Long-term Fujifilm XF 18mm f/2 Review
After 18 months of use throughout Thailand, the Fujifilm XF 18mm f/2 has yet to win us over, although we have grown fond of how compact and lightweight it is. Disclosure: this review has been solely informed by our real-world experiences with this lens and won’t be overly technical in nature.
Construction: 8 Elements in 7 Groups
Aperture Type: Rounded 7-Blade Diaphragm
Aperture Range: f/2.8 – f/16
Focus Range: ~18cm – Infinity
Focus Motor: Stepping
Max Magnification: 0.14x
Dimensions: 64.5 x 40.6 mm
Weight: 116 g
Weather Resistance: No
Filter Size: 52 mm
Manufacturing Country: Japan
Length of Test: ~18 years.
Acquisition: we purchased the Fujifilm XF 18mm f/2 with our own cash.
Camera Used: Fujifilm X-H1 & X-T20.
Image Processer: Capture One.
Countries: Thailand & Laos.
Weather: Hot and Humid (highest temp 36 C), Cold and Dry (lowest temp 12 C).
The XF 18mm f/2 is ideal for:
The lens isn’t ideal for:
Construction: The XF 18mm f/2 exemplifies Fujifilm’s commitment to producing lenses that are not only optically excellent but also built to last. The lens features a durable metal construction that provides a solid and robust feel.
The focus and aperture rings of the lens are well-crafted as they have a tactile feel and operate smoothly, allowing for seamless adjustments while shooting. The focus ring itself, has a relatively deep grip that offers a pancake-friendly manual focus experience.
It’s also worth noting that the lens mount is sturdy and provides a secure connection to the camera body, minimizing any potential play or looseness.
Incredibly compact and lightweight, the Fujifilm XF 18mm f/2 is a breeze to carry around for extended periods of time. With its sleek and slim design, it takes up minimal space inside a camera bag, leaving room for other essentials.
Weighing only 116 grams, it adds very little weight to your camera setup, ensuring comfortable handling and reducing fatigue when on the move. Its compactness and lightness make it an excellent companion for travel photography, street photography, or any situation where portability and convenience are essential.
Street: With its 18mm focal length (equivalent to 27mm in 35mm format), this lens offers a wide-angle perspective, allowing you to capture more of the scene. This is particularly useful for street photography, as it enables you to include a broader view of the surroundings, capturing the essence of the urban environment.
Additionally, the compactness of the XF 18mm f/2 allows for discreet shooting, enabling you to blend into the surroundings and capture candid moments without drawing excessive attention.
Architecture: While the Fujifilm XF 18mm f/2 can be used creatively in architectural photography, its limitations in distortion control, reach, and perspective correction, make it less suited for specialized architectural work.
In our experience, the lens has a habit of introducing minor distortion when photographing architectural subjects, especially buildings with straight lines and geometric shapes. Even with Capture One’s lens correction tools, the XF 18mm f/2 maintains the tendency to elongate and distort vertical lines, resulting in a loss of architectural accuracy and perspective.
Snapshots: The Fujifilm XF 18mm f/2 lens is well-suited for snapshots due to its compact and lightweight design, making it incredibly convenient to carry around and always at the ready for capturing fleeting moments.
Additionally, its wide-angle focal length allows for a broader perspective, making it ideal for capturing expansive scenes or fitting more elements into the frame, making snapshots more dynamic and visually captivating.
Low Light: The Fujifilm XF 18mm f/2 lens performs reasonably well in low-light conditions, thanks to its wide f/2 maximum aperture. The larger aperture allows more light to reach the camera’s sensor, enhancing its low-light capabilities, thereby making it suitable for shooting in dimly lit environments.
At f/2, the lens can gather sufficient light, producing relatively good results with acceptable image quality in low-light situations. This allows for faster shutter speeds to be used, reducing the risk of camera shake and motion blur, which is beneficial when shooting handheld in challenging lighting conditions.
Auto / Manual Focus: The Fujifilm XF 18mm f/2’s autofocus performance may not meet some users’ expectations due to several reasons. Firstly, the lens’ autofocus speed is substantially slower compared to more advanced and modern autofocus systems found in other Fujifilm lenses. This slower autofocus may result in missed opportunities for capturing fast-moving subjects or fleeting moments.
Secondly, in challenging lighting conditions such as low light or high contrast situations, the lens’ autofocus struggles to find a focus point accurately and quickly. This can lead to hunting or a lack of focus lock, causing frustration for photographers trying to capture critical shots in difficult lighting scenarios.
As a result of these autofocus limitations, the XF 18mm f/2 lens isn’t the best choice for situations where precise and swift focusing is crucial. However, for slower-paced or static subjects, such as street photography or landscapes, its performance may still be adequate.
In practice, we preferred manual focusing over autofocus, despite the lens having a fly-by-wire mechanism. The manual focusing experience is actually decent, since the lens’ wide-angle perspective provides a broader depth of field, which made it easier to achieve focus manually.
