23 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER
Quite possibly one of the most requested lenses from the Fuji X community is finally released into the wild. And like a wild animal, it's ferocious. Breathtakingly fast AF. Insane tracking performance (although it's probably a joint effort with the camera really). Small, silent, lightweight and weather resistant to boot. While it may be the doppelgänger of the highly praised XF35 F2, the new XF23 F2 has many of it's own unique traits. Design wise, it all feels very familiar, it's a smidgen longer than the XF35 F2 perhaps, plus theres a wider focusing ring but it retains the lightweight and small form factor of it's stablemate.
There is no denying, that there is a certain charm about the XF23 F2. The 23mm focal length is excellent for general purpose shots. Some, like myself, will prefer the 35mm (50mm/ff) as a day to day walkabout lens, but there's absolutely no denying the usefulness of the 23. It is wide enough for most architectural or landscape shots, great for those off the cuff family moments and with the XF23 F2, the possibility of getting in for some quasi close ups. Additionally, when you need to do a quick portrait, it holds it's own even though it's not what you would consider a true portrait length. It's certainly a good all rounder length in my opinion. Kudos to Fuji for going down this road and giving us, the consumers, two options when it comes to a focal length, some will undoubtedly favour the F1.4 for it's bokeh capability and on-lens distance scales, whilst others will favour the smaller form factor and water resistance element of the new F2 version. At the end of the day, it all comes down to what suits your style of shooting but as they say, it's always good to have options.
On firing the first few shots, you immediately notice the speed of the AF, it's insanely fast. It's certainly up there with the XF90 F2 and that's high praise given the fact that the XF90 F2 is one of the fastest, if not the fastest, lens in the stable. If, like me, you have the XF35 F2 stuck on the body most of the time, you will notice immediately that the XF23 F2 is snappier. That's not to say the XF35 F2 is sluggish, both are incredibly fast but the difference is enough that you notice. Let's just say that in real world situations, you will get the shot with either lens, it's essentially like saying the Ferrari Enzo is faster than the Ferrari 458. Focusing is not only fast with the new XF23 but also accurate, a trait shared with it's F2 WR brother. Fuji have been releasing fast performing lenses after fast performing lens lately and their continued efforts in releasing incremental updates for both their lenses and camera bodies is highly commendable. They really deserve all the praise they're currently receiving and the release of the new XF23 just cements the fact that they really understand and listen to their loyal client base.
Supplied with the lens is a plastic lens hood, however unlike the one that comes with the XF35 F2, this one does not give you the impulse to sling it into the trash. It's short funnel design is actually quite nice looking. The lens features the same 43mm filter thread sizing as it's 35mm brother which means you can use the same UV/ND filters as well as the official Fujifilm LH-XF35-2 metal lens hood.
The XF23 F2 leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling. It's one of those lenses you know that will be a staple of your camera bag for quite some time. When all is said and done, it is simply a stellar lens, it may not be optically on the same level as the F1.4 version but that is too be expected given the price difference and nonetheless it holds its own very well. It performs incredibly well across the board. If you are looking for a general purpose lens that has speed, is pocketable and lightweight and can be used in all weather conditions, there is only really one choice.