How I Packed For The Lake District

A Brief Personal Story

This summer has been an adventure. Back in May, we had booked a trip back to the Lake District for the beginning of September. Lakeland is probably our favourite place on earth. The density of glacially carved mountains and lakes, and village cafe and pub splendour is unmatched. After publishing my review of the X-H1, I got to work on my XH1 vs. X-T2 article. It was coming along great, and as a bit of a spoiler, I was excited to finally shoot in The Lakes with Fuji cameras,1 and eager to put the XF 16-55mm F/2.8 WR to work on a stabilized body.

But in early June, one of our 4 cats got sick. Real sick. My wife and I spent 11 weeks exhausting every possible resource and sparing no expense trying to nurse our beloved cat back to health. After multiple opinions, and even more trips to veterinarian services, we decided there was no choice but to cancel our trip, believing we would still be getting Charlie back on his feet.

Things didn’t pan out that way, and sadly, we had to let Charlie go on August 19, 2018.2

A few days later, my wife and I talked about what we would do with the vacation time we had already booked off work. No way we could go away, right? But then, what were we going to do otherwise, sit around at home? We decided to look into what was still available, and incredibly, everything we had previously booked still was, so we will be walking the fells of North West England in tribute to Charlie.

Back To Photography Stuff

Now, with all that time lost, I had to figure out what the hell to bring. It’s been a bit of a scramble the last couple of weeks, but given I leave today I’m settled on my photographic gear selection.

In the grip section of my X-H1 review, I noted that I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to deal with the heft of a gripped X-H1 and an L-plate, or stick to a body-only L-plate. As it turns out, I ended up getting both. The convenience of 3 batteries was too much turn down any time I wanted to use proper support, but I knew a gripped and plated X-H1 would be too big to travel with. Not only is it big and heavy, the size also has an affect on potential carry options.

Carry

The last time I was in the Lake District, I packed my Nikon gear in a newly acquired LowePro Photo Sport 200 AW → after quite a bit of agonizing. I still love this bag. It’s crazy light, super adjustable, and has superb straps, both for your shoulders, and your waist. It is an excellent bag for hiking. Note that this is the first version of the bag. I have not yet tried the LowePro Photo Sport 200 AW II, → but it looks like they haven’t fixed unbroken things.

Camera(s)

Based on the main camera compartment of that bag and my memory, the X-H1 with L-plate is fairly similar in size to the Nikon D700 I had in it before. It fits perfectly, where a gripped body would not.

I always thought when I traveled back to The Lake District, I’d bring something along the lines of my Invincible Landscaper kit. I’ll be bringing the lenses, but I won’t have a body dedicated to each. Instead, my second body will be an X-Pro2 with a weather sealed prime mounted for casual documentary shots.

Lenses

The X-H1 will mostly have the XF 16-55mm F/2.8 WR mounted on it. The section just below the main camera compartment in my bag is just large enough to hold an XF 50-140mm F/2.8 WR without the tripod collar attached. It’s not ideal, but it seems about as sturdy to have the camera mounted on my tripod as it would be using the rather flex-prone tripod collar.

When I last took in these dramatic landscapes, I went wide with the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8. This time around, 16mm on APS-C—24mm in 35mm equivalence—is the widest focal length I’ll have with me, and instead of going wider, I’m going much longer. This should open up my shooting possibilities a fair bit, but I’m wondering if I’ll miss the wide end.

Now, if this trip were happening a few months from now, there’s a very good chance I would repeat my focal length choice from last time with the XF 8-16mm F/2.8 WR.

The XF 10-24mm F/4 OIS sadly wasn’t even on the consideration list because weather sealing. If that lens came with those two magical initials, “W” and “R,” there’s a good chance I’d be bringing that lens instead of the XF 16-55mm F/2.8 WR along with a set of 72mm filters, rather than 77mm plus a step-up ring.

On my X-Pro2, it should come as no surprise that I’ll have the XF 35mm F/2 WR mounted. I’m tossing around the idea of leaving the second body at home, but I really think I would regret it.

Support

I’m pretty shameless about going overboard on the support side of things. Luckily the tripod is one area that has gotten considerably smaller, and lighter. The TVC-23 and BH-40 I had for the full frame DSLR, protruded from my backpack a ridiculous amount. The TQC-14 I have now is much better suited for travel. I’ve thought about moving to the TFC-14 for travel for less weight, even more compactness, and to get closer to the ground, but the Quick Column is extremely convenient for quick (yes, quick) adjustments to height without having to reset 3 tripod legs and my composition. When it comes to getting low to the ground, I have one of Really Right Stuff’s Pocket Pods. And finally, when a tripod with won’t fit or isn’t allowed, I also have their Travel Clamp, which is proved to be remarkably versatile. Finally, I have a mobile phone clamp for capturing time lapses from fell tops and or while shooting long exposures.

