I have often read that the 35mm (full-frame equivalent) is the perfect all-around focal length. On a 35mm camera, this focal length is wide enough for a scene to fill a frame, but long enough to isolate an individual subject. I had often also read that a 50mm prime lens, the ‘nifty fifty,’ is the most useful and complete all-round lens. Before the advent of zooms, most film cameras were fitted with 50mm lenses. It has been written that Henri Cartier-Bresson, whom many photographers hold in high esteem, used a 50mm lens for most of his photography.

A 50mm lens is a great addition to any camera bag because it's a versatile piece of glass. The point is that it is a great walk around or travel lens because it can help you photograph almost anything from your dog to mountains to small objects and everything in between.

Many photographers erroneously claim that the 50mm lens on a 35mm full-frame camera has an angle of view that closely matches the field of view of the human eye1.

I shoot mostly digital (APS-C), but I also own an Asahi Optical Co. Pentax Spotmatic II 35mm film camera. I went into the only local camera shop in Princeton to pick up a battery for the Spotmatic II and ended up buying a Soligor 35mm f/2.8 Wide-Auto M42 lens for $50.

I now have a good set of manual primes - 28mm 35mm and 55mm for my Asahi Optical Co. Pentax Spotmatic II which I can also use on my Fujifilm X-T2 at ~42 mm FF FOV, ~53mm FF FOV and ~84mm FF FOV.

FujiFilm X-T2 | Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 M42 | f/5.6 | ISO 400

As I have written a few times while writing about other old lenses, "it's all-metal, substantial, great construction, yadda yadda". Just about every old lens I've come across would get high marks for that.

This lens has an A-M switch, a smooth and damped focus with a beautiful range of only over 180 degrees, reasonably compact build and nicely knurled focus and aperture rings. However, I noticed a tendency to move the A-M ring when changing aperture and mounting/unmounting.

On a 35mm film camera, I would use this lens primarily for street photography work but it can be put to that purpose on an APS-C sensor camera as well. I used it at around f/5.6 to f/11, which helps with sharpness.

But it's the pictures that matter. They were all shot at f/5.6 on my Fujifilm X-T2 with a Fotodiox M42-FX adapter.

I do think the images are a bit soft but I am unsure if it’s the lens or just my poor manual focusing technique.

Name: Soligor Wide-Auto 1:28 f=35mm
Mount: M42
Tested On: Fujifilm X-T2 with FotodioX M42-FX adapter
Zoom/Prime: Prime
Focal Length: 35mm
Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
Minimum Aperture: f/16
Diaphragm Blades: 8
Price Paid: US$50
Product Ratings (1=miserable, 5=excellent):
Construction Quality: 4
Image Quality: 3
Overall Value For Price: 4
Recommended: Maybe

FujiFilm X-T2 | Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 M42 | f/5.6 | ISO 400
Griggstown Delaware Canal Lock | FujiFilm X-T2 | Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 M42 | f/5.6 | ISO 400
Griggstown Delaware Canal Lock | FujiFilm X-T2 | Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 M42 | f/5.6 | ISO 400
Griggstown Delaware Canal Lock | FujiFilm X-T2 | Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 M42 | f/5.6 | ISO 400
Griggstown Delaware Canal Lock | FujiFilm X-T2 | Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 M42 | f/5.6 | ISO 400
Griggstown Delaware Canal Lock | FujiFilm X-T2 | Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 M42 | f/5.6 | ISO 400
Griggstown Delaware Canal Lock | FujiFilm X-T2 | Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 M42 | f/5.6 | ISO 400

In the world of photography, there is a particular type of lens about which most photographers get excited, the pancake lens.

A pancake lens is a colloquial term for a lens that's shorter than it is wide – hence looking like a 'pancake'. Due to their compacted dimensions, pancake lenses are always fixed focal length ('prime') lenses and much smaller and lighter than a regular lens.

When Fujifilm first announced the Fujinon XF27mmF2.8 lens, many photographers were excited because it was the first pancake lens for the system. This lens has high image quality and excellent build quality.

But it isn’t perfect. The Fujinon XF27mmF2.8 is a plastic lens and has no aperture ring. Additional there is no manual-focus override. There are no controls other than the focus control ring.

I switched to the Fujifilm X system because the system offers camera and lenses that offer quick access to the triangle of camera settings, ISO, aperture and shutter speed. The Fujinon XF27mmF2.8 disappoints in that regard. While it’s easy enough to map the rear command dial to change aperture settings for this lens, the process breaks my current working style as it requires learning some new muscle memory.

The Fujinon XF27mmF2.8 lens has no lens hood because a pancake lens with a lens hood defeats the purpose of a pancake lens.

