Kevin is a professional documentary wedding and family photographer based in the United Kingdom. One of the first official FUJIFILM X-Photographers, he started shooting weddings professionally in 2008 and since then has photographed weddings right across the UK and internationally. Shooting in a documentary style he strives to tell the story of the wedding through photojournalism, rather than “traditional” wedding photography.
Kevin is an educator and platform speaker and has exhibited his work in Japan, The United States and Argentina. He also runs and curates the F16.Click website where he publishes tips and tricks and articles for Fujifilm users.
He has been shooting with Fujifilm equipment since 2011 since the original X100 was launched.
Kevin Mullins : XF23mmF1.4 R LM WR Impression
Fujifilm continues to create fantastic new lenses and enhance old favourites that have been around for a while.
When I received a sample of the new XF23mmF1.4 R LM WR, I immediately knew it would be a mainstay of my camera bag from now on.
As part of my research for this piece, I looked at my body of work shot since Fujifilm launched the original XF23mmF1.4 R lens back in 2013. Unsurprisingly to me, I had shot around 70% of my professional work on that lens.
As an early adopter of the Fujifilm X Series cameras and XF lenses, the 23mm is an old friend, and I am thrilled to see Fujifilm create a newer, faster, weather-sealed version of perhaps one of their best-selling lenses.
When I was looking at the work I shot with the lens from 2013 onwards, I realised that I had shot some of my best professional work and a vast amount of my most precious personal pictures of my family at that focal range.
So you may be asking, what does the new XF23mmF1.4 lens offer over the longstanding original version?
Well, having been one of the first photographers to test it out, I immediately noticed a few key elements which made me realise this is a very different lens.
Firstly, focus acquisition. I didn’t have too many issues, if any, focusing on the original XF23mm F1.4 lens. I’ve used that lens across all kinds of bodies, from X-M1 (remember that?) to X-Pro1, X-Pro2, and now X-Pro3. And, of course, the X-T range and even my X-E cameras made use of the 23mm lens.
However, when I loaded the new XF23mm F1.4 lens to my X-Pro3, I immediately realised how much quicker this more recent model is at acquiring focus.
For somebody like myself, who shoots almost exclusively in a candid, reportage fashion, it was like a flash of brilliant light.
My preferred mechanism for focusing has always been to use the AF-L button to lock the subject. And it is next to instant now if I’m using Face Detection, the focus box tracks without missing a beat.
It is a considerable increase in performance when focusing with the new XF23mmF1.4 lens.
One of the aspects that impressed me the most is the ability to get in much closer, get a frame-filling scene, and move out again—at all times, not worrying about focusing speed.
The great thing about the 23mm field of view is that it allows you to make great portraits and allows a photographer to produce broader, more context-setting imagery.
Photographic storytellers and photojournalists have used the Full Frame equivalent of 35mm for decades. It offers the best of both worlds, and I’m excited to add the newest addition of the XF range of lenses to my toolkit.
In addition to rocket-fast focusing, the new XF23mmF1.4 is also weather-sealed with the linear motor mechanism. The weather-sealing, of course, will be of great interest to Street Photographers and Landscape photographers too.
The Linear Motor will allow the lens to be used very easily for filming also. I shoot a lot of my YouTube videos using the XF23mmF1.4 R lens, and now with the linear motor on the new XF23mmF1.4 lens, I can be more confident that the face recognition will be seamless for the face-to-camera shots.
Shooting in low light with the 1.4 lens in conjunction with one of the latest X-Trans Sensor cameras will allow you to get sharp images at elevated ISO levels.
With some of the images shared in this blog post, you will see that I love using the 23mm lens for documenting my own family. In conjunction with the Fujifilm X100V, which coincidentally utilises a 23mm lens, almost all of my family photography has been shot at this focal length.
For those photographers who do not currently have the XF23mm F1.4 or existing users, you will immediately notice the step up in performance with the new version of this venerable lens.
My preferred camera combination when using the new XF23mmF1.4 R LM WR lens is the X-Pro3. The lens feels great on the camera body. It’s well balanced, easy to control the aperture ring and performs flawlessly.
There is, of course, also the XF23mmF2 R WR in this focal range. And that lens has its place. It’s light and also weather-sealed. However, for me, the extra stop of light gathering capability of the new XF23mmF1.4 R LM WR means that this is the lens I will turn to the most.
In essence, I feel Fujifilm needs to be congratulated for taking an already great lens and making it even more incredible. It’s faster, and it’s more durable and ultimately will allow you to make quicker stronger photostories.