Shooting with the Fuji 23mm f/2 XF WR

I have a pretty bad case of GAS. That’s Gear Acquisition Syndrome, for the non-photographers out there. That means I love buying and trading camera gear; so much so that I probably spend more time reading up on the latest and greatest rather than being out there shooting.

On the plus side, I’m aware of that, so I took some time to hit the streets this weekend with my Fujifilm X-T2 and my new 23mm f/2 XF WR prime lens. For me, it’s a bit of an odd lens because I’m much more used to 35mm (50mm ff equivalent) as my standard view and 50 (75mm ff) being my portrait view. It’s just wide enough to be a bit awkward. But only at first.

You can see some slight vignetting here; the 23mm f/2 tends to do that when shooting wide open. It’s easily corrected but I like vignetting in my street photos. It does get a bit soft when you focus on objects up close as well wide open.

I really enjoy the speed and quiet focusing of the 23mm f/2. All of the older X-series Fuji lenses have faster apertures in the 1.4-1.2 range but are heavier, slower to focus, and quite a bit louder than the newer f/2 primes. The 23mm f/2 is absolutely a gem for street photography, though. It provides great context for images that the tighter fields of view I’m used to don’t.

Homeless man standing off against black Hebrew Jew supremacists in Charlotte, NC
I still need to learn how to stop down. I haven’t owned fast lenses in quite some time so I keep trying to isolate subjects with f/2. Since a near wide-angle 35mm field of view is just not going to create bokeh goodness, it’s perfect for training me out of this habit.
Someone threatened him; shit’s about to get real, here. I did have facial recognition active here. Usually it’s pretty accurate with the X-T2 and I was far enough away that it should have nailed it with f/2. Unless it picked up the woman in the back?
At this point, I stopped down to f/5.6. Slowly, I’m learning that street photography is not portraiture.
But the show’s over by then.

I spoke with the man later on and he was just angry that these men preach hatred every weekend. They go on about how “God favors the black man, the Indian, and the Jew” but the white man is a cancer. Black supremacists are a thing. I should have asked to take a picture of his sign, “God is love.” Would have been a good way to wrap up this mini-photo essay.

Shooting from the hip is a delight as well; the motors are entirely silent and very quick when stopped down. I’m still learning how to zone focus so I don’t have anything to share but it makes for a perfectly discreet shooting experience with room for cropping when your composition is a bit off. Sorry, no MFT charts or shots of brick walls. I like showing results, so here they are. Overall, it’s fast and I’ll improve with accuracy over time.

This is a somewhat non-precise thing to say, but I really like the “rendering” of the f/2 primes. I know it’s a buzzword that’s basically akin to the “magic” of the fast Fuji primes but the combination of sharpness and micro-contrast is really appealing. I don’t have to pump the micro-contrast too much in Capture One to suit my tastes. Specific to the 23mm focal length is how well space is rendered; it really gives you a sense of being there, as the above images show. I do have a 35mm f/1.4 and 50mm f/2 in the mail, so I’ll eventually be back to my more traditional shooting styles, however.

Overall, I highly recommend the 23mm f/2 XF WR if you’re looking for something fast and wide-sh for your Fujifilm X-series camera. The large depth of field combined with the fast aperture makes it a good performer in low light environments. I haven’t personally tried the 23mm f/1.4 but considering how small, discreet, and sharp the f/2 version is I’d suggest it in a heartbeat unless you do most of your shooting in dark indoor settings.

I honestly feel that it’s just wide enough for me as an APS-C shooter. I might spring for the new 16mm f/2.8 XF WR in the future but that’s definitely GAS talking. I’ve never owned a true wide-angle lens and I don’t really do that much landscape work. Ahh, but maybe I WOULD if I owned a 16mm f/2.8 XF WR……

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