Accessories

I’ve stepped the XF 50-140mm F/2.8 WR up to 77mm via a Breakthrough Photography 72-77mm step-up ring so I can use a single set of 77mm filters— also from Breakthrough—for both Red Badge zooms. 3-stop, 6-stop, and 10-stop NDs as well as a Circular Polarizer are all in a tiny Tiffen filter case. They say it’s only for 58mm filters and smaller, but I get 77mm filters in there no problem.

The step-up ring means I need to go hoodless with the XF 50-140mm F/2.8 WR, so I won’t be able to use it if the rain goes sideways. It’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make.

Hiking

One of the main reasons for our trip is to seriously get our hike on. For that, a good pair of boots, waterproof jacket, an accurate set of maps, and a compass are imperative. I’m new to Harvey “Superwalker” maps, but I already like them better than the OS maps I’ve used before. I find them so much clearer. For guided navigation, and to avoid the bother of a working smartphone, we use a Garmin Oregon 600, which has served us very well on trips to Europe in the past. We’ll see how it fairs on the minor roads in the Lakes.

The Whole Kit

Fujifilm

Really Right Stuff

Breakthrough Photography

Other

  1. My last trip to The Lake District with DSLR bulk on my back was the impetus for wanting to downsize in the first place. ↩︎
  2. Charlie was our first pet together, and if I may, the best little cat you could imagine. He would come when called, speak when spoken to, and more often then not, if we were sitting, Charlie was sitting with us.

    90% if the content produced for this site was with Charlie on my lap for at least some of it. I’d say “Charlie, time for work.” and he would dutifully hop on and keep me company. He was an awesome cat, and we are still very sad to lose him at only 13 years of age.

Prepping for South Africa, Part 2

The response to my Prepping for South Africa post has been incredible. No other blog post on Fuji vs. Fuji has generated so much thoughtful feedback so quickly. I really appreciate it all, and as I catch up on my email, I am seriously rethinking my gear selection yet again. Here’s the latest.

XF 100-400mm

Well, readers are decidedly in favour of me bringing the XF 100-400mm. Tweets, Facebook Messages and emails all say bring it. This prompted me to do a bit of my own reading about the lens, which lead me to this fantastic piece by Daniel J. Cox about mirrorless telephoto zooms. Fuji has an awfully impressive showing.

I certainly won’t mind the chance to do a little testing of my own with a lens like this, but I want to do what’s best for the trip, first and foremost. So, the current plan is to see how things fit once my Airport Essentials arrives. That should help determine just how many zoom lenses I’m going to bring.

XF 50-140mm

Now of course I’m asking myself if I really need the XF 50-140mm f/2.8. In some ways, it could be indispensable. The faster aperture might do wonders during dawn and dusk game park drives. But it’s another big telephoto lens with at least some overlap (depending on which teleconverters I have mounted) to haul around.

It could also necessitate yet another body thanks to…

The Wide Angle

Given how close we could get, there’s no way I can go on a game drive with 50mm being my widest focal length.

Readers also reaffirmed what my research indicates, dust will be a real problem when driving along the dirt roads in the game park, so lens changes are almost certainly going to be impossible. That got me thinking about a lens I don’t think about very often, the XF 16-55mm f/2.8.

One of my big summer comparisons is going to be this lens pitted against primes in its range, but it might just be the perfect companion to one of, if not both of the big zooms. Standard focal range, weather and dust resistant, 77mm filter thread. Suddenly a lens I wasn’t even looking at before is in the running. This trip could be an all red badge affair.

Minimal or Maximal

In truth, when I bought the XF 16-55mm f/2.8, it was with the intention of using it almost exclusively as a travel lens. Visions of trudging through the rainy lakes, dales, and moors of England came to mind. My sole reason for not considering it at first was my desire to travel with as little gear as possible. I wanted to minimize.

I’m now in danger of bringing way more gear than I was hoping. Here are some contending options:

Original Kit

Bodies: X-Pro2, X-T1
Lenses: XF 16mm f/1.4 WR*, XF 35mm f/2 WR, XF 50-140mm f/2.8*

Minimal Zoom Kit

Bodies: X-Pro2, X-T1
Lenses: XF 16mm f/1.4 WR, XF 16-55mm f/2.8*, XF 100-400mm*

I would have a really hard time leaving the XF 35mm f/2 WR behind, and probably won’t, but it’s covered by the XF 16-55mm f/2.8.

