I’ve done several of these “Why I Love The Fujinon…” articles—including the 90mm f/2, the 35mm f/2, the 27mm f/2.8—but I’ve been putting this one off. If you’d read my review of the Fujinon 18mm f/2, you might already know that I have a love/hate relationship with it. I called it “the strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” because it is simultaneously wonderful and disappointing—wonderful image quality, disappointing performance. I don’t want to rehash what I already stated in the review, so I’ll approach this a different way.
For a long time I shot 35mm film. I had a Canon AE-1 camera and a 50mm f/1.8 lens, and that’s it—one camera and one lens. After awhile, though, I began to collect gear. I acquired more cameras and more lenses. One lens was a Canon 24mm f/2.8. Coming from 50mm, the 24mm focal-length lens seemed to be extremely wide-angle to me. I found it challenging to use, but also highly rewarding, because the focal-length can make a scene much more dramatic. Below is a picture from the first roll of film where I used the 24mm focal length. For Fujifilm cameras, 16mm is full-frame-equivalent to 24mm, not 18mm (which is 27mm full-frame-equivalent), but the difference between 16mm and 18mm isn’t huge. I actually like 18mm more because it is a bit less extreme yet still very dramatic.
The 18mm focal-length is very useful for landscape or cityscape photography. It wouldn’t be my first choice for portrait photography, but it is great for when you want to exaggerate the space in the frame. It can turn a rather ordinary scene into something more extraordinary through embellishment. I think everyone should own a lens with this or a similar focal-length, and challenge themselves to use it—and it alone—on occasion, just for practice.
The 18mm f/2 is Fujifilm’s second smallest lens, so it is especially great for travel or walk-around photography. It’s a lens that you can leave on the camera all day, or have as a second lens, perhaps kept in a jacket pocket. The size and weight advantage of this near-pancake lens cannot be understated!
Ultimately, though, it comes down to the pictures, and it’s easy to love how the Fujinon 18mm f/2 lens renders images. When the pictures look as good as they do, it’s not hard to ignore the flaws (such as a slow and loud focus system). For this reason, the Fujinon 18mm f/2 lens is an essential tool in my kit. Yes, I do have a love/hate relationship with this little lens, but I lean much more closely towards the love side.
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Example photographs captured with the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2 R lens: