23mm vs 23mm. Sibling Rivalry.

As an only child I never experience this term call Sibling Rivalry.
Until now with the new Fujinon XF23mm F2 WR. This is not
the first sibling rivalry in the X-Series Fujinon family. Last year we
had XF 35mm F2 WR vs the classic XF 35mm F1.4. You could
read more here :https://ivanjoshualoh.com/2016/01/04/35mm-vs-35mm/

This year, I feel the 23mm siblings is definitely a more heated rivalry
in the Fujifilm family. Specially for street photographers; this is the
must have  focal length. Now, lets get into the details of this new lens.

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X-T2 + XF23mm F2 WR @ 1/250, F4 + Profoto lights.

Design.

The XF23mm F2’s design follow its cue from its elder brother XF
35mm F2 WR. If you are looking at small lenses in your X-series
set-up, look no further. Its has 9 rounded blades in its core. This WR
lens consists of ten elements in six groups, including two aspherical
elements. The lens barrel is sealed to make it weather and dust
resistant, and capable of operating at temperatures as low as -10°C

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X-Pro2 + XF23mm F2 @ 1/16,000 F7.1, EV-3, ISO 200

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X-Pro2 + XF23mm F2 @ 1/6,000 F2, EV-0.67, ISO 200

Weight
XF23mm F1.4 is not really a big lens. Neither is it small lens in the
mirrorless world. Weighting naked at 301grams. As for the new
XF23mm F2, its pretty feather weight at only 180 grams. That is
about 40% lighter then XF23mm F1.4. And maybe 20% – 25%
smaller in size.

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X-Pro2 + XF23mm F2 @ 1/4500 F2, EV-0.67, ISO 200

Auto Focus
Its silent and definitely faster! The inner-focus system uses a stepping
motor to drive the lightweight focusing elements for a silent and fast
auto focus. When paired with either X-Pro2 or X-T2’s phase detection
AF, the XF23mm F2 can focus in a blazing speed of 0.05 seconds.
This is possible with High Performance turned on.

Here are a series of pictures taken with both lenses at different aperture
to see how they stack up against one another.

Here are 2 shots of both the lenses at wide open. This is how much 1 stop makes.


Conclusion
They maybe the same focal length; comes from the same
manufacturer but they are very different. First, I think the price
between the F1.4 and F2 lenses will be about 35% to 40% difference.
That is quite a gap. Size and even auto focus are also different.
Therefore don’t bother to compare; rather we should look at ourselves.

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What type of photographer are you? If you love the great outdoor, street,
portraits, documentary and travel. The XF 23mm F2 WR is for you. What
about XF23mm F1.4? Its for that photographer that will willing to cough
out more to get that extra. That photographer essentially needs that
extra F-stop and a creamer bokeh. A tad better IQ. All this comes with
downside like weight and a tad slower AF.

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Finally if you can’t see yourself falling into those category. Then, you
need to pat yourself on your own shoulder like myself. We are Fujifilm’s
most ideal photographers; we will probably need to have these 2 lenses
in our set-up. Good luck to us.

Do follow me on Instagram  https://www.instagram.com/ivanjoshualoh/

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There are 37 comments

  1. wing0949

    Thanks for this look and comparison betweem the 23mm f2 and the 23mm f1.4… as well as a quick comparison the the 35mm pair.

    You can really see the difference in the size, and not hard to imagine the weight benefit also matches. I still chuckle when a good number of people seriously believed the 23mm f2 was going to be too big.

    Interesting image comparisons at various apertures. At f2, the f1.4 still seems to have softer bokeh than yhe f2. Of course, you definitely see the difference with f1.4 wide open.

    But, at f2.8, they both seem pretty much on par, not enough difference to matter… i would say although the overall bokeh of the f1.4 is better, the bokeh balls of the f2 are a little nicer and more rounded or even… probably due to the 9 aperture blade bs the 7 pf the f1.4

    Like the 35mm’s, with the 23mm’s, if you can afford both, they can both serve you well in different ways.. one mote for outdoors and travel/street (the f2) and the other for more controlled environment or studio (the f1.4).

