Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R
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Lab Test Results
April 29, 2013
by Andrew Alexander
The Fujinon XF 14mm ƒ/2.8 R was released in February 2013, offering a wide-angle field of view for Fuji's X-mount camera bodies. At the time of writing, this includes the Fuji X-E1 and the X-Pro1. Both of these bodies use an APS-C sensor with a 1.5x ''crop factor'', thus the 14mm lens offers an equivalent field of view of 21mm. The lens ships with a petal-shaped hood, takes 58mm filters and is available now for around $900.
Please note that if you're an existing X-E1 or X-Pro1 user, you'll want to upgrade the firmware of your camera to the latest version to ensure compatibility with this lens; happily, the lens also comes with an SD card with the firmware ready for you to install.
The Fujinon 14mm produces very sharp images. Used at its widest aperture of ƒ/2.8, the resulting image is sharp throughout the majority of the center of the image, moving to notably soft corners. Stopping down reduces the impact of corner softness; stopping down to ƒ/4 produces results which are almost tack-sharp, and these results are essentially the same with the lens stopped to subsequently smaller apertures. Diffraction limiting begins to set in at ƒ/11, but overall sharpness isn't really impacted until ƒ/16, where edge-to-edge sharpness is just slightly soft. Fully stopped-down at ƒ/22, the lens produces images that are somewhat soft, but not exceptionally so.
Results for chromatic aberration were excellent; looking at the sample images, I'm hard-pressed to see any color shifts at all.
There is always some light corner shading when using this lens: we note extreme corners that are 1/3EV darker than the center. When set to ƒ/5.6 or ƒ/8, it's slightly less: either way, it's not especially significant.
Remarkably, there is no distortion at all for images shot with the 14mm ƒ/2.8 R.
The Fujinon 14mm ƒ/2.8 R focus very quickly with an electrical motor housed in the lens. The lens focuses from infinity to close-focus in less than a second: it's fast, and locks on to your target easily. The front element does not rotate, making life that little bit easier for polarizer users.
The 14mm ƒ/2.8 was not designed as a macro lens, and offers only 0.12x magnification, with a minimum close-focusing distance of just over seven inches.
Build Quality and Handling
The Fuji XF 14mm ƒ/2.8 R is a well-built lens, harkening back to the days of metal rangefinder cameras. It's significantly larger and heavier than the other prime lenses available for the camera system, but the lens still handles very well on either body. The lens is textured in a satin black finish.
There are two rings for this lens: a focusing ring, and an aperture ring, something of a rarity in modern digital cameras. The aperture ring sits closer to the lens body, around 3/8'' wide, with click-stops between aperture settings. We found the aperture ring a bit looser than we would like, which means if you like the be able to move quickly between settings, you'll be happy with this action. There is a selector which allows you to choose between manual aperture selection, and automatic aperture selection.
The focusing ring is about 5/8'' wide, made of polycarbonate with deep grooves that offer excellent tactile feel. The X-Pro camera concept uses a fly-by-wire in its lens focusing method, so the focusing ring is not actually directly connected to the lens elements in a mechanical way. Rather, turning the focusing ring moves the elements electronically. Unlike the other prime lenses in the series, the 14mm uses hard stops at either end, offering around 120 degrees of turning action, and there is no lens extension when the lens is focused.
It's worth noting that the manual focusing system is engaged by sliding back the focusing ring to reveal a distance scale etched in feet and meters. While there is no depth-of-field information on the lens, the X-Pro 1 offers a distance scale on its LCD or viewfinder readout.
The 14mm ƒ/2.8 R lens hood is a petal-shaped hood that attaches by a bayonet mount. The hood can be reversed for storage and its interior is painted a matte black to reduce stray light. The hood is 1 1/2'' long, adding about 1 1/4'' of length to the lens when attached.
Currently, there are no third-party lenses offered in the Fuji XF mount. However, there are several lens adapters which allow non-Fuji lenses to be mounted on the X-Pro 1. Fuji's own M-mount adapter allows Leica M, Carl Zeiss and Voigtlander lenses to be used, and some comparable focal lengths would be found in the Carl Zeiss Distagon T*15mm F2.8 ZM or the Voigtlander L Super Wide-Heliar 15mm F4.5 Aspherical.
Fujinon XF 18mm ƒ/2 R ~$600
While not as wide as the Fujinon 14mm, the 18mm opens up a stop faster, offering a choice between light-gathering ability and wide-angle. Optically, the lenses are both of very high quality: the 18mm might be a hair sharper, but the 14mm has very impressive results for distortion (as in, there is none).
