Let’s look at Fuji’s lineup of 50mm equivalent prime lenses. I’m going to tell you about the pros and cons, show you a bunch of examples shot on each lens, and also which one I’d keep if I could only keep one.
The 50mm focal length prime lens has a special, legendary place in photography’s history. It’s a lens favored by some of the legends of photography, such as Henri-Cartier Bresson.
It’s also a lens that many of us slightly older photographers learned with. My first camera, the Pentax K1000, came with a really great 50mm f/1.8 manual focus lens that I absolutely loved. And even this Minolta camera, which was once my father’s and still has film in it from has a 50mm lens attached.
Today I wanted to share my experience and advice for Fuji’s lineup of Prime 50mm focal length equivalent lenses.
Here are all three of them, ranging from size and price from smallest to largest. The 35mm f/2, coming in at the smallest and $399. Then we have the older 35mm, which is priced at $599 and has an aperture of f/1.4. Finally, the newest of the trilogy, the 33mm f/1.4 Comes in at $899. In terms of focal length, they are all very close, but of course in true full-frame equivalency, the 35s are 53mm, and the 33 is EXACTLY the 50mm. In real-world usage, they are pretty much the same focal length.
Let’s go through all three, which I own and have used quite a bit.
First, the 35mm f/2. At $400 and weather-sealed with a small profile, this lens is legit. I really, really like this lens. It makes it a fantastic candidate for any Fuji camera because of its excellent image quality and small size. The build quality is solid, and I’ve never been disappointed with the quality of photos taken with it. This lens has some great features for the price, including weather resistance and very fast and silent autofocus. It’s a lens that makes me confident it’s going to do what I want it to do every time.
Fuji XF 35mm f/2 Example Gallery:
The only drawback, if you call it a drawback, is that the maximum aperture is f/2. Honestly, for most situations, that’s just fine, but in comparison to the other two lenses, it does let less light into the camera.
I REALLY love this lens on smaller Fuji cameras like the X-E4 (SHOW). It feels fine on any camera but matches up beautifully on smaller bodies. For me, this is a great lens for everyday use. It’s fast and accurate, small, and has really good image quality. It’s something that I can put in my bag or throw on any of my cameras to use in almost any situation I might want the 50mm perspective.
The 35 1.4 is next, coming in at $600, but without weather sealing. This lens is one that MANY Fuji users seem to love, however, even though it’s more expensive than the f/2 version, it’s not weather-resistant, and it focuses much more slowly and is noisier to focus. While it’s a little bigger than the f/2 version, it’s actually very light, making it a decent candidate for any Fuji X-Series body. The main draw of this lens is the wide aperture, giving the photographer more light to work with, and allowing them to blur the background more than the f2 version.
Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4 Example Gallery:
The 35mm f/1.4 gets a lot of positive reviews out there. Many users call it “magical” and “ unique,” and I can personally attest that it can take some amazing images… but I cannot ignore some of the focus issues with this lens, even on newer bodies. It has let me down just a few times too often, with the autofocus hunting a bit in situations that didn’t seem too extreme. The focus just doesn’t inspire me with the confidence I get with the other two lenses.
However, the images from this lens are fantastic. If you don’t need the fast autofocus and can spend more time with each shot, then it’s a great option. It’s a little bigger than the f/2 lens, and much lighter than the 33 1.4, so it really does pack a lot of punch for the size and cost.
The newest lens is the Fujifilm XF 33mm f/1.4 and it comes at a much steeper price at $900. However, it’s got weather resistance and an autofocus system that is super quiet and scary fast. Seriously – when I first took this thing out and started focusing, I thought there might be something wrong with it – it was locking on focus so quickly and quietly I wasn’t sure if it was even doing anything! This is the lens that combines the best of both worlds from the 35mm versions – fast and quiet like the f/2, but with a wide aperture like the 35mm 1.4.
Fuji XF 33mm f/1.4 Example Gallery:
I really like all three of these lenses, and there are reasons I have all three.
The f/2 is the lens I reach for if I want to use the X-E4 in a reliable small and light package. It’s one of those lenses that fills me with joy to use – it’s fast, accurate, and has really great image quality. It’s also very affordable, and I think it has tremendous value for what you get – for $400, it’s probably one of the best lenses I’ve ever used at that price point. I have used it for some weddings and found it to be very fast and accurate in focus ability, but I wanted a little more background separation out of it.
The Fuijifilm XF 33mm f/1.4 might be bigger than the other two, and more expensive… but man… this lens is stunning. It has insanely fast autofocus, and in my thousands of shots with it so far, I haven’t encountered an out-of-focus shot that wasn’t my fault. This is the lens out of the three I’d keep if I had to make that choice.
This is the lens that I would say has, hands-down, the best “character” out of all three of these lenses, and it might be one of the best I’ve ever used from any manufacturer. I shoot a lot wide open. I love getting close and focusing on details, and this lens is sharp even at f/1.4.
The term “magical” in photography gets thrown around a lot. For me, this lens does feel like magic because it makes me smile every time I use it. It’s so fun because of how quiet and accurate it is, and the photos look fantastic.
I don’t think you can go wrong with any of these lenses. It really depends on much you want to spend, how much you value focus speed and weather-sealing, how heavy you like your lenses, and if you need the f/1.4 of the 33 or 35.
Those are my thoughts! If you have questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get back to you!