Sunday, February 24, 2013

Fuji XF 14mm lens f/2.8 - hands on review

My personal favorite wide-angle focal length for travel and landscape photography with a full frame camera is 20 or 21mm.  This translates to 14mm on a camera with an APS sensor.  Needless to say, I was quite excited to try out the new Fujifilm XF 14mm f/2.8 ultra-wide lens to see how it would handle.  I was not disappointed.

The achilles heal of many digital super wide lenses is loss of sharpness in the corners of the frame. In landscape photography in particular, I often move in close to foreground detail, which is where I put the main focus. The lens focuses super close up at 7.09" (18cm) allows you to really come in close for very dramatic effects.

Here I focused on the foreground shell, but with an aperture of f/16 almost everything is in focus.  I find that with many digital wide angle lenses the corners go soft.  In a photo like the one above, this would be very distracting.  Fortunately, the Fuji 14mm came through and kept the bottom corners of the sand in sharp focus.

 I performed my usual brick-wall test with this lens with surprisingly good results. At f/2.8 the corners were slightly soft, but not so much as to be annoying. At f/4 most of the softness went away, and by f/5.6 the image was sharp overall. All-in-all, I know of only a few lenses of similar that can out perform the results of the Fuji 14mm.

The Fuji X cameras have had auto and manual focusing issues, which the company has addressed in several firmware updates.  This lens has a novel feature that I found very convenient for switching to manual focus or manual over-ride of the auto focus. The front focus collar of the lens slides forward to lock the focus of the lens so it can not be moved by hand. Sliding the collar back reveals a focusing scale and allows the lens to be manually focused. The same procedure also allows over riding the auto focus system. This can be handy with a fast changing subject when you do not have time to adjust the focus points of the lens.  You can simply refocus the lens instead.

The top photo shows the focusing scale hidden by having the focusing collar moved forward to cover it up.  On the bottom the collar is pulled back and the focusing scale is exposed and accessible.
Both vignetting and linear distortion appear to be non-existent. None of the sample images shown here were corrected for vignetting of linear distortion.  I realize that both of these aberrations are easily corrected in post-processing, but it is nice to have a lens that does not need correcting. Having to correct for barrel or pin cushion distortion actually results in a slight reduction of the focal length of a lens because the image is being cropped as it makes the correction.

It was necessary to put a neutral density filter over the lens to achieve a shutter speed slow enough to blur the water fall on a sunny day.  The exposure was 2 seconds at f/22.
My preferred method for using an ultra-wide angle lens is to move in close on a foreground object where I then place the focus. At 14mm the depth of field is extensive, even when I used a fairly wide open f/4 aperture as in the above photo.  There is no vignetting and sharpness even into the corners.
Even on an overcast day, the lens resolved subtle color detail beautifully.

The close focus ability of the Fuji 14mm lens allowed me to move within inches of the foreground decoration and to keep the distant Empire State Building just peeking out from the right.

I suppose the best thing I have to say about this lens is that I have nothing bad to say about it.  It focuses quickly, is fully corrected for the usual distortions, is convenient to use, focuses super close, has convenient manual focus over-ride, and has excellent resolution -- all features I would want in a focal length I use primarily for travel and landscape photography. The $900 price tag is well worth the delivered image quality from this lens. I would expect a similar quality level from a full frame lens of this focal range to cost at least twice as much.

Bottom line: Fuji got it all right when they designed this lens.  They appear to be listening to the users and making necessary design course corrections as they introduce new accessories for the X cameras.

Brilliant color, no distortion, and sharp as a tack in the corners.  What's there not to like!

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Fujifilm XF 14mm f/2.8 R Wide-Angle Lens can be ordered from:  BH-Photo  Amazon   


  1. Hi, I just bought a Fuji X-E1 a few weeks ago, and I am looking for a wide angle lens. Have you compared this Fuji 14mm directly with your other Zeiss 12mm lens?

  2. I had used the Fuji 14mm ever since it came out. So I was able to make a comparison between it and the Zeiss 12mm. You can read more about it in my Zeiss 12mm post at this blog link: