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Viltrox 33mm F/1.4 Review for Fujifilm X: The King of The Streets ?


Intro


I was honored to be able to test the Viltrox 33mm F / 1.4 over the past month to give you my opinion on this affordable lens. Equivalent to a 50mm on APS-c sensor, this lens is said to be "standard" in the sense that it approximates the viewing angle of the human eye. It is for this reason that it has been used, since the creation of photography, by legendary photographers such as Robert Capa or Henri Cartier Bresson. I refer you to the article I wrote on 50mm lenses vs 35mm lenses in order to understand more precisely the interests they entail in the context of street photography and documentary type photography. It is often advisable for those wishing to start buying a 50mm in order to master photographic techniques. But what can we say about the performance offered by the Viltrox 33mm 1.4? There are many proposals between the "nifty-fifty" lenses in the fujifilm range. There is the 35mm 1.4 as well as the 35mm F2. Where does the Viltrox stand in relation to these objectives? The first thing that jumps out is the price difference between these three lenses, but is this really justified? Can the viltrox compete with the fujifilms? I will try to provide the answers here so that you can guide your choice as best as possible and that you can find your "king of the streets".


Specs



Focal Length: 33mm (35mm Equivalent Focal Length: 50mm)

Maximum Aperture: f/1.4

Minimum Aperture: f/16

Lens Mount: FUJIFILM X

Format Compatibility: APS-C

Angle of View : 45.2°

Minimum Focus Distance: 1.31' / 40 cm

Maximum Magnification: 0.1x

Optical Design: 10 Elements in 9 Groups

Diaphragm Blades: 9

Focus Type: Autofocus

Image Stabilization: No

Filter Size: 52 mm (Front)

Dimensions (ø x L): 2.6 x 2.8" / 65 x 72 mm

Weight : 9.52 oz / 270 g

Manufacturing quality and ergonomics


This lens is quite discreet in its black version, which perfectly satisfies the practice of street photograpy or documentary photography where the interest is to be as discreet as possible. It goes very well with cameras from the fujifilm black range, like with the XT30 as you will see in the photos. It is very light but quite big compared to the 35mm alternatives, which is why I prefer to add a grip on my XT30 to have better support and better stability. The lightness is mainly due to the main use of plastic for this lens. The use of this material therefore has a major interest in terms of portability, especially when it comes to taking long photo trips or taking it in a bag for a trip. However, the qualitative impression of the lens cannot be compared to the fujifilm alternatives or to other lenses with metal construction as on the 7artisans for example. It will therefore be necessary to make some concessions on this side. The lens is not weather sealed, so you will need a waterproof solution if you want to report in the rain, in particular having a 52mm uv filter on the front, as well as having the lens hood that comes with it. The focus ring is soft and therefore pleasant to use. There is, as with many fujifilm lenses, an aperture ring which is very important in aperture priority mode. It is however clickless which is an advantage for videographers who seek smooth transitions between apertures, and a disadvantage for photographers who will have to regularly check if they have not changed the aperture inadvertently. There is however a click to switch to automatic diaphragm opening, in position "A".


Autofocus


One of the advantages of this lens compared to cheap alternatives is the presence of an autofocus. And WHAT AN AUTOFOCUS !! It was really the first "slap" for me after having fixed this lens on my fujifilm: Dead silence, the speed of a Formula 1, the precision of a Swiss watch .... To tell you the truth I never had a lens with an equivalent autofocus in my hands. I was so surprised by its silence that I thought at first that the autofocus was not working. The autofocus on this lens is very close to what is best done today, even in low light situations. In continuous mode, the autofocus does not struggle at all to follow moving objects. Better yet, face recognition works brilliantly! Speed and silence are two major advantages in the practice of street or documentary photography: you will be fast, sure not to miss any portrait, but in addition you will be discreet, no one will notice you even in the quietest places. It is very difficult to be able to say the same for its direct competitor: the Fujifilm 35mm 1.4 which is one of the first Fujifilm X lenses released and for which the autofocus is unfortunately very slow and noisy. This argument is major when choosing a lens today, and the Viltrox 33mm 1.4 wins hands down! The minimum distance of 40cm allows you to take close-up shots without any problem. But what about the optical quality of this lens?


