December 1

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Why I Love the Sweet Little Fujifilm XF 35mm f/2 WR Lens

By Dan

December 1, 2016

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Of all the Fuji X Series lenses I’ve used, I’ve found the XF 35mm f/2 WR to be one of the most versatile and fun lenses in the entire collection.

I’ve had it for one full year now, and during the past 12 months, I’ve shot an incredibly wide range of subject matter with it: portraits, landscapes, travel, even sports and action, and it always gives me great results and tack-sharp image quality with gorgeous clarity.

Sure, it does’t have the glamor of a big telephoto, or the style of an ultra wide angle, but for overall usability and, I’ll say it again, “fun-ness,” the 35 f/2 is one hot little lens.

And while it’s not quite as fast as the older Fuji XF35mm f/1.4, I highly recommend the 35 f/2 over the 1.4 versions, simply because it’s a much better performing lens.

Here are my top 10 reasons and a few image image examples that illustrate why I love the XF 35mm f/2 lens so much. You can also watch my video review here.

1. It’s Small And Stylish

Built to resemble a classic Leica Summicron lens, the 35 f/2 is pretty darn sexy with its tapered front. In fact, it looks a lot like the Leica 50mm f/2 M. And considering that the APS-C 35mm has the same view angle of an old 50mm film lens, it’s obvious that this is exactly what the Fuji design team was going for with the new 35.

Slap one of these babies on any X Series body and you instantly add even more of the “instant-classic” sauce that’s already dripping out of the Fujis. Damn!

Leica Summicron 50mm f/2

 

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2. It’s Totally Inconspicuous

Want to blend in when you travel or when doing street photography? With the 35 f/2 on the front of your Fuji, there’s no danger of looking like a “pro” or drawing attention in the crowd. You’ll look just like a tourist, except you’ll the incredible creative power at your fingertips, and noone will ever know. Except the other Fuji shooters of course, and anyone else who’s drawn to the sheer sexiness of your simple, old-school looking camera setup.

This is the lens I take on family vacations and when I’m just walking around with the camera around my neck. It’s always the first lens I throw in my bag when I travel, and it’s probably fixed to the front of my X-T2 as much or more than any other glass I have.

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3. It’s Simple and Straightforward

I love the creative simplicity that primes lenses offer. One lens, one look. If you’re used to zooms, you might find fixed lenses limiting at first, but you’ll soon get a feel for what each one can do and how to use it effectively.

As I said above, the XF35mm f/2 gives you the same look as the classic “nifty fifty,
which is the lens nearly all photographers started with back in the days of film. It closely matches the way your eye sees with regards to view angle and depth perception, so it’s an easy focal length to get used to. As you develop your creative eye, you’ll find that the nifty fifty does some things extremely well.

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4. It’s Awesome for Portraits

Up close, the 35 f/2 has a nice, shallow depth of field, which makes it great for portraits, as well as a host of other subject matter. When photographing people, the 35 produces wonderful bokeh behind your tack sharp subject. Back up and stop down a little bit and you can clarify the background more for that environmental portrait look.

Portrait of Tara Betasole, shot at Universal Studios, Los Angeles, Californiataurus-07296

5. It’s Great for Landscapes

We don’t often think of the nifty fifty as the ideal landscape lens, but for close to medium distance subjects, it does a wonderful job. Up close, you can really put that shallow depth of field to use and isolate your main subject against a nice, soft background.

Back up a little bit and you can isolate a specific part of the scene, with sharp focus from side to side. I love the relatively shallow field of view the 35 f/2 shows, and even though I often prefer wide angle lenses for landscapes, I really enjoy the view a nice mid prime gives for featuring specific elements in my scene.

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6. It’s Great for Shooting Closeups

The XF35 f/2 is certainly no macro lens, but with a minimum focus distance of only 8 inches, you can get pretty close to you subject and show an extremely shallow depth of field. Add one of the two Fuji MCEX Extension tubes, (I like the MCEX-11) and the 35 suddenly becomes a bona fide macro, allowing for incredible closeup photography.

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7. It Has Very Fast Autofocus

The original XF35mm f/1.4 has excellent optics, but being one of the older generation lenses, it has a very slow autofocus motor. You could never use it for action or shooting anything quick.

In comparison, the new 35 f/2 has a vastly superior AF motor, which makes it so much more usable than the old 35. Sure, you lose one stop of light, but c’mon, f/2 is still pretty darn fast. I’ll take that tradeoff any day of the week. I’ve shot quite a bit of action with the 35 f/2 and it does a fine job acquiring and tracking moving subjects.

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8. It’s Weather Sealed

All the new Fuji lenses are weather sealed, and this is a really nice thing. It’s not a make or break thing, because I still love and use my non-WR 14mm f/2.8 lens a lot, but have the WR gives you added security and protection against the elements when you’re outdoors.

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9. It’s The Least Expensive XF Lens

The Fuji lenses are all great, but they’re not cheap. At only $399 ($299 with the current X Series rebates), the cute little 35 f/2 offers incredible value. At that price, It should almost be a mandatory lens for any beginning X Series photographer. Fuji should offer kits with the 35 f/2 instead of just the zoom lenses. Imagine that. Call it the “Classic Prime Kit.” I’m going to propose that idea.

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10. It’s Just So Darn Versatile

I love that I can shoot a wide range of subject matter with the 35 f/2 and be happy. If this were my only lens, I’m sure I’d get along fine in life. Given its fast aperture, quick AF performance, classic angle of view, the XF35mm f/2 is an incredibly versatile lens, and easily one of my top favorite of all the Fuji lenses. 

Before I got the 35 f/2, I wasn’t sure I’d use it very often. One year later, I can’t imagine life without it. No matter what you shoot, I highly recommend this lens to any X Series photographer.

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@Danbaileyphoto @FujifilmX_US Couldn't agree more! This has been my favorite lens pretty much ever since I first attached it to my XT1!

Kyle Wurtz

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About the author

Hi, I'm Dan Bailey, a 20+ year pro outdoor and adventure photographer, and official FUJIFILM X-Photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.


As a top rated blogger and author my goal is to help you become a better, more confident and competent photographer, so that you can have as much fun and creative enjoyment as I do.


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Terry Bourk

I have read you new book “Behind the Landscape.” I could not “put it down” meaning that I kept at it because each photo you presented/analyzed was interesting and informative. I am trying to develop an eye for composition (both the scene and the light).

Thank you! The examples you present and the suggestions are very helpful. Purple Mountains, McKinley River and Wonder Lake are fascinating.


Roger Sinclair

You have done it again! Another triumph.

Your generosity to share, the clarity of thought and concise explanation thereof is brilliant. Perhaps I should also mention the beautiful photos and the talent necessary to produce them.

Thank you, Dan.