Last updated: August, 2014
If you’re thinking of building a Fuji system today, here are some recommended kits. They are intended to “future-proof” your system where possible, so some kits include forthcoming lenses that I presume to be of a certain level quality, until I have a chance to test them.
The Complete Kit
As I was test-packing a new piece of carry-on luggage, I added the 10-24mm ƒ/4 without even thinking. It was attached to my X-T1 with the intention of adding a prime or two in order to round out the focal range. Thus, a new kit was born! This could also be called “The Sensible Kit” with one exception. Read on.
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
The FUJINON XF 10-24mm ƒ/4. This lens can’t be beat for a single lens solution with excellent image quality that covered an excellent range.
Small do-all lens
The FUJINON XF 35mm ƒ/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 ƒ/1.4.
Portrait bokeh machine
The FUJINON XF 56mm ƒ/1.2. This lens is a bit of a workhorse for me, but anytime I take it out for casual shooting I marvel at what it can do. If you’re packing light you could get away with the 60mm ƒ/2.4 Macro, but one thing you won’t get is One. Point. Two.
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. The one omission that might be hurting it is the 23mm ƒ/1.4, but if the zoom’s ƒ/4 lens doesn’t quite cut it, I’d add an X100(S/T) for some 35mm, second-body goodness. The X100S always brings me so much joy to photography. Optical inferiorities be damned, it’s the camera I have with me everywhere I go. I also happen to keep a converter or two handy as well.
Ultimate Prime Kit
This is the kit I typically carry around in my Billingham Hadley Small when I want to cover off a decent range of focal lengths. You could do a lot worse than this 3-lens setup.
Body: Fujifilm X-T1
In the previous 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 $300 premium over the X-E2. Plus, we’re not calling this kit “Ultimate” for nothing.
FUJINON XF 14mm ƒ/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 ƒ/2.8. I hope to do a thorough comparison of the two lenses, but by almost every account I’ve seen, Fuji’s 14mm f/2.8 is not only considerably less expensive than the Zeiss, the build is better (yes, the aperture ring is loose on some copies, but not all), handling is better with a proper aperture ring and depth of field scale, and it delivers sharper images. There’s really no reason to opt for the Zeiss unless it’s absolutely critical you get the extra 2mm in width.
FUJINON XF 23mm ƒ/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 X100S. The disadvantages are a noteworthy difference in image quality, significantly slower operation compared to the Fujifilm X-T1, (slightly slower operation compared to the X-E2, and slightly faster compared to the X-E1), and some differences in how the two cameras operate. What’s nice about the X-T1 is it can be tweaked to behave very similarly to the X100S, which is what I’ve done.
Zone focusers will appreciate the 23mm ƒ/1.4 for its engraved depth of field markings, but they’re also sure to like the size and silent operation of the X100S. Not to mention the added discretion of the new black version.
FUJINON XF 56mm ƒ/1.2 — This lens is finally hitting the streets, but even my limited time with the 56mm ƒ/1.2 confirmed my suspicion that it was going to be stellar. One could opt for the 60/2.4, but this is the “Ultimate Prime Kit” after all, so let’s go all out. I can’t wait to get my hands on this lens, and a comparison between it and the 60 is sure to follow.
What about the 35mm ƒ/1.4?
In fact, the 35 occupies the space in my bag that will soon be taken by the 56mm ƒ/1.2. 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.” For me, the 35mm ƒ/1.4 isn’t different enough from the 23mm ƒ/1.4, which will absolutely not be removed from my bag unless the X100S is also in there, and this kit is intended to not require additional camera bodies.
The Compact, Travel Prime Kit
Aka, The Unsung Heroes
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.
FUJINON XF 18mm ƒ/2 — This lens hasn’t been getting a lot of love lately, but my testing shows it’s 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 pull-ring for manual focus. For those who want to pack small though, the 18mm ƒ/2 is a great wide-angle choice.
FUJINON XF 35mm ƒ/1.4 — This lens has been called a “gem” many times, and for good reason. It’s small, light, and crazy sharp. At an equivalent focal length of just over 53mm, it’s an excellent complement to the 18mm ƒ/2.
FUJINON XF 60mm ƒ/2.4 — 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 bit smaller, and quite a bit lighter than the 56mm ƒ/1.2.
These lenses often are overlooked in favour of the newer options described in my 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 ƒ/2 with the FUJINON XF 27mm ƒ/2.8. This lens surprised me in a lot of ways when I put it head to head with the X100S. At 41mm, it doens’t give you as flexible a range as the 35mm ƒ/1.4 would, but this lens is positively tiny. Pairing with 18mm ƒ/2 get you near pancake perfection.
Body: Fujifilm X-M1
These lenses can be paired with just about any Fujifilm X body, but for the ultimate in compactness, the X-M1 is worth a look. It boasts the same sensor as the bigger cameras in a ridiculously small package.
