Critic / Photography / Products

Thoughts on my Fuji 14mm

I’ve had my X-Pro1 for about five months now, and I’d like to think I’ve put it to good use. Up until recently, all I had was the 35mm lens, which I’m very fond of. I’ve been wanting a wider lens for a while, but I was torn between Fuji’s 18mm and the 14mm. The difference in focal length was only one of the reasons I chose the XF 14mm 2.8 R.

I first put it to use on my trip to Trinidad & Tobago. My very first shots were taken at Reagan National Airport, but I used it quite a bit throughout the whole trip. When my friends and I got to the beach, I had the 14mm locked in.

Welcome to Maracas

I wasn’t too pleased with a lot of the shots I got, but one of the main reasons for that was the overcast weather.  At first, I wasn’t sure whether or not the lens or the weather were to blame, but now I’m sure it was the latter.

I took many other pictures in Trinidad, mostly on the beach. Unfortunately, I didn’t do any street photography on the entire trip, but when we got the beach in Tobago, I put the 14mm to the test once again. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t cooperating as much as I would have liked, but I still think I got some good shots.

Tobago Afternoon

The 14mm was often my lens of choice during the trip, not because I preferred it to the 35mm, but because I wanted to put it to the test as much as possible. But while I was shooting with it, I sometimes found myself wishing I had the other lens on. The opposite wasn’t true as often. Don’t get me wrong, the 14mm is a great lens, but the 35mm has it beat when it comes to image quality. The larger aperture surely has something to do with it, but that can’t be all. I’m no technical expert when it comes to lenses – I just go by what I see.

The shot below was taken a little past 3am. It’s an 8.5 second exposure that was shot wide open at 2.8. I was trying to shoot the moon, and my friends’ shadows got in the way. When we saw the image in the viewfinder, we decided to position ourselves in the shot. The results were pretty cool.

Tobago Nightime

The primary purpose of my trip Trinidad & Tobago was recreation and relaxation. I took lots of pictures, but I wasn’t focused too much on gear as I was with my overcast surroundings, bad weather notwithstanding.

I was planning on really testing the lens out in Colorado… but that trip didn’t turn out as expected. Since I’ve been back, I haven’t gone out on any real shoots for a while. I take my camera out with me a lot though, and I’ve only taken the 14mm off once to shoot a few infrared shots. I need to buy a new IR filter for my new lens (I could have used the one I have now with the 18mm, if I had decided to buy it).

Whenever I’m walking around or running errands and I don’t bring my camera along with me, I end up regretting it. So if I’m going up the street to get some food, my camera is usually coming along.

Super Tacos

About a week ago, I went to get some tacos from a place nearby. While I was waiting for my food, I fired off a few shots. As you can see from the picture above, it’s not a large establishment. Luckily the 14mm is pretty wide (even though it’s actually a 21mm equivalent on the X-Pro1). I was sitting near the guy in the window when I took the shot below. I didn’t have to engage in any gymnastics to get all four guys in the frame.

Gettin their taco on...

When I finally got my carne asada tacos, I took them outside and sat right in front of that same guy from the other picture. I focused the camera on my food but made sure he was in the frame. I was pleased with the results. It was partly cloudy outside, and this was shot wide open at f/2.8, 1/340, ISO 400. I also shot this in manual/zone focus using the very handy distance indicator that appears when you slide the focus ring back. No more endless spinning in manual focus like the 35mm. The rings are very smooth.

Taco Time

On the walk home, there are all sorts of random things that catch my eye. Some are more obvious photography subjects than others. I wanted to see how close I could get to this metal sign post, so I put the camera in macro mode and shot a few. The 14mm has a minimum focal distance of 18cm that’s not to shabby.

Sign Post

It’s a wider lens than the 18mm, and since I like capturing landscapes, that’s important to me. But I haven’t really gotten around to doing that just yet. Surprisingly, although this lens is rather wide, there is very little distortion.  This shot taken in a narrow aisle of a health food store illustrates that point rather well.

Health Food

The same is true of this image, captured inside an Italian store in Cleveland Park. Notice how everything seems relatively straight. The lighting was rather tricky at the time, but the shots still came out nicely.

San Peligrino

As you can see from the picture below, the lens is not free of distortion though – notice the dumpster on the right. Still, it’s barely noticeable in most situations.  look forward to indulging in some architectural photography with this lens. I had twisted myself into all sorts of knots trying to shoot this mural with my 35mm.

Got It

I’ve enjoyed this lens so far, and I’m eagerly looking forward to using it for landscapes as well as street photography. It delivers great results in the right settings. It’s nice to finally have such a wide lens for my beloved X-Pro1, but like any piece of kit, it has it’s benefits and disadvantages. I ca’t say I have any regrets though.

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PROS:

  • nice and wide with very little distortion
  • great bokeh when shooting objects up close
  • distance and depth of field indicator
  • smooth manual focus ring
  • superior image quality
  • solid build and feel
  • great lens hood

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CONS:

  • price $900
  • somewhat heavy
  • outside gathers dust very easily
  • not always as sharp as one would like
  • sometimes yields problems with blown highlights and shadows

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CONCLUSION: This is a great lens, although I’m still not sure that I wouldn’t have been better off with the 18mm. I’m all about the image quality, and it seems the 14mm might lag slightly behind in that regard. But the extra width and other features make up for the slight difference in sharpness between the two lenses. The images shot with the 14mm look great and they’re virtually free of distortion. Manual focusing is very smooth, and the sliding ring that reveals a distance and depth-of-field indicator is a very useful feature. The 35mm is still my preferred lens of the two, and although it is my choice for a walk-around lens, I will be using the 14mm a lot more in the weeks and months ahead. I’m looking forward to seeing what it can do with sweeping landscapes and on the streets. Of course I’ll be sharing the results. I don’t think I’ll be buying anymore lenses anytime soon.

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All of  the images above were RAW captures, processed in Lightroom (some more so than others). I didn’t ‘Photoshop’ any of them and I only cropped ‘Taco Time’ a little bit. The out-of-camera JPEGs are nothing to scoff at though. The gallery below includes all of the images above, juxtaposed with their out-of-camera counterparts (mostly using Velvia film simulation). The first image is always the processed RAW file, and the second is always the unprocessed JPEG (labelled OCJ). Just in case you’d like to tell me about your preference there is a poll underneath the gallery thumbnails where you can let it be known. It’s similar to a previous poll.

15 thoughts on “Thoughts on my Fuji 14mm

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  3. Every test, and my comparision, shows the 14mm to be sharper, have less distortion and less fringing than the 18mm.

  4. Thanks for sharing these very nice pictures.
    I am looking for a wide angle lens for my X-Pro 1 and so far pictures I have seen on the web, coming out of the 14 mm, are very impressive.
    The visual effect is very different with a 18 mm. You do not get this feeling of drowning into the picture because it is wider than what the typical eyes can see. I really like this impression and you only get with lenses that are wide enough.
    The best alternative might be the Carl Zeiss Touit 2.8/12 but it is very new, so I would need to wait for more reviews before deciding.

  5. > This is a great lens, although I’m still not sure that I wouldn’t have been better off with the 18mm. I’m all about the image quality, and it seems the 14mm might lag slightly behind in that regard.

    If you are unhappy with 14mm you would have been utterly disappointed with 18mm. Unlike 14mm, 18mm’s corners never get sharp at all due to massive amount of distortion which is corrected in software. 18mm at f/5.6 is as good as 14mm at f/2.8.

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