This review will start with my first play with the 23mm about a year ago, I tried this lens and to be honest didn't like how it felt preferring the view and feel of my 35mm, this recently changed when I got the 56mm lens. These two lenses were very close in focal range I felt I wanted to go a bit wider on my wide angle setup, so I took to eBay and picked up a used 23mm and got to work trying it out, then shot my first wedding with a 23mm/56mm setup, or the much loved 35mm/85mm combo equivalent, and I was very impressed.
Quality: Image quality on this lens is stunning, it's incredible sharp and nicely contrasty, wide open at 1.4 you have incredible images which offer a nice amount of background separation for such a wide lens on a crop sensor.
This was one of my must haves for this lens, I usually always shoot wide open. And love shallow depth of field, so I wanted something similar to 35mm on full frame, and while the Fuji isn't quite there, I'm very happy to use it and love the effect it gives.
Focus: Nice and speedy, I feel it's the same as the 35mm, always accurate in good light and struggles with dark situations (as one would expect). The thing I love about the 23mm is the clutch focus ring, just pull back and your manually focusing in a way that is much more responsive than the other XF lenses. So if it gets dark or you want full control, pop the ring back, get focus with the peaking assist, the push it back to go back to autofocus. I want to see this on all the XF lenses.
Samples: The samples here have all been shot in Raw then edited in lightroom with a VSCO preset - Portra 400 VC++ [lots more below]
The image above is a testament to Fuji, the only light is from the room to the right of the frame, it's been pushed a couple of stops in Lightroom with a little noise reduction, but despite this and the settings; it's sharp as hell and like having night vision.
One tip I can offer is to have an ND filter with you at all times, there is no way you can shoot wide open outside without one, I keep them in my pocket when shooting weddings, so when I'm walking out of the church, screw one on and I'm good to keep shooting at F1.4.
Summary: Overall I'm now a big fan of this lens, it's a solid, nicely weighted, sharp lens which gives incredible image quality in a small package, try one out for yourself and I'm sure you'll be impressed. I do still have my X100 which is my travel, street and walkabout camera, and I for one feel there is a place for both the 23mm and X100 in your bag, they are both different beasts and bring different qualities to the table.
I hope that was useful, as always thanks for visiting.