There's no question Fuji has spent a lot of time on this lens: Sharpness at ƒ/2.8 is very good, and excellent at ƒ/4 or smaller; distortion is non-existent (quite a feat in and of itself on a wide-angle lens), and chromatic aberration is also hard to come by. While the price tag for this lens might be high, there's no doubt that you get what you pay for.
The VFA target should give you a good idea of sharpness in the center and corners, as well as some idea of the extent of barrel or pincushion distortion and chromatic aberration, while the Still Life subject may help in judging contrast and color. We shoot both images using the default JPEG settings and manual white balance of our test bodies, so the images should be quite consistent from lens to lens.
As appropriate, we shoot these with both full-frame and sub-frame bodies, at a range of focal lengths, and at both maximum aperture and ƒ/8. For the ''VFA'' target (the viewfinder accuracy target from Imaging Resource), we also provide sample crops from the center and upper-left corner of each shot, so you can quickly get a sense of relative sharpness, without having to download and inspect the full-res images. To avoid space limitations with the layout of our review pages, indexes to the test shots launch in separate windows.
Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R User Reviews
10 out of 10 points and recommended by MichaelShea (7 reviews)Outstanding lens with corner to corner sharpness and absence of distortion; excellent buildVignetting visible on raw files; lens hood blocks part of OVF visibility on X-Pro1
Without question the sharpest wide-angled lens I've ever used, taking the (micro) four thirds, Pentax and Fuji systems all into consideration. I suggest you disregard SLRGear.com's unfavourable and unfathomable comparison with the Fuji 18mm f2 in this respect - the latter lens by common consent is the weakest prime in the present Fuji line-up and I own five of them, including both of these models. The 18mm f2 is useful but flawed, whereas this lens is getting quite close to perfection.reviewed April 28th, 2014 (purchased for $1,031)
I'm never really sure why so much is made of a lens's capabilities wide-open, unless it is the kind of lens that is typically going to be actually employed in this way. The maximum aperture of this one is neither one thing nor the other, but I would expect most potential buyers will be considering it for landscape and/or architecture, when f4 or f5.6 is far more likely. At these apertures and up to at least f8, the results you will obtain are nothing short of superb. The only limit to the quality you can expect to see is the raw converter you choose and I could ramble on about that, but won't because it will only distract and confuse matters.
Zone focusing with the aid of the manual focus clutch ring is a useful tool to have, although I can't say I've ever really needed it for the kind of photography that I do, which doesn't normally involve people walking across my field of view. Auto-focus is quick and completely reliable. I've not had a single failure yet.
The lens is fairly substantial in comparison with other mirrorless camera system alternatives, but it rests very comfortably on my X-Pro1. The only poor fit with that particular camera is that around a quarter of the frame is missing from view when the optical viewfinder is chosen, because of the sheer bulk of the petal lens hood. The EVF of the X-Pro1 is not its strongest point, but that is once again another story.
Vignetting is removed from jpegs inside the camera, but this doesn't apply to raw files. Even at f5.6 the evidence is very apparent, but Lightroom can remove it with ease and there is no visible loss in image quality as a result.
Distortion is genuinely non-existent with this lens. This means you will retain the whole of your image without needing to resort to software that will either chop off the edges and/or blur what's left afterwards.
This is an exceptionally good lens from a very impressive Fuji stable. In my opinion, in a very short period of time Fuji has assembled a wonderful collection of high quality optics that will ensure the APS-C format remains intact for the mirrorless camera market long after DSLRs become exclusively full-frame or completely redundant.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by exploring (1 reviews)modern implementation of the "old school" design, brilliant opticsaperture ring a bit too easy to move
Two SLR Gear REVIEW ERRORS: this is not as much my review of the lens, I just wanted to indicate two errors in the review, possibly a result of copy/paste (once fixed, this note can be deleted by admin):reviewed May 17th, 2013 (purchased for $900)
1) "manual focusing system is engaged by sliding back the focusing ring to reveal a distance scale etched in feet and meters. While there is no depth-of-field information on the lens" - ? this is a proper DOF scale,
2) "the 18mm [Fujinon XF 18mm] might be a hair sharper" - unless SLR Gear tested two very unusual samples it is actually the other way around?
9 out of 10 points and recommended by spochana (6 reviews)Sharp Image from center to edges, low distortionA bit slow auto-focus compared to 18-55, loud mechanism
Finally I bought this lens after using Fuji X-E1 for a few months and felt that 18 mm was not enough for the wide end. I intended to wait for their 10-24 mm zoom but it shall be a while before they release it (perhaps at the end of 2013). Overall I am quite pleased with the JPG quality that need no correction. The only thing I don't understand is why a fixed lens has a slower auto-focus and louder mechanism than their 18-55 zoom kit. If the focusing system is the same as their 18-55, I will rate all 10.reviewed May 5th, 2013 (purchased for $900)