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Dramatic photographs are statement pieces that grab the viewer’s attention. There are several techniques that you could employ to capture dramatic pictures, including light, subject matter, and composition/point-of-view. In this article I will discuss a particular piece of gear that often delivers dramatic results: the ultra-wide lens.
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We’re almost done with the first two months of 2023! Time is just flying by—I wish it would slow down a little. Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to look at the lenses that I’m using the most so far this year.
The number-one most used lens is the one permanently attached to my Fujifilm X100V. So far, I’ve been picking up that model more this year than last. I’ve had the X100V for almost three years now, and it remains my favorite camera. For the sake of this article, though, I will only be discussing interchangeable lenses and not fixed, so the one on the X100V doesn’t count.
The methodology of this Top 5 list is simple: I reviewed my pictures captured in 2023, and noted which lenses were used. After tallying the results, I made this list. In other words, this list is simply my most-used lenses, which doesn’t necessarily mean best or favorite, although it certainly indirectly speaks something to that effect—if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t use it so much, right? With that said, here are my Top 5 lenses so far in 2023!
The Fujinon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 is my most expensive lens, and one of my least used. It comes in handy every once in awhile; however, it’s big and heavy, and not particularly convenient for carrying around, so it often stays at home unused. I’ve made a couple half-hearted attempts to sell it, but (for now) I still own it. I used it a couple of times in January, but on both occasions I switched it out for another lens after only a short while.
Surprising to me, the 100-400mm lens was used more than any of my vintage lenses. I love shooting with old manual lenses, but so far this year I haven’t done much of that; instead, the 100-400mm—despite limited use—was attached to my camera more, and snuck into number five on this list.
#4: Fujinon 18-55mm F/2.8-4
The Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens came bundled with my first Fujifilm camera, the X-E1. I used the lens for a few months and then sold it, because I’ve always been a prime lens photographer, and not a zoom. This last November I purchased a Fujifilm X-T5 bundled with the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens, and I used this lens a lot for the first five or six weeks, but have since slowed down considerably, choosing prime lenses much more often instead of the zoom. My wife has found that she likes it for video, so she borrows it sometimes.
As far as zooms go, the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 is pretty darn good. I like the lens. I find myself using it at certain focal lengths—18mm, 23mm, 35mm, 55mm—and it’s amazing that one compact zoom can do the work of four primes. But I still prefer primes, so this lens only made it to number four, and a pretty good distance behind the next.
#3: Fujinon 35mm F/2
Before I purchased the Fujinon 27mm f/2.8, the Fujinon 35mm f/2 was my favorite and most used lens. It was almost always attached to my camera. But, after the arrival of the 27mm pancake, it got put on the shelf. Then my wife, Amanda, discovered that she really likes the 27mm lens, too, so now we share it. Whenever Amanda is using the 27mm, I’m often using the Fujinon 35mm f/2. Yes, it might be a consolation prize, but it is still a fantastic lens that I like using.
Let me point out something about the Fujinon 35mm f/2 lens that I have noticed: whenever I use it, I seem to have a pretty strong hit rate. I really like the pictures I capture with it. For that reason, there have been a couple of times where the 27mm pancake was available, but I chose the 35mm instead.
I have used the Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 pancake lens just barely more often than 35mm f/2 so far this year. I’ve often said that the 27mm f/2.8 is my favorite lens, and it was by far my most used lens in 2022 (even more than the one permanently attached to my X100V). I love the small size, focal length, and image quality. When I purchased this lens, I had no idea that I’d like it so much.
Through the first two months, the Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 not only slipped to number two, but it almost fell one more spot. I do suspect that I’ll continue to use it often, and it is still one of my favorite lenses, but I’m not sure I can confidently state that it is my absolute favorite lens like I have previously. I still love it, though.
#1: Fujinon 90mm F/2
When I reviewed my pictures from 2022, I noticed that, despite using the Fujinon 90mm f/2 less than some other lenses, many of my favorite pictures were captured through its glass. So, in 2023, I’m trying to use it more. I find the focal length challenging sometimes, but when it does work out, the results are stunning. The 90mm lens is my wife’s other favorite lens, so I share it with her, and it’s not always available when I want to use it.
