The Complete Kit
This kit has been completely overhauled. With the release of Fuji’s outstanding 50-140mm f/2.8, I can’t help but replace the 56mm f/1.2 with it. The extra reach, added flexibility of the zoom, the weather sealing. It’s great. With that, here is my new Complete Kit, which I believe is the most efficient way to round out your focal range.
Body: Fujifilm X-T1 →
This is simply the best, most capable, most user-friendly Fuji body you can get. If you’re only going to have one, this is the one to get. It also balances best with the 10-24mm ƒ/4.
Ultra wide to wide angle: Fuji 10-24mm f/4 →
This lens can’t be beat when it comes to going wide. It covers an excellent range, and has excellent image quality to match throughout, with the possible exception of its max reach, 24mm. The only other issue I have with this lens is its lack of weather sealing, which is addressed below.
Nifty 50-ish: Fuji 35mm f/1.4 →
The Fuji 35mm f/1.4. Every time I put this lens on I realize my memory has sold it short. As I mentioned in my X100 Converters vs. Primes article, if you have an interchangeable X-Series camera, you’re nuts if you don’t have the 35mm f/1.4.
It will be interesting to see how Fuji’s newly announced 35mm f/2 stacks up against the original 35. If the image quality holds up, it just might be worth taking for its weathe sealing and even more compact size.
Telephoto: Fuji 50-140mm f/2.8 →
Since getting this lens the only thing my 56mm has been used for is capturing images of the 50-140. The 56mm f/1.2 is still a great lens and always will be, but zoom is just so much more versatile.
It certainly could be. This covers an excellent range with excellent optics, and if you were to stop now, this would definitely be a sensible kit choice. As mentioned the one area image quality might be hurting is in around the 35mm equivalent mark. I’d add an X100(S/T)→ for some 35mm, second-body goodness. The X100 always brings me so much joy to photography. Optical inferiorities be damned, it’s my daily carry. I usually keep a converter or two handy as well. Is the insensible of me? Perhaps.
The Ultimate Prime Kit
If you’re looking to max out your prime quality with a tri-lens kit, you could do a lot worse than this kit.
Body: Fujifilm X-T1 →
In the original iteration of this kit, I suggested the X-E2 for your body. This is still a completely valid option, but now that I’ve had more time with the X-T1 (review), there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s the better camera and worth the premium over the X-E2. Plus, we’re not calling this kit “Ultimate” for nothing.
Wide angle: Fuji 14mm f/2.8 →
You simply can’t go wrong with the 14mm f/2.8 (review). It’s sharp, focuses quick, and has engraved depth of field markings. The only possible alternative (aside from the 10-24, but we’re talking primes here) is the Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8. I did a thorough comparison between the 10-24mm f/4 and the primes its range covers and found that not only was the Zeiss optically inferior to the 14mm f/2.8, the zoom beat it as well. You pay for that inferior quality as well, to the tune of $150 USD.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, there really is very little reason to buy a Zeiss XF mount lens.
There is the matter of that weather sealed 16mm f/1.4. If that lens performs as well as the 14mm f/2.8 does optically, it could very well dethrone the current wide angle prime monarch.
Classic 35mm/Environmental Portraits: Fuji 23mm f/1.4 →
This lens is incredible. It’s sharp, it’s fast, it produces great bokeh, and the handling is outstanding. The only alternative worth considering is to buy an X100S, which covers the same 35mm equivalent. The advantage here is not having to switch lenses as often. You can have either of the other two recommended lenses mounted on your interchangeable lens body, and 23mm always at the ready via the X100. The disadvantages are a noteworthy difference in image quality, and slightly inferior handling compared to the Fujifilm X-T1, (not to mention the cognitive effort of switching back and forth between bodies). What’s nice about the X-T1 is it can be tweaked to behave very similarly to the X100S or T, which is what I’ve done.
Zone focusers will appreciate the 23mm f/1.4 for its engraved depth of field markings, but they’re also sure to like the size and silent operation of the X100.
Medium Telephoto/Portrait: Fuji 56mm f/1.2 →
This lens lens quickly supplanted the 60mm f/2.4 Macro for all my studio-type photography that doesn’t need to be real close. Its added sharpness, subtracted lens flare, and vastly superior background separation thanks to that fast f/1.2 aperture, it’s the portrait prime to beat. The forthcoming 90mm f/2 could be that prime, but this whole kit might need rethinking as the gap between 23mm and 90mm is pretty significant.
Telephoto/Portrait: Fuji XF 90mm f/2 WR →
While I haven’t had a chance to put this lens through the usual battery of tests, by every account online, this lens is outstanding. It would be criminal not to include its mention in the Ultimate Prime Kit.
What about the Fuji 35mm f/1.4? →
It’s an outstanding lens as seen in my comparison with the 18-55mm, and many would select it as part of their own personal “Ultimate Prime Kit,” in place of the 23mm f/1.4. It really can be a toss up, but for me, the 23mm f/1.4’s push-pull clutch focus and engraved depth of field markings keep it ahead of the 35mm. Let me add an X100 to my kit though, and 35mm will be coming along.
