A mini review of the Fuji XF 14mm f/2.8 R Lens
When I bought my Fuji X-E1 back in 2013 (review here) it came with the 18-55 f/2.8-4 as the kit lens. This suited me as it meant the one lens covering my most used focal ranges, and as the 18-55 is actually surprisingly good, also meant not having to upgrade right away. However as I used my Fuji more and more, and fell back into doing more landscape-based photography, I yearned for a little more wideness. Being taught to use what you have, I got around this by stitching two or four photos together in post to mimic a wider lens which generally worked fine, although the extra time processing was sometimes frustrating.
Fast forward to the end of last year and the ‘lack of wide’ started to crop up again. I’d started produce more fine-art based landscape photography, and while I was generally happy with the photographs, I just wanted them to be a touch wider, so after Christmas I made the decision to get a wide angle lens.
I like to travel light, so wanted a prime, wider than 18mm, and to keep things simple, just keep to the Fuji lineup of lenses. This gave me a choice of the 16mm f/1.4 or the 14mm f/2.8. The 16mm was tempting, however it’s physically bigger, heavier, more expensive, and only a little wider than 18mm. It also would have needed another adapter ring to take my Lee filter holder, while not a deal breaker, would be nice if it was all the same diameter as the 18-55mm.
As for what I’d be missing against the 16mm; an extra stop (f/1.4 vs f/2.8) – although I’m more than likely shooting in the f/4-8 range for most of my photography with it; and weather sealing – although in my own experience having quite happily shot in less than ideal (read “wet”) conditions with the 18-55 and X-E1, so was more than happy with no real weather sealing.
I’d not really done a lot of reading up on the 14mm, but what I had read was generally positive, so I duly purchased the 14mm f/2.8 and two days later it turned up.
It’s weighty, solid and being all metal (apart from the glass bits) feels well built. The usual Fuji quality oozes out the nice black box. There is also a nice black microfiber lens pouch thing. Some people have mentioned the finish seemed sharp, I didn’t feel any harshness, so I guess if there was a problem it’s been fixed.
I popped down to Compton beach as the mid-morning light was looking interesting to take a few test shots and see how things worked. First off, I love having a proper aperture ring. Takes me back to using my Contax 35mm camera. Some reviews had mentioned the aperture ring was pretty loose, although mine seems to be fairly tight, but still easy enough to move from f/2.8, with little clicks every 1/3rd stop, whole stops marked up to f/22, then ‘A’. All the markings are engraved and look really nice.
Focus – This lens has a really nice way of selecting between MF and AF, the whole focus barrel clicks back with a satisfying click revealing a focus scale. I prefer this over a little switch especially when it’s cold and the fingers aren’t working too well. For lots of my landscape shots, I use manual focus so having this system is really pleasing and seemed a lot easier to use than the very small focus ring stuck on the front of the 18-55. Some reviews had mentioned that the AF was a little on the slow side. To be honest I can’t say it’s noticeably slow, but then I don’t really have a baseline to compare. It focuses fine as far as I can tell, and certainly fast enough for me.
It’s a very nice lens. Distortion is almost non existent, so I’m happy sticking straight lines and things at the edge of the frame if needed. The angle of view is about 90 degrees (compared to the 76-ish at 18mm) so wide enough to not look too odd, but very usable. I’d like to comment on colour rendition, flare, ‘bokeh’ and other things that people go on about in lenses, but I personally don’t really care about them, and they don’t really matter to my style of shooting or workflow. I will talk about sharpness though. I’ve yet to photograph anything flat straight on at f/2.8, but I’m sure it’d probably be fine. So far I’m more than happy with the sharpness in my photos of actual scenes.
This lens is up to the usual high quality that Fuji delivers. For real world landscape shooting, it works like a charm. I had identified a gap that this lens has filled, and for me this lens (so far) is doing everything that I expected it to. If you want even wider (and don’t mind a physically bigger lens) then the 10-24mm f/4 is available. If you don’t need to go so wide, but shoot in dust-storms and need a faster lens, then the 16mm f/1.4 may be the one to go for. As always, what’s right for one person may not be right for someone else.
I’ve only shot with it a couple of days so far, but I’m pretty impressed with the images that I’m getting. Only time will tell how things go…