Fujifilm GF 30mm F3.5 R WR field review

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Introduction

The Fujifilm GF 30mm F3.5 R WR is a fairly compact wide-angle prime lens for the company’s GFX system of medium format digital cameras. Giving users an equivalent field of view to a 24mm lens on full-frame systems, the 30mm F3.5 is a great option for landscape and architectural photographers especially, though if you get along with the 24mm-equivalent focal length, it can be a good fit for lifestyle, travel and event photography as well.

Also, the GFX system’s 50 and 100 Megapixel sensors give you some leeway to treat this lens as perhaps a more ‘general purpose’ 28mm or 35mm lens simply by cropping in a bit.

The Fujifilm GF 30mm F3.5 R WR is available now at a price of $1699 USD.


Key specifications:

  • Focal length: 30mm (24mm full-frame equivalent)
  • Aperture range: F3.5 – F32
  • Stabilization: None
  • Filter thread: 58mm
  • Close focus: 0.32 m (12.6)
  • Maximum magnification: 0.15x
  • Diaphragm blades: nine
  • Hood: Included
  • Weight: 508 g (1.12 lb)
  • Optical construction: 13 elements in 10 groups

The 24mm-equivalent focal length has been growing on me during my time at DPReview. While I still tend to wander out of the house with a 35mm or 50mm-equivalent lens if I’m only doing a ‘one lens’ sort of thing, I’ve discovered that 24mm can be almost as versatile ( and sometimes even more-so) depending on what you’re shooting.

The more I shoot with 24mm-equivalent lenses, the more I enjoy them. There’s just enough of that wide-angle ‘look’ to exaggerate perspectives without going over the top.
ISO 160 | 1/40 sec | F22 | Fujifilm GFX 100
Photo by Carey Rose

Back when such things were possible, I took Nikon’s 24mm F1.8G lens to a beer festival (some images are here) and our former managing editor took the Olympus 12mm F2 to Palm Springs for a travelogue. Basically, I’ve found 24mm-equivalent to be a great focal length provided you are able to get close enough to exaggerate the perspective, or are in front of a particularly engaging landscape.

Let’s take a look at what the 30mm F3.5 R WR can do and what it’s like to use.


Handling

Like all Fujifilm GF lenses, the 30mm F3.5 R WR feels very high quality. Made chiefly from magnesium alloy, the lens is well-built but at the same time not overly heavy – it’s just weighty enough to convey a feeling of solidity.

This means it balances quite nicely on the (relatively) compact GFX 50R, so it could be a solid walk-around lens for that camera. On the larger GFX 100, the lens’ weight is hardly noticeable.

The tapered barrel allows the lens to take fairly small 58mm filters (for reference, that’s the same size that Canon’s APS-C kit lens the 18-55mm F4-5.6 kit lens takes). The large manual focus ring is rubberized and wonderfully damped. The clicky aperture ring moves in 1/3 stop detents, and can be locked in ‘A’ for automatic control or ‘C’ if you’d rather use a control dial on the camera to control aperture.

Like all Fujifilm GF lenses, the 30mm F3.5 is weather-sealed with a gasket around the lens mount and sealing throughout. The included lens hood is bayonet-style and reversible to keep size down if you’re traveling.

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Autofocus and manual focus

Even though you’re not likely to need super-fast autofocus on a 24mm-equivalent lens, the GF 30mm F3.5 is no slouch, taking just over a second to rack focus from its minimum focus distance to infinity or vice-versa on a GFX 50R. The GFX 100 will focus the lens even faster thanks to less hunting from its phase-detection autofocus system, racking from close focus to infinity in-between eight-and-nine tenths of a second.

The GF 30mm F3.5’s focus motor is more than up to the task of casual people photography.
ISO 200 | 1/800 sec | F3.5 | Fujifilm GFX 50R
Photo by Scott Everett

Close-focus distance is pretty solid, at around a third of a meter (just over one foot), so you’ll find you’re able to get up nice and close to subjects to exaggerate the wide-angle look if you like. Focusing is all internal as well, so the lens doesn’t get physically longer when you get up close.

For video shooters, focus breathing (the phenomenon with some lenses where the field of view changes as you rack focus) is pretty well controlled – Fujifilm claims it’s only up to a 0.05% change in magnification. You can also customize the focus ring direction on all GFX cameras, and on the GFX 100 you can set the focus ring to have a linear response for predictable and repeatable manual focus pulls. Given the lack of a linear focus motor, focus isn’t entirely silent; whether or not that will affect your footage will depend on your application.

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Image quality

The GF 30mm F3.5 is one of the first lenses I used extensively on the GFX 100, and it easily stands up to that camera’s 100MP of resolution.

Sharpness

Enough detail for ya?
ISO 400 | 1/60 sec | F5.6 | Fujifilm GFX 100
Photo by Carey Rose

The GF 30mm F3.5 is plenty sharp across the frame for landscape work; there’s just gobs of detail in the above image, everywhere you look. And while it puts up a good showing even at F3.5, things get razor sharp by F5.6, as you can see above.

Even when you move in close and widen the aperture, the lens remains more than sharp enough. Though there’s a slight loss in contrast – seen here as a bit of haze at the focal plane – this is to be expected at such focus distances and high resolutions. For a fairly small and lightweight lens, this is definitely an impressive showing.

