My “Ultimate” Fujifilm Travel Kit

I recently set out to create an “ultimate” Fujifilm travel kit.

Over the last couple of years, as I’ve collected more and more gear, traveling with my cameras and lenses has become cumbersome, which has lead to frustrations and reduced productivity. More isn’t always better; in fact, less is often more—this is especially true when traveling. I realized that my gear wasn’t nearly as ready for adventure as I was, and I needed to make some series changes to my kit before embarking on my next road trip.

What makes a travel kit bad? If it’s big and heavy and gets in the way, it’s not good. My travel kit consisted of a backpack camera bag filled with multiple bodies and as many lenses as I could stuff inside. I went to Montana last fall, and in my bag there was an X-T1, X-T30, X100V, and X-M1, plus a handful of lenses, including the Fujinon 100-400mm and Fujinon 90mm, which aren’t small or lightweight. I hardly used any of them, except for the X100V, which I could easily carry with me, and so I did. Because I had it with me, I used it often. The rest of the gear just got in the way—literally, the backpack took up too much space in the car, and it become a point of frustration. I would have been better off just bringing one or two cameras and maybe a few small lenses—gear that might have actually been used.

I was afraid that if I didn’t have a certain camera or lens, I would regret not bringing it, if at some point I thought I might need it. You never know what you’ll need, so it’s better to be prepared, right? What I discovered over the last few trips is that the majority of what I was carrying with me I didn’t use. Or, for some of it, if I did use it, it’s only because I forced myself to use it when it wasn’t really necessary. Having too much gear actually made me want to photograph less, and made me less creative when I did. My best photography most often happened when I had limited gear—perhaps one camera and one lens—and left the rest behind.

What makes a travel kit good? It should be compact and lightweight, yet versatile. One camera and one lens is often enough, but not always. The X100V is a great travel camera, but sometimes I need something more wide-angle or more telephoto—it’s not always versatile enough, even though it is often my camera of choice. I think two bodies and a limited assortment of lenses in a small bag is good. Small enough to not get in the way. Lightweight. Something that you don’t mind having with you, so you do. A good travel kit strikes a comfortable balance between practicality and petiteness.

I put together what I hoped would be a great kit for travel photography. I was able to put it to the test on a road trip to Arizona—was it actually going to work for me?—and I discovered many good points and a few things that still need to be worked out. Let’s take a close look at this “ultimate” Fujifilm travel kit that I assembled for myself, piece-by-piece.

This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.

Bag

It might seem strange to begin with the bag, but in my mind it’s just that important. The camera bag needed to be very small, but it also had to be able to hold everything. Finding one that I felt was just the right size and design turned out to be a challenge, but after much research I stumbled across the National Geographic NG2344 Earth Explorer Shoulder Bag, and for only $40! The dimensions of this bag are roughly 8″ x 7″ x 6″, yet I can fit two cameras and six lenses inside. I was thrilled to learn that the bag fit into the middle storage console of my car, so it is completely out of the way on road trips, yet is easily and quickly accessible.

I subdivided the main compartment into four, using the soft dividers to create “hidden” storage under the cameras, which I use for lenses. The bottom-right holds two Fujinon lenses, and the bottom-left holds three third-party lenses. Two cameras fit on top, just as long as the interchangeable-lens camera has a pancake lens attached. The small front compartment holds charging cords, extra batteries, SD-cards, etc., while the two tiny top pockets (which are probably more for looks than anything) hold lens-wipes. While everything is packed in, I don’t feel like it’s overstuffed—there actually is a little room for more, should I need it.

One thing that I don’t like about this bag is that the shoulder strap is permanently attached. I might modify it at some point to make the strap removable, as I think that would improve it. Otherwise, the bag seems pretty darn good for the travel photographer.

National Geographic Earth Explorer Bag Amazon B&H

Cameras

I already owned a Fujifilm X100V, and that camera was going to be in this kit, no doubt about it. The other camera was a question mark for me. It needed to be small yet an interchangeable-lens model. I thought that my X-T30 might be too big, so maybe the X-E3, but it has the older sensor. I really wasn’t sure which camera was going to be the right one. Then Fujifilm announced the X-E4, and I really hoped that it would be the correct camera for this kit, so I immediately preordered it. After several weeks of waiting, and just a couple of days before my Arizona trip, it arrived at my doorstep. And it fit perfectly into the camera bag.

Fujifilm X100V

The Fujifilm X100V, which I’ve had for about 10 months, was a birthday gift from my wife. It’s such a great camera and I absolutely love to shoot with it. The X100V has a permanently attached 23mm lens, which is 35mm full-frame equivalent—a very useful focal-length. The compactness of it makes it especially great for travel.

There are some X100V features that are unique in my bag. It’s weather-sealed, has a nearly silent mechanical leaf shutter, built-in high-speed-synch fill-flash, optical viewfinder, and built-in neutral-density filter. I could photograph with this camera 90% of the time and be very happy, but the X100V isn’t always the right choice. It has strengths, but it also has weaknesses that limit its versatility.

If I could only have one camera, it would be the X100V; however, I believe that this camera demands a partner. If you have this camera, you also need an interchangeable-lens option to accompany it. That’s why I have two cameras in my kit, even though the X100V is oftentimes all that I need.

Fujifilm X100V Black    Amazon   B&H
Fujifilm X100V Silver   Amazon   B&H

Below are a few pictures that I captured with my Fujifilm X100V on the Arizona trip.

Putting Practice – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X100V
Metal Pool Flowers – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X100V
Pinnacle Peak – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X100V

Fujifilm X-E4

The Fujifilm X-E4 is the smallest interchangeable-lens camera with an electronic viewfinder offered by Fujifilm. The compact size of the X-E4 is an important aspect of this travel kit. I have an X-T30, which is a small camera that’s a little bigger than the X-E4, and it does fit into the camera bag, but barely—it’s much more snug than I want it to be. In a pinch it would work, but the X-E4 is a more comfortable fit, and a better choice because of that.

When the X100V isn’t the right tool, the X-E4 fills in nicely. It adds great versatility to the travel kit. I can go more wide-angle or telephoto by changing the lens. It can store one more film simulation recipe than the X100V. It has some new JPEG features that the X100V doesn’t. Even though 90% of the time the X100V is all that I need, I found myself using the X-E4 much more than I thought I would. It’s a fun camera that’s easy to have with you because of its compact size.

Fujifilm X-E4 Black    Amazon   B&H
Fujifilm X-E4 Silver   Amazon   B&H

Below are a few pictures that I captured with my Fujifilm X-E4 on the Arizona trip.

Three Palms – Sun City West, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
That Way – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
Blossoming Red – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm

Lenses

In the camera bag I have six lenses—seven if you count the one permanently attached to the X100V. This provides versatility for whatever photographic situations present themselves. The lenses must be small, or else they won’t fit inside the bag.

