The Fuji 35 f2 v f1.4
The image above is a bridesmaid taking a picture of me, taking a picture of her at a wedding. It was taken using the Fuji 35 f1.4 at f2.
I recently found myself in a photography forum (a bad place to be) in a thread about the Fuji 35 f1.4 and the Fuji 35 f2. The whole thread turned into which was the better lens. In my opinion and I’ve used both, one is neither better than the other. Slightly different tools for different jobs but basically the same.
The obvious and most important difference is clearly the aperture. One stop of light. That one stop of light is the only real difference. I can hear those collective forum members getting very excited at that.
The Subtle Difference’s
The other differences are as follows:
The f2 focuses faster and is silent. But not by much and the noise the f1.4 makes is negligible. The only time it would be an issue is if you’re recording video and recording sound on the camera.
The f2 has 9 aperture blades compared to 7 in the f1.4. The difference is negligible.
The f2 is software corrected. So is the f1.4 to a degree. But the f2 does have more distortion to deal with. In real images the effect is negligible.
The f2 focuses internally. The f1.4 moves in and out. That may or may not bother you. It’s a personal thing.
The f2 is weather resistant whereas the f1.4 is not. That may have a bearing on your buying decision.
The f2 has a cheap plastic lens hood. The f1.4 comes with a square metal lens hood. The f1.4 has the better lens hood. But bang it and it can easily come off. Plus it can be easily pushed out of shape with very little force. You can’t reverse it on the lens for storage.
The f2 has a different designed lens cap that is slightly easier to remove. So what.
The f2 is a newer design compared to the f1.4. So what.
The f2 is smaller and lighter than the f1.4. The difference is negligible. They are both compact lenses.
The f2 is soft when focusing on something close to its minimum focusing distance. Take it slightly further away and it’s fine.
The Question of Sharpness
On paper the f2 is sharper than the f1.4 at equivalent f-stops. I’ve found them to be about the same as to make no difference. Some say one is sharper than the other. This is a big source of argument on photography forums. Staring at images taken with both at 100% on your screen doesn’t help. The final step in completing any editing is sharpening anyway.
Low Light Auto Focus with the Fuji 35s
I had low light auto-focus misses with the f1.4 and the Fuji X-T1. But in low light that camera often missed focus with any lens. I put that down to the camera. I’ve never had a missed auto-focus with the X-H1 and the f2. That’s my experience. Others say different. I can only state my findings. At some stage it will miss.
The Two Real Differences
Firstly, that one stop of light!
Secondly the price. Today at WEX in Norwich you can buy the f2 for £349. The f1.4 will cost £469.
Which one should you buy? If you find yourself in low light a lot, get the f1.4. The extra stop can make a difference. Wedding photographers etc.
If you’re the type that over thinks things (takes pictures and compares them at 100% on screen) get the f1.4 aperture. If you don’t, you’ll likely just keep wondering if you did the right thing until you buy it.
A Simple Decision
For me the f2 with the X-H1 and IBIS was my choice. I can easily take images at 1/15s second handheld. It’s a jack of all trades type of lens and master of none. I knew that when I bought it. I’ll never be disappointed by it. It’s an excellent lens on an excellent camera that produces sharp colourful images.
I’m not saying it’s better than the f1.4. I’m saying it’s different. You’ll have to decide for yourself which one to get. Just don’t make that decision thinking one is better than the other.
What I can say with certainty, is this. There are two main factors that decide any image. That’s the photographer and the light. Those two variables make up 99.5% of any image. No lens design or aperture can touch that.
Take my advice! Avoid photography forums. Arguing over these two lenses is pointless.
The Fuji 35 f1.4 Aperture Quiz
The following photographs were all taken by me at different weddings with the Fuji 35 f1.4 at various apertures? Can you tell which? Do you think the images from the f2 would’ve been any different? Which one of these do you think I couldn’t have used the f2 for instead?
Answers can be found at the bottom of this post Blickling Hall Christmas Lights which incidentally were all taken with the Fuji 35 f2 lens.
Post Last updated 06/01/2020