Maximal Zoom or “All The Things” Kit

Bodies: X-Pro2, X-T1, another X-T1 or X70/X100T
Lenses: XF 16mm f/1.4 WR, XF 16-55mm f/2.8*, XF 35mm f/2 WR XF 50-140mm f/2.8* XF 100-400mm*

*Denotes gear I’ll bring on the game drives.

Ugh. I really don’t want to have to do this, but if I had both the telephotos along, I feel I would almost have to bring a third body of some kind along to cover the wide end.

Going X70 has the added benefit of my wife having an “adorable little Fuji” at her disposal, but there could be a risk of dust contamination during the game drives, and it means another set of charger/batteries to bring.

Going with a third interchangeable body means I have to actually get a third, weather sealed body. That presents its own set of issues (WAF, space in the bag, batteries, WAF, etc.)

Thanks!

Thanks again so much to everyone who wrote, tweeted and messaged me their feedback. It’s been immensely helpful, and I’ll be sure to post more as I continue to sort this out. I’m hyper aware that this is an awesome problem to have, but the struggle is real, and it continues. More to come.

The New Zooms

For those who haven’t yet noticed, detailed handling comparisons of what I’ve called “Standard Zooms” and “Telephoto Zooms” are online. I have a good start on comparison images as well, but it’s been difficult with the frigid temperatures we’ve been experiencing in Canada recently. Comparison crops are in the works though, and will be posted as soon as possible. In the meantime, check out my impressions of these new lenses and how they compare as far as handling and build quality is concerned.

The Red XF Badge

In starting a comparison including the new 50-140mm, I was struggling with how to categorize Fuji’s lenses. My initial thought was to describe the 50-140mm f/2.8 as “Pro” with all other lenses being “Consumer.” The trouble with that of course is Fuji already have a second consumer-focused set of lenses that carry the XC moniker.

Perhaps Fuji has already found a way of differentiating between these two levels of quality within their XF series of lenses though. The red badge.

Fuji’s red XF Zoom badge

Fuji’s red XF Zoom badge

I noticed this badge immediately when I first saw the 50-140mm f/2.8 at Photokina. I wasn’t crazy about it when I first saw it, but it’s grown on me.1

Just two lenses carry this badge officially to date, the 16-55mm f/2.8, and the 50-140mm f/2.8, which are the two lenses unofficially referred to as “pro zooms.” These lenses also happen to be the only two lenses in the lineup that come with the new Nano GI coating so the red badge might be the signifier of this coating’s presence,2 but it could just as well be their version of the gold band found on Nikon’s pro glass or the red band found on Canon’s L lenses. It’s clearly not indicative of weather sealing since the 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 has the standard black XF badge.

Looking back at my my images from Photokina, it appears as though the XF zoom badge was deliberately left off of the the new Super Tele-Photo Zoom 140-400mm f/4-5.6. This would suggest that Fuji do have an idea of what the red badge stands for, and that they hadn’t yet commited to adding the stamp to the new Super Tele Zoom. Or maybe it just fell off. It is a prototype after all.

No XF Zoom badge? What does it mean???

No XF Zoom badge? What does it mean???

It’s interesting that Fuji have created a new tier of zoom lenses with these latest releases—I’d bet the farm that this isn’t a revised design language for all lenses going forward, and I suspect they won’t dish out the red badge often—but it’s odd that there doesn’t seem to be an official word on what the red badge stands for.

  1. I do wish that Fuji went with red for all their functional accent colours as they have on the black X100’s rather than the orange used on their interchangeable bodies.
  2. Much like Nikon’s “N” for “Nano Crystal Coating.”

Fuji 16-55mm f/2.8

Fuji Fujifilm 16-55mm f2.8

Fuji has announced their pro standard zoom, the FUJINON XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR. This is a lens a lot of us have been waiting for, myself included. While I, along with many other people didn’t particularly love their standard zoom lenses from Canon or Nikon, they are workhorses, built for taking photos. Lots of photos. And with their weather sealing, standard zooms can quickly find themselves being the only lens in a photographer’s bag.

