm was able to create lenses at the time of sensors, which had roughly a third of the current resolution and are still fully valid to use today. Yes, there is the occasional chromatic aberration, or fringing here and there. But it is nothing unsalvageable. And honestly, if you’ve seen my work, you know more than 99% of it is in black and white, so to be fair, I’ve only just started noticing any color inaccuracies at the edges due to me shooting more color in the last year or two.

One feature I have to praise, though, is the aperture construction. At f/2 and with nine rounded blades, the bokeh is beautiful and creamy when used for portraits, products, and closeups. Sure, it’s not the 56mm f/1.2, but for half the price, size, weight, and twice the AF speed it is a damn good portrait lens. The equivalent in terms of full-frame focal length and depth of field would be 53mm and f/2.8, which can give you lovely results with nice background separation without completely dissolving it in a shapeless blur.

Shot using X-Pro2 at f/2

What I Like

  • Tiny and lightweight body
  • Metal build
  • Retro design with a slant towards the front
  • A clearly clicking aperture ring even today after eight years of use
  • Weather resistant construction
  • Fast and silent autofocus thanks to the stepping motor
  • Decent f/2 aperture
  • Affordable price
  • Incredible durability and reliability

What I Do Not Like

  • The 43mm filter thread is a bit hard to find filters for on occasion

Good For Any Fujifilm Body

And for any photographer — truly. I can only recommend this lens. Whether you are using older, slower bodies, the latest and greatest, whether you are only a hobbyist, an enthusiast, or a working professional. The Fujifilm XF 35mm f/2 R WR is an incredibly powerful, reliable, and sturdy piece of equipment that every Fujifilm photographer should at least try once. It does not cost an arm and a leg yet it can get the job done. I’ve used it for the majority of my photographic journey ever since I rediscovered my love for photography a decade ago, and it has been with me through some of the harshest moments, captured some of my best photographs, many of which I have printed, framed, and proudly displayed on the walls of our home. Even such a simple thing like my street photography, which is by no means a difficult subject to shoot, would not be the same were it not for this lens. Canon has its “nifty fifty”, and Fujifilm has this “Fujicron” 35.

Ondřej Vachek's picture

Ondřej Vachek is a Prague based independent documentary photographer and photojournalist with multiple journeys to war-torn Ukraine where he covered everything from the frontline in the Donbass to the civilian life adapting to the new normal. Avid street photographer with love for writing and storytelling.

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I too love this lens. But your review is simply a testament that it's the person behind the lens more than the lens itself that really matters. Exceptional images and story telling!!

Thank you very much, Jake!

Nice work black n white is classic you have some nice shots there.

Thank you! :)

Fujicrons are like Pokemon... gotta catch 'em all! Most can be found used for prices that are approaching "impulse buy" territory. My only gripe with them tends to be the loss of image quality at or near minimum focus distances - except for the 50mm f2. Otherwise, there's not a lot of complain about - and you don't have to baby them because they look better beat up anyway.

I`m still on the fence with the 50mm f/2. It`s great, but I already have the 56mm f/1.2 R WR. But I might get the 50 eventually.