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Review: Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f2.8-4 R LM OIS (Fujifilm X)

by Julius Motal on 12/24/2013

julius motal the phoblographer fujifilm 18-55 image 01

We sang this lens’s praises before when we first got the X-E2 in for review because it was unlike any kit lens we’d worked with to date. With a fairly generous variable aperture and an aperture ring, this 18-55mm is a refreshing take on a form that has resided in the doldrums of f3.5-5.6. The lens offers full control in its three rings and two sliders, and it can produce some beautiful images to boot.

Pros and Cons

Pros

-Aperture ring

-Optical Image Stabilization

-Sharp images

-Smooth bokeh

Cons

-No depth of field scale

-Aperture ring is unmarked

Gear Used

We used the Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f2.8-4 R LM OIS with the Fujifilm X-E2.

Tech Specs

Courtesy of B&H Photo Video’s listing:

  • Fujifilm X-mount Lens
  • Fast Maximum Aperture of f/2.8
  • 27-84mm Focal Length Equivalency
  • Optical Image Stabilization
  • Smooth Linear Motor-driven Autofocus
  • Three Aspherical Elements

Ergonomics

Taken from our preliminary post:

julius motal the phoblographer fujifilm 18-55 image 02

The XF 18-55mm f2.8-4 R LM OIS’s 35mm equivalent focal length is 27-84mm. It sports an all metal construction, three textured rings and two switches. That sounds like more than you bargained for a kit lens–but hey, let Fujifilm give you more than you asked for. Or maybe it’s everything you asked for.

The ring farthest from the body is the focusing ring. The wider one behind it is the zoom ring. The smaller one half a step back is the aperture ring. Right behind that is a switch for the Optical Image Stabilization and another for Automatic or Manual aperture control.

julius motal the phoblographer fujifilm 18-55 image 01

The front element has a 58mm filter thread, and when you zoom in, the lens nearly doubles in length. Factor in the lens hood, and it’ll look as if you’ve got a long telephoto lens mounted on your X series camera, the X-E2 in our case.

julius motal the phoblographer fujifilm 18-55 image 03

It should also be mentioned that the aperture ring provides satisfying clicks, but just know that it’s unmarked. Set your aperture before shooting from the hip. If you’re using the X-A1, then have the benefit of a tilting LCD. Otherwise, have everything set before lowering the camera.

Build Quality

Fujifilm’s 18-55mm f2.8-4 is superbly built. With an all metal construction and textured focus, zoom and aperture rings, the lens delivers both in design and function. The fact that this lens comes bundled with the X-E2 is a major boon because you won’t have to worry about the plasticky nonsense that plagues most kit lenses.

Ease of Use

If this is your first lens, you may find that this lens has a bit of a learning curve. This is mainly because Fujifilm designates aperture control to the lens rather than the camera body. Barring this, though, using the lens is a smooth experience. If you switch between the various rings, you may feel like you’re adjusting a combination lock,  but that’s not a bad thing. It’s all in favor of complete optical control.

Autofocus

Autofocusing with the 18-55mm f2.8-4 is fairly fast in the best light. The minimum focusing distance is 11.81 inches which can make for some intimate photographs. We found it best to use the flexible spot. That way, the lens knows exactly where to look. It can suffer in poor lighting, but that’s where the X series’ focus peaking comes into play. The autofocusing is reliable, but most of the time, we went with manual focusing.

Image Quality

julius motal the phoblographer fujifilm x-e2 image 004

This lens offers the standard focal range, but what sets it apart is its maximum aperture at both ends: 2.8 wide open and 4 zoomed in. That aspect of it helps the lens’s performance in a variety of situations, and you can rest assured that this lens will deliver. Its colors are accurate, its lines are sharp, and its bokeh is creamy.

Sharpness

julius motal the phoblographer fujifilm x-e2

This was shot at f4 at the longest end in the shady area of my backyard. With the right light, this lens can deliver exceptionally sharp images. Even with light you don’t particularly like, this lens can still produce sharp images. Whereas most kit lenses often end up sacrificing something to keep costs down, this kit lens sacrifices nothing.

Color Fringing

julius motal the phoblographer fujifilm x-e2 image 006

In our time with this lens, we haven’t found any color fringing that gave us pause. Hell, we hardly found any at all. There is some very slight fringing in the above image, but it isn’t distracting. You could easily handle in post-production if you find it to be too much of a bother.

Color Rendition

julius motal the phoblographer fujifilm x-e2 image 002

Chromatically speaking, the 18-55mm f2.8-4 doesn’t disappoint. At both ends of the focal range and everywhere in between, this lens will render colors accurately. Fujifilm has always been excellent with color rendition, due in no small part to its long history in 35mm film. With what this lens can produce, you won’t have to worry about springing for new glass for a while.

Bokeh

julius motal the phoblographer fujifilm x-e2 0-10

Check out this bokeh. You’ll get far better results at the longer end of things. We’re hard-pressed to find the best bokeh at 18mm, unless you decide to get very personal with your subject, whatever it may be. We can only imagine what this lens could produce if the aperture was constant throughout the zoom range. For what it is, though, we’re very satisfied with the results.

Extra Image Samples

julius motal the phoblographer fujifilm x-e2 0-5

julius motal the phoblographer fujifilm x-e2 0-9

knight award ceremony - j. motal-13

julius motal the phoblographer fujifilm x-e2 image 003

knight award ceremony - j. motal-5

julius motal the phoblographer fujifilm x-e2 0-8

Dec. 16, 2013 - New York, NY.

julius motal the phoblographer fujifilm x-e2 image 001

Conclusion

Fujifilm’s XF 18-55mm f2.8-4 R LM OIS is the most refreshing take we’ve seen on an otherwise forgettable form. Kit lenses are often cast aside in favor of faster options with better build quality, but with this lens, we found that we kept it on for longer than we thought we would. Fujifilm gives each new owner complete optical control, and this lens performs exceptionally well at every point on the spectrum. With accurate colors, sharp lines, and bokeh that just won’t quit, the 18-55mm is a fantastic kit option.

Pick yours up at Adorama or Amazon.

Or you can pick up a Fujifilm X-E2 with this kit lens at Adorama or Amazon.

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