Would a 100-400mm zoom be nice to have as an option? Yes, for sure! But it’s too big, and it would add a lot of weight—if it’s not going to be used much, it’s not worth bringing along. The Fujinon 90mm f/2 is one of my favorite lenses, but it’s also big and heavy, and not used often enough, so it’s not in this kit. A zoom lens would make a lot of sense, perhaps something like the 18-55mm f/2.8-4, but I prefer primes. My philosophy as I put this travel kit together was smaller is better. Zooms are often smaller than a few primes put together, but are rarely smaller than a singe prime. If a lens attached to the X-E4 made it possibly pocketable, that was a win. The more compact the camera and lens combo is, the more convenient it will be for travel. With those goals in mind, I chose six lenses to place inside my camera bag.

Fujinon XF 18mm f/2 R

The Fujinon XF 18mm f/2 R is Fujifilm’s second smallest lens, which makes it a great option for travel. The 18mm focal-length, which is 27mm full-frame equivalent, is very useful—great for walk-around photography and landscapes. This is my primary wide-angle lens in this kit. The 18mm f/2 is a little loud and a bit slow, but it captures beautiful pictures. The compact size and lovely image quality are what makes this lens great.

Most of the time when I want a wide-angle option, the 18mm focal-length works well; however, occasionally I would like something a little wider. I think a 14mm or 12mm lens would be preferable sometimes, but unfortunately there’s not an option that’s small enough for my camera bag—for example, my Rokinon 12mm f/2 is just a little too big. Thankfully, this lens is often a great choice when I want to shoot wide-angle, so it gets used a lot, and is an essential part of this travel kit.

Fujinon XF 18mm f/2 R   Amazon   B&H

Below are a few pictures that I captured with my Fujinon 18mm lens on the Arizona trip.

Sunlight Through Palm Leaves – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 18mm
American Motorcycle – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 18mm
Roundabout – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 18mm

Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR

The Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR was my most used lens on the trip to Arizona. It’s Fujifilm’s smallest lens, so I knew that it would be an essential element of my travel kit, but I didn’t know just how much I’d love using it. The 27mm focal length, which is 40.5mm full-frame equivalent, is the closest to a “normal” lens on Fujifilm X, yet it is slightly wide-angle.

If I wanted to really simplify things, I could be happy just bringing this lens and the 18mm f/2 to pair with the X-E4 (plus the X100V). That would be a lightweight and uncomplicated kit. Expanding the focal-length options with a few other lenses is a nice bonus, but the heart and soul of the camera bag are the two camera bodies and the 27mm and 18mm pancake lenses.

Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR   Amazon   B&H

Below are a few pictures that I captured with my Fujinon 27mm lens on the Arizona trip.

Old Cars & Tires – Kamas, UT – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
Two Roses, Mary & Child – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
Two Thirty – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T4 & Fujinon 27mm

Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 R WR

The Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 R WR has been my most used lens over the last two years. The 52.5mm full-frame equivalent focal-length makes this a slightly telephoto “standard” prime lens, often referred to as a “nifty fifty”. There’s a little redundancy between this and the 27mm, as they’re both “standard” lenses, but the 35mm has some advantages: quieter autofocus, larger maximum aperture, slightly superior optics. Despite that, I found myself using the 35mm f/2 less often than I thought I would.

Because I have the 27mm lens, this lens isn’t an essential part of the travel kit. Since there’s room for it and it’s been a favorite lens of mine for a couple years, I decided to include it anyway. I did use it a little on my trip, but more because I forced myself to and not so much because I needed to. I might rethink its inclusion in the camera bag, but for now the 35mm f/2 lens stays.

Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 R WR Amazon B&H

Below are a few pictures that I captured with my Fujinon 35mm lens on the Arizona trip.

SS At 35th – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 35mm
Coin Prizes – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 35mm
Lemon Tree – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 35mm

Pergear 10mm f/8 Fisheye

The Pergear 10mm f/8 Fisheye lens is quite limited in its usefulness, but occasionally it comes in handy, such as when I visited Horseshoe Bend, which demanded an ultra-wide-angle option for the dramatic landscape. The Fujinon 18mm lens wasn’t nearly wide-enough, so the Pergear 10mm came out and did the trick. The strong barrel distortion makes it tough to use, but it’s definitely useable in a pinch.

This compact pancake lens takes up almost no space in the camera bag, so its inclusion is a no-brainer. Even if it was only used a few times, and otherwise remained in the bag unused, it’s worth having around for those rare occasions when this lens comes in handy. It’s so small, lightweight and cheap, it just makes sense to have it in the camera bag, providing a more wide-angle option than 18mm.

Pergear 10mm f/8 Fisheye Amazon

Below are a few pictures that I captured with my Pergear 10mm lens on the Arizona trip.

Yucca – Glen Canyon Nat. Rec. Area, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Pergear 10mm
Green Spikes – Glen Canyon Nat. Rec. Area, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Pergear 10mm
Sitting Above Horseshoe Bend – Glen Canyon Nat. Rec. Area, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Pergear 10mm

Asahi Pentax-110 50mm f/2.8

The Asahi Pentax-110 50mm f/2.8 was the last lens that I added to the travel kit. Why did I include it? Because, since it’s a tiny lens, there was room for it, and I really like how it renders pictures. This lens has a fixed aperture, which makes its usefulness limited, but when I do use it I enjoy the pictures that I capture with it. This Asahi lens is the only vintage lens in this kit.

I wish that I had used this lens more, but it had competition, so I ended up using it less than I should have. Next time I will use it more. This little 75mm full-frame-equivalent lens has a special quality and takes up so little space, so its inclusion in the travel kit should have been obvious. The Asahi Pentax-110 50mm lens is going to stick around awhile.

Below are a few pictures that I captured with my Asahi Pentax-110 50mm lens on the Arizona trip.

Spring Seeding – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Pentax-110 50mm
Closed Canopy – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Pentax-110 50mm
Jon (and Yoda) Ready to Play – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Pentax-110 50mm

7artisans 50mm f/1.8

The sixth lens in my travel kit is the 7artisans 50mm f/.8. This fully manually lens is good and all, but there are two reasons why it will be replaced: I already have a 50mm lens that I like, and focusing on distant objects is more difficult than it should be. Otherwise this a decent lens, and it has several advantages over the Asahi 50mm: closer minimum focus distance, larger maximum aperture, adjustable aperture, less vignetting—technically speaking, it’s a superior lens, but it’s missing the great character that is oozing from the vintage Asahi lens.

The reason why I selected this particular lens for this kit is because it’s the smallest 50mm X-mount lens available. I did discover that there’s actually a little more room in the bag for something slightly bigger. Ideally I’d like to replace this with a longer focal-length lens, but at the moment I’m just not sure what it will be, or when I’ll replace it. I do know that the inclusion of the 7artisans 50mm f/1.8 lens in my travel kit won’t last long.

