Fujinon XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
Lab Test Results
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March 19, 2015
by Andrew Alexander
The Fujinon 18-135mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 was released in 2014, the first lens in the X-mount system that one might consider to be an "all-in-one" style lens. With the APS-C sensor present in Fuji's X-series of camera, the lens provides an effective field of view of around 28-200mm.
The 18-135mm isn't a ''constant'' lens, in that as you increase the focal length, the maximum aperture size decreases (the minimum aperture of ƒ/22 stays constant). The following table reflects the change in maximum aperture size with focal length:
|Min. ƒ/22 at all focal lengths|
The lens is available now, comes with a round lens hood, takes 67mm filters, and retails for around $700.
We've seen sharper lenses in the Fuji lineup: making a lens with a big range of focal lengths and image stabilization is a game of compromise, and in this case, sharpness has been somewhat sacrificed. It's also worth noting that in our review sample of this lens, we see some slight de-centering.
Wide open, we see a decent region of sharpness in the center of the frame, with some significant corner softness; as the lens is zoomed in towards 135mm, this area shrinks considerably. By 55mm, overall sharpness isn't anything special; at 70mm and longer, there is some significant softness in the corners.
Stopping down to a smaller aperture helps, but it's no amazing transformation. Rather, no combination of aperture and focal length will provide you with what we'd call tack-sharp results; the closest you'll get is very good results at 55mm and ƒ/8, but with these settings, you'll be wanting to shoot either with strobes, or in daylight.
Diffraction limiting sets in at ƒ/11, but you won't notice it until at least ƒ/16. Shooting at ƒ/16 or ƒ/22 produces a generalized softness across the frame.
The Fujinon 18-135mm lens performs well in this category, albeit a bit strangely. At 18mm, we note some chromatic aberration, which gets quite prominent at 23mm and 55mm, and then is well-controlled at 70mm and longer.
*** It should be noted that the X-E1 does feature in-camera correction of CA, vignetting and distortion, and it's important to note that our results here were taken from RAW files. However, when converted with Adobe Camera Raw, as it our usual procedure, ACR carries over these in-camera corrections. It was only by converting the same RAW images with DCRAW (which does not convert the images with these corrections) that we were able to confirm this.
Corner shading is extremely well-controlled, and improved by the in-camera correction; at the 18mm setting there are some apertures that produce slightly more than a quarter-stop of corner darkening; otherwise, corner darkening is negligible.
Distortion is also remarkably well-controlled, no doubt assisted by in-camera correction. There is some light barrel distortion below 23mm, but above this, distortion is very slight indeed.
The Fujinon 18-135mm uses an electrical autofocus system, which is very fast. The design is fly-by-wire, so there is no direct connection between the focusing ring and the autofocus system: autofocus results are very quick, and almost totally silent. Also, attached 67mm filters will not rotate.
The lens isn't designed for macro work, but it does produce results which aren't awful. The lens produces 0.27x magnification (1:3.7) at a minimum close-focusing distance of 45 centimeters (just under eighteen inches) when the camera is set to its macro mode.
Build Quality and Handling
The XF 18-135mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR is a well-built lens, with an all-metal barrel construction and textured in a satin black finish. For a telephoto zoom lens, it isn't all that heavy (just over 17 oz.), but mounted on the smaller X-mount bodies it does make for a package that's not quite as svelte as you might have envisioned. The lens features optical image stabilization, which is activated or deactivated with a dedicated ''OIS'' switch. Weather sealing is prominent in more than 20 areas of the lens.
There are three rings for this lens: a zoom ring, a focusing ring, as well as an aperture ring, which is something of a rarity in modern digital camera lenses -- though it's been a standard feature on Fuji's X-mount glass. The aperture ring sits closer to the lens body, around 3/8'' wide. The lens features a selector, which allows the user to choose between auto-aperture mode, or manual aperture selection (you just have to remember that the "A" stands for Automatic, not aperture).
The zoom ring is about an inch wide, with deep rubber ribs running parallel to the length of the lens. The zoom action is very smooth, going from 18mm to 135mm in a ninety degree turn, with only a minor amount of force required to transition between focal lengths. The lens extends as it is zoomed out, adding two and a half inches to its overall length. Zoom creep was not a factor in our testing with this lens. The lens features an interesting ventilator system which removes dust and moisture as the the lens is zoomed.
