Est. 2020

Fujifiilm 23mm f1.4 LM WR (23mm MKII Review)

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Quick Facts about the Fujifilm 23mm LM WR f1.4 

  • Weight: 13.2 oz/375 Grams
  • Weather Sealed: Yes
  • Filter Size: 58mm 
  • Angle of View: 63.4 Degrees
  • Focusing Distance: 7.5″/19cm
  • Max Aperture: f1.4
  • Minimum Aperture: f16
  • Image Stabilization: NO
  • Mount System: Fuji X
  • Price: $899.95

Why is Fujifilm re-releasing this lens? 

A refresh of the Fujifilm 23mm F1.4, the Fujifilm 23mm F1.4 LM WR is a member of the “Fuji-lux” system. This lens joins a cohort along with some other classic XF lenses, the 18mm f1.4, the 33mm f1.4 (Replacing the 35mm f1.4), and the 56mm F1.2. Beyond new optical formulas, these lenses gained faster autofocusing capabilities (sometimes through the inclusion of linear motors), and every new Fujifilm lens is also weather-resistant. 

Now, if you are like me, you might be wondering, “Why is Fujifilm re-releasing their most-popular and best-selling lenses?” Well, quite simply, Fujifilm is attempting to future- proof their native, XF lens ecosystem. X-Trans V cameras and *most future cameras will have a higher resolution sensor than the X-T4 and X-T3. (26 MP) And according to Fujifilm, certain lenses will need to be refreshed to deal with the higher-resolution sensor. 

Note: The first Fujifilm XF camera with more than 26 megapixels was the X-H2. It was released in September of 2022. 

If you’re like me, I think this is good for all parties. Photographers searching for filmic looks or “lenses with character” have their options. (Plus, older and discontinued lenses are cheaper.) New photographers and videographers who have high expectations also get their ideal lenses.

Who is the Fujifilm 23mm f1.4 LM WR for?

For a long-period of time, the 23mm (35mm full-frame equivalent) was the most popular focal length for photographers. It makes sense, as the field of view is the normal view of the human eye AND some peripheral vision. 

 

If you look at Time Magazine from the 1900s, documentary and travel photographers used this lens almost every-day. The lens is “just wide enough” for portrait photographers, as they can envelop their subject in the background while also making sure that their subject is the focus. And the list goes on.. And on….. 

 

The only two styles of photography in which I foresee this lens struggling are bird and aviation photography. Other than that, the 23mm lens is a great example of a one-and-done camera body-lens combo.

 

What other Fujifilm lenses cover the 23mm (APS-C)/35mm (FF) equilivant. 

Making an educated-guess I would imagine that the Fujifilm 23 millimeter focal length is the most-covered focal length by Fujifilm. 

First up, let’s talk about the zoom lenses. (And these were just some of the lenses that I could think of…..)

Zoom Lenses

The skinny on the 10-24mm F4 WR: 

The Fujifilm XF 10-24 F4 WR is a great, wide-angle zoom lens by Fujifilm. (Plus, it is the only XF wide-angle zoom lens that also accepts circular filters.) From 10-20mm, the lens performs amicably. However, the lens’s sharpness starting after 20mm rapidly declines at 21mm. 

If you are debating a purchase between the 10-24mm or this 23mm f1.4 LM WR, purchase the 23mm. You will be more satisfied with the image quality at that focal length.

Prime Lenses

  • Fujifilm XF 23mm F2 (Close-Enough)
  • Fujifilm XF 23mm F1.4 (MKI)
  • Fujifilm X100 – series (X100V, X100F, etc.) 

Fujifilm must really like 23mm, as they have released 3 (4 if you include the X-100 series!!!) lenses with that focal length. 

We have the original 23mm f1.4 with the manual focus clutch, the 23mm f2, and this new, 23mm F1.4 WR. 

Side note: I honestly cannot think of another camera brand that has released that many prime lenses with the same focal length. And this is not even considering third-party options such as Viltrox or Sigma… 

Build Quality Review

Looking at this lens’s build quality, it’s exceptional. This all-metal body certainly has a premium-quality feel, which is expected considering the price tag of $899. 

The focusing ring does allow you to to change the focusing distance from the minimum to infinity with relative ease. Although, it might lack the tension that some other photographers and videographers prefer. (The minimum focusing distance is 7.5 inches aka 19 centimeters.)

The marked aperture ring is certainly a plus in many people’s books. However, compared to the original 23mm F1.4, the 23mm F1.4 WR has gained an aperture-lock. This, in no way, affects the build quality. (An aperture-lock allows the camera to pick the aperture based on the current exposure and setting you have inputted.)

Finally, the rubber gasket and black-paint finish promote a sense of weather-resistance that the lens manufacturer promotes. (That being said, I learned a lesson in Iceland. Despite having a weather-resistant body, still wrap the camera in something near the beach. I am still finding sand on both the camera and camera lens in places I wish I wouldn’t.)