7artisans 50mm f/1.8 Amazon

Below are a few pictures that I captured with my Asahi Pentax-110 50mm lens on the Arizona trip.

Tropical Blossom Monochrome – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & 7artisans 50mm
Dark Blossoms – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & 7artisans 50mm
Tattered Awning – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & 7artisans 50mm

Conclusions

How ultimate is my “ultimate” Fujifilm travel kit? It’s not perfect, but it’s significantly better than what I was traveling with before. The bag is ideal. The two cameras are wonderful. There are some excellent lenses to choose from. No doubt about it, this is a really good kit for travel photography.

If anything, it’s the lens selection that’s not quite perfect. I like the 18mm and 27mm. The 35mm is great, too, but a little unnecessary since I have the 27mm. The X100V, with its built-in 23mm lens, is awesome. I like the Asahi Pentax 50mm lens, but it’s not especially practical for everyday photography. The 10mm Fisheye is good to have around, but not especially useful most of the time. Those two lenses take up very little space, so it’s easy to keep them in the bag just in case I want to use them, but I know that I won’t be using either of them all that often. I don’t need two 50mm lenses, so the 7artisans will be replaced.

Should I replace the Fujinon 35mm f/2? If so, with what? The 16mm f/2.8 is the same size, so it’s a logical option, although it creates the same redundancy problem, just at the wide-angle end, which actually might be slightly more practical. Maybe the Fujinon 16mm f/2.8 and the Fujinon 50mm f/2 would be good options to replace the 35mm and the 7artisans models. The 50mm f/2 is a little bigger, but I believe it would fit. The Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 might be an option instead of the 50mm, which would be preferable because it has a longer reach and is also a macro lens, but it might be a tad too big for the bag. Maybe I should consider a vintage model. Or maybe replace two primes with a zoom. There’s a lot to consider, and I think replacing one or two lenses will make this “ultimate” travel kit even better. I’ll let you know when I make that modification, and how it goes.

This trip to Arizona that I recently returned from was photographically so much more pleasant than my other travels over the last couple of years. A small camera bag filled with compact and lightweight gear—a purposeful assortment of cameras and lenses—is a night-and-day difference from the heavy backpack stuffed with everything that could fit that I used to haul around. Practical and petite is preferable when it comes to travel photography. Less is often more. This might not yet be the “ultimate” Fujifilm travel kit, but it’s pretty close, and will only get better.

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Video: Horseshoe Bend + Fujifilm X-E4 + Pergear 10mm

Check out this quick video where I use a Pergear 10mm f/8 Fisheye on my Fujifilm X-E4 at the Horseshoe Bend overlook near Page, Arizona. The film simulation recipe that I used was The Rockwell (find it on the app!).

While I’d passed this famous photographic landmark a handful of times, this was the first time that I’d actually stopped to take a look myself. It’s a part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and sits a little ways northeast of the Grand Canyon and just southwest of Lake Powell.

Despite visiting during the “off season” it was surprisingly crowded. There’s a small entrance fee, and it seems well maintained. A well-marked trail leads to an epic overlook of the Colorado River. The steep drop-off has railings at one spot but otherwise there’s nothing to keep visitors from falling except for good sense—it didn’t seem as though everyone was exercising good sense while I was there. The red rocks were dusted in red sand, making footing unsteady at times. Be careful if you should visit.

The reward is an incredibly amazing view! There’s a similarly amazing place in this region called Goosenecks State Park that’s much less crowded, which is briefly featured at the beginning of my Monument Valley video. If you have a chance to visit Horseshoe Bend or The Goosenecks, be sure to do so. Don’t wait until the seventh or eighth time passing by before finally getting out of the car and heading down the trail. It’s worth your time, and your photographic attention.

Dramatic Classic Chrome White Balance Shift Mistake

Everyone makes mistakes, right? “To err is human,” coined Alexander Pope in 1711. I goofed up, and this one feels especially embarrassing, because it involves one of my film simulation recipes—one that’s been around for awhile now. It was just recently brought to my attention.

The recipe in question is Dramatic Classic Chrome. On this website it says that the White Balance Shift should be -1 Red & +1 Blue, but on the Fuji X Weekly app (now available for both iOS and Android!) it says that the shift should be +1 Red and -1 Blue. Which one is right? Which should you use?

Here are a few examples with both white balance shifts:

Dramatic Classic Chrome with -1 Red & +1 Blue
Dramatic Classic Chrome with +1 Red & -1 Blue
Dramatic Classic Chrome with -1 Red & +1 Blue
Dramatic Classic Chrome with +1 Red & -1 Blue
Dramatic Classic Chrome with -1 Red & +1 Blue
Dramatic Classic Chrome with +1 Red & -1 Blue

The difference isn’t huge, but there’s a noticeable difference between two versions. Which do you like better?

The correct white balance shift for Dramatic Classic Chrome is +1 Red & -1 Blue. The app has it right. There are likely hundreds of people who have used it with the wrong shift, which is completely my fault, but if they liked the results, is it actually wrong? Feel free to use whichever shift you prefer, either the slightly cooler “incorrect” one or the slightly warmer “correct” one, whichever one gives you the results that you like. There’s not really a right or wrong way.

If you’ve used this recipe, which shift did you use?

I apologize for this mistake, and I hope that it didn’t cause too much trouble.

Lens Review: Fujinon XF 27mm F/2.8 R WR

Bundled with my Fujifilm X-E4 was the brand-new Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR lens. It’s sometimes referred to as the “Mark II” version, although that’s just a nickname and not an official title. It replaces the aging XF 27mm f/2.8 (note that the old model doesn’t have an R and WR in the name), which was released in 2013. This refresh improves the original model’s shortcomings while not messing with what made it great.

The Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR, which retails for $399, is a pancake lens, which means that it’s small and flat. In fact, it’s Fujifilm’s most compact lens. The X-E4 when paired with this lens is similar in size to the X100V with its built-in lens. The 27mm f/2.8 is less than an inch long and weighs only three ounces, making it a perfect option for travel.

Fujifilm gave this new model two significant improvements over the old version. The most noticeable is the addition of an aperture ring (this is what the R in the name means). Fujifilm’s charm and ideology is retro-styling, and the traditional aperture ring is a big part of that, so it was a shame that the old model didn’t have one, but great that the new one does. Another improvement is weather sealing (hence, WR in the name), although this only matters if the camera is weather sealed, too. Also, the new model is capable of manual-focus-override while in autofocus, which I don’t believe the old version could do, so this is a bonus improvement.

The focus motor inside the new 27mm lens is the same as the old version. It’s plenty quick enough, but it is a little on the loud side. It would have been nice if Fujifilm had engineered a quieter motor for this update. There are noisier lenses in the Fujinon lineup, so it’s not a big deal (I suppose) that Fujifilm left the motor alone. Still, this would have been a nice touch.

