The Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS Zoom Lens is the first Fuji lens I bought along with a (then new) X-E2 body. I was immediately blown away with the optical performance compared to the “kit” lenses that I’d known from my Nikon and Canon days. The focal range is perfect for a mid-range zoom, and the excellent OIS allows for some remarkable hand-held performance at surprisingly low shutter speeds. I’ve shot this lens several times after dark and it is an excellent performer in low light regardless of the slow-ish aperture range. That’s the good news. The bad news about this lens is entirely personal to the way that I work and may not effect you at all.
WHY IT’S WORTH HAVING
I don’t like zooms. There, I said it. And having said it, this is my favorite zoom lens. If I do carry a zoom around it’s this one. It’s light, small, and solid. At no point does this little guy feel like a “kit” lens. There’s nothing plasticky or ratchet about it. I’ve shot this lens side by side the (far) more expensive Fujifilm 16-55 f/2.8 and I didn’t find the quality from that lens to be far enough above this one to justify the additional cost or weight. Yes, the Fujifilm 16-55 f/2.8 is a pro-level lens but I don’t shoot portraits with zooms. When I’m shooting with a zoom I’m at f/4 – f/11 anyway so having a fast zoom is just not part of my trip. I understand that it might be part of yours but it’s not mine.
My portrait shoots involve Fuji’s 23mm f/1.4, 35mm f/1.4, 56mm f/1.2, and the amazing 90mm f/2. That’s my portrait kit. Zooms are for convenience only, and to that end I find that zooms do make me lazy — despite my best efforts to prevent it.
WAS PART OF MY TRAVEL KIT
I used to have this theory that if I traveled without this zoom I’d miss it and regret not having it and so I’ve dragged this lens all over the place. And each time I’ve traveled I’ve left it in the hotel room because it’s too big, too heavy, and too slow for the way that I like to work. Huh. Note that this is not an argument against this lens for being bad, it’s an argument against zooms in general. Fast zooms are obviously even heavier and more cumbersome and that’s just not attractive to me.
SOME USAGE DATA – WHY I SOLD IT, TWICE
There’s always how I think I’m using a tool and how I’m actually using a tool, and these things don’t always agree. I looked through all of my favorite images that I shot with this lens and I was pretty surprised to find that 25% of them were shot at 18mm and 44% shot at 55mm with the remaining 31% being spread out over the rest of the focal range. It turns out that I’m not really using this as a zoom lens at all and I’m trying to use it like a wide or a medium tight prime lens. Well since that’s the case I decided to sell it in favor of building up my street kit of small primes instead.
- Optical performance is excellent. Images are sharp with very little distortion edge to edge. Outstanding contrast and color rendition.
- It’s very light and compact for a medium zoom lens.
- The OIS is fantastic and redeems the slower aperture at the high end of the zoom range.
- This lens is obviously not a bokeh monster. I know a few people who use this lens for portraits, but if I’m being honest I’ve not yet seen a portrait taken with this lens that has truly impressed me. Prove me wrong on that score, I’d love that!
Some of my favorite and most popular prints have been made with this lens, so there’s that.
I’ve bought and sold this lens twice and what I’ve learned is that I’m just not a zoom lens guy. I’d take the Fujifilm 35mm f/1.4 over this lens any day of the week.
Enjoy the gallery below, and hit me with any questions you might have about this or any other Fuji lens.
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