Fujinon XF35mm F1.4 lens – gets even better with age!

My good old battered XF35mm F1.4 lens from 2012 – mounted on a lovely silver X-T3.

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.

From a recent gig with Danish band Spleen United. As you can tell I use my XF18mm metal lens hood on my 35mm. I kinda broke my 35mm lens hood opening bottles of cider with it.

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.

Yes!!!! Exactly how I love to use the 35mm on stage, behind the artists shooting towards the crowd. Also check out that mad ghost effect! The Minds of 99 in 2019.

From the same gig, this time I stopped down to F8 to get the sunburst. It handles shooting straight into a light source so well, I love the sunburst and flare.

DJ Copyflex in 2012 and a total classic! Made when my 35mm was almost brand new!

I love this shot of Trentemøller feat. Marie Fisker. And you know, if I had a zoom I’d probably zoom out. BUT I feel the picture is better when you have to fight for the composition, to fit both artists into my composition with the 35mm.

Pernille at Bas Under Buen, and it is daylight but with F1.4 I can isolate her from the busy background and get a nice cinematic look.

Suspekt burning down Copenhagen at Distortion 2015 and another perfect example of standing behind the artist shooting at 35mm F1.4

Niels Brandt of The Minds of 99 in 2019 and I am quite close to him but look at that F1.4 separation! Love it!

Another example of shooting straight into a light source, F2.2 this time.

Anders from The Minds of 99 crowdsurfing and while I am more using the 35mm F1.4 here to get a bit closer to him, it still creates a nice separation from the background.

Stages are damn messy so when you can shoot at F1.4 you can create a nice separation from the background!

Niels Brandt of The Minds of 99 backstage and it is daylight but I am still shooting at F1.4 because I want the separation, the DOF.

I think this might be F2.8 or so, a higher DOF but it still illustrates that on most stages I find the 35mm just perfect for standing at the back of the stage shooting towards the crowd.

JPEGMAFIA jumping into the crowd and I kinda almost nail the manual focus!

This portrait of Kim Kemi and Brynjolfur is made in near total darkness so the 1.4 aperture comes in super handy. The 1.4 aperture also creates a nice shallow DOF from Bryn in the foreground to Kim in the background.


A recent portrait of Simon Littauer, and 1.4 totally separates him from the background of all his modular synths.

Courtesy, oustanding Danish DJ, and look how the aperture 1.4 allows me to shoot in near darkness and separate her completely from the background even though I am really close to her.

If I am at the side of the stage, the 35mm is just perfect for shooting along the stage and get audience interaction like this.

The Minds of 99 Arena Tour 2019 and a recent 35mm shot. Look and how nicely the 35mm 1.4 renders this scene with blooming highlights.


Oh if you made it this far, you get a bonus picture of me with the XF35mm F1.4 !

X-T3 with XF35mm F1.4 and XF18mm lens hood – backstage at Tinderbox festival.

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