Fuji Showcase Fujinon XF 23/1.4 R WR LM <- perfection. User review :)

BeatX

Regular
Location
Szczecin, Poland
Name
Maciek
Hi everyone.
I've got this lens over 6 months, so I think it's long enough to give You my thoughts about this stellar prime ;)
This will be user/practical review, from portrait photographer perspective.
First of all, I will write down without any hesitation, that this is one of the best (if not the best) lenses, Fuji ever created. Period.
Mechanical build is highest quality in this price range. Feels like gem in the hands, but this goes to all new Fuji primes, so You all probably already know it :)
AF when doing photo is ultra fast, silent and very, very reliable (I don't do videos)
I'm very surprised that there is so little attention in Fuji community around new XF 23/1.4
Folks hype mostly new XF 18/1.4, XF 33/1.4 and XF 56/1.2
Don't get me wrong, these lenses are truly 10/10, but new XF 23/1.4 is just slightly above them all - because it is basically out of any serious flaws.
And those two flaws: distortion and vignetting are extremly easy to fix in post.
Just take a look at measurements in this professional review of new XF 18/1.4 vs 23/1.4
And XF 33/1.4 just to compare:
As You can see, in terms of resolution new 23/1.4 is more equal across the all apertures ranges and tack sharp wide open in all the frame, where's 18/1.4 needs to be stopped down to f/1.6 at lest to have usable corner acutance, and there is a significant disproportions in resolution between center and edges. XF 33/1.4 is somewhere between.

I've done deep research regards autofocus 35/2 primes (in FF terms), and when it comes to optical and mechanical performance, there is only Sigma C 35/2 imho, which is as good as new XF 23/1.4 on the market right now.
But XF 23/1.4 R WR LM is more sexy looking thought 😅 (especially with LH-XF23 lens hood attached, which I do own)

I do use this lens for documentary my family everyday life, for portraits, for holiday trips (including landscape shots)
And let me tell You.. in such photography genres, this lens truly shines!
Of course, such perfectly corrected optically lens will give almost none, or very little character - but something for something.
As a solid, top tier image quality lens with autofocus, there will always be compromises (in this regards, lack of character)
Simply, when You want 23mm prime with character, grab Voigtlander Nokton 23/1.2 or any other full manual lens like TTartisan 23/1.4
Eventually old XF 23/1.4 R can give some more organic, vintage like look in images - but again, it has not as perfect IQ as new 23/1.4
But if You fine with modern rendering, new XF 23/1.4 will not disappoint You, I can guarantee You that ;)
This lens simply doing everything very, very well. Solid piece of glass in every regard.
Bokeh is quite smooth and very pleasing, with nice transitions between foreground and background.
It is not cheap looking bokeh like from Viltrox/Tokina 23/1.4 thanks to almost complete absence of CA and longitudinal chromatic aberration in XF 23/1.4 R WR LM
New XF 23/1.4 R WR LM can produce beautifully blurred background, even in extreme conditions like trees and branches lit from behind.
And this scenario is ultimate torture for every lens, to see how good bokeh it can rally generates.
Some my photo examples:

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When it comes to landscape photography, its tack sharp corner to corner, with zero CA.
Only flaws are distortion and vignetting which are very easy to fix in post and they basically don't degrade image quality.
For full size sample photos click on images below, demosaiced in Iridient X-Transformer with minimal sharpening:

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DSCF1766 by Maciej Kozłowski, on Flickr

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DSCF1748 by Maciej Kozłowski, on Flickr

If You looking for 23mm prime for Your Fuji camera, look no further.
This lens is just gem in Fuji lineup, and and because of the beautiful bokeh, top tier mechanical and optical performance I rate this lens higher than XF 23/2 and any other 23mm prime in Fuji system at the moment of writing this review.
This includes Voigtlander Nokton 23/1.2 which looks like very fun lens to use, but has serious problem with field curvature, so it will not give You as good IQ in landscape photography, as XF 23/1.4 R WR LM does.
In summary, I give this lens 5+ out of 5 stars ;)
 
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