Long-term Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 Review

Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 Review: Lens Close-up

Overall Score:8.9

After 8 months of use throughout Thailand, the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 has earned its place as our “Favorite Fuji Lens” and it’s definitely capable of producing “magic.”  Disclosure: this review is solely based on the real-world performance of this lens and will not be overly technical in nature.

Durability: 8.5
Functionality: 8.0
Performance: 8.5
Aesthetics: 9.5
Value: 10.0

Construction: 8 Elements in 6 Groups

Aperture Type: Rounded 7-Blade Diaphragm

Aperture Range: f/1.4 – f/16

Focus Range: ~28cm – Infinity

Focus Motor: Linear 

Max Magnification: 0.17x

Dimensions: 65mm x 50.4mm

Weight: 187 g

Weather Resistance: No

Filter Size: 52mm

Manufacturing Country: Japan

Length of Test: ~8 months.

Acquisition: we purchased the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 with our own cash. 

Camera Used: Fujifilm X-H1.

Image Processer: Capture One.

Countries: Thailand and Laos.

Weather: Hot and Humid (highest temp 41 C), Cold and Dry (lowest temp 3 C). 

The XF 35mm f/1.4 is ideal for:

  • General Purpose Photography.

The lens is not ideal for:

  • Hybrid Video Shooters.

Table of Contents

Durablity

Fuji Build Quality

Construction: the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 is a pocket-sized prime lens with a metal build and a polycarbonate finish. At 187g, this featherweight lens punches above it’s weight class in overall durability. We’ve even dropped it onto concrete with no shifted elements or other consequences. 

Ergonomics wise, the lens feels great in the hand and even balances well on Fuji’s compact camera bodies. As for the clicked aperture ring and focusing ring, both are well-proportioned, have decent resistance, and have an excellent tactile grip thanks to deep-cut grooves.  

Functionality

In-Field Versatility

Landscape: while wide-angle and telephoto lenses tend to be a photographers first choice for capturing the great outdoors, the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4’s field of view gives you more of an opportunity to get a series of compelling images from one location.   

Since you have to move around and get creative with how you want to tell the story of your surroundings, you’ll end up iterating various compositions until something works. More often than not, this results in multiple unique perspectives that stitch together to tell a grander story.

Adventure: when trekking through the jungles of Thailand, the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 was our primary lens of choice. While shooting, the focal length just felt natural and when reviewing the images, they almost make you feel like you’re right there, looking with your own eyes. Close enough to see the details, yet they are still wide enough to feel the larger story at play.

Additionally, the lens is just so small and lightweight that it reduced our overall pack size, making it easier to carry camera gear all day long – especially when walking long distances.

Architecture: as an unconventional choice for photographing structures, the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 produces proportionally accurate images that enable you to get up-close for detail shots. 

Thanks to the lens’ 0.17x maximum magnification and 28cm closest focusing distance, you can isolate subjects and achieve a minimalist representation of a grand structure.  

Portraits: the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 is an incredibly versatile lens for portrait photography – it’s tight enough to capture headshots, while also being wide enough for environmental portraits. 

Thanks to the lens’ natural-looking perspective and dreamy bokeh with gorgeous falloff, it’s capable of producing images that beautifully reproduce the depth and dimensionality of a scene.

Also, its inconspicuous size allows you to move closer to your subject without losing any sense of intimacy – making them more dominant in the frame with zero visible distortion.  

Snapshots: not too wide, not too narrow. For documenting everyday life, pragmatic photographers can use the Fujifilm XF 35mm to capture practically anything. It’s a great walk-around and casual-use lens, especially when paired with Fuji’s compact XE or X-Pro cameras.   

In general, the lens balances well on smaller camera bodies so it’s easy to carry everywhere and shoot everything – there’s really no excuse to not bring it with you.

Event Photography: when paired with telephoto or wide lenses, the XF 35mm f/1.4 provides a balanced and complementary perspective. While other lenses are ideal for capturing distant subjects or immersive shots, this lens helps you capture the overall atmosphere of the event.

Street Photography: while focal length choice for street is highly personal, the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 allows you to embrace the genre’s unpredictability and respond accordingly.

In real terms, the APS-C 35mm (~53mm on full frame) puts you in a comfortable place to shoot most of the action in urban settings. It makes your viewer feel like they’re a part of the scene, without you having to shoot in people’s personal space in order to accomplish this look. In our humble opinion, it gives street photography images a more a candid feel. 