Fujifilm kept the glass inside the new lens the same as the old one. There are seven elements in five groups with seven rounded blades. The minimum focus distance is a little more than 13 inches, which is decent enough but not great. The 27mm focal-length is 40.5mm full-frame equivalent, which is barely wide-angle, and is very close to “normal” on Fujifilm X cameras. The maximum aperture is f/2.8, which isn’t particularly fast, and the minimum aperture is f/16. The lens accepts 39mm threaded filters.

The 27mm f/2.8 lens is pretty darn sharp. I don’t think it’s quite as sharp as the 35mm f/2, but very close. There’s a little corner softness when wide open. Peak sharpness seems to be around f/5.6-f/8, but it’s good throughout the full aperture range. I didn’t notice any vignetting or chromatic aberrations. I did see a very minor amount of barrel distortion, which only really matters when shooting brick walls; it’s very subtle so no big deal. Bokeh looks nice. Sunstars are decent yet soft. Flare is well-controlled.

There’s a special quality about the pictures captured with the 27mm f/2.8 lens. I’m not exactly sure what it is—the “it factor” maybe?—it’s really difficult to describe, but what I can tell you is that I like this little lens more than I thought I was going to. Maybe it’s the small size? I think more than anything the pictures that it produces attracts me to it. I absolutely love the new Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR lens, and it’s a great bargain when bundled with the Fujifilm X-E4.

This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.

Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR   Amazon   B&H

Example photographs captured with the Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR lens on a Fujifilm X-E4:

Palms – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
Palms Trees & Storm – Sun City West, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
Black & White Bloom – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
Little Garden Statue – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
Boombox – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
Little Dog – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
Lampshade, Cross & Curtain – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
Two Thirty – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T4 & Fujinon 27mm
Tiles & Stairs – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
Window Blinds – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
Globe by a Window – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
What’s the Dog’s Name? – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
Cactus Seat – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
Blossoming Red – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
That Way – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
Three Palms – Sun City West, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm

See also: My Fujifilm Gear Page

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Review: Fujifilm X-E4 — The Little Camera That Can

The X-E1 was my introduction to the world of Fujifilm cameras. I love the X-E line—the nearly perfect combination of form, function, size and price—it’s easy to understand why people are passionate about it. Fujifilm just released the latest model in this series: the X-E4. This new iteration has received plenty of praise and criticism. Fujifilm made some significant changes to this model, but do they equate to a better camera?

The Fujifilm X-E4, which retails for $850 for the body or $1,050 when combined with the new 27mm f/2.8 lens, is the fifth X-E camera. Fifth? Isn’t the X-E4 the fourth? In 2012 Fujifilm released the X-E1 (X-Trans I), a year later the X-E2 (X-Trans II), in 2016 the X-E2s (also X-Trans II), in 2017 the X-E3 (X-Trans III), and now in 2021 we have the X-E4 (X-Trans IV). Beginning with the X-E2s, this series marks the end of a sensor generation, and most likely the X-E4 will be the last camera with the X-Trans IV sensor.

Fujifilm knows how to make a beautiful camera, and the X-E line is one of their best looking. The X100, X-Pro and X-E series are the epitome of modern-retro fusion camera styling. People will mistake it for a vintage film camera. The X-E4 is indeed one of the loveliest cameras made today! The X100 and X-Pro lines are more premium, while X-E is more mid-level. This camera is not weather-sealed, and there’s no IBIS, which will certainly cause complaints, yet the X-E4 is a wonderful camera that is well-built and well-designed—a solid offering by Fujifilm, no doubt—but it’s not a premium model, so expectations should be kept reasonable.

The X-E4 is Fujifilm’s smallest interchangeable-lens camera with a viewfinder. It’s tiny! Really, though, it’s not all that much more compact than the X-T30 or especially the X-E3, but it is slightly smaller nonetheless. It’s pretty darn lightweight, too. This is why I bought the camera: I wanted a smaller and lighter option for travel, and the X-E4 fulfills that nicely.

Fujifilm’s promotional slogan for this camera is “Make more with less.” It’s clear that the design philosophy for the X-E4 was minimalism, something that I appreciate. They attempted to “achieve simplicity” with it, and indeed they did! But did they go too far? There are a number of buttons, switches, and wheels that have been removed from the camera body. Aside from the Shutter Speed and Exposure Compensation knobs and the On-Off/Shutter-Release switch/button, there are now just seven buttons, a joystick, and the front wheel—and that’s it! I wish that the M/C/S focus selector switch had not been axed (probably the most controversial decision), but I’m alright with all of the other design choices. It would have been a nice touch if Fujifilm had included an ISO ring around the shutter knob, but it’s not a big deal that they didn’t.

The X-E4 has an X-Trans IV sensor, which has been around for about two-and-a-half years now; however, Fujifilm has refreshed the firmware in new models, so this camera feels like a different generation than the X-T3 and X-T30. It’s more similar to the X-Pro3, X100V, and especially the X-T4, yet Fujifilm tweaked it a little, so it’s not exactly the same as those cameras, either. One difference is that literally everything in the menu can be (or, really, must be) set in the custom presets. There are some advantages and disadvantages to this, and it definitely takes longer to set up (there are a couple of new tools to potentially help with this); overall I feel like this was a good change that I hope Fujifilm carries forward into future models.

One positive side effect of this firmware change is that it’s now possible to program eight film simulation recipes into the camera. Yes, eight! There’s still the C1-C7 custom presets that can be accessed through the Q Menu, but whatever is programmed into the IQ Menu is remembered separately from the custom presets. As you scroll through the C1-C7 presets in the Q Menu, you additionally have the IQ Menu settings, which are designated by a P, A, S or M, (depending on the shooting mode you are in) in the Q Menu. This eighth “custom preset” cannot be named, but it’s nice to be able to store another recipe in-camera. Also, the very confusing “Base” designation is now gone.

One negative side effect of the firmware change is that the focus mode, whether Manual, Continuous or Single, must be set from within the menu, and must be programmed with each custom preset. I shoot in Single-AF 80% of the time, so that’s what I have it set to, and most of the time this works well. But, when I need to change it (I have a button programmed to quickly access this), it’s not remembered by the camera, so when I adjust to a different custom preset it’s back to Single-AF, when maybe I want Continuous or Manual instead. When I’m shooting in something other than Single-AF, I find myself having to sometimes reset it to the focus mode that I want to use, which can be a little inconvenient and a bit frustrating. The X-E4 does have the ability to automatically save changes to presets, which is a potential solution, but I can foresee some possible problems with that, so I haven’t tried it. I’m hoping that I’m just overlooking some simple solution to the problem, and this will be a complete nonissue once I figure it out. This curious design choice might be the biggest reason why people don’t buy the X-E4, and the inclusion of a M/C/S focus selector switch would have avoided it altogether. It’s just unfortunate, but it’s not a deal-breaker for me because most of the time the camera operates just as I want it to. It’s only a problem every once in awhile.

