The Fujinon XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS: (I’m) Not a kit lens!

How to compare the Fujinon XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS zoom lens from Fujifilm? I will be a bit controversial saying that this little first class optic can be put at the same level as the Leica MFT 12-60mm F2.8-4. I know that the Fuji XF 18-55mm R has obviously a less wider angle of view at its short end and is natively less powerful on its longest end. That stands for the focal length statistic comparaison between these two fine products but for the quality of their respective construction, their optic glasses, their control rings and their manual abilities, there are in the same league.

And there is something else very important. The maximum aperture of the Fujinon XF 18-55mm at F2.8-4.0 is an exception compare to what we see useably in the compact standard zoom lenses market. And that simple point make a big different especially for the lenses designated for their on smaller sensor format like the APS-C and the MFT. In that field the Fujinon beats the Leica although it seems they share the same maximum aperture because the effect is different between those two smaller format sensor zooms.

The Fujinon XF 18-55mm R LM OIS is remarquable because it has that maximum  aperture of F2.8-4 and the internal optical stabilization, but also because it is still a compact lens in regard of all these factors. It breaks the actual tendency for the lens manufacturers to design and produce more and more inflated (i.e. big) lenses with larger maximum aperture or with a wider range of focal variations.

When you will be introduced for the first time to the Fujinon XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS you may notice that it is an optic more oriented on the traditional design way. This is not a featherweight optic device and the zoom and focus control rings are more stiffer than many others zoom lenses. Direct access of an aperture control ring is another advantage of the Fujinon (as for all XF Fujinon lenses). Every bits of the XF 18-55mm R LM OIS is telling us about the quality of this zoom lens.

We can considerer it as the introducing zoom lens of the Fujifilm NMARX X-series lens models (None-Marked-Aperture-Ring-X-Series-lens i.e. NMARX) (the other ones are the Fujinon XF 10-24mm F4R, the XF 18-135mm F3.5-5.6R and the XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8R all OIS).

There is a lot to say regarding the obvious optical quality results obtained by the XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R. Many tests done over the Web by specialized photo test sites will tell you about its optimal definition compare to other products. I leave to them to give you a complete technical information.

A full exposure stop gain at 55mm focal length is one the most appreciated strength that I have experimented with the XF 18-55mm lens. It qualifies the zoom lens to an upper class compare to all others products that give you a max. aperture of F5.6 or more at their longest end. I wont pretend it can replace a “pro” zoom lens (with a constant max. aperture of F2.8) but it certainly is certainly far more compact optic.

On the purely none-objective side, we can already appreciate the image output of the XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS both in JPEG and RAW files issued from a Fujifilm X-camera.

With an angle of view of 79 degrees at its widest focal length, the XF 18-55mm R LM OIS is doing just a little bit better than an usual 28mm equivalent to 24X36mm format (FF). So contextual photography into cramped areas can be a real challenge especially in interior photography. But that angle should be manageable if you take time to carefully select your angle of view and the distance from your subject. The Fujinon XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS is an enjoyable urban lens with a lot of flexibility. If you can afford to not use its dedicated lens hood, the lens become very discrete and non-intrusive

At 55mm you have just sufficient magnification to partly isolate medium range subject with success. This is not a true face portrait lens  but the Fujinon XF 18-55mm can produce good full-body (or partial) portrait.

For sure we have access to any intermediate focal lengths available on the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f2.8-4 R LM OIS. Popular focal setting include 23mm and 35mm that replicate their fixed focal length counterparts. Close focusing is on the average and this Fujinon is not a genuine macro optic but it can perform with subjects like flowers or mid-sized objects (or parts of) with competence. The XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R OIS lens doesn’t have a special close focusing setting to activate to get its nearest focusing distance, an advantage for detail photography on the spot.

I am not really found on the special function switches way and I prefer the solution used by Fujifilm on most of the others XF lenses with an “A” position on the aperture ring (this way you can preset your aperture value without looking at the viewfinder/screen like with the shutter control dial). If you are a frequent user of the Fujinon XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS (maybe as your first lens) you will probably assimilate the reflex to activate/deactivate that switch…

Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) is in fact a commun “must be” with standard zoom lenses. Its advantage is obvious in particular when using slow shutter speed for less lit subject. Switching from a non-OIS lens, the Fujinon 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS will guaranty you a better rate of success by preventing micro blurs on the contours of your in-focus subject(s). The presence of OIS must not prevent you to still apply the best support you can give to your camera-lens. The OIS functionality can be shutdown for video or macro or tripod photographic situations.

A last a word regarding the dedicated lens hood that came with the lens (a nice though from Fujifilm). Using it will prevent flare no question about it as the lens hood offer an additional protection for the front of the lens. Without it as already mentioned the Fujinon lens is becoming more discrete, less protuberant for your subject. So the choice is yours. It can be inverted for transport but the inverted accessory is covering the vital focusing and aperture control rings.

Filter accessory size is 58mm a commun one available for a lot of filter combinations. It is up to you to use or not a protective filter. I do but the filter should be made with high optical quality glass that wont introduce more glare or  glass distortion in my picture. Many people don’t bother anymore about that and I respect their choice. Being a retired professional that have encounter many adverse conditions I have always preferred to change a filter than a complete lens…

What to say more about the Fujinon only to qualify it as an “all-going” standard zoom lens of an higher level optically and with a more than average quality of construction. Fujifilm produces lenses in the upper standard that perform well over the years and offers products that in my sens surpass many big competitor counterparts. So try it and eventually own it with confidence. Since I am not in any ways paid or attached to them my only raeson is to encourage manufacturers that still have respect for photographers…

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