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.
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.
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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:
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Always felt like this lens was pretty under rated. Of course it has some quirks as you mentioned, but it’s a fun discrete little lens to shoot with. I find it especially strong stopping way down at f11ish and zone focus for street photos. You pretty much don’t even need to touch the focus at all since it has such a large range at this focal length.
Yeah, I found zone focus to be a good method for this lens. It definitely makes it quieter!
In street photography, it can be used not only at high apertures (f11: hyperfocal 1.45m) but also around f5.6 (hyperfocal: 2.88m), or when it is really necessary, even f4 (hyperfocal: 4.07). you just have to switch from “zone focus” to “back button focus” to adjust the range of sharpness for close subjects while keeping a background that is still sharp enough.
And, as Ritchie humorously points out, this solves the little problem of noise, which is very low anyway.
Nothing is as quick as manual pre-focus, either. Literally faster than the fastest autofocus system.
The trick is to use the back button focus to prefocus.
I’m a half-press kind of guy myself, but that’s just old habits.
This was one of the first lenses I bought when the XPro1 came out. I sold it because of some of its shortcomings but a couple of years ago I bought it back because I really missed having the 27 mm perspective. 23 was not wide enough and 16 was too wide. I use this all the time now even for my wedding shoots. It’s a great storytelling lens and I don’t mind the shortcomings especially on some of the later model Fujis that I have. I really love the images with this lens.
The images are great, no doubt! I look forward to using it more. Thanks for the comment!
This is more of a request than a comment. I recently found your Kodak Vision3 250D film recipe, and I thought it was way cool! But… it is only for the X-T30. As a hybrid shooter,(and owner of an X-S10) I think it would be very cool to have this as a recipe for both stills and SOOC cinematic video. What would you think about giving this recipe a refresh?
I also was thinking about another potential film recipe… a film simulation based on super 16mm film stock! That would be a very versatile recipe for both stills and cinematography!
By the way, this is my first comment and I wanted to let you know that I love this site! I have been following since the beginning of December and have loved every bit of it.
You can use the recipe on your X-S10, but you’ll have to decide if Grain should be Small or Large. Set Color Chrome FX Blue to Off, and consider setting Clarity to -2 (or 0). You can use it for video, too, but some things (like Color Chrome Effect) aren’t available in video, and the Eterna film simulation looks slightly different for stills vs. video (which is due to Fujifilm’s programming). But give it a try anyway.
I’ll look into the Super 16mm suggestion, sounds interesting.
I appreciate the comment!
Thanks so much Ritchie! : )
Agree with you regarding the price for this lens new, too high. I got mine used and I’m very happy with it. I prefer it to the 16 and the 23, and with Phase Detect AF it’s fast enough. It does hunt more with Contrast Detect AF, but it’s not so much worse than the others.
I can’t understand why Fujifilm make 27mm mark II and not this one. It was really used for reportage and other…
I hope they do. It’s long overdue. Keep the glass the same, just replace the motor with what they just put into the new 27mm.
This was the second lens I got for my X-Pro1 and is the second most used lens in my collection. I also have the 14mm, 27mm, 35mm, and 60mm. I use it on the X-Pro2 now and love the results. Most of my work is a hybrid of travel and street shooting. I learned to get around the quirks of this lens years ago and some of my favorite shots have come from it. I can’t imagine traveling without it.
I just got back from a trip. I took six lenses, and this ended up being my second-most-used. I appreciate the comment!
Thank you for your job
I hope a new XF18 2.8 and a new XF23 2.8 as good as the new XF27 II, because 27mm (FF40mm) is not enough standard for me
Wait en see 😉
Then i could buy a X-E4
Yes it’s amazing how versatile this lens is I bought it when I originally purchased my XPro 1 And I continue to use it. It’s a great storytelling lens for weddings and events.
I haven’t yet tried it for weddings or events, but I believe you are right, it would be great for that. Thank you for the comment!
Thanks for the input!
I love this lens. It was the first Fuji lens I bought in 2014. I now have 8, if I needed to sell them this one would probably be the last one I sold. Time and again when I get back from a trip I find most of my favourite images come from this lens. I think there are two reasons, the character of the pictures, and the fact that when I don’t feel like carrying camera gear I put this lens on and leave the rest behind. So this lens gets used more then all the rest of my lenses combined. The quirks don’t bother me one bit.
The 27mm lens kind of fills that role in my camera bag right now. I think I simply prefer that focal length. But I’m always happy with the results when I use the 18mm, the image quality is very nice. I appreciate the comment!
Funny, I have most of the 1.4/1.2 primes, the 2.8 zooms but this lens is the one I end up using the most, I really love the quality of the images, they have a kind of retro character that I really enjoy. But you’re right, the AF experience is deeply unpleasant! If they could remake it exactly the same but with modern AF that would be my dream lens.
Yeah, Fujifilm should definitely update this lens with an improved AF motor… quieter and quicker. It would be truly great if they did. Thank you for your input!
Every lens has limitations. The defining factor is, can you live with these in your particular style of photography?? In my case, yes, I can. The 18/2.0 pretty much lives on my XE2 which I keep mostly set on B&W/red filter. The lens stays on f/8 and the cameras is set at ISO 400, which (here in Australia where sunlight is a real blast) makes for some fairly speedy image shooting.
For all this, I easily make A4 prints from almost any image I shoot. Which I don’t – make the prints – mostly due to cost, environmental factors (wasting all that paper and ink), and also who the heck wants a print of every shot they take?? Not me. I don’t own a row of warehouses to store them. My two bedroom apartment is chock-full of my lifetime’s gatherings as it is – more paper detritus will only make things worse, and who wants to see all those prints anyway?? Not me.
I also have the legendary (well, I think so) 14/2.8, the 18-55, and the 23/1.4,w which I fell in love with when I found a used one in my favorite camera shop in Melbourne and played with it, so I bought it. But the 18 does it all for me. It satisfied my viewpoint and gives me the results I want from it. Which suits me. As it should suit you, when all is said and done.
We should not forget that perfection is not everything – in fact from a common-sense view, it isn’t anything. And there is much to be said for not burdening others with our exaggerated explanations of why we seek an absolute ideal in every shot we take.
From Dann in Melbourne, Australia
I really like the way this lens renders pictures. There’s great quality and character. The glass is great. I don’t use it very often, though, because of the focus performance. I would love for Fujifilm to make a new version with identical optics but improved focus system.