The big question will not only be how this lens stacks up against other standard zooms on the market, but how it will perform compared to Fuji’s other zoom offerings in the focal range, the 18-55mm, and 18-135mm. These are already great pieces of glass, but as we know, there is a pretty wide gap between the humble kit lens and the at least one prime. I’m very curious to see if the 16-55mm f/2.8 closes that gap, and you better believe I’ll be finding out as soon as I can get my hands on one.

We can already make some “on paper” comparisons between the new 16-55mm f/2.8 and other zooms. Let’s have a look.

Preorder the 16-55mm f/2.8 at Amazon US, B&H Photo, or Aden Camera.

Lens 16-55mm 18-55mm 18-135mm
Announced January 6, 2015 September 6, 2012 June 16, 2014
Released February 2015 December, 2012 August, 2014
Price
(MSRP)
$1,199 $699 $899
Lens Construction 17 elements
12 groups
3 aspherical
3 extra low dispersion
14 elements
10 groups
3 aspherical
1 extra low dispersion
16 elements
12 groups
4 aspherical elements
2 anomalous dispersion lenses
35mm Equivalent 24 - 84mm 27 - 84mm 27 - 205mm
Aperture Range ƒ/2.8 - ƒ/22 ƒ/2.8 - ƒ/22 ƒ/3.5 - ƒ/22
Maximum Aperture Constant 2.8 Variable 2.8 - 4 Variable 3.5 - 5.6
Focus Range 0.3m - Infinity 30cm wide, 40cm telephoto - Infinity 0.45m - Infinity
External Dimensions 83.3 diameter x 106.0mm - 129.5mm 65mm diameter x 70.4mm - 97.9mm 75.7mm diamtetre x 97.8mm - 158mm
Weight 655g
Approx. 712.5 with caps and hood*
308g
346g with caps and hood
486g
529.5g with caps and hood
Filter Size 77mm 58mm 67mm
Weather Sealed Yes, 14 points No Yes, 20 points
Nano-GI coating Yes No No
Optical Image Stabilization No Yes Yes
Autofocus Speed 0.06 seconds Slower 0.10 seconds

*Unfortunately, the weights we have so far exclude the caps, and hood. I can weigh both the rear cap and 77mm front cap via the 10-24mm f/4, but I have to estimate the hood’s weight. I used the 21g of 10-24mm f/4 as my estimate.

Fuji 16-55mm f/2.8 vs. 18-55mm vs. 18-135mm weight

Here’s how the weights stack up in chart form:

Fuji Fujifilm 16-55mm f2.8 18-55mm 18-135mm weight

Yep, that 16-55mm f/2.8 is gonna be a beast. That’s what a constant ƒ/2.8 aperture gets you though.

Fuji 16-55mm f/2.8 vs. Canon and Nikon

Next we’ll compare Fuji’s 16-55mm f/2.8 to its full frame equivalents, the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L, and the Canon 24-70mm f/4 L.

Fuji Fujifilm 16-55mm f2.8 vs. Nikon 24-70 f2.8 vs Canon 24-70 f2.8 vs Canon 24-70 f4 weight

Even though the 16-55mm f/2.8 is one of Fuji’s heftier lenses, it’s still significantly lighter than the f/2.8 zooms from either Nikon or Canon. Remarkably, it’s actually heavier when compared to Canon’s f/4 standard zoom. I’ll have to compare the build quality between those two zooms.

Mirrorless vs. DSLR zooms

What is equally interesting for me is how a complete, mirrorless zoom kit fairs against the DSLR systems available from the big guys, Nikon and Canon. For these next charts, I chose the lightest 35mm camera available from each brand at the time of writing, the Nikon D610, and the Canon 60D.

Fuji Fujifilm vs. Nikon vs. Canon weight

For reference, here are the lenses included in each kit:

Nikon 35mm Slow: 16-35mm f/4, 24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/4
Nikon 35mm Fast: 14-24mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8
Canon 35mm Slow: 16-35mm f/4, 24-70mm f/4, 70-200mm f/4
Canon 35mm Fast: 16-35mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8

As you can see, Nikon’s offerings are a little less complete than Canon’s, and weight a little more. I apparently had chosen the wrong brand when it came to weight before moving to mirrorless. Even compared to Canon’s lightest option, a complete zoom kit from Fuji will still run you almost ¾ of a kilogram, or over a pound and a half in weight. The reduction in weight only gets better compared to the other options. I also opted for the “heavy duty” support setup on both of the “Fast” versions for 35mm due to their increased weight. You can read more about those in my Heavy Issues article which will updated to include the 16-55mm f/2.8 shortly.

