#18mm review

Fuji's 18mm F/2 - Better Than You Think!

I was quite pleasantly surprised about the amount of feedback & questions I got to my recent review of Fuji’s XF 18mm F/2R. Seems a lot of youse are quite interested in this little lens, despite the negative image it has on the net. So I thought it would be a good idea to share some more (real) images taken with it & maybe convince the one or other of you to try it out for yo’self ;-) Please read on if interested & thanks in advance for visiting and joining the discussion!

3 tables in the sun, seen with X-Pro2 and XF 18mm F/2 @F/2.8, 1/1700sec, 200 ISO

What I like about the above image is that even I’m using a wide angle lens I can limit the sharpness to quite a narrow zone, at F/2.8 nearly everything is blurred except the ashtray on the first table! Combined with letting the shadows drown into inky blackness this guides & focusses the viewer’s eye into the image! For me the 18mm (28mm equivalent field of view on full frame) is an ideal lens for documentary photography - wide enough to bring you close to the action but not too wide to distort too much or become too intrusive

But is it any good at close focus distances? For example fuji’s XF 23mm F/2R WR is plagued by soft rendering at close focus distances when using larger apertures … For documentary photography excellent short distance performance at larger apertures is key! Well, I can say that I ain’t got no reservations about my XF18mm. Sharp as a tack at close distances, already from max. aperture mine is. So, do I got a magic copy? Don’t think so - these things are manufactured according relatively tight tolerances, look at what optical limits had to say about it: “The center quality is very good at F/2 and the borders are also fine but the corners are very soft at this setting …”. I can confirm, take a look at below image, taken at max. aperture F/2. Not bad, eh? Look at the details in the bicycle wheel hub (it was less than 1m from the camera)!

Anywayz for documentary photography the extreme corners are not relevant. But of course, if you happen to specialize in brick wall or test chart photography, you may not agree. Anyhow I do think most of those “review specialists” flaming this lens on the net belong to that category of “photographers” …

Bicycle wheel, captured on my Fuji X-Pro2 with XF18mm F/2R (28mm FF equiv.) @F/2, 1/1250 sec, ISO 200

To put all this into perspective I took some comparative images on my Nikon Z7 (has a 47MP full frame sensor!) with the - in my opinion - best wide angle lens out there, the Nikon AF-S 28mm F/1.4E ED. Well I gotta say that I was shocked that I didn't see no major difference … The little Fuji wide angle is just. That. Good! OK the depth of field is of course narrower on the full frame lens but I gotta concede that the XF 18 for sure ain’t no slouch compared to below full frame image taken with the Nikkor stopped down to F/2, no sir:

The same bicycle wheel, on my Nikon Z7, with the veritable AF-S 28mm F/1.4 @F/2, 1/1000 sec, ISO 64

For all youse “pixel peepers” out there, please take a look at below crops! I shamefully have to admit I didn’t expect this. You really gotta hand it to Fuji: Quite an amazing performance!

Crop from the Fuji XF 18mm F/2 @F/2

Crop from the Nikkor AF-S 28mm F/1.4 @F/2

And the XF18mm at max. aperture is already so good that stopping it down to F/5.6 don’t really make a huge difference, please see comparison below:

Again the crop from the Fuji XF 18mm F/2 @F/2

… the XF 18mm F/2 stopped down to F/5.6

Before getting too excited, d’you wanna see what that little bit more full frame sharpness, dynamic range and shallower depth of field’s gonna cost you? You better sit down now, coz y’all gonna get really shocked! See below, I kid you not: The Nikon Z7 / FTZ / AF-S 28mm combo weighs and costs approx 2.3 times as much (in words: two point three !) as the Fuji X-Pro / XF 18mm combo (not even mentioning the size difference). Jeezus …

Nikon Z7+FTZ+AF-S 28mm F/1.4E ED = 1.4 Kg / 5250€ vs. Fuji X-Pro2+XF18mm F/2 = 615g / 2300€

Apart from that, showing up with that Nikon kit is gonna have people seriously divin’ for cover, thinking you’re planing on starting world war III ;-) At “cross-coffee-table” distances of around 1-1.2m that thing really sticks into your subject’s face (with a 77mm dia filter to boot). Good luck in getting your model eased up … Compared to that people don’t even really notice the Fuji (even the X-Pro2 ain’t really minimalistic either, but the lens is!)

Concluding & to be honest, I’d have a have a real hard time justifying the full frame kit over the Fuji. Hope you people out there learn from this & do it better than me ;-) Right, the full frame bazooka’s nominally better but you gonna need it maybe like 5% cases, if at all … Don’t worry I love my Nikon kit. Great camera & stellar lens, but not sure if I’d invest in those again!

Hope this little “real world” comparison will help some of youse to decide for yo’self what’s the best deal for your personal photographic requirements! Please let me know / leave me a comment below or on my “about” page, thanks as always for visiting & for your support!

Many thanks & best regards,


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