I hope when I look back at the end of the year, the Fujinon 90mm f/2 will continue to be at the top of this list. The pictures that I capture with it are some of my favorites, so it only makes sense to use it as often as I can.
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
The Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR is my favorite lens for Fujifilm cameras. The problem is that it’s also my wife’s favorite lens, and between the two of us we only have one copy. When she’s using it, I typically go with the Fujinon 35mm f/2 instead, which is a really good lens, too, but I like the 27mm just a bit better. The other problem is that the 35mm lens, while small, is bigger than my 27mm pancake, and it doesn’t fit into my travel camera bag (I have it set up where my Fujifilm X100V and Fujifilm X-E4 with the 27mm fit really nicely into a little camera bag—the 35mm lens is just a tad too big). When TTArtisan recently announced their inexpensive 27mm f/2.8 autofocus pancake lens, I thought maybe this could be a good solution to my problem.
The TTArtisan 27mm f/2.8 feels well built. There’s mostly metal in the construction, and at 0.2 pounds, it’s definitely lightweight. It has an aperture ring, with f-stops from f/2.8 to f/16, and third-stop clicks in-between. It has 6 elements in 5 groups, and 7 diaphragm blades. 27mm is full-frame equivalent to 40.5mm, and is pretty close to what they eyes see. The minimum focus distance is about 13.5 inches. It accepts 39mm threaded filters—the lens came with a tiny hood that screws into the threads. The rear cap has a USB dock for firmware updates. Overall, the lens looks and feels pretty good.
I really like the manual focus ring. It has the right amount of give, and the amount of focus change per turn is great. I like this lens better as manual-focus than autofocus. Why? Autofocus is loud and slow. Fujifilm’s 27mm isn’t their quickest or quietest, but the TTArtisan is noticeably noisier and slower (I tried it on an X-T5 and X-E4 with the same result on both). It reminds me a lot of Fujifilm’s 18mm f/2 pancake. I said of that lens, “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.” The TTArtisan’s autofocus performs very similarly. My wife has been around cameras and lenses nearly as much as I have—she shoots with a Fujifilm X-T4. A couple days ago I was playing around with the TTArtisan 27mm and she happened to be nearby, and she asked, “What’s that noise?” I answered, “This new lens, it’s trying to focus.” Her response was, “I’m sorry.” Maybe I just got a bum copy, or maybe they’re all that way—either way, it was a bit disappointing, but not completely unexpected for cheap gear.
The other aspect of the TTArtisan 27mm that’s similar to the Fujinon 18mm is size, as they’re pretty close to the same dimensions—the TTArtisan is just barely smaller. I said in my review of the 18mm, “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.” It’s definitely smaller than the 35mm f/2, though, and it passed the fit-test in my travel bag. So when my wife is using the Fujinon 27mm, I can choose to attach the TTArtisan 27mm or the Fujinon 18mm to my X-E4, and it will still fit alongside my X100V.
What about image quality? There’s some strong vignetting that never fully goes away—by f/8 it’s extraordinarily minimal, but at f/2.8 it’s very pronounced. You can use the vignetting creatively, or stop down… it’s not too bad at f/4, and definitely not a big deal by f/5.6. It’s pretty sharp in the center at all apertures, but a little soft in the corners wide-open. I think the lens is optically best at around f/8, but certainly acceptably good at all apertures—even f/2.8. Bokeh (which is the quality of the out-of-focus areas of an image and an overrated aspect of image quality) is alright—not bad, but not my favorite, either; can be slightly “swirly” at f/2.8 when close-focusing. I didn’t notice chromatic aberrations or anything like that, but it might be because the camera is fixing it automatically. There is some noticeable barrel distortion. Lens flare is mostly well controlled, and sometimes kind of interesting (I’ve yet to decide if I like it or not). Overall, image quality from the TTArtisans 27mm isn’t as good as the Fujinon 27mm, but still pretty good.
