Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 Review
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.
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
Weather: Hot and Humid (highest temp 41 C), Cold and Dry (lowest temp 3 C).
The XF 35mm f/1.4 is ideal for:
The XF 35mm f/1.4 is not ideal for:
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.
Landscape: while wide-angle and telephoto lenses tend to be a photographers first choice for capturing the great outdoors, the 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 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 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.
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 XF 35mm 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.
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 XF 35mm a punchy yet clean feel.
It’s also 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.
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.
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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:
There’s not much we disliked about the Fuji XF 35mm, but we would like to see a MKII version that’s weather sealed and has an updated autofocus system.
Given this lens has a maximum magnification of 0.17x, when paired with Fuji’s Macro Extension Tube, you can expect semi-decent results.
No, the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 does not have OIS so the lens is best utilized on a camera body with IBIS.
As expected from Fujiflm, the lens is well-constructed and the image quality is superb. So far, so good.
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.”
Tiffen 1/8 Black Pro Mist Filter (52mm)
Hoya HD3 Circular Polarizer (52mm)
Tiffen Variable ND Filter (52mm)
3rd Party Metal Lens Hood (52mm)
Zeiss Lens Cleaning Kit
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