The X-E4 has a flat design with no bulges for grips. You can buy an aftermarket grip and thumb rest, which is supposed to help with holding the camera, yet adds a little girth and weight. I have had no issues holding the camera, so I have no plans to use those. I might be in the minority with this opinion, but I actually prefer the flat design; however, some people won’t like it, and this might be a reason to avoid the X-E4, depending on your preferences.

The electronic viewfinder is plenty good enough for me—I believe it’s the same one found in the X-T30. The rear screen is a touch-flip. I actually have the touch capability disabled because accidentally touching it, which happens often, does annoying things. The flip ability is nice, but I have never moved it to the “selfie” position—only 90° for waist-level shooting. Maybe someday the full flip will come in handy.

Image quality on the X-E4, like all X-Trans IV cameras, is outstanding. I said about the X100V, and it’s just as true (if not more true) with the X-E4, is that it’s like shooting with an endless roll of film. Actually, it’s like shooting with up to eight endless rolls of film. You can capture as many frames as you wish on each roll, and change the film anytime you want. Amazing!

The video specs are pretty darn good on the X-E4. I’ve not used the camera much for video yet, but I have no doubts that it would be plenty good enough for most people and most purposes. Most likely it has a similar overheating issue as the X100V, but I’ve not heard any reports or experienced overheating myself. Plan to keep clips under five minutes in length, and give the camera a break every now and then, and it should not be a problem at all. If you are serious about video, I don’t think you’d want the X-E4 as your primary cinema camera, but I believe that it would make a solid second body.

With product reviews, people often look for recommendations. Should I upgrade from the X-E3? Should I choose the X-T30 or X-S10 instead of the X-E4? What should I buy? I can’t tell you what decisions you should make, but, for me, I really like the X-E4 as an interchangeable-lens companion to the X100V for travel. That’s where this camera makes the most sense to me, but you’ll have to decide for yourself if it makes sense for you and how you might want to use it.

For travel photography, I’m trying to go smaller, lighter, and simpler, and a key component to that is the Fujifilm X-E4. I really appreciate the redesign. It’s not perfect—no camera is—but it’s pretty darn close to perfect for what I want it use it for. The X-E4, along with a handful of compact lenses, such as the new 27mm f/2.8 that came with it, fits nicely into a small camera bag, right next to the X100V. The X-E4 really is the little camera that can, and I couldn’t be happier with my purchase.

This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.

Fujifilm X-E4 Black    Amazon   B&H
Fujifilm X-E4 Silver   Amazon   B&H
Fujifilm X-E4 Black + 27mm f/2.8    Amazon   B&H
Fujifilm X-E4 Silver + 27mm f/2.8   Amazon   B&H

I captured the photographs below using my Fujifilm X-E4 on a recent trip to Arizona:

Sitting Above Horseshoe Bend – Glen Canyon Nat. Rec. Area, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Pergear 10mm
Three Palms – Sun City West, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
That Way – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
SS At 35th – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 35mm
Old Cars & Tires – Kamas, UT – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
Trash Cart – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
American Motorcycle – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 18mm
Spring Seeding – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Pentax-110 50mm
Lemon Tree – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 35mm
Blossoming Red – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
Dark Blossoms – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & 7artisans 50mm
Hanging Light Bulb – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 35mm
Roundabout – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 18mm
Coffee – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 18mm
Two Thirty – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T4 & Fujinon 27mm

See also: My Fujifilm Gear Page

Help Fuji X Weekly

Nobody pays me to write the content found on fujixweekly.com. There’s a real cost to operating and maintaining this site, not to mention all the time that I pour into it. If you appreciated this article, please consider making a one-time gift contribution. Thank you!

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Lens Review: 7artisans 50mm F/1.8

I picked up a used 7artisans 50mm f/1.8 lens for $60. The lens retail for $89, which is really cheap, but I wasn’t sure if this lens would be a good fit for what I want it for, so I went the used route instead. If it turned out to be a dud I wouldn’t be out all that much money. I’m happy that I paid less for it, because I don’t think I’m going to keep it for very long; however, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good lens.

The 7artisans 50mm f/1.8 is an all-manual prime lens that’s 75mm full-frame equivalent on Fujifilm X cameras, which makes it a short telephoto option. It’s the smallest 50mm lens for Fujifilm that doesn’t require an adapter, and that’s why I chose it. It seems to have good build quality—made mostly of metal—with a click-less aperture ring (good for video, but otherwise not my favorite design) and a smooth focus ring. It has 12 rounded blades, producing nice bokeh and sunstars.

The lens is a little soft at f/1.8 and f/2, but improves significantly when stopped down, and is overall pretty sharp. There’s some minor vignetting at all apertures, but nothing significant, and it’s barely noticeable by f/8. Lens flare is well controlled. I didn’t notice any chromatic aberrations. There’s not much distortion, so straight lines stay straight. The 7artisans 50mm f/1.8 is an inexpensive short-telephoto prime lens that’s pretty decent. So why am I planning to sell it?

There’s not much rotation in the focus ring from about 25 feet to infinity, meaning tiny turns of the ring move the focus point large distances. The lens will actually focus slightly beyond infinity, so focussing on further-away objects is tricky. I had more misses than hits when photographing distant subjects. This one flaw ruins the lens for me, or at least makes it less useful and enjoyable than I had hoped it would be. Otherwise, the lens is good. If you plan to photograph things that are closer than 25 feet away, the 7artisans 50mm f/1.8 is worth considering; however, for objects further away than 25 feet, the lens is still usable, but it can be a frustrating experience.

This review contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated a small amount if you make a purchase using my links.
Amazon

Below are camera-made JPEGs that I captured using the 7artisans 50mm f/1.8 lens attached to my Fujifilm X-T30

Monochrome Home – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 7artisans 50mm f/1.8
Cold Metal Bench – Weber Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 7artisans 50mm f/1.8
Hair Stripes – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 7artisans 50mm f/1.8
Jo in a Yellow Beanie – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 7artisans 50mm f/1.8
Sunlight Through The Barren Trees – Weber Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 7artisans 50mm f/1.8
Outcropping – Weber Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 7artisans 50mm f/1.8
Winter Picnic – Weber Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 7artisans 50mm f/1.8
Dangerous Place – Weber Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 7artisans 50mm f/1.8
Fountain Show Shrub – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 7artisans 50mm f/1.8
Vibrant Colors Behind Bush – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 7artisans 50mm f/1.8

See also: My Gear Page

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Help Fuji X Weekly

Nobody pays me to write the content found on fujixweekly.com. There’s a real cost to operating and maintaining this site, not to mention all the time that I pour into it. If you appreciated this article, please consider making a one-time gift contribution. Thank you!