The TTArtisan 27mm f/2.8 is only $160, which is an extremely good price. If the Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 is out of your budget or you’re having a difficult time finding a copy, this is a pretty good alternative. If you can afford the Fujinon model, I recommend that instead because it’s better; however, the TTArtisan is pretty good yet very affordable. For those on a tight budget, I don’t think you’ll find a better pancake lens for your Fujifilm camera.
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
TTArtisan 27mm f/2.8 Autofocus Amazon
Example photos, captured with the TTArtisan 27mm f/2.8 lens, all straight-out-of-camera JPEGs:
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Fujifilm just announced a new lens: Fujinon 30mm f/2.8 Macro. This is a “standard” prime lens with a 45mm (equivalent) focal-length. It’s a macro, and its closest focus distance is about 4″ from the sensor, which is great. While the f/2.8 maximum aperture may not sound especially exciting, it’s important to know that impressive maximum apertures aren’t a big deal on macros. The 30mm f/2.8 macro has a linear motor and is weather-sealed. Overall it seems like a high quality Fujinon lens.
I love macro lenses because they’re often very sharp and quite versatile. The one downside is that there’s a lot of range to scroll through when focusing, and because of this they’re not quite as quick as non-macro lenses. In Fujifilm’s lineup, you have two other macro options: the 60mm f/2.4 and 80mm f/2.8. The 60mm is old, slow, and optically inferior, although still a good lens. The 80mm is excellent optically (one of the absolute best, actually), but is bulky and expensive. At $600, this new lens is not overly costly, yet seemingly quite capable and pretty compact. This new 30mm option will be an appealing choice for those interested in macro photography, or those wanting a good walk-around lens with extra versatility.
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
Orders will apparently ship on November 17.
In other (but related) news, AstrHori has released a 28mm f/13 Micro Probe lens that has 2x magnification! If you want to get really close, and do some crazy closeup pictures of bugs or flowers, this is a lens to strongly consider. I don’t think you’d put this unusual lens on your camera for street photography or portraits—you might poke someone’s eye out—but for true macro photography, this is one you’ll want to take a good look at. If you are a dedicated macro shooter, this is a lens to get excited for; however, with that said, I’ve never used it and cannot attest to the image quality—I don’t doubt that it’s decent, I just have no firsthand experience. If you only occasionally dabble in macro photography, then the Fujinon 30mm is probably a better choice for you. The good news for macro photographers is that you have two new options. Yea!
The AstrHori 28mm f/13 Micro Probe is available for $739 on Amazon.
I’ve told you before that the Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 is my favorite lens. I have the new version with the aperture ring and weather-sealing—the old version is optically identical (and the autofocus is identical), but it lacks an aperture ring and weather-sealing and costs just a little more for some reason. While the “Mark II” 27mm f/2.8 is the better option, it can be a little difficult to find. Fujifilm has had a difficult time getting the lens to stores, and stores sell out pretty quickly after they receive them. A number of you have stated your frustration trying to get your hands on one. There is a new alternative, though: the TTArtisan 27mm f/2.8 Autofocus.
I’ve shot before with a different TTArtisan lens—the 35mm f/1.4—on a Nikon Zfc, and was actually impressed by the image quality. It was no Fujinon or Zeiss or anything like that, but it was noticeably superior to the Nikkor 28mm lens that came with that camera. I suspect that this one will be similar: deliver decent image quality, have character, be solidly-built, and cost a lot less. In fact, the MSRP is only $160 (or $150 if you buy direct from Pergear), which is very affordable for an autofocus lens. If you can’t find the Fujinon 27mm, or if you cannot afford the Fujinon lens, this seems like a good alternative to consider.
I believe that the TTArtisan 27mm f/2.8 is a little bigger than the Fujinon 27mm f/2.8, so it isn’t quite as pancake, but more like the Fujinon 18mm f/2 pancake. It has a rear-lens-cap USB connection for firmware updates, which I think is interesting. I’ve never used this lens personally to verify any of this, but maybe someday I will.
