Saturday, December 1, 2012

Review:  Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 Fuji zoom lens

Fuji's new medium focal length zoom lens, the 18-55mm (27-84mm equivalent), is what the X-Pro1 camera has been missing from its arsenal.  Adding this zoom range to the X-Pro1 results in a practical, one-lens-does-it-all, very portable system.  This is not to say that the zoom replaces the other fine fixed focal length Fuji prime lenses with their fast apertures.  After all, this lens is a variable aperture f/2.8-4 -- a little faster than what you would typically expect from an all around, light weight zoom, but slower than the Fuji primes nonetheless.

The lens hood reverses on the lens.  This results in a more compact travel package, and the larger (58mm) lens cap is more convenient to handle than the caps on the other Fuji lenses.

I found the focusing to be quick and accurate, and suspect that newer focusing technology in the lens itself coupled with three firmware camera updates attempting to fix the notorious X-Pro1 focus issues is finally bearing some fruit.

The lens does show some softness in the corners and along the edges, more so than the Fuji primes released so far. This is particularly noticeable with the zoom racked out to a full 55mm.  The softness is not a deal breaker, as it is for me with some of the all purpose DSLR zooms, but it is something to be aware of if you need detail in the corners of your frame. 

Shot at full extension of 55mm this image displays some softening in the corners.
The optical viewfinder shows frame lines that change as you zoom in and out.  Made me a little homesick for my old Contax G-series rangefinder 35mm film camera.  Of course, an electronic viewfinder is a more practical solution if it responds quickly and smoothly.  This one does.  I am not a big fan of electronic finders.  I find them to be a bit too synthetic and slow.  With this lens on the X-Pro1 it works well, however, and has the added benefit of eliminating parallax distortion.

Taken with a 25mm (38mm equivalent) focal length.

This is about as close as you can go with this lens.  Closest focus distance is just under 1' with magnification of .15x.  The lens does not have a macro mode.

Focal length of 18mm (27mm equivalent)

Focal length of 55mm (84mm equivalent).  The right edge of this image shows definite softening.

Focal length of 35mm (54mm equivalent)  The lens performed its best at this focal length.
Bottom line: This lens is a winner.  Not perfect, but for the price and purpose it is an excellent option particularly if you want to carry only one lens for your X-Pro1.  It may be an even better match for the Fuji X-E1.

This lens will require a firmware upgrade to version 2.01 to work on an X-Pro1 camera.  Download the firmware here: FIRMWARE.

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