Fuji Fujinon XF18-55mm F/2.8-4R LM OIS Review
Fuji Fujinon XF18-55mm F/2.8-4R LM OIS Review
The very first zoom for Fuji X-mount, followed the launch of the system by 8 months. This, of course, came as a bold move for Fuji who had introduces their mirrorless system only with a handful of prime lenses. This made the Fujifilm Fujinon XF18-55mm F/2.8-4R LM OIS
Fujifilm Fujinon XF18-55mm F/2.8-4R LM OIS become the original kit-lens for Fuji mirrorless digital cameras. Like the rest of the system, this turned out to be another unconventional approach.
The focal-range of 18-55mm, equivalent to 27-82mm in a traditional 35mm camera, is exactly the same as almost every kit-lens. While such lenses typically have an F/3.5-5.6 variable maximum aperture, the XF18-55 manages almost an additional stop. Its maximum F/2.8-4 aperture is more common among mid-range third-party lenses sold as upgrades.
Considering that Fuji mirrorless cameras originally relied on lenses having an aperture-ring, the XF18-55mm F/2.8-4R LM OIS had to provide an intuitive way to control aperture without the luxury of having a constant maximum aperture. Fuji solved this with a novel aperture-ring which has no markings and can rotate indefinitely. Instead of operating like a traditional aperture-ring, this one works like a control-dial. There are soft detents at every 1/3 stop and a toggle to select between manual and automatic aperture.
This 18-55mm lens also happens to be the first stabilized X-mount lens. A typical switch on the lens barrel toggles stabilization. With optical stabilization, the XF18-55mm can compete with its bright-aperture siblings when it comes to usability in low-light. Given its brighter maximum aperture, this lens is larger than the usual kit-lens, yet it is nor uncomfortably large nor heavy.
This zoom lens has a nice high-end finish. It is made mostly of metal, save for the three plastic rings used to control focus, zoom and aperture. The front-most ring is a fly-by-wire focus-ring. It has a reasonable width and a fine ribbed texture which provides sufficient purchase. The ring turns completely smoothly but only control focus when the camera lets it.
A relatively-large mechanical ring operates the zoom smoothly from 18 to 55mm. It is labelled with 4 focal-lengths which almost perfectly correspond to ones Fuji makes as prime lenses: 18, 23, 35 and 55Fuji makes two 56mm F/1.2 lenses, instead of 55mm. The barrel extends by roughly 50% when completely zoomed-in. That portion of the lens is quite light though and so there is no zoom-creep.
The fly-by-wire aperture-ring, which is just a little slimmer than the focus-ring, has extremely soft detents. This unfortunately makes it easy to accidentally change the selected aperture. While this problem is common to all but one Fujinon lens, the XF18-55mm avoids the riskiest issue. Essentially, selecting the next or previous 1/3 aperture-stop is not a tremendous error. The more serious accident is changing the aperture-ring away from automatic. This changes the exposure-mode and will most likely cause severe under-exposure or motion-blur.
Overall, the Fuji XF18-55mm F/2.8-4R LM OIS delivers a reasonably good performance. As is often the case, it is at its worst towards wide-angle. There, it never renders details perfectly sharp and needs stopping down by 2 F-stops to reach its maximum sharpness. Corners remain visibly soft regardless. Still, by F/5.6, they are completely suitable for mid-size prints.
Around the middle of the zoom, image-quality is notably improved. The center is quite sharp from wide-open and becomes excellent one stop down. Corners start soft but sharpen up quickly this time. At F/5.6, they are already relatively sharp. This performance stays pretty consistent while zooming-in all the way to 55mm. At that point, the center is perfectly sharp wide-open but extreme corners remain visibly softer. Again, stopping down improves corners quickly.
There is a slight amount of vignetting towards wide-angle. Optical distortion and chromatic aberrations also appear negligible. These are impressive results for such a compact lens. Fuji uses anti-ghost and flare-resistant coatings which appear to do their job extremely well on this lens.