I personally wish that TTArtisan would have instead created a different focal length pancake lens—maybe that’s in the plans, who knows?—and I think a 23mm pancake or 50mm pancake or 12mm pancake would be nice options. For reasons that I don’t understand, there aren’t nearly enough good pancake options for Fujifilm cameras. I mean, a selling point of APS-C is the compact size (compared to full-frame), so why not offer more tiny lenses to take advantage of it? I do believe that competition is good, so I’m happy to see this TTArtisan lens as an option for Fujifilm photographers, and I hope they make more lenses that are similar in the future.
TTArtisan 27mm f/2.8 Autofocus Amazon
Earlier this year Fujifilm sent me an X-Pro3 camera and Fujinon 33mm f/1.4 lens to try for a few weeks. The camera and lens are long gone—of the two, the one I miss the most is the Fujinon 33mm f/1.4 lens. Yes, the X-Pro3 is great and was a lot of fun to shoot with, but that lens is something special!
What I remember about the development of the Fujinon 33mm f/1.4 lens is that the original intention was for it to have an f/1 maximum aperture, but early in the design stages Fujifilm realized that in order to do so the lens would have to be both very large and very expensive, so they scaled it back to f1.4 instead. The 33mm focal length might seem odd until you take into account the APS-C crop factor—it’s full-frame equivalent to 49.5mm, which means it’s a “nifty fifty” lens.
Fujifilm already has a number of lenses that are close-ish to the 50mm (equivalent) focal-length: the 35mm f/2 (actually, there are two) and 35mm f/1.4 are just a little more telephoto, while the 27mm f/2.8 is a little more wide-angle (and is the closest “as the eyes see” lens in the Fujinon lineup). The 33mm f/1.4 seems a bit unnecessary when judged simply on this, but I do think it was a solid addition when Fujifilm released it last September.
The question on everyone’s mind is whether the Fujinon 33mm f/1.4 lens is any good or not. Of course it is—”Fujinon” is printed on it, and that’s an assurance of quality. The lens is super sharp edge-to-edge, even wide open, but especially when stopped down just a little. This lens out-resolves the 26mp sensors found on the current lineup, and I believe is capable of resolving future higher-resolution offerings that are in the pipeline. Fujifilm built this lens with the future in mind, yet in the meantime it allows you to maximize current cameras’ quality potential. Bokeh is beautiful. Aberrations and flare are fairly well controlled. There is almost no distortion. There is a very small amount of vignetting in the corners when wide open, but it is extremely minimal—you’re not likely to notice unless you are looking closely for it. Sunstars are excellent. While I believe that the flaws in lenses are what gives them character, this lens has proven that position wrong, because this is a near-flawless lens that is oozing with wonderful character. Bravo, Fujifilm!
While some might have wished for that f/1 aperture originally intended for this lens, I found f/1.4 to be more than enough. In daylight conditions, it’s actually difficult to use that large of an aperture, but indoors or at night it can come in handy. It’s possible to get a very narrow depth-of-field, especially if you are focused near the minimum distance (about 12″). I find it interesting that the GFX 63mm f/2.8 is basically the same thing for GFX as the 33mm f/1.4 lens is for X-series, with the same equivalent focal-length and same depth-of-field at maximum aperture. Aside from the resolution difference, you’re basically getting “medium format quality” from this lens—I’m not exactly sure what that means, but know that the lens is superb.
Another thing that you probably want to know is that this lens is weather-sealed, so if you attach it to a weather-sealed camera body, you’re good to go out into the elements. While I didn’t find myself in very many situations where this came in handy, it could be important to you, depending on the type of photography that you do, and where you live. Autofocus is super snappy and nearly silent. Build quality is excellent.
