Fujifilm XF 33mm f/1.4 R LM WR lens
If you’re after a fast standard prime lens for an X-mount camera, you’ll likely welcome the XF 33mm f/1.4 R LM WR lens. It’s relatively compact, not too heavy, and very solidly built.
Our main reservation is that it works best with cameras that have electronic viewfinders – which, fortunately, is most of Fujifilm’s X –mount line-up. Users of the XPro models will need to switch to the EVF as the lens barrel covers roughly a third of the OVF window – and more when the lens hood is attached.
Announced early in September 2021, the XF 33mm f/1.4 R LM WR lens is the third member of a trio of fast prime lenses that began with the XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR and XF 23mm f/1.4 R LM WR lenses. Similar in design to – but slightly lighter than – its siblings, it uses linear AF drive motor and has the same optical configuration as the 23mm lens. It also accepts the same filters and lens hood. Our tests were conducted with the lens on the X-Pro3 camera body, which is not stabilised.
Angled view of the XF 33mm f/1.4 R LM WR lens. (Source: Fujifilm.)
The optical design of the new lens (shown below) contains 15 elements in 10 groups and includes two aspherical elements and three extra-low dispersion (ED) elements to address common aberrations. Fujifilm’s proprietary HT-EBC coating is provided to reduce lens flare and ghosting.
The optical design of the XF 33mm f/1.4 R LM WR lens, showing the positions of the exotic elements and the focusing group. (Source: Fujifilm.)
Internal focusing is driven by a powerful linear motor, which provides fast and near silent autofocusing with minimal focus breathing. The front element doesn’t rotate during focusing, allowing hassle-free use of polarisers and graduate filters. The minimum focus is 30 cm and Fujifilm says focusing can be achieved in as little as 0.04 seconds.
The letters ‘R’, ‘LM’ and ‘WR’ in the lens name indicates that it has an aperture ring (R), linear motor focusing and it’s weather-resistant (WR). The ‘A’ position lock on the aperture ring prevents accidental changes to the Auto setting.
The XF 33mm f/1.4 R LM WR lens accepts 58 mm filters and has a minimum focus of 30 cm with a maximum magnification of 0.l5x. It is supplied with the LH-XF23-2 lens hood and a wrapping cloth.
Since the X-Pro 3 defaults to the optical finder, in this mode it’s not ideal for a lens as long as the review lens, particularly when the lens hood is fitted. You need to switch to the EVF with the lever switch dial on the front panel, which is located below the shutter speed dial.
Swapping to the monitor for framing shots is a poor solution because the monitor isn’t fully articulated and it can get in the way when the screen is flipped down for viewing.
Who’s it For?
Standard prime lenses, which cover focal lengths close to 50mm in 35mm format have long been staples in the photographer’s kit bag, which is one reason we see so many of them. The new XF 33mm f/1.4 R LM WR lens fits into this category, offering a fast maximum aperture plus the latest optical design and autofocusing technologies.
Fujifilm already provides two ‘standard’ primes in its extensive range of X-mount prime lenses – the 10-year-old XF 35mm f/1.4 R lens and the two-year-old XF 35mm f/2 R WR – as well as a number of standard-range zooms and various quality levels. So you might wonder why an additional lens is needed.
The original XF 35mm f/1.4 R lens is roughly half the weight of the new lens and two thirds its length; but the XF 33mm f/1.4 R LM WR lens offers a slightly wider field of view as well as updated optics, better AF technology and weather-resistant construction so it makes sense as an upgrade. It’s also a stop faster than the f/2 lens, which is slightly lighter again then the original lens and also weather-resistant plus roughly half the price of the new lens.
Suitable for use as a general-purpose lens for shooting both stills and movies, the new lens is also usable for vlogging, street photography and low-light work. Readers should note, however, there is no option for de-clicking the aperture ring, which could be an issue for videographers.
Build and Ergonomics
The XF 33mm f/1.4 R LM WR lens is made mostly from magnesium alloy body. Weather-resistant seals are located at 11 positions along the lens barrel, including around the lens mount providing good dust and moisture resistance. The lens can also operate at temperatures down to -10 degrees Celsius.
The new lens feels very solidly constructed and its controls operate smoothly and positively. Unlike the previous XF 35mm f/1.4 R lens, its barrel doesn’t extend when the camera is powered up.
The front element of the lens has a diameter of approximately 25 mm and is recessed by approximately 2 mm. Surrounding the lens is a 15 mm wide band that carries the name of the lens and is finely ribbed to minimise reflections. Internal threading for the 58 mm diameter filters and the external bayonet mounting for the lens hood encircles the front of the lens.
The focusing ring is located 13 mm behind the front of the lens. It’s 20 mm wide and entirely covered by fine ribbing. Focusing is internal, which means no issues arise when angle-critical filters, such as polarisers or graduated filters, are fitted to the lens.
Because focusing is driven from the camera, this ring turns through 360 degrees when the camera is switched off. During manual focusing, a distance scale is displayed in the camera’s viewfinder or on the LCD screen.