As you get close to minimum focus distance, the GF 30mm F3.5 remains nice and sharp.
ISO 100 | 1/400 sec | F3.5 | Fujifilm GFX 100
Photo by Chris Niccolls

Vignetting and distortion

As is the case with many mirrorless lenses, pull Raw files taken with a GFX camera and the GF 30mm F3.5 lens into Adobe Camera Raw and you’ll note that there are some corrections already applied. However, these corrections often don’t do away with vignetting and distortion entirely.

ISO 200 | 1/1000 sec | F3.5 | Fujifilm GFX 100
Photo by Carey Rose

The above image is a good example; shot wide-open, you can see just a hint of vignetting at top-left. (Ignore the bottom-right, that’s a shadow from the bridge I was standing on.) It’s certainly not all that distracting, and it’s gone by the time you hit F5.6.

ISO 400 | 1/25 sec | F5.6 | Fujifilm GFX 100
Photo by Chris Niccolls

On the distortion front, there’s not much to speak of at all. Wide-angle lenses sometimes exhibit barrel distortion, meaning horizontal and vertical lines bow outwards toward the edges of the frame. On the GF 30mm F3.5, there’s basically no sign of this.

Bokeh

Wide-angle lenses aren’t especially known to be bokeh machines, and combined with a rather pedestrian maximum aperture (equivalent to F2.8 in full-frame terms), that’s the case with the GF 30mm F3.5. But get close enough to your subject, and with a background that’s distant enough, and you can get some subject separation.

ISO 320 | 1/125 sec | F3.5 | Fujifilm GFX 100
Photo by Carey Rose

For the most part, the bokeh is pretty smooth. Unfortunately, out-of-focus highlights can be a bit distracting, as seen above; the ‘bokeh balls’ have a bit of a ring around their outer edge, which will lead to a ‘busy’ look, particularly at corners of the frame where truncated bokeh discs can further contribute to ‘busy bokeh’. There’s also a little bit of a cats-eye effect as you reach the edge of the frame. In many cases though, without a ton of out-of-focus highlights, the blur presents as smooth and natural.

Even at smaller apertures on this wide-angle lens, you can get some nice subject separation.
ISO 200 | 1/250 sec | F8 | Fujifilm GFX 100
Photo by Carey Rose

Flare and sunstars

Flare and sunstars can, unfortunately go hand-in-hand. A nice sunstar can really be the centerpiece of a landscape scene, but having the sun or other bright light sources in the frame can lead to veiling flare or ghosting.

ISO 1250 | F26 | 1/125 sec | Fujifilm GFX 50R
Photo by Scott Everett

Thanks to its nine-bladed aperture, the GF 30mm F3.5 produces 18-point sunstars. The spikes aren’t super defined, but they’re not bad. Unfortunately, the reflections from the sensor (all the large red, green and blue dots in the image above) prove to be very distracting, though this is a problem with most mirrorless camera systems in situations like this, and it’s just unclear to us how much of a role the lens has to play. You can also see plenty of ghosting artifacts of various shapes as well.

Lateral and longitudinal chromatic aberration (fringing)

Lateral CA is a type of fringing around high-contrast edges near the edges of the frame; it’s called ‘lateral’ because it appears to the left or right (or top or bottom, depending on the orientation) of these edges. While it’s not attractive, it’s usually easy to remove. Longitudinal CA, which typically appears as magenta or green fringing just in front of and behind the plane of focus, is far more troublesome and difficult to remove if present.

With a fairly wide aperture, a bright background and lots of high-contrast edges, this is a sort of torture test for CA.
ISO 200 | 1/1600 sec | F3.5 | Fujifilm GFX 50R
Photo by Carey Rose

With the GF 30mm F3.5, there’s basically no CA of either variety to speak of, even in really challenging situations.

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Conclusion

What we likeWhat we don’t
  • Quite sharp wide-open, and gets even sharper by F5.6
  • Excellent build quality, still lightweight
  • Compact size makes for a good ‘walk-around’ option
  • Basically no chromatic aberrations
  • Limited vignetting and distortion
  • Less contrast at close focus distance
  • Out-of-focus highlights can be distracting, more-so edges of frame
  • Visible ghosting artifacts with bright light sources in the frame
  • Focus could be faster and silent
  • Sunstars are just ‘decent’

The Fujifilm GF 30mm F3.5 R WR is a welcome addition to the company’s medium-format lens lineup. Its versatile 24mm-equivalent focal length, reasonable size and not-outrageous price (all things considered) make it a solid option for GFX users wanting a wide-angle view.

A 24mm-equivalent lens is a great option to have in your kit, and can be more versatile than you might think.
ISO 400 | 1/400 sec | F3.5 | Fujifilm GFX 100
Photo by Chris Niccolls

Its modest size and weather-sealing make the GF 30mm F3.5 a good walk-around lens for travel photography (also helped by its relatively close minimum focus distance), but it’s of course a good option for landscape and architectural work as well. The lens is sharp wide open, and sharpens up even more as you stop down to F5.6. Vignetting is minimal (and also gone by F5.6), and distortion just isn’t much of a concern. Chromatic aberrations are very well controlled.

The downsides? This lens was never going to be a bokeh-monster based on its focal length and aperture, and while you can totally get some subject separation with it, watch out for some potential ‘busy-ness’ if your background has lots of out-of-focus highlights. The sunstars from this lens are alright, though the flare and ghosting can be distracting.

On the whole, the GF 30mm F3.5 R WR isn’t a perfect lens, but it is very good in most respects. For that, we can easily recommend it, if not bestow upon it our highest award.

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Sample galleries

Please do not reproduce any of these images without prior permission (see our copyright page).

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Scoring

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