The Fujinon 33mm f/1.4 is a little less than 3″ long and weighs about 0.8 pounds. It’s noticeably bigger and heftier than some Fujinon primes, including the 35mm offerings and especially the 27mm f/2.8. I found it balanced really well on the X-Pro3, X-T4 and X-H1, and it balanced moderately well on the X-T30 and X-T1, but it didn’t seem to balance well with the X-E4. If I did own this lens, I would still use it on my X-E4, but I’d likely use the 27mm f/2.8 much more often on that camera. Basically, this lens pairs particularly well with larger X-series cameras.
The Fujinon 33mm f/1.4 lens retails for $799, which is definitely on the higher end. Is it worth quadruple the price of the cheap XC 35mm f/2? Is it worth double the price of the XF 35mm f/2 or 27mm f/2.8? Is it worth 33% more than the 35mm f/1.4? I can’t answer that for you, but if it is a lens you will use often—an essential tool in your kit—then probably yes. If not, perhaps consider one of the other options. If you do buy it, I have no doubts that it will instantly become one of your favorite lenses, and you’ll keep it for many years to come.
Example photographs captured using the Fujinon 33mm f/1.4 lens:
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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.
Example photographs captured with the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2 R lens:
The Fujinon 35mm f/2 was once my most-used lens. It was what you would typically see attached to my Fujifilm X-T30, or sometimes my Fujifilm X-T1. There’s a lot to love about this lens, but I don’t use it nearly as often as I once did, and it has absolutely nothing to do with image quality.
You can read my full review of the Fujinon 35mm f/2 lens here. I don’t want to rehash what I’ve already stated, but simply tell you why I love this lens (and also why I don’t use it much anymore).
The 35mm f/2 is a lovely little lens that’s super sharp, has nice bokeh, has a pretty good maximum aperture of f/2, is fast, small and lightweight. It captures wonderful pictures! There’s not much at all that can be said negatively about it. It’s a solid prime with a very useful focal length. It’s a great example of the Fujinon quality that Fujifilm has become known for, and I would recommend it to anyone.
If it’s all sunshine and lollipops, why don’t I use this lens much anymore? It has to do with the focal-length. Earlier this year I got the new Fujinon 27mm f/2.8, which has a full-frame-equivalent focal-length of 40.5mm—nearly “standard” (as the eyes see), and only barely wide-angle. The 35mm lens is 52.5mm full-frame-equivalent, which is also in the range of “standard,” but is a little telephoto. (For those wondering, roughly 30mm on a Fujifilm camera, or 45mm on full-frame, is neither telephoto nor wide-angle). So these two lenses—27mm f/2.8 and 35mm f/2—are similar and in many ways redundant. The 27mm lens isn’t necessarily “better” but it is my preference because I like the focal-length just a little more. They’re both excellent options, but I only need one.
I do still use the 35mm f/2 sometimes. If I want just a little more reach, or if I need a little larger maximum aperture (such as for low-light photography), the 35mm lens is the one to grab. However, the number one reason why I choose it over the 27mm is because my wife often has the 27mm lens on her camera, so the 35mm—being a close second pick—is what I use on my camera instead. Of course, I have many other lenses to choose from, so sometimes I use the opportunity to try something completely different. In any event, I would be a little sad parting ways with the Fujinon 35mm f/2, but it wouldn’t really change much for me.
If you are looking for a standard prime lens that’s not too big or expensive and just captures wonderful pictures, the Fujinon 35mm f/2 is one to strongly consider. I like the 27mm f/2.8 just a little better, but the new one (with the aperture ring) is tough to find at the moment, so if you are impatient, this is an excellent alternative. The 35mm f/2 is such a good lens that it just seems “wrong” to give it a silver medal instead of gold, but when there are multiple options that are exceptional, things like that happen. Beside, you might prefer it over the 27mm, because you like the focal-length or larger aperture better. Maybe the Fujinon 35mm f/2 would suit your photography just a bit better.
Even though I don’t use it much anymore, I still love the Fujinon 35mm f/2, and would be plenty happy if it were the only lens I owned.