Food Photography: considered to be a wide-angle lens for this genre, the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 is a solid choice for overhead shots like table scenes or flat lays. 

While this lens will never replace a short telephoto with macro capabilities, it worked well for us when taking contextual shots within bustling night markets. We were able to cut through the noise and capture the details that mattered, while still retaining enough overall context. 

Low-Light Handheld: the maximum aperture of the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 combined with the IBIS of Fuji’s newer camera bodies (like the XH2) enabled us to capture dusk and dawn scenes without having to crank up the ISO to insane levels. 

For us, we truly enjoyed shooting this lens wide open during blue hour in urban environments. 

Performance

Lens' Practical Utility

Auto / Manual Focus: in good light, the autofocus speed is decently fast and reliable when in AF-S or when using the back-button focusing method. 

For tracking moving subjects in AF-C, noticeable focus hunting occurs and the hit rate is much lower than Fuji’s newer lenses with linear motors. In low light conditions, the AF’s reliability dramatically falls off and manual focusing is usually needed to make small, incremental changes.

Last but not least, the old AF motors of the XF 35mm are audible but not as noisy as some reviewers have claimed. With all of these old AF tech woes aside, this lens performs well enough in most real-world scenarios. Even during the chaos of the Phi Ta Khon Festival, this lens’ hit rate (while utilizing back-button focusing) was +90%. 

Sharpness: the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 is capable of producing edge-to-edge sharp images when stopped down, but does suffer from minor edge softness up until f/2.8 – although center sharpness is still excellent when shot wide open.  

From f/4 to f/8, the lens produces tack-sharp images across the frame. From f/9 on, diffraction begins to set in but overall sharpness isn’t really impacted until f/11, where edge-to-edge sharpness is only slightly softer than other apertures. 

Color Rendition: true-to-life colors with rich tonal details that are coupled with healthy global contrast, give the images coming from the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 a punchy yet clean feel.

In general, this lens produces images that exhibit rich and saturated colors, while maintaining a natural and pleasing tonal balance. It excels in reproducing subtle nuances and rendering fine details, ensuring that colors are rendered with depth and authenticity.

However, it’s worth noting that this lens provides a touch more saturation than real-life when it renders high contrast scenes – particularly with the vividness it adds to greens and reds. 

Image Quality: it’s almost cliché to say it at this point, but this lens imparts a sense of nostalgia with the way it renders the world – there’s just something special about it. 

The files coming from this lens have a classic (almost film-like) look – especially when paired with a 1/8 BPM filter. A mixture of slight highlight bloom, magic focus falloff, and decent micro-contrast contribute to the overall “nostalgic rendering” of the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4.

As for chromatic aberrations and vignetting, Fuji’s in-camera corrections make these optical issues non-existent or at least negligible in most situations. 

Value

Primary Alternatives

Since the XF 35mm f/1.4 lens was released in 2012, Fujifilm and other 3rd party manufacturers (such as Viltrox and Sigma) have released a variety competitive lenses. At the time of writing, the lens’ primary competitor is Fuji’s newer XF 35mm f/2 which offers similar optics, weather resistance, and a faster auto focus system at a lower cost – albeit at the expense of a slower maximum aperture and less overall “magic.” 

For professional use, we recommend considering Fujifilm’s newer XF 33mm f/1.4 – this lens has superior optics than the XF 35mm f/1.4 and will offer significantly better AF performance.

Did you know that… when you purchase something through one of our links, we earn a small fee. However, you still pay the exact same amount. It’s a win-win that helps us produce new content.  

Lens Construction Weight Dimensions LM? WR?
Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 8 Elements in 6 Groups 187 g 65mm x 50.4mm No No
Fujifilm XF 33mm f/1.4 15 Elements in 10 Groups 360 g 73.5mm x 67mm Yes Yes
Fujifilm XF 35mm f/2 9 Elements in 6 Groups 170 g 60mm x 45.9mm Yes Yes
Viltrox XF 33mm f/1.4 10 Elements in 9 Groups 270 g 65mm x 72mm No No
Sigma 30mm f/1.4 9 Elements in 7 Groups 275 g 64.8mm x 73.6mm Yes No

8.9/10 Rating

Our Overall Verdict

To sum up our thoughts on the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4, it’s an extraordinary prime lens that’s become our favorite all-rounder for travel photography and everyday use. 

