The Contender II | Review of the Viltrox 33mm f1.4 for Fujifilm X-mount

*Updated 13 May: (details at end of the article). Viltrox has announced that for owners of the X-Pro3, they should not be using the Viltrox 23, 33, 56, and 85mm due to the possibility of scratches. 

After the review of the Viltrox 85mm f1.8 (link here) around 9 months ago, Viltrox has not rested on its laurels and stepped up with recent releases of the Viltrox 23mm f1.4 and 33mm f1.4 (officially on 20 Apr 2020), with the Viltrox 56mm f1.4 coming up next. 


The Viltrox 33mm f1.4, with its metal hood and lens cap. 

It has been asked, hence allow me to confirm that these Viltrox lenses have auto-focus natively on Fujifilm X-mount bodies. You do not need an adapter.


f1.4, ISO160

If you are too busy to read on more, here’s a quickie summary just for you. 

The Viltrox 33mm f1.4 gives immense value for money, effectively competing against the XF35mm f2 lens while giving users a peek into how the XF35 f1.4 II can be if it ever appears. 

I will split this review into 3 parts, to give the reader as much useful information as possible. 

Part 1 –  Build, Specifications, and Packaging

Part 2 – Handling and Sample images

Part 3 – Conclusion. 

Disclaimer:
1. I will refer to the Viltrox 33mm f1.4 as the 33/1.4 for short. 
2. This is the fourth camera review I have done while under COVID-19 quarantine rules, and we finally went out of the house for a shoot 
3. All samples here were shot by me with the X-Pro3 and Viltrox 33mm f1.4, a production copy. 
4. I was not paid in any form for this review.
5. I reserve ownerships to these images, I am generally very easy-going with ownership as I believe photography should be generous. Still, there have been a few cases where readers have notified me of others who have used the images for purposes of profit.

Part 1 –  Build, Specifications, and Packaging

For a USD279 lens (vs the XF35mm f1.4’s USD599 or the XF35mm f2’s USD399), the packaging of the Viltrox’s surprises pleasantly. 

The lens comes snugly packed in a very well padded compact box much like the ubiquitous iPhone boxes. In the box, one finds the warranty card, manual, lens pouch, and yes, a metal lens hood. (I’ve not seen Fujifilm provide metal hoods since the XF35 f1.4 and 18mm f2 era, with the USD5999 XF200 f2 being the only exception

The lens is well built with little or no flex, with a good amount of resistance in the aperture and focus rings, and I can attest both work buttery smooth. The lens is housed in a full metal structure with a brass lens mount.

The overall feel is a very sturdy lens that fits in well with the well-built Fujifilm X-mount bodies. Notably, the aperture ring is silent (click-less) and in this sense, an advantage for the video folks. 

The 33/1.4 is as well built as the XF35 f1.4 lens, if not better. A common question is the relative size of the two lenses and here you go:

Viltrox 33/1.4 vs Fujifilm XF35/1.4

Filter size: Both 52mm 
Length:  65 x 73mm  vs  65 x 54.9mm (Viltrox vs Fujifilm)
Weight: 270g vs 187g (Viltrox vs Fujifilm)

The 33/1.4 comes in with 9 aperture blades and optical design of 10 elements in 9 groups including 1 ED lens, actually a more complex formula than the XF35/1.4’s 8 elements in 6 groups and 7 aperture blades. It has, in Viltrox’s words, HD Nano multilayer coating, with water-resistant coating on the front lens element. The minimum focusing distance is a respectable 0.4m (15.7in).

And something most reviewers missed, the lens is firmware upgradeable, with a mini-USB port built directly in the lens mount area. 

Part 2 – Handling and Sample images

Now to the more exciting part!


It seems some may find the lens too ‘long’ in comparison to the XF35 f1.4 and XF35 f2. One thing is the longer hood design of the 33/1.4 does add to the perspective. 

