Way back in May 2012 I purchased a Fujifilm X-Pro1 camera with the XF18mm F2 and the XF35mm F1.4 lens. You can see my blog post about the X-Pro1 and 35mm here, featuring a brand new pristine X-Pro1 with a 35mm F1.4, so pristine it even has that rubber cap on it!
I am still using that same XF35mm F1.4 lens! It is not exactly in pristine condition now, but I believe it just gets better with age! I have shot hundreds of thousands of pictures with this lens now. I use the 35mm F1.4 as a combo with my very favourite glass – the XF16mm F1.4 – and make more than 80% of all my pictures with this combination.
The XF35mm F1.4 is not perfect. Not at all. And that is exactly how I want it. Perfection is boring, and as this lens just gets more imperfect with use, in my mind it gets better with age! The XF35mm F2 lens has much faster autofocus, it is weather sealed and in many ways an improvement technically. So why do I still use the old F1.4 version? Apart from the obvious advantage – it is F1.4 – for a lowlight concert photographer, the images from the F1.4 have a certain look and feel to them. The F2 in comparison I find boring. It has no soul. My old F1.4 model has plenty of soul now, it is worn, battered, flares, the focus ring sticks at times in warm environments and if you look through my F1.4 against the light it is just filled with dust and crap inside the lens. All of this adds a unique character, look and feel to the images from my F1.4. The images still have plenty of detail but it flares and the highlights bloom and lots of imperfections creep into the images. I love this, I hope I never completely break this lens as then I need to break in a new one! The XF35mm F1.4 is a pretty tough lens, I have brought mine around the world many times, banged it around a lot of gigs, I once dropped an X-T2 with the XF35mm F1.4 mounted on it straight onto concrete at Roskilde Festival and it landed right on the metal lens hood – both camera and lens worked fine!
It shoots at F1.4! Ok, you can stop it down if you like, but why would you! Not entirely true, I do at times stop down to get sun bursts and flares. But I shoot almost everything else at F1.4 because I just love that look, even if it means in action filled music gigs I do miss the focus a bit at times. I do not care, it is worth it for those moments when I do hit the focus where I want it. I do not really need sharp pictures, I just need to control where the sharpest part is because that is where your eye is going to go. That is why I love shallow DOF in messy concert environments, directing your attention to where I want it!
I am btw using my XF18mm metal hood on my XF35mm F1.4 – they are interchangeable. I once used my original XF35mm F1.4 hood to open bottles of cider which worked great, but left some major dents. The XF18mm hood is better anyway, as it is smaller.
The 35mm on an APS-c sensor is about 53mm in 35mm equivalent, so it is the good old fifty focal length. I actually often find that a somewhat difficult middle distance focal length to use. My initial instinct is to want to get closer, step closer, and use my 16mm F1.4 instead. But 35mm does give a completely different look and compression and very often on stage for example, I cannot get any closer so the 35mm works perfectly there for me. I have shot lots of gigs with just 2 cameras and 2 lenses – the XF35mm F1.4 and XF16mm F1.4.
Gallery of pictures made with XF35mm F1.4
I could pick out thousands of pictures easily, besides all my music gigs this lens has also been to the USA many times, to Australia, New Zealand, Morocco, Serbia, Mexico, Germany and the list is loooong. But I do not have all those travel pictures handy on my hard drive, and music photography is my main passion so I am just going to show you a small selection of music work with the Fujinon XF35mm F1.4. Do read the captions.
Oh if you made it this far, you get a bonus picture of me with the XF35mm F1.4 !