Lenses can be quite expensive. Most new lenses cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a couple thousand. Many people want to expand their glass collection but simply cannot afford it. A good solution is to use vintage lenses from the film era on your modern camera. An inexpensive adapter will allow you to attach lenses from another mount to your Fujifilm X camera. This is a cost-effective way to add more glass to your current camera kit.
One lens mount that’s common to find is M42 screw mount, which was originally designed by Carl Zeiss in the late-1930’s. Several different camera brands used M42 at one time or another, including Pentax, Contax, Praktica, Fujica, Yashica, Cosina, Ricoh, Zenit, Olympus and others. Most camera manufacturers who used M42 had moved on to other mounts by the late-1970s, but some M42 screw mount lenses are manufactured to this day. Thankfully, your options for this mount are plentiful!
What I love about many of these vintage lenses is that they have exceptional image quality, yet they also seem to have their own unique character. Many modern lenses are precision engineered, which is great, but they lack character. What sets one apart from another is just how precisely it was designed and tooled. Vintage lenses often have flaws, which might seem like a negative attribute, but these flaws sometimes produce unique effects that you’d never find on a brand-new lens. It might be a certain bokeh, soft corners, lens flare–whatever the flaw is, it makes your pictures less perfect, which is the character that is often missing in modern photography. Actor Willie Garson famously stated, “Perfection is the antithesis of authenticity.”
The challenge with using older lenses is that auto-focus and auto-aperture are out the window. You will need to manual focus, which is made easier thanks to focus peaking and focus confirmation, but it is still a skill to learn for those who aren’t used to it. You will have to set the aperture yourself, which isn’t a difficult skill, but if you always use auto-aperture this might take some practice. For some people there will be a learning curve, but I believe that the manual features are actually a help and not a hindrance, since it slows you down and forces you to consider things a little bit more deeply. You also must ensure that “Shoot Without Lens” is selected on your Fujifilm camera, or else it won’t work.
These old lenses are often easy to find for a reasonable price. Some can be expensive, but most are not. In fact, if you shop around, you can get two or three different lenses for less than $100! If money is tight, this is probably your best bet for purchasing additional glass for your camera. Look at thrift stores, antique shops, yard sales, flea markets, Facebook Marketplace and eBay for good bargains. Below are three different M42 screw mount lenses that I have used on Fujifilm X cameras.
Helios 44-2 58mm f/2
The Helios 44-2 58mm f/2 is a Soviet Union lens renown for its swirly bokeh. It’s a knockoff of the Zeiss Jena Biotar 58mm f/2 that was made in the 1940’s and 1950’s. This lens was mass-produced in Russia for many, many years and can be found for very little money. In fact, mine came attached to a Zenit-E camera that was less than $50. If there is one lens that epitomizes character, this is it, as it has fantastic image quality, yet it can be quirky, often in the best ways possible.
Asahi Auto-Takumar 55mm f/2.2
The Asahi Auto-Takumar 55mm f/2.2 was made by Pentax in the late-1950’s and early 1960’s, and there was a nearly identical lens but with a slightly larger aperture (f/2) that was manufactured into the 1970’s. This is a great prime lens that produces beautiful pictures. It doesn’t have as much character as the Helios, but it makes up for it by how lovely it renders pictures. It’s definitely a favorite of mine! Oh, and I paid $35 dollars for it and the camera that it was attached to.
Jupiter 21M 200mm f/4
The Jupiter 21M 200mm f/4 is Soviet Union lens that was manufactured from the early 1970’s through the late 1990’s, and a nearly identical earlier version of this lens was introduced in the late 1950’s. The image quality is nothing short of fantastic, but it’s super heavy and feels like a tank. It’s not something that you want to carry around all day. The Jupiter 21M can sometimes be found for less than $100, so it’s a really great bargain for what you get. It’s a solid long-telephoto option for those on a tight budget.
I listed my recommended Fujinon lenses for Fujifilm X cameras in Part 1. In this second segment I will give my recommendations for third party lenses. Like in the previous article, I will be focusing on what I’ve actually used, because I prefer to talk about what I have experience with. My opinions are based off of my own use of these different lenses.
