Hello everyone and welcome to my next review. This time I’m tackling the better side of the Fujifilm kit lenses – Fujinon XF 18-55.
You can really see the differences between this lens and its XC counterpart (16-50) right at a first glance – it is much sturdier, build out of metal and probably most important of all, it has an aperture ring (probably the reason why most people like the Fuji ergonomics so much). The ring itself does not have a scale on it because, unlike on constant aperture lenses, it is not fixed but rather works as a regular dial, so that when you zoom in and out wide open, the aperture changes without having to move the ring.
Overall, to be honest, there istn’t really that much to say about the performance of the lens other than it is really great. I do not need to tell you what apertures best to use because the performance is great on all of them. No need to elaborate about what focal length to choose to get your corners sharp – they are sharp as long as they are in the depth of field. Granted that, the 18-55 is sharper in the middle than in the corners, but it’s a steady and incremental loss, nothing like what you would see with Sony’s 28-70 and alike. Compared to primes like the 23mm F2, photos seem flat, this is no suprise, but even if you comapre the results to the 55-200, a lens that is complementary to this one, the images fall short.
This is a big one, given how sparse the image stabilization is in the Fujifilm system. No bodies have it, although the rummored X-H1 should. Worse than that, no primes (except the new macro) have it as well. This is a topic for another post, but for me it really doesn’t make sense to make lenses with low light capabilities but no OIS. If I go from F2.8 to F1.4 I gain one stop of light, but when I put IS into the F2.8 lens I might gain 3-4 stops, not to mention I can capture movement hand held. Now all this of course does not apply to this lens because it indeed is stabilised, and the stabilization works really amazing. You can get away with shooting 55mm at 1/15th of a second.
I do have one problem with the lens though – when shooting landscapes with large differences in dynamic range between the sky and the foreground, you will see the some nasty purple chromatic aberration, especially when leaving the base ISO area. This is in part the fault of the X-Trans sensor itself, but really when comparing to primes like the Fujinon 23mm F2, the difference is pronounced.Take a look at this photo here (I used it also in my Fujifilm X-T20 review, but it’s a really good illustration of what I am talking about.
Overall the lens performs great. Is it as good as primes? no it is not. Comparable to 16-50 F2.8? Not necessarily, although it does have OIS, whereas the “brick” doesn’t, so you could find yourself in a situation where the 18-55 would come in more handy than Fujinon XF 16-50. There of course is also a consideration of size – If you don’t mind carrying around a Fujifilm X-T2 with the 16-50 F2.8 well, you might as well go full frame (Sony A7 II with 24-105 F4 weighs the same and is actually a tad smaller, although the autofocus leaves alot to be wished for). If wight and size matter to you, then go with the XF 18-55. Especailly given a fact that you can buy in on the 2nd market for close to €300. In my opinion, the lens is simply a must-have for every Fujifilm shooter.
The lens performs good enough and is in line with the APS-C philosophy of creating something that is actually smaller and cheaper than the full frame system, which walking around with the 16-55 F2.8 simply does not provide.