The XF 14mm is solidly-crafted with an all-metal barrel, and distinctly reminiscent of the compact primes of manual focus SLRs or rangefinders. The manual focus ring rotates smoothly with positive end stops, and offers perhaps the most convincing facsimile of mechanically-coupled operation that we've yet seen from an electronically-driven 'focus by wire' design; in this view it's set to the manual focus position. The aperture ring is a different story, though; on our sample the click-stops are distinctly loose (similar to the 35mm F1.4).
Compared to original three XF-mount primes
|Left to right: XF 14mm F2.8 R, XF 18mm F2 R, XF 35mm F1.4 R, and XF 60mm F2.4 R Macro|
Here's the 14mm lined up alongside Fujifilm's existing X-system primes. With its finely-ridged manual focus ring and aperture ring marked in whole-stop increments, it follows most of the same design cues, the main difference being the addition of distance and depth-of-field scales. In terms of size it sits somewhere between the 35mm F1.4 and 60mm F2.4 Macro, and the entire lineup will fit in a small bag.
Manual focus mechanism
The XF14mm features a manual focus system somewhat similar to that on the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 12mm F2 ED for Micro Four Thirds (and for that matter quite a few SLR lenses from the likes of Tamron and Tokina). The focus ring has two positions - pushed forward the lens is in autofocus mode, and pulled back towards the camera it's in manual.
Manual focus on the 14mm offers a far better tactile experience than Fujifilm's other lenses. It's still electronically-driven, but behaves much more like a mechanically-coupled lens, with hard end stops at each end of the range along with a distance and depth of field scale. The focus ring is smooth, well-damped, and responsive, without any sense of the lag that sometimes comes with focus-by-wire.
One point worth noting is that the 14mm offers no mode in which both auto and manual focus can both be used. With the ring pulled back only manual focus is possible, and when it's pushed forward, only autofocus is available. At this point, operation is dependent upon the position of the camera's focus mode switch as follows:
Body switch 'S'
Body switch 'C'
Body switch 'M'
|Focus ring set to auto||
AF via shutter release
AF via AF-L button
|Focus ring set to manual||
Manual focus only
This means that you still get the choice of autofocusing using either a half-press of the shutter button, or by pressing the AF-L button on the rear. But as usual for Fujifilm, when using the AF-L button the camera gives no visual focus confirmation, and no parallax-corrected AF frame in the X-Pro1's optical finder. What's more, with the 14mm the camera doesn't even indicate the focus distance it's set. To get focus confirmation you either have to enable operational sounds (meaning the camera will beep quietly every time you press a button), or click-in the rear dial to see a magnified view. This is something Fujifilm really needs to fix.
The 14mm uses a rear focus design, and is one of the fastest-focusing of the XF lenses. It's still not super-quick, but then again for many of the practical applications of a wideangle prime, AF speed isn't especially important (landscapes and buildings are rarely in a hurry). Typically for contrast-detect AF systems, focusing is almost invariably accurate, with none of the front- or back-focusing problems that can afflict SLR systems. As always, though, it must be noted that focus speed and accuracy is dependent upon a number of variables, including the camera body used, subject contrast, and light levels.
Change in angle of view on focusing (focus breathing)
Lenses' focal lengths are specified at infinity focus, and almost all change their angle of view as they're focused closer. Like most primes the 14mm gets less wide at close focus distances, but the effect is very small and certainly not worth worrying about.
On the camera
The 14mm isn't a particularly large lens - in practical use it feels much the same as the 35mm F1.4. The layout is entirely conventional, with the aperture ring close to the camera body and the focus ring at the front. Anyone used to 'traditional' camera operation will feel right at home, once they've got used to the dual-position focus ring.
One less-obvious advantage of the 14mm's focus ring design is that, when locked in the AF position, it offers a proper grip for taking the lens off the camera. The original three primes offer very little fixed area on their barrels, and are oddly difficult to remove from the camera without changing the aperture setting in the process.
Lens body elements
|The lens uses Fujifilm's all-electronic XF mount, and is compatible with X-system cameras only. Both focusing and aperture setting are driven electronically.|
|The filter thread is 58mm, and does not rotate on autofocus. It's surrounded by the bayonet mount for the lens hood.
The relatively large diameter of the filter thread in relation to the front element means that 'thick' (8mm mount) polarisers can be used without fear of vignetting.
|The bayonet mount, petal-type hood is shared with the XF 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 R LM OIS zoom. It's made of plastic with a matte finish on the inside.
It may not be as pretty as the rectangular metal shades supplied with the previous primes, but it's far more practical, reversing neatly for storage (see here for an image).
|The focus ring is metal and has a finely-ridged 17mm-wide grip. It rotates 120 degrees from infinity to 0.18m. It's smooth and well-damped, making manual focus a breeze.
When pushed forward into the AF position the ring locks solidly in place, which also means it doesn't rotate on autofocus.
|The aperture ring is positioned towards the rear of the lens barrel, close to the camera body. It's marked in 1-stop increments from F2.8 - F22, with (rather loose) clicks every 1/3 stop. There's also an A position that's used to set the aperture automatically in Program or Shutter Priority modes.|