Ultra wide angle lenses: the new Fujinon GF 20-35 mm F4

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We managed to get our hands on the new Fujinon GF 20-35 mmF4 R WR, the widest medium format lens made by Fujifilm for the GFX system and ran it through it paces. Here are our impressions on the lens with our GFX 50S II.

Lens test with the new ultra wide Fujinon GF 20-35 mm F4 R WR

The Fujinon GF 20-35mm has a retail price of SGD 3,599 inclusive of GST.

Fujifilm released the new Fujinon GF 20-35 mmF4 R WR, currently the widest lens on the GFX medium format system. The field of view is equivalent to about 16-28 mm in regular full frame 36mmx24mm format. Which is very wide! I took the lens as a loaner from Fujifilm Singapore (many thanks for the loan) for two weeks and used it with my GFX 50S II. I familiarised myself with the lens for a few days in Singapore, and it went with me to the trip to Sicily with Jacob & Co, and to Kuala Lumpur with Bell & Ross BR X-5 launch. I will be discussing the usage in these two weeks, and give an impression of the image quality.

Build quality and operations

When I picked up the lens, it feels quite compact and portable. The build quality is what one would expect from a high end lens.The lens weighs in at about 725g, which is pretty impressive for such a wide lens with coverage of the 44mm x 33 mm sensor. The lens has a heft, but remains light and well balanced on the hand and when mounted on the GFX 50S II body

Operationally, the controls are very smooth. The ribbed zoom ring has a very nice feel – weighted with just the right resistance, and slides like silk. The aperture ring is smooth, but with very positive, distinct clicks at each stop. The focus ring has the same rubberised ribbed design, and quite large. In operation, it feels a bit less smooth than the zoom, but this is an autofocus lens, and manually focusing it is not the norm. It is useful to note that the autofocus motor is linear, and AF is fast and snappy. Also as the lens focuses by wire, there are no hard stops at minimum or maximum focus range.

The widest open aperture is f/4 throughout the zoom range, and the zoom mechanism is internal. This means that the lens remains the same size independent of the zoom setting. The lens is also weather sealed, and Fuji tell us that it is sealed at 12 points. This is a great feature for landscape photographers who need to weather the elements to get that picture. And works well with the weather sealed GFX bodies.

Image quality

I found the lens to be very sharp across the aperture range as well as the entire zoom range. As a wide angle aficionado, I do find myself turning to the 20mm setting more than the 35, but that is a matter of personal preference. At 20mm, the lens is excellent for use for smaller interior shots, and probably too wide for the sweeping landscapes.

View of Taomina at dusk, from my room’s balcony. 20mm.

And it performs well as a lens for capturing beautiful interiors.

At 20mm, the lens is very wide, and easily captures interiors very well. Munich airport interior.

On the long, end the lens is equally impressive.

Gala dinner for the Jacob & Co event at Villa Corleone. 35mm.

The lens is rectilinear, and does not show much barrel distortion, and even the small distortions are corrected digitally on Adobe Camera Raw which I used, and the lens was selected automatically and as I had checked the correction box, corrected automatically for distortion, as well as vignetting.

At the Bell & Ross BR-X5 launch event in KL. I was seated at row 1, no more than perhaps 3m from Carlo Rossi, and at 27mm setting, the entire large screen can fit into the frame. I had to point the camera up, so converging lines are not avoidable, but note the lack of barrel distortion on the edges of the screen.

Some interior shots of the beautiful St. Regis KL, where we stayed for the BR event.

And a few more examples. Night shot of Kuala Lumpur.

Kuala Lumpur by night. 35mm.

The GF 20-35 is useful also as a walkabout street lens, for some street photography. This portrait of a flower vendor in the street of Brickfields was taken unposed, street style.

Portraits are possible. Outdoor photograph, Brickfields, KL. 35mm

Concluding thoughts

The GF20-35 is a great lens for the bag. On travels, it is a compact, fairly lightweight. And it provides an ultra wide field of view which is extremely useful. The autofocus performance is very good, especially on the GFX 50S II, which though is good for a medium format camera, is not the best out there. But for all the time the GF20-35 was on my camera, it nailed the focus very well, and was sufficiently fast for me to get the shots.

The lens is very sharp, the colours vibrant and lifely with good tonal gradations. And I really enjoyed the lens on my camera. Excellent lens for interior, sweeping landscapes, and travel. Highly recommended.