“… I think I want-need another lens. No, none of those fancy new ones Fuji recently released. It’s another small prime, six years old, an original XF lens.
I want the XF 18mm F2.
I’ve been told it’s optically not quite up to par with the newer Fujinon lenses, but that doesn’t bother me, and I love it for all of the reasons I love my other gear:…“
I sympathize with Charlene Winfred’s Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R GAS* attack.
A new lens is a new way of seeing the world and if that new lens is a focal length far away from those you are most accustomed to using then it can be exciting, even liberating.
Ms Winfred has relied on some of the longer Fujinon XF focal lengths for some years – 23mm, 27mm, 35mm and 56mm – and felt the allure of 18mm while borrowing one a couple of times.
That I can well understand.
I felt the same after buying into the Leica M-System with a secondhand Leica rangefinder camera and a new Summicron-M 35mm f/2.0 lens, the perfect one camera, one lens combination for environmental portraits, cityscapes and documentary work.
The 35mm focal length – 23mm in Fujifilm APS-C, 17mm in Micro Four Thirds – is a great one prime lens compromise along with the slightly longer 40mm lens – 27mm in APS-C and 20mm in M43.
I felt the 28mm urge – 18mm in APS-C and 14mm in M43 – after getting deeper into documentary photography, needing to better share my close proximity to the people, events and emotions in which I was embedded.
My 28mm Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 lens was my documentary go-to lens for years, and when Fujifilm finally released its first interchangeable lens rangefinder camera, the X-Pro1, I hoped that the 18mm lens released with it might have qualities located somewhere in that particular ball park.
Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R is quirky, what some commentators refer to as a character or art lens with properties that suit some subjects and photographic styes but not others.
Especially not the sort of photographs I like to make where every single part of the photograph is important and the whole visual field needs to be in sharp focus, near to far, left to right and right up into all four corners.
If I want radical bokeh or a curved image field instead of flat, then I will consider an art lens or two, some day.
A number of other documentary photographers have expressed the hope that Fujifilm will finally release a Fujicron style Fujinon 18mm f/2.0 R WR to go with its current Fujicron 23mm, 35mm and 50mm lenses and the coming 16mm f/2.0 prime.
I would prefer to see Fujifilm release an 18mm lens in the style of its excellent 14mm f/2.8, 16mm f/1.4 and 23mm f/1.4 lenses with their manual clutch focus mechanisms, so useful for video and available light photography with the aperture wide open.
Why can’t Fujifilm issue two or more versions of some focal lengths, just like other lens makers do?
They are about to do exactly that with the 16mm focal length, a focal length I do not particularly like, that is so wide it draws undue attention to itself and detracts from what it depicts, and that I find so distorting for human subjects that I must apply volume deformation correction to images I have shot with 16mm or equivalent lenses via DxO ViewPoint.
Fujifilm, keep the current 18mm f/2.0 semi-pancake lens, by all means, for those for whom quirky is an essential creative character trait, but please, please, please Fujifilm, give us a professional-quality 18mm lens too.
What have you got to lose?
Not as much as I have by not being able to have a good enough 18mm prime lens on my X-Pro2.
I hope that Ms Winfred gets hold of her own Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R lens very soon as its immersive, wide but not too wide focal length can be a real liberation after years of narrower ways of seeing.
Fujifilm, are you reading this?
Some views of Chatswood with a borrowed Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R on my X-Pro2
The folks at Fujifilm Australia kindly loaned me a subset of Fujinon XF prime and zoom lenses a little while ago and one of them was the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R.
I took it out for a spin several times but found it frustrating to use in making my usual urban documentary photographs as above, and found I needed to bend my usual way of processing raw files shot with it into more of a quirky, funky direction than I like, substituting clarity all across the frame with something a little more retro, an almost 1980s analog style.
Not my favourite era, frankly.
One of the other loaner lenses was the Fujinon XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR zoom lens and I found myself relying on that mounted on a loaner Fujifilm X-T2 on preference to the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R mounted on my X-Pro2 when needing the 18mm focal length.
I have yet to try Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom lens but note that veteran photojournalist David Alan Harvey spoke of using that lens at its 18mm focal length setting during Fujifilm’s X-Pro2 launch event in Tokyo.
I have also tried out the Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4.0 R OIS zoom lens on a Fujifilm X-T1 at the 18mm focal length setting and found that a very satisfying experience too, even though my preference is for rangefinder and rangefinder-stye cameras with prime lenses.
Theoretically the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom should provide a good match for the X-Pro2 in its optical viewfinder aka OVF mode given the OVF’s brightline range from 18mm to 56mm, but I suspect the 59mm filter diameter of the lens may protrude into the OVF somewhat.
That is a problem that can be palliated to some degree by using the X-Pro2 in M for manual focus mode with the EVF-in-OVF switched on to give you an overall view of the scene, or in S or C autofocus mode with the focusing area set to smallest.
Some urban documentary photographers render the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R more usable by taping its aperture and focusing rings up on selected settings while others use the lens untaped-up and set for zone focusing, like Sydney urban documentarian Steve Dimitriadis in his article below.
I have tried using the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R for the up-close, immersive, available light documentary projects for I which I also loved to use my Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 but found the 18mm even more frustrating in use than for urban documentary at a distance from my subjects.
- Charlene Winfred
- DxO – DxO FilmPack
- DxO – DxO PhotoLab
- DxO – DxO ViewPoint
- DxO – Nik Collection Plugins
- Fujifilm X
- Fujifilm X/GFX USA
- FujiLove – Why I Want the XF18mm f/2
- Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success – zonefocus: How I Set Up My Fujifilm X-T2 for Zone Focusing – by Steve Dimitriadis
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- Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 ASPH. Lens – B&H
- Leica Summicron-M 28mm f/2 ASPH. Lens – B&H
- Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH. Lens – B&H
- Voigtlander Ultron 28mm f/2 Lens – B&H – Cosina makes excellent lenses under its own brand name, Voigtlaender, as well as on commission from camera and lens companies. Voigtlaender lenses for Leica M-mount tend to be far more affordable than Leica own-brand lenses
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- * Gear acquisition syndrome