When used on the X-mount cameras with their 1.52x crop factor sensors, it has the same angle of view as a 41mm lens sees when used on a 35mm camera.

Fujifilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF27mm F2.8 — Canon EOS 5D Mark III | Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM @ 180mm | f/4.0 | ISO25600

I have mixed feelings about the Fujinon XF27mmF2.8 lens. I appreciate the compact nature of the pancake lens and fast autofocus. The 27mm focal length (~ 41mm full-frame) is ideal for street photography; however, the lack of manual-focus override and no aperture ring limits it's overall usefulness to me. If Fuji were to release a lens at this focal length with an aperture ring, I would seriously consider purchasing. In the meantime, I make do with my manual focus Asahi Optical Co. Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 28mm f/3.5.

You have to move a switch on your camera to get to or from manual focus mode and move a dial on the camera to change the aperture.

Tech Specs

Name: Fujinon XF27mmF2.8
Manufacturer Fujifilm
Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
Minimum Aperture: f/16
Mount Type: Fuji-X
Lens Type: Fixed Focal Length
Circular Filter Size: 39mm
Focus Type: Autofocus
Recommended: Yes

Roi's Cafe | Fujifilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF27mmF2.8 @ 27 mm | 145 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 12800
Rohan | Fujifilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF27mmF2.8 @ 27 mm | 1500 sec at f/4.0 | ISO 8000
Tap room at Referend Blendery | FujiFilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF27mmF2.8 @ 27 mm | 1125 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 2500
FujiFilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF27mmF2.8 | 1125 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 6400
FujiFilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF27mmF2.8 | 1125 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 8000

Compared to my Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR lens, the Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR is very light. It weighs 430g, just slightly less than two Apple iPhone 11 Pros. The Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR is smaller and less expensive than the Fujinon XF35mmF1.4 R1. The Fujinon XF35mmF2 R lens has a noticeable taper from the camera mount toward the end of the lens barrel, which is, along with the lens mini lens cap, a design that is not to my liking. I wish Fujifilm would make a wether resistant version of the Fujinon XF35F1.4 R.

Like most Fujinon lens, the Made in Japan Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR lens is an all-metal design and feels solid in my hand. The filter threads are metal. The front barrel is metal. The focus ring is metal. The aperture ring is metal. So that you get it; this is an all-metal lens. The R means the lens has an aperture ring while the WR signifies weather resistance. The aperture rings had a noticeable click when moving between the 13 step f/stops. The focus ring is smooth and continuous.

The Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR has a close focus distance of 35 centimetres, but an iPhone 11 Pro can focus at a closer subject distance. This fact may not matter to the target audience for this lens; street photographers. For my test, I used the lens around Witherspoon Street and Nassau Street in Princeton, New Jersey. The auto-focus felt fast, and the images are sharp.

I didn't include them here, but you can see images captured with the lens wide open on this entry for a craft ale.

If you choose to purchase this lens, please use Ritchie Roesch's affiliate link. I don't have one of my own.

  • Name: Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR
  • Tested on: Fujifilm X-T2
  • Mount: Fujifilm X-Mount
  • Zoom/Prime: Prime
  • Focal Length: 35mm (53mm FF FOV)
  • Maximum Aperture: f/2
  • Minimum aperture: f/16
  • Diaphragm Blades: (Rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm)
  • Product Ratings (1=miserable, 5=excellent):
    • Construction Quality: 4.7
    • Image Quality: 4.3
    • Overall Value For Price: 4.7
    • Recommended: Yes

Lens Photos

Using a technique I learned in the Princeton Photo Workshop Landscape / Cityscape in B&W with Ossian Lindholm workshop, the images were created from Fujifilm RAF files, cropped and aligned in Adobe Lightroom, and processed to black and white monochrome in Silver Efex Pro 2. For SOOC JPEGs of the sample images, read my Fujifilm Film Simulation Challenge Roll 3: Tri-X Push article.

Waiting | FujiFilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR | f/5.6 | ISO 400
A Taste of Italy | FujiFilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR | f/5.6 | ISO 400
Window Light | FujiFilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR | f/5.6 | ISO 400
Lost in thought | FujiFilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR | f/5.6 | ISO 400
Men's | FujiFilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR | f/5.6 | ISO 400
Boots | FujiFilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR | f/5.6 | ISO 400
Sun in my eyes | FujiFilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR | f/5.6 | ISO 400
Intersection | FujiFilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR | f/5.6 | ISO 400
Food is our common ground. | FujiFilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR | f/5.6 | ISO 400

  1. I will rent the Fujinon XF35mmF1.4 R to test at some point.