The Fujifilm GF 35-70mm f/4.5-5.6 is Fuji’s kit lens for the GFX medium format system. It was released alongside the GFX 50S II and comes as a bundle option for that particular camera body. Fujifilm calls this lens the “Gateway to Quality” and the TLDR of my review is that I totally agree with this statement.
I picked up this lens second-hand in late 2021 and have been using it quite a bit in my personal travel and landscape photography work. Here are my pros and cons for this lens.
Compact size and weight – at a mere 390 grams, this lens is easy to take anywhere. The retractable design allows it to collapse down to a miniscule 7.36 cm long. Having to extend it each time you want to use it does take a little bit of getting used to, but that’s a small price to pay for the size and weight advantages it offers.
Very versatile focal range – the full-frame equivalent focal range of 28-55mm (using the 0.79x crop factor of the GFX) is very useful. It fills my needs well for landscape photography, street shooting, and even the occasional portrait. It’s not going to give you the extreme wide-angle look, but it’s quite suitable for many landscape photography situations. The relatively small 62mm filter thread makes it easy to use filters when you need to do long exposures.
Sharpness and image quality – The bar is quite high for sharpness in the Fujifilm GFX universe. The GF 35-70mm is relatively basic and quite a bit cheaper than other GF zoom lenses, let alone the primes. However, the lens still performs extremely well. It’s reported to be able to resolve the 100 megapixel sensor of the GFX 100 cameras. Of course, if you compare directly with its bigger brothers such as the GF 45-100mm, the more expensive options will render fine detail better, especially in the corners. However, this lens is no slouch and I’m very happy with the performance, especially for the price point.
Cost – the SRP of this lens is $999 USD, which is on the affordable end of the spectrum for the GF system. However, I think an even better way to go would be to get it used. When bundled with the GFX 50SII, the lens effectively only costs $500. Purchasers of the bundle will sometimes sell off their kit lens because they already have something better. That was the case for me. I got a lens in almost brand new condition for a great price.
Autofocus – the GF 35-70mm features an STM motor, which results in very quick autofocus speeds. Even with my contrast-detect only GFX 50R, I have no complaints about the AF performance of the lens. Of course, I don’t do any continuous tracking of moving subjects. If you need that, then it might be better to get a phase detect body like the Fujifilm GFX 100S.
Dust and weather sealing – as with all Fujifilm GF lenses, the 35-70 features dust and weather sealing. It gives you that extra peace of mind when going out into challenging environmental conditions.This, along with the excellent overall build quality are some of the things you come to expect from the higher-end Fuji GF system.
Slow, narrow aperture – this one was pretty much expected given the “kit” nature of the lens. However, if you shoot primarily in daylight or do landscapes on a tripod, you probably won’t mind the slow aperture too much. The narrow aperture of this lens is really nothing to write home about, especially for shallow DOF portraits or low light. That is better left to the fantastic GF prime lenses such as the GF 80mm f/1.7 or the GF 110mm f/2. However, in a pinch, you can still make some decent portraits and close up shots with this lens.
No image stabilization – in relation to the above point, this lens really shines when paired with a body with in-body image stabilization (IBIS). Having stabilization in the body means you can take hand-held shots even at narrow apertures and slower shutter speeds. You can even open up creative possibilities with motion blur. It’s no wonder it was released as the kit lens for the GFX 50SII, which has excellent IBIS.
No dedicated aperture ring – this is one of the most glaring “disadvantages” of this lens. For me, the lack of a dedicated aperture ring takes away a bit of the Fuji magic. It takes a bit of adjustment to use one of the camera dials to change aperture, especially when you have other lenses that have the aperture ring. However, this omission is likely part of what keeps this lens cheap and compact. It’s no big deal in the long run, especially if you do landscapes where you don’t change aperture all that often. Personally, I got over it very quickly, just like I did with my XF 27mm and its lack of an aperture ring.
Overall, I think the GF 35-70mm is a solid and necessary addition to the GFX lens lineup. It’s a great lens for those just starting their journey into the world of digital medium format, especially for travel, landscapes, and general purpose photography. It’s also a great choice for more seasoned GFX photographers who want to travel a bit more lightly but still have excellent image quality, as well as some very useful focal lengths at their disposal.
The GF 35-70mm f/4.5-5.6 has been a constant companion for my travel and landscape photography for over a year now. This lens, alongside my GF 100-200mm f/5.6 leaves very little to be desired in terms of versatility and image quality. The only thing I’d love now is something a bit wider for some situations. Fuji released a GF 20-35mm fairly recently, which is definitely on my radar.
Bonus: So which is a better first GF lens, GF 35-70 or the GF 50mm f/3.5?
I mentioned in my GF 50mm f/3.5 review that the 50mm is my recommendation for a first lens to dip your toes into the GFX system. However, that blog post was written before the 35-70 was released. Now my answer would be “it depends”. If you are more of a landscape photographer, definitely go for the 35-70 for all the reasons mentioned above.
For street photography, I still much prefer the GF 50mm f/3.5. The overall form factor and slightly faster aperture provided by the pancake lens is still my favorite for run and gun situations.
I have and use both, but I rarely carry both at the same time. It depends on what I’m going out to shoot.
I’ll end this review with some images which I’ve taken over the past year or so with the GF 35-70mm f/4.5-5.6.
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