Fuji XF 18-55mm F/2.8-4 OIS Review Posted

I recently finished up my review of the XF 18-55mm F/2.8-4 OIS, the “don’t call it a kit lens” kit lens.

As I posted in social media after my last set of body reviews and comparisons, I’ll focusing on lenses for the next little while, and have spent the past few weeks combing through my back catalogue of images trying to find some worth posting in a review. I hope to share more of those soon.

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.

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.

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!

 

60mm f/2.4 Macro vs. 56mm f/1.2

After weeks of testing, the most thorough “Versus” article yet—the battle of the medium telephoto—is now online.

I’m finally approaching the standard I’d like to set for all the Versus content I post on Fuji vs Fuji. This is going to mean some revisions and additions to existing articles of course, and that means more comparisons. I’ve been holding fast to shooting real things as opposed to test charts, brick walls, and staged comparison images. This keeps the image content fresh, and the testing more interesting.

This has also been the toughest comparison to make recommendations against. There are really good reasons to own each lens. Ultimately it boils down to your specific needs and your wallet.

Read more.