    However, i think most of us will make a decision to choose one over the other. I think the choice is obvious which way to go based on the strengths of each lens. Personally, I know i will go with the new 23mm f2. I had the 23 f1.4, actually love the lens and rendering. But, i have an x-pro2 and felt the f1.4 was a bit too large. I prefer the more compact profile of the f2 version. Other benefits include WR to match the WR of the x-pro2, better build quality, silent and faster AF focusing, and the aperture ring, if it’s like the 35mm f2, is nicer feeling.

    And, of course the price. Non-sale proce comparison, there’s a 100% difference.. the f2 is $449 and the f1.4 is $899 not on sale.. i think people complaining about the slight increase in cost of the 23mm f2 compared to the 35mm f2 should re-examine their numbers.. of on sale, then the difference is less extreme as the 23mm f1.4 could be had new on sale for $599… then again, i imagine if the f2 goes on sale, it would be nice if it could be as low as the 35mm f2 was at $299!.. but, I’d expect the cheapest would be $349.. still, nearly a 100% difference.

    I appreciate fuji making these new compact WR f2 lenses.. the next is supposed to be a 50mm f2.. with all these lenses, I strongly believe Fuji designed them with the x-pro2 in mind first.. the design just fits the x-pro2, and they are taking special considerations to keep the lens’s front end tapered as to not obstruct the OVF. We have an 18mm f2, but wouldn’t mind a refresh to make in lone with these newer WR f2 lenses.. we shall see… i feel if they wanted to complete what i feel they are trying to match Leica’s classic summicron line of lenses, they need only add a 60mm f2 which will give you a 90mm equivalent lens.

    Sorry, this got kind of long, but i am excited about the new 23mm f2 lens.

    Thanks for this look and comparison!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reiri

    Can’t wait to try this lens. When 35 2.0 came out it was a dillema for me, because I already have 35 1.4. Probably I will use this lens for street photography and travelling. If I need to get that extra f-stop, I will use my 35 1.4

    Like

  3. Andre

    About the IQ…in all the shots you show, the ones taken with the F2 version actually seems crisper…the bokeh, given a similar aperture, seems equal…so the only reason to consider the F1.4, as I see it, would be the desire to use that aperture…

    Like

  4. Iuri Schimanski (@iuriss)

    Thanks for the article. You have a bug on your website, every time I click a photo, it opens the “lightbox”, great, when I quit, it has scrolled me to the top of the page. So for every big photo I see, it scrolls me up, and I have to scroll down. I’m on latest mac os x and latest chrome.

    Like

  5. Jack

    Let’s not forget the other nice thing about the F1.4 is the great manual focusing – quick pull-back action and feels really nice and accurate to use. I think I would miss that, though I have yet to try the new F2 lens.

    Like

  6. Kenji Kwok

    Thanks for the comparison, Ivan. When this first came through as a rumour, I didn’t think it made any sense because I thought they would try to keep the 23mm f2 strictly to the X100 series. I’m looking forward to seeing what they are going to do with the new X100. I know this would be a great lens on the X-Pro2 but being the owner of a X100T now, it’s going to be quite a dilemma.

    Is there any way to try out products earlier other than being a X-Photographer?

    Like

  7. Jorge L Moro

    If I had to choose between the 1.4 or the F2 version I would still choose the 1.4 (which I own BTW). I know it sounds stupid and trite, but it is just a larger, cooler looking lens. Again, I know that is a silly comment. I also own the 35 1.4 (that was my first lens) and I love it!

    Like

  8. Leonard

    Hey Ivan, after a few months of having written this blog, can you let us know which one you have most on your camera? ;). Noticed that you brought the F2 to the Photokina, what about the your usual day to day?

    Like

  9. jefri lay

    Hi Ivan, I am still new to photography. Next January I will visit Hongkong. And I plan to buy this 23mm lens for travel photography. But I am so confused which one to buy since i am very new to photography (just 5 months since I first use real camera, used to use iphone for photography).
    First I was tempted about fast AF and WR, but then f1.4 is faster lens but a bit lame and no WR. I myself really like bokeh but never really applied it on travel photography. I don’t know if street photography need that bokeh much or not. But 1 thing for sure, I mostly take a picture of my wife if I was in Hongkong in January. Since you r more experienced, maybe if you don’t mind, which one I should get? I need your opinion….
    Thanks in afdvance for the reply.

