Everything has to start somewhere, and partially through necessity, partially choice – the first lens for me was the 23mm f/2 WR. Obviously, heading into a new camera system, I had no existing lenses to work with, so the logical choice was to purchase the X-E3 in the kit form. Of the two options (I think the other option was a 16-55 zoom, but don’t quote me on that) – I really fancied the idea of purely one prime lens to start with.
I have to say a major part of the appeal of this combination was the size – it’s so small and, well, cute. There was a real appeal of being totally restricted to one focal length on a teeny wee camera. Coming from the Canon world – and with no disrespect meant to Fuji in any way – there’s something about such a small lens giving you the impression that it might not be up to much. Good lenses are big, tons of glass, super-expensive and heavy… right?
Again, I’m not going to claim this is a perfect lens. It’s not. It’s a little softer wide open than I hoped – but that’s also common on even big expensive lenses. So don’t hold that against it. What it is, is absolutely bloody usable. Anyone who knows me, will tell you I am an absolute sucker for fast prime lenses. I’m an absolute whore for smooth, buttery bokeh. And that isn’t necessarily going to be the strong point of this lens, at f/2. Leave that for its bigger brother, the 23mm f/1.4. But that’s a big price difference – and also for me at the time, no other primes were available in a kit with the X-E3.
But despite not being maybe as fast as I would like – it’s a fabulous little lens for street and general walkabout photography – and since a major driver for me to get a little, portable light camera was to encourage me to get out and shoot more – it’s an ideal companion that absolutely earns its place in any camera bag. It’s versatile, incredibly tough for it’s size and so easy to handle. I’ve shot on the streets, long exposure, portraits and recently filmed quite a bit too. As I write this, I’ve just used it to film on the XH-1 using the Eterna profile, and it’s really crisp, lovely footage. For stills, pair it with the Acros film simulations and it is something very sweet indeed. I believe the three small primes Fuji have in their range are often referred to as the ‘Holy Trinity’ – and I can see why. It’s a fantastic choice for travel photography.
So, as I’ve said, it may not be razor sharp wide open, but that doesn’t mean it’s not sharp. Stop it down just a little and you get beautifully detailed, crisp images – and it’s these images that have led me to make my move away from Canon into the Fujifilm world. That decision was driven entirely between the 23mm and 56mm, as they were the only Fuji lenses I owned and had used at the time of making the switch.
I absolutely, utterly fell in love with the clear and detailed images I was getting with this little lens and the XE-3, just wandering about taking little shots around the streets as I was travelling the country for work. It seems to have rekindled an old habit of mine when I’m wandering about with a camera – I have always taken photos of doors and windows that catch my eye… it’s a strange habit, but I find the infinite variety interesting – and I’ve actually started to document these shots on a dedicated Instagram account – if you’re interested, give it a follow – manystoriestold. (disclaimer: it’s not exclusively 23mm shots, but will feature quite a few).
Do not underestimate this little treasure of a lens. When you need to pack light and small, pack the 23mm f/2. It punches above its weight (and that’s tiny at not even 200g).
There’s a little selection of some shots below – do have a look and see what I’ve done with it.