The 12 mm wide section of the barrel separating the focusing and aperture rings has a slight indentation roughly half way along it plus a white index mark on its trailing edge for aligning aperture settings. The dedicated aperture ring behind it is approximately 8 mm wide and ridged on the trailing edge.
Aperture values are engraved along the leading edge in one-stop intervals, with unmarked (but quite solid) 1/3 stop click steps between them. The ‘A’ position on the aperture ring locks the lens into auto aperture mode, enabling it to be combined with the A position on the camera’s shutter speed dial to permit full auto exposure control. After a further 5 mm wide unmarked band the lens barrel slopes inwards to end with a solid metal mounting plate, surrounded by a rubber ring to prevent the ingress of moisture and dust. This ring can be replaced, if needed, at a Fujifilm service centre.
Inside the lens mount are the normal 10 contact points for passing data between the lens and the camera body. The supplied cylindrical lens hood is easy to fit and can be reversed over the lens barrel for transport and storage. It clicks firmly into the bayonet mounting at the front of the lens.
Our Imatest tests showed the review lens to be a very good performer. Resolution measurements from the centre and roughly half way out towards the edge of the frame were above expectations for apertures between f/1.6 and f/8, which will be great news for potential purchasers.
Edge softening was noticeable up to about f/2.2, after which it was never really evident, except in out Imatest results, where the drop in resolution was effectively negligible. The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests.
Our lateral chromatic aberration graph is based upon measurements from uncorrected RAF.RAW files because the results from JPEGs recorded simultaneously were all too low to be relevant. Nonetheless, the values recorded across the aperture range of the lens were all well within the ‘negligible’ band, as shown in the graph of our test results below. (The red line marks the border between ‘negligible’ and ‘low ‘CA’.)
As usual, assessments of vignetting and rectilinear distortion were made with RAF.RAW files, even though similar results were obtained from JPEGs taken at the same time with all in-camera corrections disabled. Interestingly, because Adobe Camera Raw applies the built-in profile corrections (and you can’t disable them), we had to use an alternative viewer to check both aberrations.
Slight vignetting was visible at aperture settings between f/1.4 and f/2.5 but it was difficult to detect at smaller apertures. We also detected very slight pincushion distortion, which is not aperture-related. Since both aberrations are automatically corrected in the camera as well as in leading raw file conversion software, neither will be an issue for most potential users of this lens.
Autofocusing was consistently fast and accurate. The only blurred images in our multitude of test shots were due to use of unrealistically slow shutter speeds when shooting hand-held. But even though neither the camera X-Pro3 camera nor the 33mm lens is stabilised we were able to use shutter speeds of 1/20 second or a little slower and obtain more than 50% of shots with no visible blurring.
The nine-bladed iris diaphragm produced attractive 18-pointed sunstars when the camera was pointed at a bright light source with the lens stopped down to f/16. Examples can be found in the Samples section below.
With a minimum focus of 30 cm, this lens is not really suitable for close-ups unless subjects are relatively large. The f/1.4 maximum aperture provides good scope for differential focusing with suitable subjects.
Bokeh was mostly smooth and attractive with evenly-lit backgrounds. However, we found diffuse outlining around circular highlights.
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Picture angle: 46.6 degrees
Minimum aperture: f/16
Lens construction: 15 elements in 10 groups (including 2 aspherical and 3 ED elements); coatings
Lens mounts: Fujifilm X-mount
Diaphragm Blades: 9 (rounded aperture)
Weather resistance: Yes
Focus drive: Linear motor
Minimum focus: 30 cm
Maximum magnification: 0.15x
Filter size: 58 mm
Dimensions (Diameter x L): 67 x 73.5 mm
Weight: 360 grams
Standard Accessories: Front and end caps, lens hood
Distributor: Fujifilm Australia, 1800 226 355
Based on JPEG files recorded with the XPro-3 camera.
Based on RAF.RAW files recorded simultaneously with the JPEGs.
Vignetting at f/1.4.
Backlit close-up showing diffuse outlining around bright highlights; ISO 160, 1/600 second at f/1.4.
Close-up with evenly-lit background; ISO 160, 1/900 second at f/1.4.
Sunstars at f/16; ISO 160, 1/75 second.
An 18-pointed star produced by shooting a bright light source at f/16; ISO 400, 1/10 second.
ISO 160, 1/100 second at f/5.6.
ISO 400, 1/50 second at f/11.
ISO 400, 1/10 second at f/5.6.
ISO 1000, 1/10 second at f/8.
ISO 800, 1/20 second at f/5.6.
ISO 160, 1/75 second at f/11.
ISO 160, 1/56 second at f/11.
ISO 160, 1/38 second at f/11.
ISO 160, 1/70 second at f/10.
ISO 160, 1/25 second at f/11.
ISO 160, 1/17 second at f/11.
ISO 160, 1/250 second at f/9.
RRP: AU$1429; US$799.95
- Build: 9.0
- Handling: 9.0
- Image quality: 9.0
- Autofocusing: 9.0
- Versatility: 8.7