Mirrorless vs. DSLR APS-C

I’m sure there are some out there ready to take me to task for comparing Fuji’s APS-C-based system to 35mm DSLRs. As it turns out, things don’t get much better for the chunky DSLR by moving down to the APS-C bodies, assuming comparable lens quality and capabilities are a necessity.

Fuji Fujifilm vs DSLR APS-C weight

For these kits I’ve chosen:

Nikon: D7100 body, 10-24mm, 17-55mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/4
Canon: 70D body, 10-24mm, 17-55mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/4

A 50-140mm equivalent no APS-C DSLRs doesn’t exist, so I’ve opted for the lighter option, the 70-200mm f/4. Arguably this isn’t the most accurate option, but once the crop factor is taken into account, the bokeh-factor should be mostly balanced out. In any event, we’re still looking at ½ to ¾ of a kilogram in weight by moving to mirrorless.

Conclusion

So there you have it. I must say I’m a little surprised by how heavy the 16-55mm f/2.8 is, but ultimately, these pro zooms are intended to be workhorses, or as means of replacing multiple primes. I can very easily see myself traveling with two X-T1s, with the 16-55mm f/2.8 attached to one, and the 50-140mm f/2.8 attached to the other. The kind of travel I do often means extended hiking in inclimate weather. Not having to change lenses, being totally weather sealed, and weighing less than what I would have been carrying in my DSLR days with only a single body is pretty appealing.

Preorder the 16-55mm f/2.8 at Amazon US, B&H Photo, or Aden Camera.

Photokina Day 1 – 90mm, 16mm f/1.4, 16-55mm, 50-140mm, Super tele-photo, Zack, and La Roque

One day down, one to go.

Zack

We kicked today off with a talk by Zack Arias. He was... Zack. Well, he started out as Zack giving a talk, but soon after it was like reading one of his blog posts, or his book. My wife—who is a decidedly less of a photo nerd than I—also enjoyed Zack’s tips, found him charismatic, and could relate to his approach to street photography.

Zack, sending a shot he took of an audience member to his Instax

Zack, sending a shot he took of an audience member to his Instax

Fuji 50-140mm f/2.8

Next we spent some time at the Fujifilm booth. The hands-on stars of the show were the X-T1 Graphite Edition, and the 50-140mm f/2.8. Sadly, Fuji aren’t ready to let us mount the 50-140mm on our own cameras or put one of our own SD cards in their 50-140mm-mounted X-T1 so we can’t post samples yet, but the build, and image quality I was seeing on the LCD were both exceptional. Autofocus was fast, but slightly inconsistent. I have no doubt this will be remedied by the time the lens goes to production. The lens is large, but it doesn’t feel as front-heavy on the X-T1 as I was expecting. At 995g, it’s 2/3 the weight of Canon or Nikon’s equivalents, and that all-internal focus keeps the overall length consistent.

Fuji Fujifilm XF FUJINON  50-140mm f2.8.jpg

X-T1 Graphite Edition

The X-T1 Graphite Edition was nice. It’s essentially an X-T1, but in a silvery graphitey colour. It looks pretty cool from the front especially, and Fuji wanted to ensure I knew the graphite coating was a 6-step process with the colour being baked onto the camera, vs. just bare aluminum. Whether that’s worth the premium on price, well, you guys will decide that.

90mm f/2

The 90mm f/2 was on display, behind glass, and sort of tucked away. It is one hefty-looking piece of glass. That lens looks to be around the same length as the 56mm f/1.2, but considerably thicker.

EDIT: After a second viewing, the clear the 90mm is going to be substantially larger. It’s pretty much a proportionally scaled up version of the 56.

I’m looking forward to that lens, but I have a feeling it will really call for the VG-XT1.

 

 

Fuji Fujifilm XF FUJINON 56mm f1.2 APD 90mm f2.jpg
Fuji Fujifilm XF FUJINON 90mm f2.jpg

Super Tele-Photo Zoom 140-400mm f/4-5.6

Another one behind the glass, but some preliminary specs were revealed. The lens markings say 140-400mm f/4-5.6. I’m told that’s not quite final yet though. The lens is another thick one—this is Fuji’s sumo year I think—but the prototype doesn’t appear longer than the 50-140mm. There is quite a range on it, but I hope they find a way to make it an f/4 constant. There’s something about variable apertures I’m just not into.

