(Photo equipment) Obsolescence seen as a state of mind (Keep it, Use it, Enjoy it!)

The tungsten light that have permitted longer hours of human activities

It may appear obvious that every new technological small or big steeps is pushing the precedent one to obsolescence. And it is true to say that the lasts two or three decades of photo equipment development have totally change the way we use to do, to explore and to show photography. The ancient way to photograph by using analog film and printing, edit, enlarge or diffuse the final picture has been mutate into a digital recording manner presented into a multimedia different platform.

So, the bridge we have passed over the large river of changes is very extensive to an obvious none-returning point (except for the analog traditionalists!). Consequently, the digital science in photo equipment have followed a fast pace in its recent development. But since the very last few years, thinks are getting more peaceful in the photo gear planet. Many manufacturers are reconsidering their future development orientations with a more circumspect point of view.

Can we have reached a plateau in photo equipment technical advancement that will prevent us to discard too early good photo devices on the assertion that something new will be much better than its predecessors? That question has been answered by some prolific photo (gear) reviewers that have started to propose a longer maintaining of our present photo arsenal. And that can be a clever proposal as long the manufacturers can guaranty the hardware and software support of their past models of cameras and lenses. And because of that, it stays obviously an unstable situation for the long term of digital photo equipment use.

The hard recorded music supports have preceded the cloud now availability 

Material obsolescence is a plague of our present civilization. At a time that we are speaking about durable development, photo industry seems to be in a world apart simply ignoring the urgent task of environmental preservation. And the (camera-lens) consumers are participating directly to that contradictory tendency.

Even today, the pictures of the past are still a valid artistic expression of our visual (and virtual) world. They are history but they are also an art expression as we told of painting, or sculpturing, or writing, or theater, etc. So, it is true to say that is not the tools used to create pictures that are paramount to photography but, moreover, it is the picture representation by itself which is most important. Yes, the tools are a form of cultural testimony, but we have to not concentrate our mind on the means only but more importantly on the results produced by them.

Brace and bit: before the electrical power tool era. 

Yes, a beautiful design of a (highly) practical tool like the today’s digital camera is not only pleasant to use but it is also the expression of an esthetically functionalism. And many camera models can be classified as beautifully crafted photo devices which can be very inspirational for the users (mea culpa for myself!). But equipment durability must be part of the entire cycle of human appreciation as we do with older analog camera models. That material continuity is part of the evolution process that preserve our past heritage and giving the base of future (material) advancement

Books are now on recycle shelves (or into bins!) 

Some camera manufacturers may have already understood the importance of continuity like Leica, Fujifilm or Olympus. I hope others will follow that path. Because ingenuity is not only to start on a fresh blank sheet of paper but depend also how to reinterpret strong ideas of the past that can survive to the futility of a momentary and superficial mood.

Proclaiming obsolescence over many awesome photo devices from the past or even the very recent past is an easy critic to do, often without any real justification. The photo fundamentals didn’t basically change over the years except maybe in terms of enhanced performance versus a more lagging time of reaction of the older analogic camera models if you are speaking of light exposure or of autofocus accuracy for example. My only hope is that the responsible manufacturers will support their products further than only the first few years following their release.

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…