Affordable and Surprisingly Fantastic: Fujifilm 27mm F2.8 R WR Review

Kit lenses have a reputation for being lackluster. But then, sometimes cameras are paired with lenses that are excellent to consider, even for photographers not investing in a kit. The Fujifilm 27mm f2.8 R WR is one of those lenses. Equivalent to 41mm on a crop camera, the pancake lens makes a good walk-around kit with the XE4. But does the XF 27mm have enough strength to stand alone outside of the kit?

At less than an inch long, the XF 27mm deserves to be called a pancake lens. It’s also weather-sealed. And while Fujifilm certainly has brighter aperture lenses out there, the small size, durable build, and $400 price point may just be worth a spot in many Fujifilm photographer’s bags.

Too Long, Didn’t Read

The Fujifilm 27mm f2.8 R WR is a new lens that’s kit for cameras like the XE4. But, the lens captures images way better than most kit lenses. It’s a tiny, versatile lens that will be great for lifestyle and street photography and, in a pinch, portraits, and landscapes.

Fujifilm 27mm F2.8 Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Compact
  • Weather-sealed
  • Great bokeh, when you get in close
  • Good center sharpness
  • Great price

Cons

  • Some colored fringing
  • Softer corners

Gear Used

I used the Fujifilm XF 27mm f2.8 R WR with the X-E4 body.

Innovations

The XF 27mm f2.8 R WR doesn’t embody any new technology, but it does squish a lot into a lens that’s less than an inch long, including weather-sealing.

Fujifilm XF 27mm F2.8 Tech Specs

These technical specifications were taken directly from Fujifilm’s website:

  • Lens configuration: 7 elements in 5 groups (includes 1 aspherical element)
  • Focal length: f=27mm (41mm in 35mm format equivalent)
  • Angle of view: 55.5°
  • Max. aperture: F2.8
  • Min. aperture: F16
  • Number of blades: 7 (rounded diaphragm opening)
  • Step size: 1/3EV (16 steps)
  • Minimum Object Distance: 34cm
  • Max. magnification: 0.1x
  • External dimensions : Diameter x Length*1 (approx.) Ø62mm x 23mm
  • Weight (approx.): 84g
  • Filter size: Ø39mm

Ergonomics

The Fujifilm 27mm f2.8 R WR is deserving of the pancake title. It barely takes up space in a camera bag at less than an inch long and under three ounces. I almost felt like I was using a point-and-shoot with it attached to the XE4, one of Fujifilm’s smallest mirrorless bodies.

Of course, that small size leaves little room for controls. The 27mm has a narrow aperture dial that clicks as it turns and an even thinner focus ring at the front of the lens. The aperture ring is nicely labeled, and it has an auto position. This auto spot locks, requiring the button on the side to release it. That’s ideal for newbies who would be scratching their heads if they accidentally bumped the dial off of auto.

The front of the lens accepts 39mm filters. The included lens hood is barely larger than a filter ring.

Build Quality

This pancake is weather-sealed. Because I was shooting with the unsealed XE4, I couldn’t take the duo into inclement weather. I did splash a little on the outside of just the lens, however, and the lens remained functional.

The weather-sealing also helps give the lens a high-end feel. It feels almost metallic. The rings also have a great feel to them, with a solid click on the aperture and a smooth turn to the focus ring. The aperture ring is part flat — to accommodate those labels — and partly textured, but it was still easy to feel for the right ring.

Autofocus

Using this lens with the XE4, the lens did a decent job focusing on still and slow-moving subjects. Even in low light, the lens was occasionally a little slower but capable of grabbing onto the subject. I had a good percentage of keepers from this lens when the subjects were still or slow. Anything at a running pace, however, resulted in a significant number of soft shots. For what this focal length is best for — street, portrait, lifestyle, landscape — the lens will get the job done.

The lens can focus on objects that are a little over 13 inches from the front of the lens. That’s not macro capabilities, but it’s .1x magnification is better than similar lenses like the XF 23mm and XF 35mm.

Ease of Use

The lens has an almost vintage feel with that labeled aperture ring. But, using the lens is actually quite simple. Auto shooters can leave that lens locked on auto. Advanced users have the labels and click to easily adjust the aperture settings.

