XF23mmF2 is in stores now.
It is already in hands of the eager users. We saw X Users come to our booth at the recent Photokina with the lens attached to X-Pro2 or X-T2 body. Images taken by the lens are starting to float around the web, too.
Let's look back where the lens stands in the XF Lens lineup.
Product planner has a lot to think when the lens is set to be "Prime lens 23mm @ F2". And it is a quite different concern from an ordinary planning. When we plan on a new XF Lens, we often look at similar lenses from competitors to learn the good and bad. With other lenses in mind, we think about what the new lens's aesthetics, character, and flavor.
The situation is quite different for XF23mmF2. There are more lenses to look at from FUJIFILM internally than from other manufacturers' lenses.
There is the XF23mmF1.4. There is also the X100 Series that has the same focal length of 23mm with f/2. Up until the announcement of XF23mmF2, many X-Photographers referred the X100 lens as the "XF23mmF2"
Each lens has its character. And we have to carefully think what makes the lens to be "XF23mmF2".
First, XF23mmF2 is a very good lens. It is sharp to the corner and the depth of field is deep. It renders an image with lots of information. If you shoot with the OVF like the ones of X-Pro2, you will learn that the optical view and the actual image is quite similar. You will appreciate it for snapshooting. The change in image quality is minimized for the change in F value. The image rendering is quite similar for all shooting distance. You can simply focus on the framing with no worries.
Let's compare it with the image quality of XF23mmF1.4.
The XF23mmF1.4 renders images quite differently on the peripherals in front and back of the depth of field for the same F value. XF23mmF2 renders images with lots of information, which is a plus for snapshooters. XF23mmF1.4 renders dynamic image with added depth, which is a characteristic of large diameter lens.
The lens is also quite different from the X100. When you compare it, you will learn that X100 is quite a character. It renders a very soft image with the aperture wide open or when shot in close distance. But with the aperture closed, it renders very sharp image. The XF23mmF2 renders images that is very constant. X100 renders images that is very varying.
There are advantages to having the soft image with the aperture wide open and in close-up. The viewing is very pleasing in print, for example. You forget it when you only look at pixel levels.
The well behaved XF23mmF2 and the distinctive X100, both are very important element for photography. You cannot just pick one. Luckily both are very compact in size.
One is focal plane shutter and another is lens shutter. Carrying both lens with the same focal length may not be so much of a bad idea either.
In relation to the XF35mmF2, we should think about the common ground, rather than making the two distinguished. Because two are already distinguished as Standard (53mm equivalent) and Wide angle (35mm equivalent) lenses. The two may have different angle of view, but the feeling should be the same. Let it be the size, exterior, filter size, lens hood, focus ring, aperture ring, AF speed, and etc.,
This does not mean, however, that the interior cannot be changed to have the same feel. For example, the positioning of focus lens is changed. XF35mmF2 has the fourth element (G4) as focus lens, and the XF23mmF2 uses the 8th elements (G8) as its focus lens. The difference is, it is either placed in front or rear of aperture.
When speaking about design of wide angle lens, the size becomes more compact, if the focusing is done in the rear. Autofocus speed also becomes faster as a result. But to do this, the placement of actuator and the lens barrel design need to be reconsidered.
The concept of the XF35mmF2 and XF23mmF2 are the same, but when you know the difference of the two, perhaps, you will feel attached to the lenses even more.