Fuji 35 f/2 v. 18-55/XF

Did I mention I grabbed the 35/2 Fuji WR as soon as I was done writing that post the other day?? Sorry either way well, it came today. I thought I would do a seriously quick comparison for anyone out there that has the 18-55 and has an itch to grab a 35 prime normal lens for their kit. You may or may not be surprised by the results. Take them for what they're worth but I don't see a whole lot I didn't expect.

The Testing Conditions

Oh shit, not frigging flowers. Sorry about that too. Nobody but the plants around at the moment. I'm supposed to be working on client stuff right now but just had to blow out a few frames under non-clinical conditions before I get on a train tomorrow and play hooky for the better part of a week. Unlike last time I ski-dattled I'll be making tons of pictures on this mini-trip out of town. I think…

On with the show. For all of these screen shots feel free to open them in a new window so that you can blow them up to full size and see exactly what I see. In all cases the 18-55 XF is on the left and the 35/2 WR on the right. All images imported with VSCO FILM 04 Provia-- applied on import. Nothing else. All shot hand held 18-55 first then 35/2, not back to back but all of the 35/2 after. All at more than a foot but less than 3 feet.

First Up f/4

That's a good aperture right?? I use it all the time. Common thought process would lead one to think that the 35/2 should blow the living shit out of the 18-55 right? I mean come on one third stop down for the 18-55 from wide-open and 2 whole stops down for the 35/2 putting it at or close to the best it's got.

Wide

Meh, no real world difference. Anything you think you see in this test is probably due to idiotically small variations in exact point of focus. Not a lot of DOF at f/4. Practically none close up but f/4 around 3 feet handheld is a large part of my universe. You can check the shutter speeds. More than reasonable and probably don't account for any variations but as you get to slower speeds or subjects that are not perfectly still (for me never except for stupid flower crap) that will most likely contribute far more than lens performance.

How about another at f/4 slightly farther away?

Wide

Difference in rendering and focus transition? Minor at best but a little bit. You decide which rendering you like better. A toss up. Here's a wider view so you can see near to far rendering at f/4

Wide

Now f/4 v. Wide-open

The 18-55 XF at f/4 and the 35/2 WR wide-open that is. Should skew things to the kit-zoom's favor right? Common wisdom and all.

Wide

The most gigantic difference I see is even less depth of field. None in the f/4 shots from a critical sharpness point of view to hard to even see correctly at f/2. Is the 35/2 WR less sharp wide-open than the 18-55 at f/4? Maybe, maybe not, maybe equal. With DOF as shallow as this your eyes tend to play tricks on you. Oh forgot to mention the obvious; Real world three dimensional subject. I happen not to shoot anything flat. Do you? Heck even if you do this close it's hard to actually get the focus plane and flat subject absolutely parallel. Unless you've got a lab.

Now that we've got a really close subject and a two-stop difference in aperture lets take a look at rendering. You can see the pixel peeping view above. Here's a wider view about the same as before.

Wide

Both lenses render very well and f/2 certainly is more out of focus, as if we didn't know that. Used close to subjects as I tend to do the 35/2 WR will definitely give me more separation wide open when I want that look. Farther away maybe not so noticeable.

Forgive the minor variation in framing, hand-held as mentioned. As for the exposure difference, probably minor change in light. Hard to say but most likely the case since it's partly cloudy with a bit of diffused sun through clouds that causes minor brightness difference even by eye. As for color balance that could be the slightly varying light, could be the 18-55 renders a hair warmer, or it could be a contribution by both factors. Real world? No significant difference. Different day, different subject, 5 minutes before or after, you'll never know.

Bottom Line

Is the Zoom as good as the 18mm/2? No (for the most part). Is it as good as the 23/1.4? No, sorta. Is it as good as the 56/1.2? God no, not even close but certainly pretty good. You see where I'm going here and why it's been a year I've held off grabbing what I thought would be the first lens on my list.

What you see above is what I predicted. Under lab conditions and possibly different shooting circumstances you may see minor imaging performance improvements with the 35/2 WR vs the kit-lens. For the most part if you have to look hard side by side you'll never know subject to subject.

The reason to grab the Fuji normal prime vs the 18-55 is size. The secondary reason would be better subject/background separation if you actually use that a lot and shoot it wide open. I say that because the 18-55 has great IS that's good for at least 2 stops. Sure it won't stop subject motion as much which brings you to the other reason to get the prime. If you need those two extra stops to stop subject motion in a lot of cases vs theoretical cases.

If you do really think that thru. Shooting at f/2 gives you less depth of field and dynamic subjects tend to be OOF for a whole lot of reason like even less DOF as much as they are due to subject motion blur. Only you know your typical conditions. Me, I tend to shoot at f/4-ish anyway so eyes and such are sharp due to subject motion to/away from the camera.

Obviously these are not "real-world" conditions for my world. I do have a few predictions which I'll talk about down the road when I have a few miles on the new 35mm. My guess is that it will fare better with cross light. In other words light that's perpendicular to the 18-55. I tend not to use lens hoods and also like side light so this is a weakness that I see in the 18-55. I see a lot less in all of my Fuji primes.

The size is perfect when paired with my 18mm/2. It's a very discrete kit. The more than half-way extended 18-55 at 35mm is not discrete at all. A dead give-away that pictures are being made is a telescoping zoom all tele-scoped out. Too long and too big a visual for me to be comfortable doing what I have in mind next. That's the sole reason I grabbed the Fuji normal prime now.

I can report for the 1000th time it's also very quiet. Thank god. It may be the quietest normal motor prime Fuji makes. Not as quiet as the LM motor lenses I have like the 18-55 but far better than any other non-LM lens and worlds apart from the 35/1.4

More later