This is a summary of my YouTube Video, you can watch the whole piece linked at the bottom of the blog post.
These two are the most common Fujifilm lenses out there, the Fujinon 23mm F2 and the Fujinon 35mm F2, also commonly known as Fujicrons lenses.
I recently did a full review of the 35mm F2 lens and I initially thought about comparing these two lenses, pitting them against each other. However, I changed my mind, It’s really not necessary...
These two lenses are so similar that it really comes down to your preferences, your focal length of choice, and how you like to shoot. I do have a lens preference, and I will mention it later. But in this post, we’ll talk about both these two lenses, show you samples and talk about my experiences as well, Let’s get started.
The Lenses Themselves
One of the reasons why I changed my mind about this normal review or comparison between these two lenses, is because the lenses themselves are very similar.
If you compare them against each other, then these are similar in size, weight, image quality, focusing speeds, and most importantly, the price as well. Although, as always, I recommend getting these used and saving some cash.
And if you compare them against the others versions of the same focal them, then These are cheaper than any of the F1.4 versions, are faster than the 1st gen 1.4 and are weather-resistant as well. So it comes down to which one you prefer to use, and like best.
And just like that, writing a comparison or review would be over, in less than a minute. So you can see why measuring the dimensions, weight and size of these two and making a versus video doesn’t really add any value. The real difference is the focal length.
The Focal length
There is a clear difference in focal length, compression and the bokeh between these two lenses, and that has a direct impact on your results and the feeling that you’re trying to evoke with your images.
And that is the first thing that you should consider, what are you trying to achieve with your images? what type of memories are you trying to create? what moments in time would you like to capture?
More often than not, there’s a lens that works best for the type of photography and the style that you have chosen, a lens that could potentially make your life easier. For example, You might find it easier or hear people say or suggest doing portraits and wedding photography with a 35mm/50mm/60mm lens, or landscape photography with a 14mm/16mm/18mm lens.
But even then, these are just suggestions and what the majority of people do, do not feel constrained to follow some guideline or rule about what focal length is best for each type of photography.
Make your own decision. For example, take a look at some of these landscape and architectural images:
There were paid projects for department stores in Japan, taken with the X100F. It’s not really landscape photography per se and I'm not using the widest lens available. However, I think it’s very clear the feeling and look that I was trying to achieve with these photographs.
So choosing a focal length based on the type of photography that you’re trying to do is not some sort of sacred rule that must not be broken, it’s just a general reference or useful guideline about lenses that make your life easier in that category, keep that in mind.
But since my main focus is street photography, then there are a couple of things that I’d like to mention reading these lenses.
The 35mm adds a pleasant compression and bokeh to my images, it creates separation between you and your subjects. Which might help people that want to avoid confrontation, getting noticed or any sort of conflict or interaction while doing street photography.
The 23mm lets me capture a wider range of moments, forces you to get closer to subjects and even pseudo landscape photography as well. But it might feel too generic to some, and too multipurpose.
Street Photography Options & Suggestions
I want to try to avoid this, I like the 23mm so that’s what you should buy, or like the 35mm so that’s what you should buy, that’s does not help anybody considering these lenses, and trying to choose and make a decision.
Instead, take a look at this, These are the 3 most common lenses for street photography, the 23mm F2, 35mm F2, and to the left, you would have the 18mm F2.
It’s a lot easier to test or jump from the 23mm F2 to the 18mm F2 lens, or from the 23mm F2 to 35mm F2 lens, let’s call it a gradual adjustment.
It’s a lot more difficult to jump from 18mm F2 to 35mm F2 and vice versa. It’s hard to justify the price and the lens when you haven't used lenses on the opposite spectrum or range. Let's call it a huge leap.
Getting a fixed lens camera like the Fujifilm X100V, or the x100 series in general, removes the paradox of choice, you can just focus on working with what you have and not worry about lenses.
Like Barry Schwartz says in his book: The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
“Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.”
But the beauty of getting the XT series or X-Pro series is the fact that you have the option to change lenses. So your system dictates your capabilities and future considerations and questions.
And I personally think that the best way to learn is to do it and to teach others, I bought the 35mm F2 lens and used it as my main lens for 3 months or so before I even made a review about the lens or even talked about the lens. I didn’t use anything else, no distractions, full commitment to just one lens.
And it will be a lot easier for you to follow that methodology and learn to be doing, when the change is gradual, and not a huge leap. Keep that in mind.
My Personal Lens Choice
Looking back at my experiences, I learned more about photography and immersed myself in my craft during my one year abroad than at any other time in my life. All I try to do is create memories and capture moments in time that resemble cinema. Cinema is my inspiration, my goal, and what I try to achieve.
And that makes me a little biased towards the 23mm F2 lens, All I had during that year was the X100T until it died, and later the X100F, just one camera, just one lens, and nothing else.
Later on, I reviewed the X-Pro1 and I quickly learned that the magic of having the option to change lenses was incredible, the Option to choose is all that I ask. However, that does not mean that you have to have a bunch of lenses, that you need a camera bag full of lenses that never gets used.
Even with an XT camera, or X-Pro camera, I would personally still start my photography journey with the 23mm lens, get used to and make gradual adjustments to other focal lengths as I progress.
If you want to check out the full version of the article, you can watch the YouTube video linked below: