My first steps into Fujifilm started around 2016 with the X100 series and later, X-mount with the X-Pro1 and the much loved XF35mm f1.4 R. Along the years, the 35mm focal length has always been my focal length to-go-to for capturing the daily moments from the growth journeys of my two kids.
In fact, the 2013 XF23mm f1.4 R was the one that I used the most, going back and forth from it mainly due to its auto-focusing performance (I left this lens in X-Trans II and only returned to it in X-Trans IV); however, its optical performance has never been a doubt.
The Fujifilm release I have been awaiting the most.
The XF23mm f1.4 R LM WR was announced in September 2021 together with the GFX50S II, GF35-70, and the XF33mm f1.4 LM WR, and this was actually the one I looked towards the most. Now with the XF23mm f1.4 LM WR, I can finally announce that I have found the replacement for my XF23mm f2, a nifty compact lens yes but one which I have never felt much towards.
Like the XF18mm f1.4 LM WR and XF33mm f1.4 LM WR (click on them for my reviews), these three lenses form the backbone of Fujifilm’s 2022 and onwards road-map. In fact, Fujifilm made it clear that only X-H2’s 40 megapixels sensor will be able to fully unlock the potential of these lenses. Fujifilm started with the XF18mm f2, XF35mm f1.4, and XF60mm f2.4 in 2012, and it’s moving ahead to the next lap with the 18, 23, and 33 focal lengths.
The XF23mm f1.4 LM WR is smaller than its first-generation counterpart, with a 58mm filter size and around 378 grams. Dimensions wise, one gets 77.8mm in length and φ67mm.
More importantly, the build is robust like the XF18 and XF33mm f1.4 siblings, with full weather resistance and a locking mechanism on the physical aperture ring. The 2021 version is around 70 grams heavier than the older XF23mm f1.4 and comes in at 15 elements in 10 groups and 9 aperture blades.
Visually, I personally prefer the ‘consistent thickness’ along the length vs. the f2 series’s design but of course, both options are weather-resistant and form what is the current (future) 23mm options for Fujifilm X-mount.
Handling and performance.
First off, the auto-focus capabilities of the XF23mm f1.4 LM WR simply surpass the original f1.4 by such a huge margin that it left me mouthing a silent ‘thank you’. The LM (for linear motor) in its name refers to an auto-focus system that debuted in the XF90mm f2 and has since formed the backbone design of Fujifilm optics.
“Faster, Quieter, Surer” with no more ‘jittery’ auto-focus hunting from the older XF23mm f1.4
The new XF23mm f1.4 LM WR is not only faster, but it is also way quieter and smoother. No more ‘jittery’ auto-focus hunting we all saw in the older XF23mm f1.4.
Similar to the XF18 and XF33 f1.4 lenses focus breathing is really nicely controlled.
As expected, sharpness is outstanding at the center even wide open at f1.4. One can always reference the older XF23mm f1.4 but the 2021 XF23mm f1.4 LM WR is even sharper by a breathe. The rendition of corners is improved in the new version too, no more mushy corners we saw in the old XF23 f1.4 that we had to stop down to around f2.8 to fix.
On the street, the XF23mm f1.4 LM WR performed admirably, easily taking in the shots even on the X-Pro3 which lacks the newer autofocus algorithms of the X-T4 and X-S10.
Some will argue that the XF23mm’s focal length is not wide enough. Well my take is that a 35mm focal length is frankly plenty wide, and of course there are wider options but those come with distortions one will have to contend with too. For the uses this lens was designed for, it does an admirable job.
Not often mentioned, the XF23mm f1.4 LM WR has improved magnification over the older XF23 f1.4, making it even more versatile for the more close-up shots we may want to do.
Specifically, the XF23mm f1.4 LM WR focuses to 19cm and approximately 11 cm from the front of the lens, giving you around 0.2x magnification. Going wide open at f1.4, we have way more creative potential than the older XF23/1.4, which only magnifies around 0.1x.
Bokeh // Flare // and the such
I had a few questions about this from readers; hence I thought of doing a short section on this.
The XF23mm f1.4 LM WR has an interesting sun-star, this was shot at F11, so of course, there are options to go to F16 for an even more pronounced sun-star. Of course, if you wish to, you definitely can make it flare too. This shot above was done with the provided lens hood on.
Bokeh wise, the above shot was done wide-open at f1.4, and some cat eyes are clearly seen at the corners. Overall the bokeh is pretty pleasing and smooth, and if one peeks in further, there are some onion rings in the bokeh balls you can see in the above shot.
The transition from focused areas to out-of-focused areas is also pleasing. No harsh sudden drop-offs.
The Fujifilm Fujinon XF23mm f1.4 LM WR is the last of the announced next-generation lenses to arrive. In fact, likely due to the global chip shortage at the time of this writing, has the release date postponed to February 2022 from the original stated December 2021 at USD899.95.
For someone who primarily uses the 35mm focal length, there is no reason to not recommend this lens. The optical handling performance of the XF23mm LR WR is a big leap forward from the older XF23mm f1.4 and in my opinion, this is a lens that will easily find itself in the repertoire of many professionals and hobbyists.
I do really look forward to the next generation Fujifilm bodies. after all Fujifilm has made a point of saying that this trio of lenses are actually designed for the next generation X-mount sensor (I have no idea whether it will still be X-Trans or not, let us see)
*As of now, it is rumored that Fujifilm plans to release two X-H2 variants in 2022, a 26MP and a 40MP version. Let us see.
Thank you for reading.
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1. The Fujifilm XF23mm f1.4 LM WR is a pre-production set running firmware version 1.00.
2. The Fujifilm X-Pro3 is my personal set running firmware version 1,23.
3. Every single product shot and sample shared here was photographed by me and edited to my preference in LR Classic CC. I am a firm believer in not using stock photos or worse, drawing conclusions without even using the photography equipment.
8 Replies to “Fujinon XF 23mm f1.4 R LM WR Review – Fujifilm’s 35mm perfected”
Hi Keith, I was looking forward to your take on the new 23/1.4 and thank you for a well written piece on it.
Hi, thank you for the kind words 🙂
Lovely photos Keith, do you find the lack of a manual focusing clutch a miss?
Hi J, i don’t really miss the clutch focus mechanism as there’s a physical switch to toggle between AF/MF but I do miss the distance scale on the original 23/1.4.
I was keenly awaiting the release of this lens and your review popped out. The XF23/1.4 II looks worth getting for sure and I really wish Fujifilm could have given a much nicer lens hood like the XF35/1.4’s.
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Hi Robb, I read that Fujifilm will release an optional Sq designed hood for the lens later (I’m not sure about price but I guess it be pricey).
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Thank you ! 🙂