The 33/1.4 though heavier than the XF35 f1.4 lens didn’t feel much of a difference in real-life handling (it’s a 90g difference, or in simpler terms, 4 slices of bread)

The aperture runs from f1.4 to f16, and yes, the lens focuses internally, giving it an almost silent operation, which is great. Autofocus is very fast, definitely much faster than the XF35 f1.4 and minimally as fast as the XF35 f2. 

f1.4, ISO160 (the vignetting is added by me in post-process)

At f1.4, the Viltrox 33mm is plenty sharp and easily reproduces details. Personally, I invest in a large aperture lens to shoot at a large aperture, and sharpness wide open is important. 


crop of image sample below. 

f5.6, ISO160

The Viltrox performs well sharpness wise wide-open and on semi-fast apertures. At f1.4, the 33/1.4 is easily sharper as sharp as the XF35 f1.4 across the whole frame. However, at smaller apertures, the corner performance of the XF35 f1.4 is better.

More samples.

Bokeh quality is pretty pleasant and consistent, with a smooth rendering between focused to out of focus areas. 

For those who are curious about flare performance on the 33/1.4, here is one example. 

Of course, no piece of optics is perfect, and to me, chromatic aberration is one area the Viltrox 33/1.4 falls short. 

In the test between the XF90mm f2 and the Viltrox 85mm f1.8 back then (link here), the Fujifilm XF90mm came out having a significant advantage being a more modern lens design in larger than 100% crops. I know most people don’t crop in that much, but here’s me being a bit geeky here.

However, between the XF35 f1.4 which is a 2011 lens design, there is not much of an advantage of the XF35 f1.4 against the Viltrox 33mm f1.4 here, but I will be a fanboy and say that the Fujifilm XF35 f1.4 performs better in this respect. 


CA is quite noticeable in backlit subjects (check out the petals).

Part 3 – Conclusion. 

Let me start this with a confession first, I love the XF35 f1.4, and it has been one of my most shot lenses since X-mount began close to 8 years ago and I’ve been looking forward patiently to an updated XF35 f1.4 II.

I had quite high hopes and was anticipating the Fujifilm XF33 f1.0 as an update to my XF35 f1.4 when it went from a rumor to a confirmed release, only later to be disappointed again when Fujifilm decided to change it to a 50mm f1.0 (making it a 75mm focal length lens), and now Viltrox has released a very decent ‘update’ to our much loved XF35 f1.4 with its 33mm f1.4.

At close to 60% cheaper compared to the XF35 f1.4 and 30% cheaper than the XF35mm f2 and very good autofocus and reasonable image quality performance, I am confident that Viltrox is building up a good line of lenses for the Fujifilm user, and more choices can never be a bad thing. 

Most of us long time users will have already own the XF35 f1.4 and will see the 33/1.4 as a curiosity. I do not imagine many selling their 35/1.4 for this to take advantage of the faster auto-focus but the Viltrox 33mm f1.4 presents an excellent option for those new to Fujifilm X-mount and looking to build up their lens setup. 


f1.4, ISO160

Thank you for reading. 

*Update 13 May 2020 – It has been confirmed by a few users that as the lens dismount button is built too close to the mount in the X-Pro3, one runs into the risk of damage on the plastic base circling the button when using third-party lenses. 

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Keith Wee

Photography Reviewer and Mathematics Educator. Writes for Fujifilm Asia Pacific, Fujilove and FujiXPassion and loves to share life as it is, with its sweet and bitter moments.

9 thoughts on “The Contender II | Review of the Viltrox 33mm f1.4 for Fujifilm X-mount

    1. Thank you 🙂 but pls be careful to note that to not use the Viltrox lenses on the X-Pro3 body due to possible scratches. The other X-bodies are good to use 🙂

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    1. Hi, maybe your can elaborate? The X-Pro1 didn’t present much issues from my experience but of course at this point, these cameras are showing sign of age. A friend had to send in his only last year when the shutter got shot when he was trying to shoot continuous

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