The focusing ring is about 3/4'' wide, made of polycarbonate with deep grooves that offer excellent tactile feel. The lens uses a fly-by-wire system in its lens focusing operation, so the focusing ring is not actually directly connected to the lens elements in a mechanical way. Rather, turning the focusing ring moves the elements electronically. In practice this means the focusing ring will turn forever in either direction, and you'll have to rely on the on-screen readouts to know if you have reached minimum or maximum focus.
There are no distance scales or depth-of-field information on the lens, but the X-E1 test camera we used offers a distance scale on its LCD or viewfinder readout.
Optical Image Stabilization is claimed by Fuji at 5 stops, but our testing showed only a single stop of improvement at 18mm and just over 3.5 stops at 135mm. This is still very good performance. Be sure to check our IS Test tab for more detailed information.
The petal-shaped lens hood is made of plastic and attaches via standard bayonet mount. The hood is 1 3/4'' long.
Fuji's X-mount system is still (at the time of writing) in its relative infancy, and Fuji itself is still just starting to roll out a large set of lenses. More problematic for users looking for alternatives, is that Sigma and Tamron have not yet shown any interest in producing lenses in the X-mount.
Fujinon XF 18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS ~$700
It's not as versatile in terms of focal lengths, but it's slightly faster in terms of apertures; it's a sharper lens, but the 18-135mm handles chromatic aberration slightly better.
Some photographers don't want to have to deal with switching between prime lenses, so this lens fills that niche very nicely; however, prime lens shooters are accustomed to images which this lens can only produce in certain circumstances. That's not to say it's a poor lens - it's actually quite good - but Fuji's set their own bar a quite high, and while the lens offers convenience, it doesn't offer the same optical quality present in other Fujinon lenses.
The VFA target should give you a good idea of sharpness in the center and corners, as well as some idea of the extent of barrel or pincushion distortion and chromatic aberration, while the Still Life subject may help in judging contrast and color. We shoot both images using the default JPEG settings and manual white balance of our test bodies, so the images should be quite consistent from lens to lens.
As appropriate, we shoot these with both full-frame and sub-frame bodies, at a range of focal lengths, and at both maximum aperture and ƒ/8. For the ''VFA'' target (the viewfinder accuracy target from Imaging Resource), we also provide sample crops from the center and upper-left corner of each shot, so you can quickly get a sense of relative sharpness, without having to download and inspect the full-res images. To avoid space limitations with the layout of our review pages, indexes to the test shots launch in separate windows.
Fujinon XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
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Fujinon XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR User Reviews
10 out of 10 points and recommended by SteveHugh (3 reviews)fast and accurate autofocus, sharpnone
Haven't used it much yet various other compared to a couple of examination tries. Fairly sharp across the aperture and also zoom array, limited the aperture to around f4 to f16.reviewed December 27th, 2015 (purchased for $899)
I don't fire rapid action so the autofocus was great for me, quite quickly adequate and exact. Not so sure for any event photographer like pros.
The lens has a little bit of weight and also mass, however it in fact boosted the handling of my Fufifilm X-E1, I could hold it by the barrel and also it stopped me from unintentionally mushing up switches with my hand and altering settings unintentionally the means I do when using the 18-55 lens I have.
Possibly some OCD slipping in below, however the cam and also lens do not rest level when taken down, the lens barrel's size keeps the nose in the air a little bit.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by rdonson (5 reviews)Image Quality, build quality, OIS, WRNone really
I use this with my Fuji X-T1 and process images with LR 5.7 following Pete Bridgwood's RAW guidance. I've been very impressed with this camera and with this lens.reviewed January 14th, 2015 (purchased for $799)
I initially purchased this lens in combination with the X-T1 and my intended use was for walkarounds where size and weight gave it a significant advantage over my Canon DSLRs.
I find myself using my Canon DSLRs now only when the situation calls for specific use of one of the L glass lenses I have.
This lens has consistently provided sharp images with great color and the OIS has surprised me repeatedly. I do NOT see a distinct difference between this lens and most of the Canon L glass I own.
I do NOT miss this lens having f/2.8 as that would likely add a great deal of weight and bulk to the lens. With the high ISO capabilities and the quality of this lens I'm quite satisfied.
8 out of 10 points and recommended by pacslr14 (3 reviews)Range, PriceSize when extended
Very good lens for streetphotography. Unfortunately only F 3.8 max.reviewed July 27th, 2014 (purchased for $1,073)
Weather Resistance is perfect. Very well built.
Slight chromatic aberations (especially on the tele side) in Raw