The 35mm camera pioneer Ernst Leitz GmbH, the historical forerunner of the current Leica Camera AG, dubbed its lenses according to speed (maximum aperture): Summilux, Summicron, Elmarit, etc. Leitz lenses with a maximum aperture of ƒ/2—at one time considered very fast—were known across focal lengths as "Summicrons," a tradition Leica Camera AG has continued. As medium-speed lenses in more modern times, they were the all-around, bread-and-butter lenses in the common middle focal lengths. Back in the day, Leitz sold many times as many 50mm Summicrons (ƒ/2) as 50mm Summiluxes (ƒ/1.4, one stop faster). I don't know about now.
Recently Fujifilm has introduced one-stop slower versions of some basic mainstream focal lengths for the XF X-mount line used by its APS-C cameras, including the two flagship cameras, the SLR-styled X-T2 and the rangefinder-styled X-Pro2.
There are currently three:
The first, the XF 35mm ƒ/2 R WR (~50mm "normal" angle-of-view equivalent), was introduced in October 2015.
Next came the XF 23mm ƒ/2 R WR (35mm moderate wide-angle angle-of-view equivalent) in August of 2016. It weighs only six and a third ounces, which means that five of them weigh only a tad more than that Zeiss Milvus we were talking about the other day.
Most recently added is the XF 50mm ƒ/2 R WR (75mm short telephoto angle-of-view equivalent).
Because of their small size and very high performance, they've been dubbed the "Fujicrons"—a name most often bestowed upon the XF 23mm ƒ/2, a fast-focusing lens that was eagerly awaited before its release and has been highly prized since. That makes sense because the 35mm focal length was the most-used and arguably the most useful lens for Leica film rangefinders. (This was at least true during the long reign of the M6; the magazines I worked for ran surveys.)
A number of the Leitz M lenses were also snout-nosed—tapered from thicker at the lensmount end to thinner at the objective (outermost lens element) end. There was a very good reason for this: it was because Leica made rangefinder cameras. With a rangefinder, you "found the view" not by looking through the lens but by looking through a little viewfinder window set close to the lens. There are two problems with this arrangement: one is parallax, the name for the slight difference in viewing angle between your eye behind the viewfinder window and the film or sensor behind the lens; and the other is that longer and larger lenses and hoods can partially obstruct the viewfinder on the lower right side.
Snout-nosed lenses, by the nature of their shape, minimize this obstruction.
The X100F and X-Pro2 cameras from Fujifilm (fixed-lens and interchangeable-lens respectively) are the only AF cameras with large sensors to offer viewfinders that can be switched on the fly from electronic to a true optical view. Hence, while they can be easily used on any X-mount camera, the snout-nosed, medium-speed lenses are ideally suited to the X-Pro2.
The XF 35mm ƒ/2 R WR costs $399, the XF 23mm ƒ/2 R WR costs $449, and the XF 50mm ƒ/2 R WR costs $449. But you can also buy all three as a set for $1,297, for a scintillating savings of...$0. Um, what? I just report.
I won't elaborate about how I think the X-Pro2 is the true Leica of today and the Leica M is a Veblen-Good replicam (cf. replicar), because I get tiresome when I gas on about that and I know I do.
But really, the X-Pro2 with a snout-nosed Fujicron is a an awesome, brilliant device with which to have fun with photography.
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Ricardo Silva Cordeira: "I had the 35mm ƒ/2 and sold it to get the ƒ/1.4 version when I upgraded to the X-Pro2. My rationale was that the older lens has good AF performance with the most recent Fuji cameras and the extra stop would be good to have for street shooting at night.
"Today I regret parting with it. I like the Fujinon 35mm ƒ/1.4, it has a beautiful bokeh and delivers images with a pleasing smoothness. But the newer Fujicron draws in a different way which I like a lot too. The images have more 'bite.' It's hard to describe, but there is something about how it makes the objects in a scene have a 3D volume. It may be the most Zeiss-like non-Zeiss lens I've used.
"So I'm looking to buy one again, even if it's a bit redundant having two 35's.
"Here are some of my photographs made with my former 35mm ƒ/2 that constantly remind me how much I miss it:
jim: "I wish you would stop this. I sold my Fuji X-T1 and X-Pro1 and lenses over a year ago when I was convinced that my Sony A7rII was the replacement to my Nikon D700 and D750 ( and they are except for sports). An Olympus Pen F with my old Leica mount lenses gave me everything I wanted in a small package except for that damned 'creative' dial. But those three lenses look so tempting! Maybe you should stick to pool, dogs, and Miatas??"
Mark Kinsman: "These three lenses are gems. Combined with an X-Pro2 and a Tenba DNA 8 bag, it makes for a small easy-to-carry kit. The 23mm ƒ/2 is on my X-Pro 2 the most;, great for capturing the daily vernacular. This kit does indeed make photography fun again."
Nigli: "This post has caused me the worst GAS-attack in ages. Sigh."