Image Quality


I am not a pixel peeper. All I ask of a lens is to be able to capture what I see in the best possible way. I see no point in zooming 200% in an image to find out if the lens is razor sharp. Because no one looks at a photograph that way. The photo is above all a whole, an image, a composition, a light ... etc. that tell a story. It is much more than an aggregate of pixels. However, and in case of large prints or for professional work, minimum criteria must be respected in terms of sharpness for example. I give you my opinion here.



F1.4

F2

F2.8

F4

F5.6

F8

F11

F16

Center Sharpness 100% Crop

Corner Sharpness 100% Crop

As you will see in these samples, the sharpness in the center of the image is fairly constant from the largest aperture to the smallest with better sharpness between F4 and F8. It is however different for the sharpness on the corners. The lens is quite soft at larger apertures, like most lenses that open at F1.4. It will be up to you to deal with this as best as possible (Keep your main subject in the center of the frame at F1.4). Corner sharpness improves greatly between F4 and F8. The sweet spot on this lens is, in my opinion, around F5.6. You may also notice a loss of contrast from F8 while the micro contrasts are at best around F5.6. This lens has very little or no vignetting at all, which saves time in post processing. This lens can show many chromatic aberrations which can be very easily removed in lightroom for example. It controls the flare very well, even in the worst conditions. The Viltrox 33mm offers a bit of a nervous bokeh, which is not particularly discreet, but with nice round balls. At F1.4, you will have more diffuse bokeh beads than at F2. The image quality is therefore fully satisfactory, under all conditions of use. If you can cope with the flaws and qualities of this lens you should have a professional rendering. I advise you to use it particularly around F.5.6 in general street photography conditions in order to get the best out of it. Compared to the 35mm 1.4, the sharpness in the center is less pronounced here, but equivalent on the corners. Fujifilm however manages chromatic aberrations better. Compared to the Fujifilm 35mm F2, they are very close in terms of sharpness, I would even say that the Viltrox has a slight advantage from F2.8.

Lens Personality

Aperture at F1.4 has the advantage of bringing depth to your images, close to the use of a full frame camera. You can play with the background blur to highlight the subjects you are photographing. The defects of the lens give it a patina, a character to your image far from the lenses which offer a surgical precision and gives photographs without identity. If the Fujifilm 35mm F1.4 is also very popular among Fujifilm users, it is for its many imperfections. The Viltrox is between the 35mm F1.4 and the 35mm F2 in terms of character: between magic and precision. The larger apertures make it possible to give a 3D impression to the images, which is always very pleasant. You will find here only straight out of camera (SOOC) sample photos, in order to make you realize with precision what you can get with your fujifilm camera as soon as it comes out of the box and without any post processing.








Pros and Cons:



Pros:

• General sharpness, especially from F4

• Fast autofocus

• Silent autofocus

• Bokeh quality

• The price!!


Cons:

• Not the most compact

• Plastic construction

• No Weather Resistance

• Clickless aperture for photographers


Best for: The beginner looking for a bright standard lens, inexpensive, but with performance close to professional lenses, especially in terms of autofocus. For the practice of street photography, documentary photography, still life, portrait, architecture ... etc. The advanced photographer who wants a secondary 35mm lens to equip his basic kit, outside of studio productions, for any type of use.

Final Words



I would never trade this lens for the slow, expensive, noisy XF 35mm F1.4. The real competitor to the Viltrox to consider is the XF 35mm F2, but it is more expensive and 1 stop slower which is a disadvantage in low light situations or when looking for a shallow depth of field. Admittedly, this lens has some imperfections, especially at the widest apertures, but it's nearly impossible to find a perfect lens around F1.4, even in the more expensive ranges. It is its imperfections that give it character, it is absolutely impossible to find such a good lens, currently, in this price range. If this lens is not the King of the streets, we can say that it is, at 280 dollars, the Prince of the streets who will open the royal road to documentary/street photography and will never let you down. This lens is a "no brain" investment for those looking for a "nifty-fifty" equipment without breaking the bank and is capable of offering a very good image quality. So : go for it !!

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