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Fujifilm GFX-50S + Kodak Vision3 250D

In the video above I photographed the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve using a Fujifilm GFX-50S programmed with the Kodak Vision3 250D film simulation recipe. Take a look!

Sometimes film simulation recipes can be used with sensors that they weren’t intended for, but the results can still be good. For example, X-Trans I & II recipes can be used with Bayer sensor cameras, like the X-T200; while the results won’t be identical, you might appreciate the aesthetic anyway. I’ve used Bayer recipes an my X-T1, which is X-Trans II, with good results. The recipe that I used in the video is intended for the X-T3 and X-T30 cameras, but it worked well on the GFX-50S.

Review: Fujifilm GFX-50S + Fujinon GF 23mm F/4

Fujifilm recently sent me a GFX-50S and Fujinon 23mm f/4 lens to borrow for a few weeks. I’ve been wanting to try GFX ever since it came out, but it’s expensive and well outside of my budget, so I never had the chance. Now, thanks to Fujifilm North America, I was able to give the GFX-50S a try—a dream come true! It was very difficult to mail the camera and lens back because I really wanted to keep it.

The Fujifilm GFX-50S is not a new camera. In fact, it’s four-years-old now. The model sent to me has been circulated to many other photographers and countless reviewers, and you’ve likely seen this exact camera before. So much has already been said about it. I want this review to be different than all the others, which will be a difficult accomplishment; I won’t go into all the technical details that are easily found online. Also, with the release of the GFX100S, I believe that the GFX-50S will likely be discontinued soon.

My perspective for this review is that I’m a JPEG-shooter who uses Fujifilm’s APS-C X-series cameras, something regular readers of this blog are well aware of. Shooting JPEGs on GFX might seem strange, but you might be surprised by the number of people who are doing just that. I’m quite happy by the image quality produced by Fujifilm’s smaller sensors, but I’ve been fascinated by Fujifilm’s medium-format line since this camera was announced. I was curious what the differences are between Fujifilm X and GFX, and whether the advantages are worth the significantly steeper sticker price that comes with the larger sensor.

In this review I want to cover are some myths regarding medium-format photography. There are some things circulating around the internet that are not true or are only partially true, so I think it’s important to discuss these and set the record straight.

Myth #1: You get a much more shallow depth-of-field with medium-format than APS-C. There actually is some truth to this myth, but it’s not completely correct. It’s a mathematical calculation related to crop factor, but essentially, all things being, um, equivalently equal, medium-format will have a more shallow depth-of-field than APS-C with the same aperture. But things aren’t always equal. Lets look at a couple examples. The GF 80mm f/1.7, which is full-frame equivalent to 63mm, cannot produce quite as small of a depth-of-field as the XF 50mm f/1, which is full-frame equivalent to 75mm; but if you compare that same GF 80mm lens to the XF 35mm f/1.4, which is full-frame equivalent to 52mm, the GF lens is capable of a smaller depth-of-field. So, yes, it is possible to achieve a more shallow depth-of-field with GFX, and, yes, it is possible to achieve a more shallow depth-of-field with X-Trans, just depending on the lenses being used; however, most GF lenses have a maximum aperture of f/2.8, f/3.5 or f/4, so if you’re trying to take advantage of the potential shallow depth-of-field advantage of medium-format, your lens choices are the GF 80mm f/1.7 or the GF 110mm f/2. I think, otherwise, the advantage disappears because there are number of XF lenses that have larger maximum apertures than their GFX counterparts, and can produce a similar or even sometimes smaller depth-of-field.

Myth #2: GFX is better for low-light photography. There definitely is a clear high-ISO advantage that the GFX-50S has over X-Trans. It’s at least one stop, probably more. But, as was discussed in Myth #1, GF lenses often have smaller maximum apertures than XF lenses, which means that you’re often going to be using higher ISOs with GFX cameras than X-Trans cameras in the same situation. In other words, it’s a good thing that high-ISO is better, because you’re going to need it.

Myth #3: The resolution advantage of GFX over X-Trans is massive. I’ve never used either of the 100MP cameras; however, the 50MP sensor on the GFX-50S is fantastic—full of fine, crisp details—and is basically double the resolution of X-Trans III and IV. It’s a pixel-peeper’s dream! But is there a practical advantage to all that resolution? I printed some pictures captured with the GFX-50S and some identical pictures captured with an X-T30 to see what differences there might be. What I discovered is that you need to print 24” x 36” to really notice, and even then it’s not a night-and-day difference, and without closely comparing the prints side-by-side it’s not obvious, as the X-T30 images held up pretty well. If you aren’t printing at least that big, or cropping deeply, the resolution advantage is essentially meaningless. Those who need 50MP know who they are, so if you’re not sure, it most likely means that you don’t.

This isn’t a myth, but worth noting nonetheless: the GFX-50S isn’t quick. There’s a pause, similar to using Clarity on newer X-Trans IV cameras, after capturing an exposure. It takes a moment for the camera to write an image to the card. The GFX-50S is a camera to take your time with. Despite the pause similar to using Clarity, the JPEG options on this camera are more similar to the X-T3 and X-T30, except that it does have the Classic Negative film simulation.

Something that I did really appreciate about the GFX-50S is the dynamic range. Highlights don’t look much different than X-Trans, but there’s a noticeable difference in the shadows. Shadows in X-Trans JPEGs are a little more like slide film, while shadows in GFX-50S JPEGs are a little more like print film. I very much enjoyed how the GFX camera renders pictures, even though it’s only subtly different than X-Trans.

I did mention that this was a review of both the GFX-50S camera and the GF 23mm F/4 R LM WR lens. This lens is ultra-wide, with a full-frame equivalent focal-length of 18mm. There’s some distortion, so don’t expect straight lines to be straight, especially toward the edges of the frame. It’s super sharp, as you’d expect it to be, and a great option for dramatic landscapes. I don’t imagine that this would be very many people’s choice for a first lens, but it definitely would be an excellent addition to the landscape photographer’s bag.

The GFX-50S is an excellent camera that I would love to own. The body retails for $5,500, and the 23mm lens retails for $2,600, bringing the total for this kit to $8,100, which is a lot. That’s well outside of my budget. If I often made large prints and my income came from those prints, this would likely be money well spent. Otherwise, my opinion is that the GFX-50S is overkill for most people and most purposes. Those who would benefit from this camera already know who they are. If I had thousands of dollars in my pocket to spend on gear and affording the GFX-50S was no problem, I still wouldn’t buy it, because I’d rather use that money on experiences than cameras. But if I did own the GFX-50S, I’d be very happy with it, because the images that it produces are so nice. I’m grateful that Fujifilm loaned me the camera and lens, and, while it was difficult to send back because I enjoyed it so much, it did make me appreciate even more just how good X-Trans cameras are. GFX is capable of better image quality, no doubt, but Fujifilm X is still quite excellent—almost as good as the GFX-50S—which is nothing short of amazing.

