$329 vs $899 – The Viltrox 23mm f/1.4 vs Fuji’s 23mm f/1.4 – which is better? The short answer, hands down, is the Viltrox. It’s been years since I’ve owned the Fuji branded 23mm f/1.4 lens. In fact, the last time I used that lens was on an X-T1. Needless to say, it’s been a few years. I’ve often thought of purchasing that lens again, but for $900 – no thanks. I’ve been using the 23mm f/2 WR lens for some time now (https://bershatsky.com/tag/fuji-23mm-f2/), and while it’s a decent performer, it’s not the best 35mm equivalent focal length that I’ve ever used (factoring in other systems). Furthermore, the closeup mushy focus is infuriating. Now that the Viltrox has been announced, I’ve seen quite a few YouTube videos where the reviewers gush about the lens. For approximately a third of the cost of the native Fuji 23mm f/1.4, I figured it was worth purchasing.
Now that I’ve had a chance to shoot a few hundred images with it and pixel peep to my hearts content, here’s my review.
- Price! It’s a bargain!
- Metal lens hood.
- Aperture rings (although, it’s clickless).
- Sharp (enough) throughout and quite usable at f/1.4
- Good autofocus – especially for being a third party lens.
- Built in USB port for firmware updates – such a great idea!
- Lightweight and compact.
- Doesn’t look out of place on the body – matches the aesthetics of the Fuji system well.
- Lens hood and caps are quality parts – some third party lenses have awful accessories.
- I had questions about the lens prior to purchasing, and Viltrox answered my questions via Facebook Messenger quite promptly.
- Quick and silent autofocus for video.
- Great background separation / 3D look at f/1.4.
- Vignetting is pleasing, and easily fixed by stopping down.
Cons: a short list
- Initial impression felt lightweight not very durable in the hand, but I’m starting to rethink this one.
- Doesn’t focus as close as I would like.
- f/1.4 can get a little “glowy.”
- Busy bokeh.
Now, onto the samples! All samples in this article are straight out of camera shots without editing. I wanted to be able to illustrate the real output of this lens without editing. The watermark displays the f-stop used on that particular image.
Day 1, it was a rainy and cold day. I overdid it at cardio kickboxing and karate the night before (first week back at the dojo since the Coronavirus pandemic), and my back was stiff and sore. However, I really wanted to test out my new lens, so I did some test shots around my home. These were higher ISO shots and nothing fantastic, but still better than test charts and brick walls. Of course there’s a picture of a cat though – you’re welcome!
This next sequence of images were shot today at the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. These are also straight out of camera JPEGs, and I believe they are a good representation of the capabilities of this lens.
Bottom line, I recommend buying this lens. It’s fantastic for the price. If you’re interested in purchasing this lens, here’s my Amazon affiliate link: https://amzn.to/3fqicy3