Available in black or silver, the Fujinon XF23mm f2 R WR is designed for Fujifilm’s X-series mirrorless cameras which are based on APS-C format image sensors, enabling a downsized build. The same goes for this 23mm lens, which gives an effective focal length of 35mm in full-frame terms. Although fairly small and lightweight, at just 60x52mm and 180g, build quality is excellent, with a metal barrel and a full set of weather-seals.
Mount: Fujifilm X
Full frame: No
Image stabilisation: No
Lens construction: 10 elements in 6 groups
Angle of view: 63.4 degrees
Diaphragm blades: 9
Minimum aperture: f/16
Minimum focusing distance: 0.22m
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.13x
Filter size: 43mm
A properly hands-on lens, it features a manual aperture ring with click steps at one-third f/stop intervals. The focus ring is similarly tactile. Despite being electronically coupled to a silent stepping motor, it has a well-damped, fluid feel and allows for very precise adjustments. Typical of stepping motor-based autofocus lenses, there’s no focus distance scale, but the electronic scale featured in various Fujifilm X-series cameras offers a good substitute.
The f/2 aperture is fairly modest for this type of lens, being a third of an f/stop slower than that of more typical f/1.8 lenses. On the plus side, it helps to keep the size and weight down. The optical line-up includes two aspherical elements, while Fujifilm’s Super EBC coating helps to reduce ghosting and flare. The aperture diaphragm is well-rounded, based on nine curved blades.
Autofocus is fast for stills and smooth for movie capture. Image quality is very pleasing indeed, with very good sharpness and contrast, along with minimal color fringing and distortion. All in all, the XF23mm works really well as a street lens and for general shooting.
We run a range of lab tests under controlled conditions, using the Imatest Master testing suite. Photos of test charts are taken across the range of apertures and zooms (where available), then analyzed for sharpness, distortion and chromatic aberrations.
We use Imatest SFR (spatial frequency response) charts and analysis software to plot lens resolution at the center of the image frame, corners and mid-point distances, across the range of aperture settings and, with zoom lenses, at four different focal lengths. The tests also measure distortion and color fringing (chromatic aberration).
Center-sharpness is excellent between f/4 and f/11, and doesn’t drop off too much even at f/2 or f/22. Levels of sharpness also hold up very well out to the extreme edges and corners of the image frame.
Helped by in-camera correction, levels of color fringing are very negligible throughout the entire aperture range, even in the extreme corners of the image frame.
With the typical boost in performance from firmware correction, there’s just the merest touch of pincushion which is generally impossible to spot in images.
A prime lens with a focal length of 35mm is often regarded as ideal for street photography. This 23mm lens fits the bill perfectly, delivering the same effective field of view on Fujifilm’s X-mount APS-C format mirrorless cameras. It’s delightfully compact and lightweight, which is a further bonus when you want to shoot unobtrusively around town. Even so, there are some useful features shoehorned in, and performance is impressive.