Let’s jump right in!
The 12mm f/2 NCS CS ultra-wide-angle lens, which is sold under both the Rokinon and Samyang brands (it’s the exact same lens), is a great manual focus lens. It’s sharp with surprisingly little distortion and few flaws. Since it is so cheap, it’s a great budget-friendly alternative to the Fujinon 16mm f/1.4, or even a companion to it. Not everyone needs a lens as wide-angle as this one, but it’s a fantastic option for those who do. If you need something ultra-wide for astrophotography or dramatic landscapes, this is a must-have lens!
The Meike 35mm f/1.7 is a “nifty-fifty” standard prime lens on Fujifilm X cameras, and if you don’t mind an all-manual lens, this is a great budget-friendly option. In fact, it’s probably the best $80 you’ll ever spend on new camera gear! It’s not without flaws, though. You can read my review of the lens here. For the cheap price, I wouldn’t be afraid to try the Meike 28mm f/2.8 or the Meike 50mm f/2, either. In fact, you could buy all three for less than the cost of one Fujinon lens! The 7Artisans 25mm f/1.8 is a good alternative, which I reviewed here. I’ve never tried the 7artisans 35mm f/1.2, which is an intriguing option but a little more expensive.
There are, of course, plenty of other third-party lenses, of which I’ve tried zero. I know that the Mitakon 35mm f/0.95 II is highly regarded, yet it’s also on the expensive side of things. The Rokinon 50mm f/1.2 and Rokinon 100mm f/2.8 are two lenses that I’ve seen highly recommended by others, and, based on my experience with their 12mm lens, I’d definitely believe it. However, I don’t want to spend much time on lenses that I have no experience with. Instead, let me offer one other alternative: vintage lenses.
You can typically buy old film lenses for very little money. Since most people don’t shoot film any longer, these lenses are cheap, yet many of them are exceptionally good in quality. You will need an adapter to mount them to your Fujifilm X camera, since they’ll have a different mount. Just make sure you know which mount the lens is so that you buy the right adapter. Thankfully most adapters are pretty inexpensive. Below is a video that I made on this topic.
Perhaps you got a new Fujifilm X camera for Christmas, or maybe you’ve had one for awhile now, and you are considering the purchase of a new lens. What options do you have? Which ones are good? What should you buy? You probably have a lot of questions, and you’re hoping to find some sound advice. Well, my goal is to give you sound advice! I’m hoping that this article will be helpful for those who are in the market for a new lens for their Fujifilm X camera.
There are tons of great lens options, most of which I’ve never owned. You could spend a small fortune collecting camera lenses. I certainly don’t have that kind of money lying around, so I’ve only owned a handful of different Fujinon lenses. I’m not going to talk much about the camera lenses that I’ve yet to use, and concentrate on the ones that I have firsthand experience with. I want you to know that the lenses listed below are ones that I have owned and used, and my opinions are based on my experience of capturing photographs with them.
Just so that you are aware, I am providing links to Amazon where you can purchase these lenses if you want to. If you do, I will receive a small kickback from Amazon for referring you, which helps to support this website. Nobody pays me to write these articles. If you happen to decide that you want to purchase a certain lens that I have linked to, and if Amazon is the seller you would normally use, it would be great if you used my links to do so. I certainly appreciate it!
Now let’s talk about lenses!
Zoom lenses are popular because you can cover a large range of focal-lengths without carrying three, four or five different prime lenses. It simplifies things and allows you to have a smaller and lighter camera bag. It might make your camera kit more affordable, too. Zoom lenses are versatile, but there’s always a trade-off, which might be sharpness, distortion or maximum aperture. While I prefer prime lenses instead of zooms, Fujifilm offers many compelling zoom choices that are worth considering.