    Best Regards,
    Jefri Lay

    Like

    1. ivanjoshualoh

      Hello Jefri, Good morning from Singapore. First of all the two XF23 lenses are created differently. The newer and less expensive XF23mm F2 has great AF and pretty light weight. Its also small. Perfect for street. And of course almost anything you wanna shoot. WR is also a plus point. Why would anyone wanna shoot
      with the more expensive, bigger F1.4 sibling without WR? For a start if you wanna shoot environmental portraiture; that extra stop to F1.4 makes a hugh different to me.The bokeh it produces is creamer. Secondly the AF is not that slow on the XF23 F1.4. I also love the size of the lens when it fix on the X-T2 with a vertical grip. feels more balance as a whole package. If you love street, XF23 F2 will be perfect. But if your shoot heap of portrait I will go for the F1.4. And of course it perfectly fine to use it for street too. Cheers.

      Like

  10. nladha

    Good day,
    As a new fuji user and in the process of purchasing the xt10 which lens would you recommend to buy as a first lens? I typically shoot kids (documentary), travel, street, everyday happenings & sometimes landscape (very seldom). Thanks in advance.

    Like

  11. nladha

    Good day,
    As a new fuji user and purchasing the xt10 body on sale, which lens would you recommend to buy as a first lens? I typically shoot kids (documentary), travel, street, everyday happenings & sometimes landscape (very seldom). Thanks in advance.

    Like

  12. Kevin

    I have the 56mm and I think I’m going with the 23mm 1.4 because the filter sizes are the both 62mm – the cost of those adds up when you consider that you need NDs with all fast lenses to take full advantage of the shallow DoF. Also, with my Lee Seven5 filters, it’s hard to align even a hard grad accurately with a front element that’s less than 43mm across.

    These things are not often discussed in these reviews.

    Like

    1. ivanjoshualoh

      Hello Kevin, Thanks for your feedback. I am afraid I will have to fail you on this one. don’t laugh at me; I don’t own a ND filter. infact I don’t even own any filter on any of my fuji lenses. But I will look into this and hopefully test some ND filters. Till then cheers.

      Like

  13. Henry Chua

    Hi Ivan, Thanks and enjoy your write up. As I just own the Fuji X-E2, wonder if the XF23mm F2 is good for me as I usually like to take my food close-up on Bokeh, occasionally Sceneries and sometimes with a little Bokeh of “nice” looking object. My camera comes with the 35mm F1.4R but one “con” that I find it for my dislike is when you need to capture the whole thing(like a group photo) and you got to step back and when there is a lack of space in a room. Whenever I travel and taking photos, Don’t like to lug around or add weight like XF23mm F1.4, so it is not my favourite. Based on your experience, what is good? Thanks!

    Like

    1. ivanjoshualoh

      35mm is a great classic lens. my of my personal fav. good for food photography too. If travel is part of your genre of
      photography; then the 23mm F2 is great. small and inexpensive. plus its a WR. I heart goes to the 23mm F1.4. 🙂

      Like

  14. Angus

    The sibling rivalry still goes on? I don’t know which one to get!
    I purchased the xf35 f1.4 just before the f2 came out.
    The 35 f1.4 is my most used lens, I love it, the IQ is superb, and I have no need to consider the f2 in 35mm.
    However, the 23mm f1.4 and f2 have a greater difference in size and price.
    If the IQ is better then I am leaning to the f1.4, but is there much difference in IQ?

    Like

    1. ivanjoshualoh

      Hello there,
      There is no end to any sibling rivalry. They play different roles. If you are going for some street photography session; then I think the 23mm F2 is perfect.
      its small and light. What if you are at a wedding party in the late evening? That extra stop from the 23mm F1.4 makes a big deal for me. And the bokeh is definitely
      a step up from the F2. As for IQ its a bit better for me. The question is does this ” a bit” render that extra $$$$. all this is subjective.:-)

      Like

    1. Angus

      Hi Roland.
      That’s the first time I’ve heard that, though all blogs I’ve read don’t say which has the better IQ, one or 2 hint at the f1.4 and I’ve read a couple of posts on the Fuji X forum, where some guys have thought the f1.4 has a better IQ.
      I suspect it could be down to the individual and how they use the apertures?
      One blog I read found there were some IQ better with each on different situations and apertures.
      Interesting, now I am at a loss as to which I will invest in?!?

      Like

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