If we were forced to carry only one Fuji lens with us, it would undoubtedly be the XF 35mm due to its size, optical performance, and versatility. The lens truly excels at capturing a wide variety of moments, from tack-sharp landscapes to candid street shots to dreamy bokeh portraits.

We highly recommend this lens to any Fuji photographer that’s interested in a high-performing standard focal length prime. The hype for this lens, is real. 

More Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 Sample Images are featured below:

The Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 offers a winning combination of compactness and lightweight design, making it a valuable investment for photographers on the go. Despite its small size, this lens delivers exceptional image quality that will leave you impressed. With its classic rendering style, the photos captured with this lens evoke a nostalgic feel, reminiscent of the film era. The result is nothing short of magical.

Whether you’re an enthusiast or a professional, the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 is a versatile option that excels in various shooting situations. Its wide maximum aperture of f/1.4 ensures excellent low-light performance, allowing you to capture stunning images even in challenging lighting conditions. The lens also offers a shallow depth of field, providing beautiful background bokeh and subject separation, which can add an artistic touch to photographs.

When it comes to the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 lens, there is very little to dislike. However, it would be great to see an upgraded MKII version with robust weather sealing and an improved autofocus system.

The Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 lens continues to be a highly regarded and sought-after lens in the Fujifilm X-series lineup. While newer lens options may have been released since its introduction, the XF 35mm f/1.4 lens remains a popular choice among photographers for several reasons.

First and foremost, the lens offers a fast maximum aperture of f/1.4, which allows for excellent low-light performance and beautiful background blur (bokeh). This makes it well-suited for various genres of photography, including portraits, street photography, and documentary photography.

Additionally, the XF 35mm f/1.4 lens is known for its exceptional optical quality, delivering sharpness, contrast, and excellent color rendition. Its versatile 35mm focal length (equivalent to 53mm on a full-frame camera) provides a natural perspective, making it suitable for everyday shooting and capturing a wide range of subjects.

While newer lenses may offer additional features or improved optical performance, the XF 35mm f/1.4 lens remains a reliable and capable choice, especially considering its favorable reputation and image quality. Ultimately, the decision to purchase this lens in 2024 depends on your specific needs, shooting style, and budget. It is advisable to compare it with other lens options available and consider factors such as your preferred focal length, desired aperture range, and the types of photography you intend to pursue.

When paired with Fuji’s Macro Extension Tube, you can expect semi-decent results

However, the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 is not  a dedicated macro lens, primarily due to its minimum focusing distance and magnification capabilities. While it is a versatile lens with a wide maximum aperture and excellent image quality, it does have some limitations for macro photography. Beloware a few reasons why it may not be the best option for macro:

  1. Minimum Focusing Distance: The XF 35mm f/1.4 lens has a minimum focusing distance of around 28 centimeters (approximately 11 inches). This distance may not allow you to get as close to your subject as you would need for true macro photography, where the goal is to capture extreme close-ups with high magnification.

  2. Magnification: The lens has a maximum magnification of around 0.17x. While this is decent for general close-up photography, it falls short of the magnification capabilities of dedicated macro lenses that can achieve 1:1 (life-size) magnification or higher. Macro lenses allow you to capture fine details of small subjects, such as insects, flowers, or intricate textures, at a much higher level of magnification.

  3. Specialized Macro Features: Dedicated macro lenses often come with additional features optimized for close-up photography, such as internal focusing systems to maintain a constant working distance, extended focusing ranges, and enhanced optical designs that deliver edge-to-edge sharpness and minimize distortions specific to macro photography.

If you are primarily interested in macro photography, it would be more suitable to consider a dedicated macro lens, as these lenses are specifically designed for close-up work, offering greater magnification capabilities, closer focusing distances, and specialized features that cater to macro photography needs.

No, the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 does not have OIS so the lens is best utilized on a camera body with IBIS.

Longevity

Usage Timeline

Excellent

Initial Usage

As expected from Fujiflm, the lens is well-constructed and the image quality is superb. So far, so good.

Excellent

Excellent

8 Months of Usage

We bought the XF 35mm pre-owned and have even dropped it twice, yet it’s still going strong. Image quality is still as good as “day one.” 

Excellent

Fine

16 Months of Usage

No issues to report here. The glass is still in “good condition” while the body does have some cosmetic scratches after heavy use.

Fine

Fine

24 Months of Usage

Still loving this lens and have no plan to retire it anytime soon. No issues to report, either.

Fine
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