That’s a Lot of Primes
It is getting a little out of hand. 4 or 5 primes is a fair bit to carry around, not to mention purchase. It’s easy to trim this kit down to 3 lenses and still cover a good range. For instance, my original kit consisted of just the 14mm f/2.8, 23mm f/1.4, and 56mm f/1.2. Now, you could also go with the 16mm f/1.4, 35mm f/1.4,1 and 90mm f/2. And for those who don’t need to go wider than a 35mm equivalent, 23mm f/1.4, 56mm f/1.2, 90mm f/2. Lots of options and arrangements.
- Pretty soon this might be replaced with the 35mm f/2 WR for an all weather sealed prime kit.↩
The Compact Prime Kit
A.k.a., The Unsung Heroes, a.k.a., The Original 3, a.k.a. The Metal Hood Crew
While the Ultimate Prime Kit above isn’t outrageously priced relative to a comparable DSLR prime kit, you could do very well with less money, and you’d find yourself with a kit that’s smaller and lighter as well.
Body: Fuji X-T10, → or Fuji X-E2 (or even X-E1) →
You’d be forgiven if you opted for the X-T1, but for ultimate in compactness, the X-T10 or X-E bodies are the perfect compromise. When I initially wrote my X-T10 vs. X-T1 vs. X-E2 piece, I was pretty sure the X-T10 would supplant the X-E2 as the compact body of choice. Then Fuji surprised me with the announcement that the X-E2 has not yet reached end-of-life on the firmware front. So while the X-T10 is the camera to get if you’re buying today, switching from an X-E2 is almost not a consideration, and a new purchase decision will be much tougher. The X-Pro1 is certainly an option, but only if you already have it these days. It’s showing its age and a successor has got to be arriving soon.
Wide angle: Fuji 18mm f/2 →
This lens doesn’t get a lot of love, but it’s definitely worthy of praise. It sits nicely between the 14 and 23 in focal length at roughly a 28mm equivalent. It’s a stop quicker than the 14, and slower than the 23. It’s also ridiculously small. With that comes the loss of depth of field markings, and the push-pull clutch manual focus ring. For those who want to pack small though, the 18mm f/2 is a great wide-angle choice.
Nifty 50-ish: Fuji 35mm f/1.4 →
This lens has been called a “gem” many times, and for good reason. It’s small, light, crazy sharp and produces exceptional bokeh. At an equivalent focal length of just over 53mm, it’s an ideal complement to the 18mm f/2.
Medium telephoto, portrait, and 2:1 Macro: Fuji 60mm f/2.4 Macro →
Your focal range can be rounded out by the 60/2.4. Called a macro lens, it makes an excellent portrait lens at a medium telephoto equivalent of just over 90mm. It will be the largest and heaviest lens in your kit, but it’s a fair bit smaller, and a lot lighter than the 56mm f/1.2 alternative.
These lenses often are overlooked in favour of newer options described in the Ultimate Prime Kit above. The fact of the matter is this 3-prime kit is made up of outstanding lenses that—in addition to having some compromises—offer real benefits over their “Ultimate” counterparts. The more I use these lenses the more I like them, and the more I feel they are unjustly overshadowed by the new guys.
Want to go even smaller?
Pair your 18mm f/2 with the 27mm f/2.8→. This lens surprised me in a lot of ways when I put it head to head with the X100S. At 41mm, it doesn’t give you as flexible a range as the 35mm f/1.4 would, but this lens is positively tiny. Pairing with 18mm f/2 gets you near pancake perfection, and bring it along with the 60mm f/2.4 Macro means you get two lenses with a ridiculously small (and economical) 39mm filter thread.
The (Invincible) Landscaper
Landscapers, long exposure nuts, and tripod huggers (of which I am one) have slightly different needs then the casual shooter, and all but the most hardcore of street photogs. Be sure to pick up a 72mm to 77mm filter adapter.→
This is probably the kit that has seen the biggest update since the last iteration.
Body: Fujifilm X-T1 →
I’d strongly consider the X-T1 with it’s weather sealing. Honestly, being able to set up my tripod for a long exposure of a waterfall in the rain was the only thing I missed about my Nikon days. with that written, almost any of the 16MP X-Trans sensor cameras will work for you. EVF refresh rate doesn’t matter a whole lot, nor does having the fastest of fast autofocus. Spend to your budget. As seen here, it can be pretty tough to tell the difference between an X-T1 and an X-E1.
Wide to Medium Telephoto: Fuji 16-55mm f/2.8 WR →
I had a couple primes along with the 10-24mm f/4 in this kit previously, but with the release of a weather sealed option that covers the lion’s share of the focal range, my recommendation has to be that. The 16-55mm f/2.8 is a beast of a lens, but worrying about your gear in even a light drizzle sucks. If I could only take one body and one lens on one of my typical hiking-filled vacations, this would the lens, the X-T1 would be the body.
