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Which one Better for Portraits? Fujifilm 35mm f2 or 35mm f1.4

Updated: Jul 13, 2020

This is one of the most requested lenses comparison from my Instagram and YouTube Channel. Since there are a lot of articles out there for technical comparisons, I won't go into all details on the technical aspects. This post will focus on which lens is better for portraits based on my experience.

35mm F1.4
Model: Katerina, 35mm, ISO 200, F1.4, 1/170s

Colors & Contrast

Below are two original Fujifilm X-T2 JPEG photos taken from the same location. The left is 35mm F2 WR and the right is 35mm F1.4.

35mm F2 WR on the left vs.35mm F1.4 on the right

Right out of the camera, the 35mm F2 has richer colors than the 35mm F1.4, and the contrast in the 35mm F2 is better straight out of the camera.

Background Bokeh

In the same photoshoot section, here is another example to show the blurred out background for both lenses.

35mm F2 WR on the left vs.35mm F1.4 on the right

As you can see the difference above, the extra stop from 35mm F1.4 does give an edge in terms of blurring out the background. The extra bokeh blur also makes the image feels smoother overall. Overall tone is soften in 35mm F1.4, while 35mm F2 WR gives me a feeling of solidness to me.

For street portraits or environment portraits style, in which style you want to include the location context, 35mm F2 is good for that purpose. It just has enough blur for the feeling, but also includes solid texture from the background. (See 3 examples below)

Street Portraits
35mm F2, Street context still visible, Model: Ally

35mm f2
35mm F2, Rich color from this lens, Model: Ally

Another street context with 35mm F2, Model: Ally

While 35mm F2 is very good for daylight street, 35mm F1.4 is very good to create dreamy feeling in a photograph. As you have seen in the previous comparison example, 35mm F1.4 has a softer tone than F2 version. I usually use the F1.4 for wide open field portraits. (See examples below)

35mm F1.4, backlit portraits, Model: Sophie

35mm F1.4, wide open field, Model: Sophie

The bokeh in 35mm F1.4 is stronger. Model: Natalie


Considered the price of 200 dollars differences (35mm F2 WR $349 on Amazon vs 35mm F1.4 $549 on Amazon) If I just switch over to Fujifilm and have a limited budget, I would buy the 35mm F2 to start with because it's pretty solid at this price point. Then after getting familiar with Fujifilm system, you can upgrade to other lenses.

If price is not a factor, I would recommend to have the F1.4 version. The extra stop is important to me since I like bokeh so much. In addition, the 1.4 attracts more light under the low light situation. Lots of people asked me "If I can only grab one lens between these two, which one would you choose?" I would say 35mm F1.4.


In summary, both are very solid lenses. Here are some highlights for each lens:

  • 35mm F2 WR - Richer colors and better contrast right out of the camera; Nice for street context / Environment style portraits.

  • 35mm F1.4 - Softer and dreamier tones; Better bokeh and great for backlit photos.

23,802 views5 comments


Jul 15, 2020

Hi Xing, do you use ND for portraits in sunny day's? Nice website by the way!! 👍


Jul 07, 2020

which one would you pick for video between f2 and 1.4?


Apr 20, 2019

I Xing, in yours fotos were you use Flash?


Sep 20, 2018

I would choose the 16mm :) it includes a lot more scenarios than the 23mmm F1.4


Sep 20, 2018

Hi Xing, what a great idea to set-up the website, love your content! At the moment, I own the 18 mm f/2 and 35 mm f/1.4. I'm thinking to add a better wide angle lens to the collection. I was always tempted by the 23 f/1.4, I really dig the shots you took with it. But then, there is the XF 16 mm f/1.4... if you had to pick one of these (the 16 of the 23), which one would you pick?

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