Fujifilm has announced the FUJINON XF23mm F1.4 R, a premium fast wideangle lens for its X system mirrorless cameras. It offers the same moderate wideangle view as the fixed-lens X100S, but with an extra stop of brightness. The overall design approach is similar to the company's recent XF14mm F2.8 R, with distance and depth of field scales for manual focusing, and fully optical (rather than digital) correction of distortion. The 23mm F1.4 will be available in October 2013 with an SRP of $899.95 / £849.99.
Some X system users might wonder why it's taken so long for Fujifilm to launch a 35mm equivalent lens - after all, it's a classic focal length to complement the rangefinder-esque X-Pro1. Cynics might suggest that it's been purely to protect sales of the X100 / X100S, which use a 23mm F2 lens, at least until the X system became more established on the market.
The explanation we've been given by Fujifilm's own representatives is slightly more prosaic. They felt that early buyers of the X-Pro1 would likely own an X100 already, so making a 23mm prime for the X system immediately would count as unnecessary duplication. Instead they decided to concentrate on producing a set of lenses with focal lengths around the X100's, to make a more flexible overall system. Once that was done, it was time to build the 23mm F1.4.
The new lens obviously doesn't just replicate that on the X100. It's a full stop faster, and therefore rather more complex, with an 11 element / 8 group design compared to the X100's 8 elements / 6 groups. This means it's also a whole lot larger - 63mm (2.5") in length, compared to 54mm (2.2") for the thickness of the X100 lens and body combined. So there could still be a place for both the XF23mm F1.4 and X100S in a photographer's bag; the former for its speed, the latter for its portability and silent operation.