Fuji Fujifilm XF FUJINON 140-400mm f4-5.6.jpg
Fuji Fujifilm XF FUJINON 50-140mm 140-400mm f4-5.6.jpg

16-55mm f/2.8

And finally, Fuji’s standard zoom is still behind glass. This is one A lot of people are most eager for and sadly the release date slipped, but I’d rather they get it right rather than rush it out. Here are some more comparison images. It’s surprising how much larger this lens is compared to the 10-24mm f/4.

Fuji 16-55mm ƒ/2.8

Fuji 16-55mm ƒ/2.8

Fuji Fujifilm XF FUJINON 10-24mm f4 16-55mm f2.8 18-55mm f2.8-4.jpg

The 16mm f/1.4

This one was hiding on from me. I didn’t even realize it was behind the glass until the second day. As far as size goes, the 16mm f/1.4 doesn’t appear to be a great deal larger than the 14mm f/2.8, although I think Fuji maybe have been playing a trick on us as in the comparison image below, the 16mm is the only one that doesn’t have its rear cap attached.

Fuji Fujifilm XF FUJINON 16mm f/1.4.jpg

One thing that’s extra nice is the focus ring that’s pulled back for manual focus, that reveals the engraved depth of field markings.

Fuji Fujifilm XF FUJINON 16mm f/1.4.jpg

Patrick La Roque

After scoping out some other players, we made it back to the Fuji booth in time to see fellow Canadian, Patrick La Roque speak. Patrick is a super nice, down to earth dude whose work I really admire. He spoke about storytelling, and then did a live demo—models and all–that turned out really well.

Fuji Fujifilm Patrick La Roque Photokina.jpg

Other Players

I spent a lot of time checking out the other players of course, but one standout for my readers was Phase One. No joke, I was going to ask Phase One about any updates planned for Capture One when the email announcing version 8 landed on my inbox. Sadly, I couldn’t find anyone who spoke enough English to walk me through the new features, but I’ll try again tomorrow, and will look into updating my Raw Converter comparison once I’m back home.

That’s it for now!

I’ll be back for more tomorrow, but for the most part, I think one day at the show for consumers is plenty. I’m pretty happy to have just the one brand to cover.

XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

What a handle. Fujifilm have announced their XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR, and they’re getting a little carried away with the initialisms in their product names. We now officially have a new one, one whose purpose has been amended in the marketing materials, and another that’s been updated.

“WR” Weather Resistant

20 points of sealing, but Fuji are once again conservative with their language, and playing it even more safe. Weather Sealed sounds safer to me than Weather Resistant does, but Fuji state their latest lens features a “…dust-proof and weather-resistant design…”. I guess that air ventilator inside the bottom of the lens barrel is what allows them to make the dust proof claim. Does this mean the end of dust inside the the front and rear lens elements? Dust proof sure makes it sound that way. I’m interested to experience the improved feel and smoother operations the air ventilator also provides.

“LM” Linear Motor Technology

Not new technology, but based on the press release, this looks to be responsible for “near silent operation,” and not much else. Previously this feature was noted as being responsible for the 18-55mm’s compact size and fast autofocus. Perhaps the 18-135mm isn’t small enough to warrant the first claim, but I think copywriting may have let them down on the second. Anyhow, I don’t recall ever finding the 18-55mm, or anything other Fuji lens particularly noisy, so it will be interesting to see what kind of difference this newly described tech makes. Likely none.

OIS

Image Stabilization is now up to 5 stops thanks to high-precision gyro sensors with quartz oscillators. Fancy. If Fuji have actually achieved that, it’s an impressive feat. I remember getting excited about a mere 2 stops not that long ago. It makes me wonder what sort of handheld shutter speeds we’ll be able to get out of this lens.

Impressions

I have to admit that I’m not super excited about this lens. Its release has only made me more anxious for Fuji’s forthcoming FUJINON XF 16-55mm f/2.8. The 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 starts out pretty slow at the wide end, clocking in at just under ⅔ a stop slower than the XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 at the wide end, and just gets slower from there. About the only thing that excites me about this lens its weather sealing (or resistance), and what its new features should mean for yet to be announced lenses.

If you shoot landscapes in poor conditions, a good strategy might be to buy the 18-135mm now, use it for 6 months until the 16-55mm f/2.8 comes out, and then sell it privately. You’ll lose a little bit on it, but it could be considered an extended rental. It also might be a decent option for those looking for a single, rain-or-shine lens solution. For travel it could easily be the only lens you need provided you aren’t shooting anything that’s moving quickly in poor light.

If you do decide to purchase the FUJINON XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6, please consider using one of the links below for your preorder. You won’t pay a cent more, but it helps support the site and keeps me testing. Thanks!