This is the story of an underrated little lens that could. Something like a year ago I read this review article about a very quirky little lens, the Fujian 35mm f/1.7 CCTV cine lens.
Yep, this is the star of our story today.
It's weird, it's manual, it's very small, it's not sharp all the way through, it has a plastic-y feel to it even though it's made of metal (weird, no?), it's not weather sealed, the aperture blades are strange, it's imprecise and it's not technically made for Fuji or any other retail camera brand unless you use an adaptor because it's a CCTV lens... so yeah.
great lens, right?
Oh, but it might also be my favorite lens... and it's dirt cheap... How cheap, you ask? Like $20 on eBay kind of cheap. So, apart from the price point of this lens, it does not seem like it's got much going for it. let's take a look, shall we?
The Fujian 35mm f/1.7 is a cheap lens made in China for use in, you guessed it, CCTV security cameras. There is no electronics built-in and the rings for focal length and aperture are upside down when I screw them on my Fuji XT1. So basically, this lens is free rolling 24/7. Thank you, Fuji for focus peeking though. It makes the job of knowing when the frame is in focus a little easier.
But, this lens has weird and beautiful reflections, deals with light in very interesting ways, has a twice delicious swirling bokeh at f/1.7, has beautiful vignetting and for some reason, this lens has Soul. I love using it. It does not even matter really that it ain't sharp... It carries emotions, it makes me vibe. It makes me feel the images I take. It adds gravitas and mood and grit to my shots. It has this "je ne sais quoi" that I find fascinating. You can see how susceptible the lens is to light flares and hazy bokeh in bright daylight which I think adds to its charm quite a bit. I have never used it as a street photo lens but I bet I would love it and come home with some great shots.
Here are some photos I took with this little toy Fujian lens, shot in RAW and post-processed a bit in Lightroom after the fact.
I say BUY IT, you won't regret it.