In mid 2012, Fujifilm released a lens roadmap for their X-Pro1/X-E1 mirrorless cameras. By the end of 2013, they planned to release a total of ten (10) lenses – which is a very ambitious number as this is a fairly new mirrorless system. In November 2012, they released the fourth lens on this roadmap, the excellent 18-55mm f/2.8~4 zoom. Their fifth lens, the Fujifilm (Fujinon) XF 14mm f/2.8 R (Amazon – Adorama – B&H Photo), is to be released at the end of January 2013.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to test a pre-production copy of this new prime to provide some feedback to Fujifilm. This article will discuss my experience with it plus provide you with some of my initial images taken with this lens.
The first thing that I noticed is that Fujifilm provided a petal shaped hood with this lens – it is the exact same one that is used with the 18-55mm zoom. You can conveniently attach/remove the 58mm pinch style lens cap with the hood mounted and it reverses easily for storage. I really like the new petal shaped hoods over the ones supplied with the initial three prime lenses for this system.
Size wise, the 14mm f/2.8 is a little bit smaller than the 60mm f/2.4 macro (see above photo) and weighs 275 grams (9.7 ounces) with the hood/caps attached.
The build quality is very good – it is the same as the other prime lenses in this system with it being made from both metal and a high impact polycarbonate. The aperture ring is consistent with the other prime lenses – they have secure and discreet 1/3 stop indentations plus a setting (“A”) for putting the camera into Shutter Priority or Program modes.
Before you can use this lens with your X-Pro1 or X-E1, you will need to upgrade the firmware on the camera body (which allows for lens corrections, adjusts X-Pro1 OVF frame lines and enables other features). I was supplied with (non-public) beta-firmware from Fujifilm but I suspect when this lens is publicly released, a new firmware version (V2.02 or higher) will be available for download.
One of the very first things that I noticed about this lens were the markings for the Depth of Field (DOF) – in the photo above, they are just beneath where the hood attaches to the lens. This is the first Fujifilm lens to have such markings. Underneath these markings is the focus ring. If you pull it towards the camera body, you engage Manual Focus mode plus you will see the following:
What you see between the focus ring and the Depth of Field markings is the Distance Scale, another first for this line of lenses. This is a nice touch and I hope that Fujifilm continues to provide these markings on future prime lenses.
The AF/MF “clutch” (using the focus ring to move between Auto Focus and Manual Focus modes) is very clever and eliminates the need to use the AF/MF switch on the front of the camera. With this lens attached to my X-Pro1, I left the focus switch in AF-S mode and used focus ring to move between AF/MF. I really, really liked how I could now change focus modes without removing my eye from the EVF.
When you use the AF/MF “clutch” to engage manual focus, you will see the following in the EVF/rear LCD:
The message, “FOCUS CHECK” appears to show you how to check critical focus using the thumb wheel on the rear of the camera.
One thing I must say is that MF has improved greatly since the initial release of the X-Pro1. Focus by wire was really frustrating and using MF with this lens was really nice. I do not know if it is still focus by wire or it is done using a mechanical linkage, but MF has definitely improved and easy with this lens.
AF speed was reasonable (i.e. it won’t win any speed awards, but is sufficiently fast for static objects) and I believe (subjectively) on par with the 18mm f/2 prime lens.
As to using the X-Pro1’s OVF with this lens, the view finder automatically adjusted the frame lines to match the focal length. The lens did jut into the lower right hand corner of the frame partially obstructing the view. Of course, this is not the case with the EVF on either the X-E1 or X-Pro1.
All of the sample images in this section were shot using the following settings:
If you click on an image, a larger version will open in a new window and the EXIF data is intact if you wish to view it. Other than resizing, no additional post processing has been used.
14mm on an APS-C sized sensor (21mm equivalent) is really wide – landscape photographers will love it. For everyday photography, ultra wide angle lenses always pose a challenge to one’s composition skills, but hey, I am always up for a challenge.
PLEASE NOTE: These images are not to be re-distributed or re-posted on other websites unless you have my written permission, however, links to this article are welcome and encouraged.
The first thing I wanted to do was to test image sharpness. This was my first image with this lens – I set the centre focus point, used f/2.8 and voila. I was surprised how sharp it was wide open – now I have to go and clean the house after noticing the particles of dust in this image 🙂
I also wanted to check out the corner sharpness with this lens wide open – and the images produced did not disappoint. The out of focus elements (bokeh) were rendered nicely with this lens and I found them to be quite pleasing to the eye.
In general, sharpness was excellent throughout the frame and colours produced are consistent with the other Fujifilm lenses for this system.
One thing that really surprised me was how little distortion there is with the 14mm f/2.8 lens. Most wide angle lenses usually exhibit some distortion, especially at the edges of the frame. I know the new firmware does enable lens corrections (in JPEG), but even the RAW files I examined showed little distortion.
I first noticed this when using the EVF/rear LCD on my camera to compose images – I still could not see any discernible distortion. This leads me to believe that the Fujfilm engineers spent quite a bit of time optically correcting the lens, as opposed to doing it software. With respect to lens distortion, it is one of the best wide angle prime lenses I have used.
Again, the following image has had no adjustments in post processing. Notice at the top/bottom of the frame how little distortion there is:
As with all wide angle lenses, you will see the convergence of vertical parallel lines when using the 14mm f/2.8 (especially when photographing buildings from ground level). This is not distortion, but rather, a characteristic of all wide angle lenses.
If I wanted the vertical lines to be parallel in this image, I can do one of three things:
Here is a quick summary of this lens:
One thing that I have come to appreciate over the past year is that Fujifilm knows how to design/build high quality lenses and their XF 14mm f/2.8 R (Amazon – Adorama – B&H Photo) is no exception. They also have listened to photographer’s feedback and incorporated better manual focus (plus other items such as focus/DOF lens markings) which made this lens really nice to use. Combine that with its excellent optical quality and you have a winner – especially if you are in the market for a wide angle lens for your X-Pro1/X-E1.
$US 899.99 might seem a bit steep to some buyers, but I believe it is fairly priced compared to high quality wide primes from other vendors.
I look forward to Fujifilm releasing additional lenses for this system and hope to provide you with an early preview of these new offerings (plus the new X20, X100s and X mount lenses from Carl Zeiss). Until then, I eagerly await the arrival of my own copy of the 14mm f/2.8
Many thanks to Fujfilm for allowing me early access to this new lens.
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