Review: The new Fujinon 14 mm f/2.8 The Missing Wide Link
A day or so back I bought my new Fujinon. On the cropped sensor (Please Fujifilm make a full frame X-Pro1 equivalent! Please!) it functions closer to a 21 mm on a full frame camera. A confession: I am obsessed by wide-angle lenses–probably to a fault. Maybe this is a phase with me, let’s call it my “Wide Phase,” Hmm, that sounds more like middle age to me. I guess this is better than going through a “wild” phase. Whatever it is, I love shooting wide for several reasons.
First, the wide-angle gives me the ability to move in close and get intimate with my subject. I photograph people, and I want to interact with them as much as I can, which a wide allows me to do this. For this reason, most photographers refer to the wide-angle lens as an intimate lens. I also like to shoot in close tight spaces, and the wide allows me to cover area that I might otherwise not be able to get. Then maybe the most useful reason why I like shooting a wide-angle is that it allows me to place foreground interest into the image itself, while still including the context of the entire image.
A wide-angle will often give you distortions of things on the edges. This is something that a photographer like me, who uses a wide a lot needs to be careful of. Bur frankly, unless it is a formal portrait, I don’t really mind the fuzziness much. I see it as a part of the window in which I am looking through. It becomes part of one’s style like a certain brushstroke or color choice.
A truly wide-angle is what the Fujifilm X-system has been lacking, that is, until now. With the release of the new Fujinon XF 14 mm f/2.8 R that gap is filled. Well, at least a part of that gap. I still want a wider lens and Fujifilm promises a 10-24 mm later this year, or early next. But until then we have the 14 mm and it is a honey! This lens is all quality–just like most of the Fujifilm X-system gear. This is an all metal and feels like quality in your hand. All metal, who makes all metal lenses these days? Not Canon or Nikon that’s for sure. It weighs in at 8.245 oz. or 233.8gm, so it’s not heavy, yet still feels solid, and it sports a 58 mm filter thread.
As for the glass, all I can say is it is sharp. Even wide open, this lens is sharp at both the center and at the corners, and it has very little distortion. I wonder if some of that is because it is fixed by the firmware update you need to run with the camera you attach it to? You can see there still is a little in the image above with the man’s head going slightly Neanderthal on me. It is interesting to note that when I put the lens on my X-Pro1 at the camera shop it told me I need to do a firmware update. I was frustrated as I wanted to go right from there out to shoot. Then I saw that Fuji had provided a 2gb SD card in the box with the firmware update on it. So I could run the update right there in the shop, and then go out and shoot. Nice thinking Fujifilm!
Right away I could see this lens allows me to focus up close. This is crucial because of the way I use the wide-angle. Check out that top photo. Those pink candles were inches away from my lens.
The diaphragm on this lens is 7 rounded blades. I am not sure if it is the fact that this blades are rounded or the coating on this lens. What ever the reason, the lens will not create a star burst at f/22. I find that a bit frustrating, but something I can live with.
One of the unique factors of this lens is that it has a manual focus option built onto it as a push-pull focus ring. Pull it back to enter into manual focus, and the lens gives you a zone focus scale with aperture numbers and a meter and foot scale. I am telling you this puppy is QUALITY! With that gushing over, I have to say that the manual focusing is lost on me. First, I don’t have diopter on my viewfinder for getting the focus adjusted to my vision, and second, there is no real focusing screen on the X-Pro1. This has changed with the X100s. On this new version of Fujifilm’s ground breaking camera they introduce … are you ready for this? Manual mode split screen focusing! Slap me silly and call me Susan! Now I am waiting with baited breath for the as of yet, unannounced, X-pro2 or X-Pro1s or whatever they are going to call it. All I know is Fujifilm can’t make changes like that on the X100 and NOT make them on the other X-system camera in the future!
So, all that to say–this is a great lens. From the quality of the glass to the metal tube that glass resides in–all top of the line and at $899 USD (I got mine in Malaysia for $810 USD) half the cost of a DSLR lens of half the quality. Well done, Fujifilm