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.
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. If you need to buy today, 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.
FUJINON XF 14mm ƒ/2.8 – You’re gonna want the 14mm ƒ/2.8 for sure. It’s super sharp and suitably wide. 21mm is considered the perfect landscape focal length by many. Again, it’s engraved depth of field marking is a boom for hyper focal shooters. I’m liking this lens more for landscapes the more I use it.
FUJINON XF 23mm ƒ/1.4 – To that end, the 23mm ƒ/1.4 is also worth adding to your bag if you don’t mind the tighter FoV. Some find 35mm a little too tight for landscape work, but any focal can be made to work with careful composition.
FUJINON XF 10-24mm ƒ/4 – With it’s excellent optics and even better range, it’s sure to be a landscape photographers dream. What landscaper could resists an ultra-wide angle zoom like this? Depending on your preferences and shooting style, one could easily be forgiven for buying this lens and leaving the 14mm ƒ/2.8 and 23mm ƒ/1.4 at home. As my comparison demonstrates, this lens zoom can hang with the primes, and only te peepiest of pixel peepers will complain about it’s performace.
Special mention: It’s worth noting that the X100S could be the perfect long exposure camera if you really like the 35mm focal length. 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 X100S high on the list if you can’t get enough of silky water. 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 put your tripod down.
The Street Shooter
Street photographers are a special breed. Really, just about any camera can be used for street photography from DSLRs for the wannabe paparazzi, to an iPhone for the Instagramers (VSCO is better, just sayin’). Fujifilm has, or soon will have, virtually every kind of street photographer covered.
Body Fujifilm X-T1
Once again we see my past recommendation for the X-E2 eclipsed by the new Fujifilm X-T1. The EVF that lets you see in the dark, the blazing fast focus and even the tilt screen all add up to a camera that just a little be better suited for the hardcore street shooter.
Fujifilm X-E2 (black) – For people who need quick focus and a responsive EVF in lowlight, there’s really only one other option you should consider today aside from a black X100S. Unless you’re shooting in the rain a lot, the X-E2 is a really good way to save some dough.
So many options. For the zone focuser, a 14mm ƒ/2.8 and 23mm ƒ/1.4 are choice 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.
For the auto-focuser, take your pick. The lenses above work great, but you could also go compact and wide with the 18mm ƒ/2. You’ll lose a little image quality compared to the 14mm ƒ/2.8, but it’s negligible, particularly for street shooting. The 18mm ƒ/2 is also just wide that you can have someone in frame without them knowing it. The 35mm ƒ/1.4 makes a nice option for shooting from a little further away. The 56mm ƒ/1.2 will let you stay even further away, although the size of that lens might get you noticed more.
Special Mention No mention of street photography would be complete without talking about the X100S. The new black X100S is pretty darn close to being the ideal street photography camera, assuming you like 35mm. The only thing it’s missing for me are those glorious depth of field markings.
If you want to venture away from 35mm no and again, you can happily add the WCL-X100 for more width, or the TCL-X100 to get a little closer. The added size of these converters gave me pause at first, but now that I’ve actually shot with them, I really do enjoy them. The X100S is the camera I always have with me and pocketing a converter or having both in a bag is trivial.
This kit popped into my head the other day. Imagine this:
Not one, but two X-T1 bodies, one with the forthcoming weather sealed FUJINON XF 16-55mm ƒ/2.8 attached, the other, the FUJINON XF 50-140mm ƒ/2.8. No changing lenses, all ƒ/2.8, all weather sealed, dual-wielding, tilt-screening bliss. You could even almost probably be forgiven for having one of those crazy dual camera vest/strap things.
Joking aside, I’ve been looking forward to travelling with the X-T1 and the 16-55mm ƒ/2.8, if there’s any hope (there’s not) of affording the kit described above (I can’t), I may give it a go (I won’t).
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 ƒ/2.8-4 and FUJINON XF 55-200mm, both of which offer excellent image quality, albeit with smaller 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, but everything I’ve read suggests they produce sharp images while offering an even greater focal range. Prepare for some plastic though!
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 since it’s easy. Pick a 16 MP X-Trans body, buy a 35mm ƒ/1.4 and 56mm ƒ/1.2. Yes, you could get a 60mm ƒ/2.4, but I have 3 words for that: One. Point. Two. I’d add an 18mm ƒ/2 to cover off the focal range.
And there you have it! After extensive testing and even more real-world shooting, those are Fuji vs. Fuji’s kit recommendations. I hope to keep this as up to date as much as possible, and lots more content is sure to be added as Fujifilm execute their latest roadmap update.
It’s a very good time to be a Fuji fan.
For the curious:
Recommended Kits: January 2014