This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.

Fujifilm GFX-50S  Amazon  B&H
Fujinon GF 23mm f/4  Amazon  B&H

Example photographs, captured with the Fujifilm GFX-50S and Fujinon GF 23mm F/4 R LM WR lens:

Lake Ripples – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm GFX-50S & Fujinon 23mm
Uncertain Road – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm GFX-50S & Fujinon 23mm
The Causeway Road – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm GFX-50S & Fujinon 23mm
Tiny Niagara – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm GFX-50S & Fujinon 23mm
Reeds & Birds – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm GFX-50S & Fujinon 23mm
Brown Among Green – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm GFX-50S & Fujinon 23mm
January Forest – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm GFX-50S & Fujinon 23mm
Forest Creek – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm GFX-50S & Fujinon 23mm
Creekside Trail – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm GFX-50S & Fujinon 23mm
Backlit – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm GFX-50S & Fujinon 23mm
Flasher – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm GFX-50S & Fujinon 23mm
Tunnel Silhouette – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm GFX-50S & Fujinon 23mm
Frozen Marsh Water – Fujifilm GFX-50S & Fujinon 23mm
Ice Tracks in the Reeds – Layton, UT – Fujifilm GFX-50S & Fujinon 23mm
Marsh Ice Tracks – Layton, UT – Fujifilm GFX-50S & Fujinon 23mm
Lookout Tower – Layton, UT – Fujifilm GFX-50S & Fujinon 23mm
Marsh Boardwalk – Layton, UT – Fujifilm GFX-50S & Fujinon 23mm
Reeds & Grass – Layton, UT – Fujifilm GFX-50S & Fujinon 23mm
Winter Marsh – Layton, UT – Fujifilm GFX-50S & Fujinon 23mm
Twisted – Layton, UT – Fujifilm GFX-50S & Fujinon 23mm
Sky Railing – Layton, UT – Fujifilm GFX-50S & Fujinon 23mm
Big Sky Over Yellow House – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm GFX-50S & Fujinon 23mm

See also: GFX Film Simulation Recipes

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Help Fuji X Weekly

Nobody pays me to write the content found on fujixweekly.com. There’s a real cost to operating and maintaining this site, not to mention all the time that I pour into it. If you appreciated this article, please consider making a one-time gift contribution. Thank you!

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Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App

The Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App is now available for both Android and iOS!

The Fuji X Weekly app is a mobile film simulation recipe library containing over 100 recipes for Fujifilm cameras! The film simulation recipes in the app are the same ones that you know and love from this website, but now take them with you on the go, and have them at your fingertips wherever you are!

The Fuji X Weekly app is free! No annoying ads. Get access to 100+ film simulation recipes, which can be sorted alphabetically or chronologically. Each recipe contains an assortment of sample images, as well as a list of compatible cameras. Within each recipe there’s a place where you can keep notes, a useful feature for many of you, no doubt. The app will work offline, so if you don’t have internet access but need to find a certain recipe, no problem! The Fuji X Weekly app is a handy tool for Fujifilm photographers, an essential app to accompany your X-series camera. 

This app does have some advanced features that can be unlocked by becoming a Fuji X Weekly Patron! These advanced features include filtering by sensor or camera, as well as by film simulation or color/B&W, and the ability to favorite recipes for quick access. The best app experience is reserved for Patrons!

Fuji X Weekly Patrons also get early access to some new film simulation recipes. There are currently 9 brand-new film simulation recipes that only Patrons can view. These recipes will eventually be published on Fuji X Weekly—free to everyone—but right now they’re available only to Patrons. These recipes currently are: Kodak Portra 400 v2 (for X-T30 and X-T3), CineStill 800T (for X-Trans II), Fujicolor Negative (for X100V, X-Pro3, X-T4, X-S10 and X-E4), LomoChrome Metropolis (for X-T4, X-S10 and X-E4), Porto 200 (for X-Trans III + X-T3 and X-T30), Kodak Portra 400 Warm (for X100V, X-Pro3, X-T4, X-S10 and X-E4), Provia (for X-Trans I), Vintage Negative (for X100V, X-Pro3, X-T4, X-S10 and X-E4), and Fujicolor NPH (for X100V, X-Pro3, X-T4, X-S10 and X-E4). As new early-access recipes are cycled into the app for Patrons, the others will be made available on this website and on the app free to all, so no worries.

By becoming a Fuji X Weekly Patron, which is only $19.99 annually, you unlock the app’s full potential, you get early access to some new film simulation recipes, and you help support Fuji X Weekly! It’s a win-win!

The Fuji X Weekly App is Now Compatible With Android 9!

Just a quick update: the Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App for Android is now compatible with Android 9! Many of you who tried to download it but couldn’t (because it wasn’t available for your device) now can. Yea! We’re working on the possibility of making the app compatible with Android 8, but right now, if you have Android 9 or newer, you can download the app today. Google also made the app searchable in the Play Store, so you can simply search Fuji X Weekly, or follow the direct link.

Lens Review: Fujinon XF 18mm f/2 R

The Fujinon XF 18mm f/2 R lens is the strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This is a lens that I want to love because of its small size and very useful focal-length, but I don’t love it because its way overpriced and has a disappointing focus system. I’m getting a little ahead of myself, though; I have plenty that I want to discuss about the Fujinon 18mm f/2 before giving my conclusion.

This is one of two “pancake” lenses offered by Fujifilm; the other is the 27mm f/2.8. Whereas the 27mm is a true pancake, the 18mm f/2 is only sort-of one, as it’s a little on the large size for this category. Think of it more of a Japanese pancake than an American flapjack, or maybe it’s a short stack. The 18mm f/2 is compact glass for when you want a little less girth and weight, but it’s not quite as small as one might hope for.

In this lens are eight elements in seven groups with seven semi-rounded blades. You won’t get great sunstars. Bokeh is pretty good, although not something you’ll experience much because it’s a wide-angle lens. The 18mm focal-length is full-frame equivalent to 27mm. The minimum focus distance is about seven inches, which is pretty good. The maximum aperture is f/2 and the minimum is f/16, with 1/3-stop intermediate clicks. The lens accepts 52mm threaded filters.

The Fujinon 18mm f/2 lens is sharp in the center at all apertures. It’s slightly soft on the edges at all apertures, but more so when wide-open, so it’s best to stop down to at least f/2.8 or f/4 if you can. I didn’t notice any vignetting. There’s not much distortion, and I didn’t notice any chromatic aberrations; I wonder if it’s because the camera is correcting this—as you probably know, I shoot JPEGs, and I didn’t inspect the RAW files. Image quality from this lens is clearly Fujinon, and I’m quite happy with how it renders pictures.