When the lens is stopped down, the depth of field increases, making manual focusing even more manageable. Additionally, the short focus throw of the lens means that adjustments are able to be made quickly and precisely, allowing for swift manual focus adjustments when needed.
Sharpness: The Fujifilm XF 18mm f/2 lens exhibits good sharpness at all apertures in the center of the frame, producing detailed and crisp images. However, edge sharpness suffers throughout the aperture range, and even at narrower apertures like f/5.6-8, the lens isn’t capable of achieving consistently tack-sharp results edge-to-edge.
While sharpness isn’t the only factor determining the quality of a lens, the XF 18mm f/2’s softness at the edges can limit its applications for demanding professional work where edge-to-edge sharpness is critical. For personal or casual photography, its softness could be embraced as a “characteristic” and desired depending on the artistic look one seeks to achieve.
When it comes to professional work that demands consistent image quality and edge-to-edge sharpness, the XF 18mm f/2 isn’t the top choice. However, for personal projects or less demanding applications, the lens can still deliver pleasing results.
The Fujifilm XF 18mm f/2 offers decent value compared to Fuji’s newer offerings, especially when considering its compactness and affordability (when bought used).
However, its primary competition, the Fujifilm XF 18mm f/1.4, offers superior image quality with a larger aperture, allowing for better low-light performance and increased creative possibilities with shallower depth of field. Additionally, the f/1.4 lens boasts faster and more accurate autofocus, making it suitable for demanding professional work, where quick and precise focusing is crucial.
While the XF 18mm f/1.4 may be bigger and heavier than the f/2 version, its superior optical performance and autofocus capabilities make it an appealing option for photographers seeking consistency and reliability.
Given its price point relative to its overall performance, we can only recommend buying this lens used to save money and get the most out of your investment. Purchasing the XF 18mm f/2 used can be a cost-effective way to enjoy the lens’ benefits without the premium price of a brand new unit. Just be sure to buy from reputable sellers and inspect the lens carefully to verify that it’s in good working condition.
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To sum up our thoughts on the Fujifilm XF 18mm f/2, we can only recommend purchasing the lens for certain situations. As a wide-angle pancake lens, it offers portability and convenience, making it a solid choice for everyday use or general walk-around photography. Its compact and lightweight design allows for easy carrying and discreet shooting.
With that being said, for photographers seeking ultimate image quality and edge-to-edge sharpness, there are better X-mount options available, especially for specific genres like architectural or landscape photography.
Considering the XF 18mm f/2’s limitations in distortion control and edge sharpness, it’s in no way shape or form the top choice for professional shoots with higher image quality expectations. However, for casual photography or enthusiasts looking for an affordable and versatile wide-angle option, the XF 18mm f/2 can still deliver satisfactory results.
More Sample Images from the lens are featured below:
We enjoyed several aspects of the Fujifilm XF 18mm f/2. Its compact and lightweight design makes it highly portable and an excellent choice for everyday carry. The lens’ small form factor is especially convenient for travel photography and street shooting, which allowed us to capture moments discreetly and without added bulk.
Despite its pancake design, the XF 18mm f/2 delivers decent image quality, producing sharp and detailed images. While it may not match the optical performance of larger and more advanced lenses, it still provides satisfactory results for general-purpose photography and casual shooting.
While the Fuji 18mm f/2 lens has its strengths, it didn’t meet our expectations for a couple reasons. Firstly, the 27mm equivalent focal length, while suitable for certain genres like street photography or landscapes, wasn’t versatile enough for our shooting needs. It was limiting for most subjects that we shoot, especially those requiring longer focal lengths for both reach and isolation.
Secondly, the image quality, while generally sharp, didn’t match our expectations in terms of edge-to-edge performance as well as distortion control. These factors collectively influenced our decision to not use this lens so much, instead we opted to use the XF 14mm when a wide angle shot was needed.
The Fujifilm XF 18mm f/2 is worth buying for everyday carry and general purpose photography due to its compactness and versatility. Its slim and lightweight design makes it a perfect companion for everyday use, allowing you to carry it around effortlessly and discreetly.
The Fujifilm XF 18mm f/2 lens isn’t Fuji’s worst lens by any means. In fact, it’s generally well-regarded for its compact size and character. Over the years, it has received positive reviews from many photographers for its overall performance.
However, like any lens, the XF 18mm f/2 won’t be a perfect fit for everyone. It’s worth considering that the “worst” lens for one photographer could be the perfect lens for another, depending on their creative vision and shooting requirements.
Even though we bought this lens used for ~$130, the XF 18mm f/2 is holding up surprisingly well. The lens has a fair amount of cosmetic scratches, but the glass is still in good condition.
Our aging XF 18mm f/2 is still going strong but it is prone to cosmetic scratches – more so than our other Fuji lenses. Overall, there are no issues to report. Although, we will be selling this lens as we haven’t jived with it at all.
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