Fujifilm’s XF 33mm F1.4 R LM WR is the latest in a series of primes from the company that offer modern alternatives to some of the first optics in the X-mount system. I say ‘offer alternatives’ rather than replace, because the company says the 33mm won’t replace the nine-year-old XF 35mm F1.4 R and instead both will be available alongside one another.
Although Fujifilm also announced a 23mm F1.4 sister lens alongside the 33mm, it’s the longer lens that will become available first. It’s expected to arrive later this month at a price of $799.
What is the 33mm F1.4 (concept)
The lens is significantly larger and more complex than the original XF 35mm F1.4 (one of the first trio of lenses that launched the X-mount system). It features 15 elements in 10 groups, including 3 ED and 2 aspherical elements, making it much more complex than the 8 element, 6 group design of the 35mm, that just featured a single aspherical element.
This added complexity nearly doubles the weight, meaning the 33mm F1.4 weighs 360g (12.7oz) rather than 187g (6.6oz), it also sees the length increase by about 50%, with the 33mm being 73.5mm (2.9″) long, up from 50.4mm (2″).
Fujifilm says the 33mm’s design is focused on delivering sharpness by minimizing aberrations. Distortion and other aberrations are corrected optically and the design of the focus group is symmetrical, so that any aberration introduced as light enters the group is corrected as it leaves, according to the company.
The focus group is placed behind the aperture blades, allowing it to be smaller, and the use of a linear motor (as denoted ‘LM’ in the name) should result in smoother, faster focusing than in the older 35mm lens.
33mm F1.4 (details)
The lens has few external controls: just aperture and focus rings. As usual, the aperture ring has an ‘A’ position that lets the camera control the aperture value, with a choice of whether the value is then set automatically or using the command dials.
At the back of the lens you’ll find a small rubber seal around the outer lip, to help deliver on the promise of the ‘WR’ weather resistance, and there is extensive sealing around the other joins in the case to prevent moisture ingress around the control rings.
Side-by-side with the 35mm F1.4 R
The 33mm is appreciably larger than the older 35mm, which is probably what’s prompted Fujifilm to keep both options in its lineup.
Focus breathing has been minimized on the new lens, and its lack of snap-back focus ring (as featured on some of the primes released previously) is said to be so that the response of the focus ring can be adjusted to give a linear response for repeatable focus pulls in video.
The new 33mm features 9 aperture blades, rather than the 7 of the 35mm, and, while the minimum focus distance has increased from 28cm (11″) to 30cm (11.8″), its designers say sharpness should be better maintained at close focus distances.
Alongside the 33mm F1.4, Fujifilm also announced the XF23mm F1.4 R LM WR, which will replace the earlier XF23mm F1.4 R. We don’t have the new LM WR version of the 23mm lens, yet, but it will very closely resemble the 33mm F1.4 shown on the left here (only 4.3mm / 0.17″ longer), so we’ve lined the new 33mm up against the outgoing 23mm F1.4 R.
The design of the new 23mm very closely resembles that of the 33mm F1.4, with 15 elements in 10 groups, three aspherical and two ED elements. This again makes it much more optically complex than its existing counterpart, which featured 9 elements in 6 groups with a single aspheric. Again there’s a shift from 7 aperture blades to 9, and the move to the use of a linear motors, which should speed up focus.
XF23mm F1.4 R LM WR vs XF23mm F1.4 R
The 23mm F1.4 R LM WR doesn’t have the snap-back focus ring of its predecessor but again it’s been optimized for reduced focus breathing and the option of linear focus response, making it a more attractive lens for videographers.
Sharpness is improved over the old lens, as it the minimum focus distance, which drops from 28cm (11″) to 19cm (7.5″), which sees the maximum magnification increase from 0.1x to 0.2x.
The XF23mm F1.4 R LM WR will be available in November at a recommend price of $899, a $100 premium over the list price of the existing, non-weather-sealed model.
The new LM WR 23mm and 33mm F1.4s join the XF18mm F1.4 R LM WR launched earlier in 2021, forming a trio of primes that update some of the earliest lenses in Fujifilm’s X-mount range.
The X-mount celebrates its tenth birthday in 2022 and, with Fujifilm having opened the mount up to more third-party lens makers, it’s good to see the company go back and update some of the key options in its lineup. The updated lens all promise significant increases in speed and sharpness, handling and behavior that works better for video, and the addition of weather sealing.
It’s almost certainly not a coincidence that Fujifilm is launching a line of lenses that it claims will be able to resolve higher frequencies than its existing models could. All three lenses would clearly make a lot of sense if Fujifilm were to introduce a higher-resolution X-series body in the future.