The only build-quality concern is more personal than functional. The audible rattle from the linear motor magnets (or something like that) still concern me. I am aware that this in no way affects the build quality; however, I cannot think of another lens manufacturer that produces a lens with an audible “thunk.” 

If you can, please let me know on Instagram. I want to have a conversation with you about quality control and Fujifilm lenses. 

Sharpness Test

If you are examining the images without cropping, I believe that you will be happy with the output from this lens. 

Sure, prime lenses do not often suffer in regards to image quality. However, this lens was good enough, and I never trashed any of the images because I was disappointed in the quality. Instead, it was my poor composition, etc. Let’s go ahead and crop-in, and I’ll discuss the sharpness in more detail. 

I had a few takeaways regarding the Fujifilm 23mm’s sharpness after cropping from the 20.8” x 13.87” rectangle to  7.5” x 7.5” square focused on the top-left corner. 

  • This lens performs about the same in regards to sharpness at F1.4 and F8. 
  • However, this lens’s peak performance is between F2 – F5.6. 
  • I don’t quite know why I would need to take a photo of a brick wall at F1.4. 
  • This lens’s sharpness starts to struggle around F11. (Not a huge problem… If I can, I never use prime lenses above F8.)

 

Bokeh Performance 

Let’s talk about the lens design of the 23mm F1.4 LM WR. In total, this lens has 15 total lens elements in 10 groups. This is made up out of two aspherical elements and three ED elements. Oh, and did I mention that it has 9 rounded diaphragm blades

Okay, that’s enough talking about lens elements. Let’s talk about bokeh. 

I found the transitions to be very good, both from foreground to subject and subject to background. Was I completely blown-away with how this lens rendered grass and other busy backgrounds? No, I was not. However, the results were serviceable. 

For X-Mount Photographers: If you want the best bokeh for X-Mount, there are only three options: 90mm F2, the 56mm F1.2 WR, and the 50mm F1. If you need something beyond those lenses, you will need to look towards full-frame options. 

Bokeh Balls Review

Beginning at F1.4, we have a noticeable cat’s eye effect throughout the entire frame. (Not-so-fun fact: The 33mm F1.4 has this same attribute.) This is not always a big deal. Just follow the rule-of-thirds and place your subject either in the far-left or far-right. This is where the lens’s cat’s eye is most apparent. 

At F2, the cat’s eye is beginning to round-out. However, I would argue this is less than desirable than at F1.4. 

At F2.8, the cat’s eye is gone. The bokeh balls are round. I am happy. 

Unless you are shooting Christmas lights, the 23mm f1.4 is a worth-while competitor for portraits with background lighting. 

Photo Autofocus Review

Please see the video autofocus review below. 

Video Autofocus Review

  • Any Eye
  • Tracking Sensitivity +2
  • Autofocus Speed +3

I found the Fujifilm 23mm F1.4 WR’s autofocus to be very quick, accurate, and silent. All around, I actually trust this lens on both the X-T4 and X-H2s. 

There’s not much I can say beside that. Sure, it might show a bit of focus breathing. However, if you watch the video above, you will see that this is minimal. 10/10. 

Macro Performance and Focusing Distance

The focusing distance is 7.5” or 19 centimeters. The maximum magnification ratio is .20x. 

However, this focusing distance is actually how far the subject is away from the sensor, rather than actually the distance between the end of the lens and the subject. 

Prior to taking the photo above, I actually bumped the flower into the lens. Although this might not be as close as the Fujifilm XF 16mm F1.4 WR’s focusing distance of 15 centimeters, it’s close enough for me.

Sunstars 

This lens certainly produces pleasant sunstars. If you are looking for the best sunstars, this will start around F9. However, they are the most distinct starting at F11. 

Fujifilm 23mm f1.4 WR Sample Images

Pros of the Fujifilm 23mm F1.4 LM WR 

  • Great autofocus 

By all accounts, this is one of Fujifilm’s best-performing lenses in regards to autofocus. 

  • Sunstars are wonderful 

If you start around F9, the sunstars are distinct. 

  • Sharpness

I was never disappointed in the output from this lens. 

Cons of the Fujifilm 23mm F1.4 LM WR

  • Price 

However, I do believe that the price ($900) is worth it.

My Final Notes

Look, this might be my new favorite XF lens. So, I am going to try and avoid adjectives, unnecessary jargon, and your time. This lens was made to shot below F5.6 

My Rating 

Price: 4.5/5

If it was $100 cheaper, this lens would be a steal. 

Reliability: 5/5

I don’t foresee any potential issues. -.5 for the magnets sliding. 

Functionality: 5/5

A highly-functional lens for everyday carry. This utilitarian focal length puts my 16mm F1.4 to shame. 

Style: 5/5

Well-built and a nice coating of black paint. 

Total: 19/20 or 95%.

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