Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS
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Lab Test Results
April 16, 2013
by Andrew Alexander
The Fujinon XF 18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS is Fujifilm's first zoom lens for the X-mount; it's also Fujifilm's first optically-stabilized lens. While 18-55mm is a common range for APS-C kit lenses, the variable aperture of ƒ/2.8-4 is uncommonly bright.
The X-mount lens will only mount to Fujifilm compact system cameras with sub-frame (APS-C) sensors. Thus, for this particular lens, it will exhibit an effective focal length of 27-84mm.
This lens isn't a ''constant'' lens, in that as you increase the focal length, the maximum aperture size decreases, though the minimum aperture remains at ƒ/22.The following table reflects the decreasing maximum aperture:
|Min. aperture||ƒ/22 at all focal lengths|
The lens is available now with a petal-shaped lens hood, takes 58mm filters, and retails for around $700.
For a look at the lens in context with the Fujifilm X-E1, read our review of the camera here.
The Fujinon 18-55mm lens is surprisingly sharp, and seems to be calibrated for its best performance in its wider apertures. Used wide open, the lens performs very well (there are very sharp images to be had at 35mm and its widest setting there, ƒ/3.6). If there's any doubt about which focal length to choose - 35mm is it, as the lens is consistently sharp from ƒ/3.6 through to ƒ/11.
Other apertures are a bit more variable. At the wider end, 24mm is very good when used wide open; stop down to ƒ/4 and it's great all the way through to ƒ/11. 18mm and 55mm are a bit more variable: performance is still very good, just not quite as great as we note at 24mm and 35mm.
Diffraction limiting begins to set it at ƒ/16, with a slight impact on overall image sharpness, and ƒ/22 shows moderately soft results.
While our test results show some significant impact with regard to chromatic aberration, looking at the sample images, I would be hard pressed to describe it. If it's anywhere, it would be in the extreme corners.
There is only a slight amount of corner shading for the 18-55mm Fujinon, and that is at the 18mm setting: even then, the extreme corners are only a quarter-stop darker than the center. This is very close to negligible.
Distortion results are surprisingly good for a kit zoom lens, suggesting that there is some correction going on under the hood with the X-E1. At the wide end, there is only slight barrel distortion (+0.3%), and even less pincushion distortion at 55mm (-0.1%). There is a nice point of parity at 28mm, where there is essentially no distortion.
Note: It should be noted that the X-E1, our Fuji test camera, 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.
The Fujinon 18-55mm 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 near-silent. Attached 58mm filters will not rotate.
The 18-55mm kit lens isn't great for macro, offering just 0.08x magnification at 18mm, and 0.15x magnification at 55mm. The minimum close-focusing distance is a foot at 18mm, and 18 inches at 55mm.
Build Quality and Handling
The Fuji XF 18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS is a well-built lens, harkening back to the days of metal rangefinder cameras. It's small and it isn't all that heavy (just under 12 oz), textured in a satin black finish. The lens features optical image stabilization, which is activated or deactivated with a dedicated ''OIS'' switch.
There are three rings for this lens: a zoom ring, a focusing ring, and an aperture ring, something of a rarity in modern digital cameras. The aperture ring sits closer to the lens body, around 3/8'' wide, with click-stops between aperture settings. 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 3/4'' wide, made of metal or a dense plastic, with long ribs running parallel to the length of the lens. The zoom action is very smooth, going from 18mm to 55mm in a seventy-five degree turn, with only a minor amount of force required to transition between focal lengths. The lens extends as it is zoomed out, adding just over an extra inch to its overall length. Zoom creep was not a factor in our testing with this lens.
The focusing ring is about 3/8'' wide, made of polycarbonate with deep grooves that offer excellent tactile feel. The X-Pro camera concept uses a fly-by-wire in its lens focusing method, 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 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-Pro 1 offers a distance scale on its LCD or viewfinder readout.
The petal-shaped lens hood is made of plastic and attaches via standard bayonet mount. The hood is 1 1/2'' long, adding about 1 1/8'' of length to the lens when attached.
As of right now, Fujifilm offers no other zoom lenses for the X-mount. There is an adapter available which allows you to mount non-Fujifilm M-mount lenses, but casual searching doesn't seem to show any zoom lenses in that mount.
Fujifilm has done very well with this lens, making it more than ''just'' a kit lens, and perhaps justifying its comparatively hefty price tag. Given that the lens is available in a kit with Fuji X-mount camera bodies, this isn't necessarily a factor: but if you're a prime lens shooter looking for something a bit more convenient, you probably won't be disappointed with the 18-55mm.
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 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS User Reviews
10 out of 10 points and recommended by abzeal (2 reviews)Build quality, Excellent OIS, decent aperture, Low CAs, Vignette and DistortionsPicture quality not quite up to the primes, auto focus is better with new firmware but still not as fast as other CSC rivals.
I got this lens with my Fuji X-E1 kit and I have not been disappointed. Past experience was primarily with Pentax DSLRs and SLRs for reference.reviewed August 11th, 2013 (purchased for $600)
It's very well made, not quite like a rock but definitely very sturdy. The plastic lens hood is perhaps the only disappointing part. It's not heavy, and fits nicely on the front of the X-E1.
Picture quality is generally excellent but not quite as good as the primes I have used, though the versatility of the zoom range is definitely a benefit in the field. I have had slight problems with some lens flare, but all other boxes (CA, Vig, Distortions) have been covered successfully. It's probably the nicest kit zoom i've ever handled.
The auto focus started out to be passable, but was improved with the latest firmware. It's still not always super fast but it is pretty much silent. OIS is excellent for at least 2.5 stops.
In short, if you are getting one with a kit, its an excellent lens and you won't be disappointed. It probably nudges out the primes as the starting point for x-mount. If you have the primes already, it'd only be worth it for the convenience factor and whether you think that is worth the cost!
10 out of 10 points and recommended by sahliko (2 reviews)very sharp f2.8 , perfect colors , very good macro ,no
expensive but deserves. great results at all focal lengths. ois great. zoom ring just a little bit harder, it also normalizes over time. I suppose this would be both single lens. I would strongly recommend.reviewed May 20th, 2013 (purchased for $600)
10 out of 10 points and recommended by spochana (6 reviews)Solid build, Smooth zoom ring, Nice color photoFocusing is a bit slower than DSLR
I have just bought X-E1 with this zoom recently and went out on a trip so I had a chance to shoot at several lighting conditions, backlight, strong noon light, night time, foggy morning etc. All photos I took came out from good to excellent. I feel like shooting with Leica lens. I will not even bother to buy a Leica to Fx adapter to be able to use Leica lens on my Fuji X-E1. I am looking forward to buy their fixed 16mm and their wide zoom.reviewed January 18th, 2013 (purchased for $550)