This is one of Fujifilm’s oldest X-series lenses, and it shows. It’s in desperate need of a refresh. Autofocus is the slowest I’ve experienced in a Fujinon model, outside of macro lenses that have a long range to cycle through. It’s also the loudest. I found manual-focus, which is focus-by-wire, to be somewhat unpleasant. The focus system on this lens is disappointing, but ultimately it is sufficient for most situations, so you just have to put up with it. Hopefully at some point Fujifilm makes a new version with a better focus motor.

The 18mm f/2 is quite prone to lens flare, which you might love or hate depending on how you feel about it. Fujifilm does provide a lens hood that’s highly effective, but it adds significant length, which defeats the point of it being a pancake lens—with the hood it makes this lens the same size as the 16mm f2.8. I’m personally okay with the flare, so I don’t use the hood.

Fujinon 18mm f/2 flare example.
Fujinon 18mm f/2 flare example.

The Fujinon XF 18mm f/2 R lens isn’t weather-sealed (which only matters if your camera is), it doesn’t have any image stabilization (which isn’t a big deal on a wide-angle lens), and it’s slow and loud compared to other Fujinon lenses. Yet it retails for $600! The only thing special about the 18mm f/2 is that it’s small and lightweight, which is why I bought it and why I plan to keep it, but I wouldn’t pay $600 for it.

If you can find one for a good price, it might be worth owning. Otherwise, there are better options to consider, including the 14mm f/2.8, 16mm f/2.8, 16mm f/1.4, 8-16mm f/2.8, 10-24mm f/4, 16-55mm f/2.8, 18-55mm f/2.8-f/4, 16-80mm f/4, and 18-135mm f/3.5-f/5.6. Heck, the 15-45mm f/3.5-f/5.6 and 16-50mm f/3.5-f/5.6 might even be better options! Pretty much any Fujinon lens that covers this or a similar focal length will have some advantages over the 18mm f/2. The one and only reason to buy the Fujinon 18mm f/2 lens is if you need a small pancake-like wide-angle lens to attach to your camera. If you need that, this lens is your best bet because it’s your only option.

Ah, but the pictures captured through this lens are quite nice, even if the experience of capturing them is less than ideal. That’s why I said this is the strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. You have to know this going into it, or you’ll likely be disappointed. If you can put up with the quirks and can get it for a good price, you’ll find glass capable of capturing beautiful images, and that’s what matters most. I don’t love the lens, but I do like it and plan to use it frequently.

This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.

Fujinon XF 18mm f/2 R Amazon B&H

Example photographs captured with the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2 R lens on a Fujifilm X-T30:

Shallow Lake – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 18mm f/2
Calm Canal – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 18mm f/2
Farmington Bay Reeds – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 18mm f/2
Sky Reflections in the Water – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 18mm f/2
International Fence – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 18mm f/2
Red Steel Pile – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 18mm f/2
Dirty Shore & Reflections – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 18mm f/2
Algae & Broken Reeds – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 18mm f/2
Puddle in the Path – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 18mm f/2
Still Water Reeds – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 18mm f/2
Seagull Over Reeds – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 18mm f/2
Wetlands Under Pastel Sky – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 18mm f/2
Structure Abstract – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 18mm f/2
Bucket in a Basket – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 18mm f/2
Sidewalk Intersection – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 18mm f/2
Three Seagulls – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 18mm f/2
Tree & Reflection – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 18mm f/2
Dramatic Sky Over Shallow Lake – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 18mm f/2

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Update: Fuji X Weekly Android App Compatibility

The Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App for Android was released yesterday, and I’ve been overwhelmed by the feedback (this is not a complaint). The number one message I’ve received is: why is my device not compatible? The Fuji X Weekly app requires Android 10 or newer, so if your operating system is Android 9 or older it won’t work; however, compatibility with Android 9 (a.k.a. Android Pie) is coming soon, just as soon as Google approves it, hopefully before the end of the week.

A couple of months ago I conducted a survey in an attempt to find out what Android operating system most of you are using. The vast majority answered either Android 10 or Android 11. As it turns out, the survey missed a large group of people. Thankfully, none of the app’s features require Android 10, and Android 9 has sufficient security, so it wasn’t too difficult to create an update to make the app compatible with the Android 9 operating system. I’ll let you know just as soon as Google approves it; if you have Android 9 you’ll be able to get the app soon.

Most Android phones released in the past two years are capable of running on Android 10, so if your phone isn’t old, yet the Google Play store states that your device isn’t compatible, updating the software might remedy the problem. Most Android devices released in the past four years (and some that are older than that) are capable of running on Android 9, so once the app update is released, most people should be able to download the Fuji X Weekly app. Just make sure the software on your device is up-to-date.

I want to apologize for the frustration some of you have experienced because the app isn’t compatible with your device. Hopefully the issue will be resolved quickly.

***Update***
The Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App is now compatible with Android 9 (a.k.a. Android Pie)!

It’s Here! Introducing the Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App for Android

The Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App is a mobile film simulation recipe library containing over 100 recipes for Fujifilm cameras! The film simulation recipes in the app are the same ones that you know and love from this website, but now take them with you on the go, and have them at your fingertips wherever you are!

The Fuji X Weekly app is free! No annoying ads. Get access to 100+ film simulation recipes, which can be sorted alphabetically or chronologically. Each recipe contains an assortment of sample images, as well as a list of compatible cameras. Within each recipe there’s a place where you can keep notes, a useful feature for many of you, no doubt. The app will work offline, so if you don’t have internet access but need to find a certain recipe, no problem! The Fuji X Weekly app is a handy tool for Fujifilm photographers, an essential app to accompany your X-series camera. 

This app does have some advanced features that can be unlocked by becoming a Fuji X Weekly Patron! These advanced features include filtering by sensor or camera, as well as by film simulation or color/B&W, and the ability to favorite recipes for quick access. The best app experience is reserved for Patrons!

Fuji X Weekly Patrons also get early access to some new film simulation recipes. There are 9 brand-new film simulation recipes that only Patrons can view. These recipes will eventually be published on Fuji X Weekly—free to everyone—but right now they’re available only to Patrons. As new early-access recipes are cycled into the app for Patrons, the others will be made available on this website and on the app free to all, so no worries.

By becoming a Fuji X Weekly Patron, which is only $19.99 annually, you unlock the app’s full potential, you get early access to some new film simulation recipes, and you help support Fuji X Weekly! It’s a win-win!

The Fuji X Weekly app is now available in the Google App Store. Download it to your mobile Android device today!

***Update 3/4/2021***
The Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App is now compatible with Android 9 (a.k.a. Android Pie)!