There is something that new users need to know about the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 lens – as the X series are not full-frame cameras then the lens is really equivalent to a 21mm lens when it comes to the field of view and should be considered with this in mind. This is not like the Voigtländer 15mm lens in terms of its field of view so it is important you manage your expectations. It remains however an ultra-wide angle lens by any standards and gives a pretty extreme angle of view at 89º. The lens I am using as a benchmark for this review is the Zeiss Biogon T* 2.8/21 for the Contax G2 as that was my stock 21mm lens for years and is outstanding quality.
One of the first photographs I took with the Fuji 14mm lens is the one of Tower Bridge (above) which was taken with the Fujifilm X-Pro1 camera. Click on the images to enlarge (but please remember the sample images are copyright and shouldn’t be used without my permission). Photos of the lens are copyright Fujifilm.
The lens has a quality feel to it – all metal construction with a proper ring for adjusting the aperture. The aperture ring has end stops which is a very welcome change from the continuously turning aperture rings on the Fuji zoom lenses but there is no mechanical connection between this ring and the aperture so the ring feels a little loose and lacks the feel of a mechanical lens. There is a good innovation on the lens in that to switch to manual focus you simply pull on the focussing ring. It moves back towards the camera body with a satisfying ‘clunk’ and reveals proper distance markings that allow you to estimate the depth of focus when using manually although being an ultra wide-angle lens in practice this is not quite as useful as it seems.
The manual focussing ring really adds to the practicality of this lens from a user perspective – you can switch instantly from autofocus to manual focus and back again without taking your eye from the viewfinder. Optical quality aside this lens gets five stars for useability.
In use I have found the lens to be of outstanding quality – it is astonishingly clear, bright and sharp with no discernible distortion if used correctly although as for all ultra wide-angle lenses it will distort the image significantly if you fail to make sure that there is no tilt to the camera when you take the shot. This is a characteristic of all lenses in this class. You can see from the image below that even a small tilt of the lens upward will produce converging lines on your verticals. You can use this for creative effect but in use it is essential to think carefully about camera alignment before pressing the shutter when using a lens like this.
The lens has 58mm threads which is the same as the Fuji XF 18-55mm zoom lens and also takes the same lens hood. This is really useful as it allows you to only carry one hood when using these two lenses and filters (such as ND and polarising) are interchangeable. The lens accepts a polarising filter on top of a UV filter with no significant vignetting but if you then also add an ND filter it unsurprisingly does begin to impact on the lens. In use I have found that two filters is the maximum I can use without risking mild vignetting. This is perfectly fine for the vast majority of users and not at all surprising given the field of view. The filter ring does not rotate on focussing which is great when using a polarising filter.
The diaphragm on the lens is made up of seven rounded blades and will produce a starburst effect when stopped down as in the image below.
One very welcome aspect to this lens is the close focus distance of only 18cm (7 inches). While in no way a macro lens this does allow for some very close shots and an almost macro-like effect. To use this close focus you must activate macro on the camera body as the normal close focus distance without this activated is 30cm. The following photo was taken with the macro setting and illustrates the effect.
I have used the lens on both the X-Pro1 and the X-T1 and autofocus is significantly better when the lens is paired with the X-T1 – it is much faster and more precise than when using the X-Pro1 which does hunt slightly especially in low light or low contrast situations. However the autofocus even when used on the X-Pro1 is acceptable and the lens is capable of rendering some seriously impressive images in the right hands.
Overall this is an excellent lens and gets five stars for build, useability and optical quality. It is a must have lens for the Fuji X system and will outperform non-Fuji lenses in all respects when paired with the Fuji X-T1. It is not perfect (no lens is) but has no significant weaknesses. If I could make one change it would be to make the clicks on the aperture ring more distinctive and I would dampen the ring to prevent accidental turning but this is a minor point.
So is this better than my Zeiss Biogon? I think the answer is no but it is broadly comparable and that is high praise indeed.
I am not connected with Fujifilm in any way. Hope you found this review useful.
This is the technical specification of the lens from the Fujifilm website.