With minimal controls, there’s not much to learn on this lens. Of course, that also means features are missing — you have to switch to manual focus in the camera menu instead of on the lens, and there are no shortcut buttons or focal scale on the lens.

Image Quality

This 27mm is a kit lens for the XE4 — but it doesn’t look like a kit lens. Bokeh is excellent for a crop sensor f2.8. Sharpness is good with just a bit of corner softness. The biggest imperfection is some occasional colored fringing. The 27mm is equivalent to 41mm, which is an in-between focal length that’s relatively versatile.

Bokeh

Coming from a crop sensor camera with limited ability to get in close, I was surprised by the dreamy bokeh this 27mm could capture. The 27mm is the kit lens for bodies like the XE4, and the bokeh definitely doesn’t feel kit. Out-of-focus areas have nice, soft edges. Points of light are circular. Most bokeh balls have soft edges, though a few had a slight ring to them. I didn’t spot any soap bubble bokeh.

Sharpness

Shooting wide open, the XF 27mm has solid sharpness through about 80 percent of the frame. The corners and edges are slightly softer. Corners sharpen up around f4.5. While sharpness is relatively good through the image, it pales in comparison to the corner-to-corner sharpness that I’ve seen from high-priced Sony GM and Nikkor Z lenses lately. However, in real-world shooting, I thought the lens had a good balance between sharp subjects and being so sharp that you see every pore and imperfection.

Lens Character

The lens captured some occasional colored fringing in high contrast areas. In most shots, it was not distracting. But, in one shot, the trees in the background had noticeable blue fringing around the branches.

At a 41mm equivalent, the lens had only slight barrel distortion. A bit of corner vignetting adds some character yet disappears by simply checking the “enable profile corrections” in Lightroom.

When sunlight hits this lens just right, you’ll get a bit of a white edge to the image, almost as if you applied a white gradient to the image in Photoshop. This flare offers plenty of chances for adding character if you can get the light to hit just right.

Color Rendering

Color feels true to life on this lens, using the standard Provia color profile on the XE4. The lens does decently at capturing different hues. The only issue I had with color on this lens was the occasional colored fringing.

Extra Image Samples

From day one, The Phoblographer has been huge on transparency with our audience. Nothing from this review is sponsored. Further, lots of folks will post reviews and show lots of editing in the photos. The problem then becomes that anyone and everyone can do the same thing. You’re not showing what the lens can do. So we have a section in our Extra Image Samples area to show edited and unedited photos. From this, you can make a decision for yourself.

Edited

Unedited

Conclusions

Likes

  • This lens is so compact that with the XE4 it felt almost like a point-and-shoot.
  • The lens is weather resistant.
  • The aperture may be narrower than some ultra-fast primes, but I still loved the bokeh coming from this lens.
  • The center is nicely sharp.
  • $400 is a great price.

Dislikes

  • I was a little bothered by some occasional colored fringing.
  • The corners are not as sharp as the center.

The Fujifilm 27mm f2.8 R WR is an excellent kit lens — but it still has merit as a great, compact walk-around lens. For $400, you get a tiny, weather-sealed lens with some soft bokeh and a sharp center. That’s an excellent deal.

The trade-off, however, is that it’s an f2.8 — Fujifilm has some good f1.4 lenses, but they are both much larger and pricier. The XF 27mm also had a bit of occasional colored fringing, and it’s not going to win a corner sharpness contest with pixel peepers. Overall, I think it offers the right mix of character, portability, and image quality to be worth considering as a walk-around lens for photographers on a budget. If your budget is bigger, the XF 23mm f1.4 R is much brighter and includes focus controls and a focal scale on the lens. But that pricer lens actually isn’t weather-sealed and is a bit larger.

I’m giving the Fujifilm XF 27mm f2.8 R WR four out of five stars. Want one? Check out Amazon for the latest pricing.

Hillary Grigonis

Hillary K. Grigonis is a photographer and tech writer based in Michigan. She shoots weddings and portraits at Hillary K Photography. A mother of three, she enjoys hiking, camping, crafting, and reading.