Telephoto: Fuji 50-140mm f/2.8 →
More weather sealed goodness. This and the 16-55mm f/2.8 will cover a huge focal range. The 1.4x teleconverter (assuming it too is weather sealed) will extend that range even further.
This only thing missing from this kit is the ultra-wide end. We can only hope for a weather sealed “Mark II” version of the 10-24mm f/4.
Add a second X-T1 body to your kit for a no-lens-changing, all 2.8, all weather sealed, dual-wielding, tilt-screening combo. You’d even be forgiven for having one of those crazy dual camera vest/strap things. Probably. Maybe not.
Of course, if you don’t need weather sealing, you could also do something similar for a lot less money.
Swap out the X-T1’s for a pair of X-E1’s and you’ve just saved yourself a great lenses-worth of cash. The zooms can be exchanged for the fantastic FUJINON XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 and FUJINON XF 55-200mm, both of which offer excellent image quality, albeit with smaller, and variable apertures.
It’s possible to knock the price down even further by going with Fujifilm’s consumer “XC” line of zoom lenses. I don’t have much experience with these lenses yet beyond handling them, but everything I’ve read suggests they produce sharp images while offering an even greater focal range and lighter weight. Prepare for some serious plastic though.
The Street Shooter
Street photographers are a special breed. Just about any camera can be used for street photography from DSLRs for the paparazzi wannabe, to an iPhone for the covert Instagramer.
Body: Fujifilm X-T1 → or Fujifilm X-T10→ or Fujifilm X-E2 (Black) →
With all this Kaizen going on, there’s less and less reason to choose one of these cameras over the other outside of personal handling preferences. If your ocular dominance is on the right, that could be reason enough alone to choose the X-E2. The same can be said for wanting a tilt screen for unique angles with the other cameras.
Zone Focusing: Fuji 16mm f/1.4 WR → and 23mm f/1.4 →
There really is no bad choice in lens for street shooting, but for the zone focuser, a 16mm f/1.4 and 23mm f/1.4 are good choices for their engraved depth of field markings. Yes, the other lenses give you depth of field calculations on the LCD, but there’s something about having a quick glance down to check your focal range without looking at the LCD or into the viewfinder that can’t be beat.
The 16mm f/1.4 is now my top wide pick over the 14mm f/2.8 → thanks to its faster aperture for nighttime shooting, weather resistance, and slightly less wide distortion towards the edges.
For the auto-focuser, take your pick. The lenses above work great, but you could also go compact and wide with the Fuji 18mm f/2 →. You’ll lose a little image quality compared to the 14mm f/2.8, but it’s negligible, particularly for street shooting. The 18mm f/2 is also just wide enough that you can have someone in frame without them knowing it. The Fuji 35mm f/1.4 → makes a nice option for shooting from a little further away. The Fuji 56mm f/1.2 → will let you stay even further away, although the size of that lens might get you noticed more.
The Portrait Photographer
Admittedly, portraiture isn’t really my bag—despite having done some paid portraiture work—so I’ll keep this short and sweet. Pick a 16MP X-Trans body, buy a 35mm f/1.4, 56mm f/1.2, and 90mm f/2. The 60mm f/2.4, but serious studio photographers will likely be frustrated by the 60mm f/2.4 Macro’s tendancy to flare.
Alternatively one could opt for the 50-140mm f/2.8. I’d add either the 18mm f/2 or the 23mm f/1.4 to either option for environmental portraits.
The Akimbo X100 Kit
Camera and Lens: The X100 →
Last, but most certainly not least is the X100. It has been conspicuously absent throughout these kit recommendations for good reason. If weather resistance isn’t something you are concerned about, an X100 or two could be the only camera(s) you need for any of these kits. It’s that versatile.
A dual X100S or T or combination there of would make a fantastic kit. Leave an L-plate attached to one for tripod shooting and keep the other as a street shooter and daily carry. It’s compact, disarming size and quick focusing (S and T variants) make it a phenomenal street photography camera.
With it’s built-in 3-stop ND filter, and the addition of a 10-stop ND filter (which is relatively cheap due to its size, and adorable) you can cut the light reaching your sensor by 13 stops with a single piece of glass. This puts the X100 high on the list for long exposure photographers who can’t get enough of silky water.
That built-in ND filter along with it’s leaf shutter allows some incredible flexibility with flash photography.
Then there are the converters.→ While not as strong optically as their prime counterparts, they’re strong enough and simply a joy to shoot with. The romantic notion of having a single camera with a fixed focal length is also compelling. In time, you’ll be able to “see” your images before you bring the camera to your eye or put your tripod down.
After extensive testing and even more real-world shooting, those are Fuji vs. Fuji’s kit recommendations. As always, I hope to keep this as up to date as much as possible, and lots more content is sure to be added.