The Fujinon XF18-55mm F/2.8R LM OIS uses an internal linear motor to control focus. Such mote is very precise which is essential for Contrast-Detect AF which requires tiny back and forth movements of lens elements to find the point of maximum contrast. Some new Fuji mirrorless also use Phase-Detect but may fall back to Contrast-Detect, depending on shooting conditions and camera settings.
Linear motors are very quiet which is crucial while recording video, even with Manual-Focus, since the focus-ring is fly-by-wire. Focus speed is highly dependent on the camera. With a fast camera, such as the Fuji X-T1 reviewed here, this lens keeps up nicely.
The Fujifilm Fujinon XF18-55mm F/2.8-4R LM OIS
Fujifilm Fujinon XF18-55mm F/2.8-4R LM OIS is a unique offering and one of the few X-mount zooms which can be considered a walk-around lens. This particular model distinguishes itself by a brighter-than-usual aperture while being moderately compact. There are two competing model. One is the larger and weatherproof XF18-135mm F/3.5-5.6R LM OIS WR which obviously trades aperture-range for focal-range. More importantly, it fails to match the image-quality of the XF18-55mm. The other option is the entry-level Fujifilm Fujinon XC16-50mm F/3.5-5.6 OIS
Fujifilm Fujinon XC16-50mm F/3.5-5.6 OIS that features the same dim maximum-aperture as the XF18-135mm. However, it offers an ultra-wide-angle reach in a 50% lighter body without aperture-ring.
Neocamera Blog is a medium for expressing ideas related to digital cameras and photography. Read about digital cameras in the context of technology, media, art and the world. Latest posts links:
The Best DSLR & Mirrorless Camera For Every Price
Neocamera shows which interchangeable lens cameras offer the very best image quality for their price. From $396 to $6500, find out which DSLR and Mirrorless cameras deliver the top image-quality.
The Best Compact Camera For Every Price
Neocamera shows which compact digital cameras offer the very best image quality for their price. From $0 to $3300, find out which compact camera has the top image quality in its class.
Nikon D850 Review
Nikon Full-Frame flagship DSLR. 46 Megapixels, ISO 32-102400, 7+ FPS 153-Point AF system and 4K Ultra-HD Video. Professional weatherproof DSLR with dual control-dials and a extra-large 0.75X magnification OVF with 100% coverage and a built-in shutter. Illuminated controls, 3.2" LCD, WiFi and Bluetooth.
Lens Features for B&W Street Photography
Important lens features for B&W street photographers.
Key Tips On How To Take Amazing Model Shots For Publication
Essential tips for starting portrait photographers to make professional model shots.
Nikon D7500 Review
In-depth review of the Nikon D7500 professional-grade APS-C DSLR with ISO 50-1638400 range, 8 FPS and 4K Ultra-HD video. Dual control-dials in a weatherproof body. Large 0.94X magnification OVF with Eye-Start Sensor. WiFi and Bluetooth.
Think Tank Photo Spectral 10 Review
Review of the Think Thank Photo Spectral 10 photography shoulder bag.
Fujifilm X-T20 Review
Highly compact mirrorless built around a 24 MP X-Trans CMOS III APS-C sensor and X-Processor Pro capable of 14 FPS drive and 4K Ultlra-HD video. Features dual control-dials and a 2.4 MP 0.39" EVF with 0.62X magnification and an Eye-Start Sensor.
Digital Camera Viewfinder Comparison
Global comparison of viewfinders from all digital cameras. Optical viewfinders (OVF) and electronic viewfinders (EVF) all in one easy to compare table.
Best Digital Cameras of 2017
The Best Cameras of 2017 awarded by Neocamera: Best Travel-Zoom, Best Premium Compact, Best Ultra-Zoom, Best Mirrorless (Beginner, Advanced and Professional) and Best DSLR (Entry, Enthusiast and Professional), now including budget choices.