The Fujinon XF 23mm F2 is the newest version of the probably most popular (maybe after 50mm) prime focal length – the FF equivalent of 35mm. It has all metal built and, although still light, it is relatively heavy for its size.It balances great on the X-T2, although when put on X-T20 and X-E3 it makes the system a bit too front heavy, especially given that Fuji (why Fuji, oh why???) decided to forgoe hand grip on their APS-C camera line.
The lens is relatively light and small – compared to Fuji’s older 23mm prime – the F1.4 it 1cm shorter and 120g lighter. Many shooters also report that the F2 lens focuses faster, although thgough my very short tests made on the F1.4 I have to say that I don’t notice any large differences between the AF systems of the two lenses.
Importantly, the F2 version is also a lot cheaper than the F1.4, balancing around 50% of the price of its larger counterpart. It also has weather sealing, something that all camera makers are marketing heavily right now, so you might say that the lens is fashionable, although in my opinion it’s just a gimmick. As long as the rain is light you can shoot with any camera, during a hurricane even weather sealing doesn’t help. If somehow you still argue about pouring rain conditions, just put a bag over it, it won’t cost you more than 10 cents.
I used the word “relatively” when describing its size for a reason I want to point out right now. Although the lens is smaller than the other Fujinon 23mm prime, the comparison with Sony does not look that rosy. Sony’s equivalent – Sonnar 35mm F2.8 is 1/3 lighter and 1,5cm shorter (what are you doing Fuji?) – and all that for full frame!! Plus the Sony has one particular advantage, not over the Fujinon 23mm F2, but over all of Fuji’s primes.
Fujinon XF 23mm F2 does not have image stabilization. None of the Fuji primes do (except the new macro lens I think). The lack of image stabilization does not make any sense and the image quality argument is simply bogus. Why making a low light lens without stabilization? For an example, with 23mm prime I need to shoot at 1/60 to get sharp images, whereas on the stabilized 18-55 F2.8-4 I can get away with 1/15, which gives us 2 stops. In order to compensate for that, the image quality loss would have to be larger than what you get from moving from ISO200 to ISO 800.
All in all, the lens is super sharp and produces amazing image quality. The problems it suffers from are the same problems the whole X mount system has, so of course if you already decided on the system, there are no particular downsides of this glass that you need to watch out for. Fujifilm consistently turns out some of the greatest lenses on the market, and this is no exception. Images are corner-to-corner sharp on all apertures.
The only thing you need to look out for as far as imaging is concerned is that photos become soft and have this dreamy -100 on clarity look to them when stopped down to F2. This effect dissapears from f2.8 upwards.