Okay so the "First Impression" title may be a reach, I say this because the Fuji XF 18mm was one of the first lenses to ever bless my body (that sounds weird). When I purchased it several months ago I was debating between a Ricoh GR or X-T1 with this lens as my street photography kit, ultimately I ended up with X-T1, but the Fuji X100T has taken over as my go to street kit, and ever since then the XF 18mm f/2 rarely sees the light of day.
The lens honestly has a bit of an odd spot in my kit, I normally shoot strictly with the X100T and the 56 f/1.2 for the majority of my work, the 35/85 full frame eqv focal length is all I really need to get any job done. In rare cases where I need to go wide, I step back, but for whatever reason I can't let this lens go.
- Lens type
- Lens construction
- Focal length (35mm format equivalent)
- Angle of View
- Max. aperture
- Min. aperture
- Aperture control
- Focus range
- Max. magnification
- External Dimensions
XF18mm F2 R
8 elements in 7 groups (includes 2 aspherical elements)
Number of blades: 7 (rounded diaphragm opening)
Stop size: 1/3 EV (19 stops)
18cm – Infinity
64.5mm x 40.6mm (Diameter) / 2.54 x 1.60 inches
116g (4.0 oz) (excluding caps and hoods)
The XF 18mm is one of Fuji's smallest lens to have a manual aperture dial on the lens, actually I'll go as far as saying that it is the smallest lens without doing my research, that's how tiny it is. It provides a 28mm point of view (FF eqv) and It's small form factor makes it super lightweight, almost hollow setup. But that's a bad thing, what we want small from a mirrorless system right? After all that's why the majority of us switched, we wanted a smaller form factor kit without sacrificing quality, and that's exactly what Fuji offered us with this lens.
Despite it's hollowness this lens is built extremely well, you could compare it to any other XF mounted lens, not a beat was skipped when Fuji designed this. The XF 18mm feels natural on the X-T1 (though I think it would hit HOME on an X-Pro 1 or X-E2), it's tiny, but everything is accessible, the aperture ring is perfect, the clicks are solid and I have yet to have any problems with the aperture moving or shifting without me wanting it to. The focus ring feels right at home, it's not as large as my other XF lenses, but neither is the lens. It's smooth and works perfectly... I couldn't ask for more.
The lens also comes with a lens cap and hood cap, simply because the len's hood changes the dynamics of the lens. Once the hood is equipped the lens becomes a little bit larger, from a distance you could possibly mistake it for a vintage 35. I've seen some people opt out and not use it, but I personally like the added style it gives to my lens, not to mention the protection from both the sun and accidental damage. The hood doesn't change the ergonomics or functionality of the lens, but it can definitely be annoying, just because the rubberized caps Fuji decided to use are no good, they look cool, and were a great idea, but in reality they just won't stay on the lens.
I remember my first time really using this lens, I was new to Fuji, but the task I had set out in front of me was for no beginner... I had shot a photojournalist/documentary styled piece for the Mike Brown protest. I put this lens to WORK. And it didn't let me down, it was a little before the golden hour when I started shooting, and at around 5.6 this thing was money. I had no problem focusing, and I was getting shots that I would have normally been afraid to with a larger DSLR styled body. When the night got a bit later though the lens did show some signs of weakness, my auto focused hunted like no other, even at f/2. In some cases it resulted in me missing the shot or even resulting in me just doing things manual.
Other than that it's not much to mention, it's fairly small, and everything else just works, aperture rings are nice and tight, yet turn on a dime, the focus ring, though small, is smooth as ever.
My first image shot with the XF 18 was off a police parking lot, the image was underexposed, but it look pretty sharp to me, I'm no pixel peeper so we won't get in any corner to corner (though I did notice major chromatic aberration corrections available during post processing) debates but I was more than impressed. I also noticed how at f/2 you do get some signs of bokeh with this lens, something I wasn't expecting too much considering it's wide point of view. Because my X-T1 is temporarily out of commission I posted images from previous events, at the time my editing style was a bit processed, so I decided to upload raw untouched images, you can check them below.
The XF 18 was my first prime lens for my Fuji X system, so it's always going to hold a special place in my heart. It was the "prime" reason I made the Fuji switch, I really thought my X-T1 and 18mm would be my go to kit to take on the Detroit streets, however, that hasn't been the case, even with all it's features; Wide angle possibilities offered by this lens are nothing short of amazing, f/2, aperture dial, smooth focus ring are all packaged in a lightweight compact lens, yet it never gets any use. Sometimes I ask myself why, but I can never answer that question. Honestly there are times where I just wanted to move the lens, but I keep telling myself it's price point and size are solid reasons to keep it in my bag, you know for those rare moments where I need to go wide. If push ever comes to shove though, it will be the first lens to go.
For those of you debating to pick up the lens, don't let my first impression series stop you, the XF 18 is nothing short of amazing and I would recommend it to any professional, just make sure the focal length fits your shooting needs.
The Fuji XF 18mm R f/2 is available for purchase at Amazon.
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