The first lens that I want to talk about is the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS, which is one of Fujifilm’s best zooms, available at Amazon for about $700. If you have the cheap kit zoom that came with your camera, this lens is similar but better–definitely an upgrade! It has a larger maximum aperture and produces results more in line with what you’d expect from a fixed-focal-length lens. There are some professional photographers who use this as their primary lens because of its size, quality and versatility. If you want something better than your cheap kit zoom lens but still want the convenience of the standard zoom, this is a very good option that you should strongly consider. Alternatively, the Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR lens is even better, but will cost you several hundred dollars more.
If you have a standard zoom lens but would like an option with more telephoto reach, the Fujinon XC 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 OIS II is a good lens that won’t break the bank, and it’s available at Amazon for about $400. This lens is surprisingly lightweight for its size and surprisingly sharp for the price. If you are a wildlife or sports photographer, you might not find this lens to be sufficient for your needs, but for those who only need a longer lens occasionally, this is your best bet because of its excellent value. Alternatively, the Fujinon 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS is a better lens for a few hundred dollars more, or for about $1,600, which is a steep price, the Fujinon 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR is the best quality option.
I prefer prime lenses over zooms. Since the focal-length is fixed, the optics can be more precisely engineered, often resulting in sharper glass with fewer flaws. Often prime lenses have a larger maximum aperture than zooms. The disadvantage is that you will likely need three, four or five different prime lenses, which can cost a lot of money and add significant bulk to your bag, while one or two zoom lenses might cover all your focal-length needs. There are pluses and minuses to both routes. Still, I’d rather have several prime lenses than one or two zooms, but that’s just my personal preference.
The Fujinon XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR, which is available at Amazon for about $1,000, is an excellent wide-angle prime lens. It is sharp and fast and quite wide, which makes it particularly great for dramatic points of view and astrophotography. Not everyone needs a lens that’s as wide-angle as this one, but for those who do, this is a superb choice. Alternatively, the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R, which doesn’t have as large of a maximum aperture as the 16mm, is slightly wider and cheaper, and overall an excellent option.
Everyone should have a walk-around prime lens, and the Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 R WR, which is available at Amazon for about $450, is a great choice for that role. This lens is superb, small and lightweight, and the focal-length is good for everyday shooting. If you’ve never owned a prime lens before, this is an excellent one to start with. There are several good alternatives, including the more expensive Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R, the more wide-angle Fujinon XF 18mm f/2 R, the more telephoto Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R and the more compact Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8, all of which are quality lenses that are worth having. Pick one, as you should definitely own one.
One of my favorite lenses is the Fujinon XF 60mm f/2.4 R Macro, which is available at Amazon for about $650. This lens is a short telephoto (in other words, telephoto but not too telephoto), which gives you a little more reach than the kit zoom, and is great for portraits or landscapes. It’s a macro lens, if just barely, which allows you to focus closer to the subject than many other lenses. I find it to be quite versatile. The quality is exceptional, and it’s pretty small and lightweight for what it is. If there is one complaint it’s that autofocus is a tad slow, which is typical of macro lenses, but it’s not that big of a deal. Alternatively, the Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R, which some consider to be the very best Fujinon lens, is a similar focal length, but it’s about $1,000, and the Fujinon XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro, which also gets brought up in the “best Fujinon” conversations, might be a better macro lens, but it costs about $1,200.
A great portrait lens, which is also a great landscape lens when you are a distance from the subject, is the Fujinon XF 90mm f/2 R LM WR. It’s available at Amazon for about $950. This lens is a bit big and heavy, but it’s super sharp and captures lovely images. Because of its focal-length, it can be tough to use at times, but in those situations where you can use it, the lens delivers stunning results! As far as image quality is concerned, this is my favorite Fujinon lens. Alternatively, the Fujinon XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro, which is more expensive and not quite as telephoto, is really your only other option (outside of a telephoto zoom lens), but it’s also an excellent choice.
The list of Fujinon lenses above, plus the alternatives mentioned, are only some of the lenses available for your Fujifilm X camera. There are other great Fujinon options, plus third-party lenses, that you might also consider. These lenses have worked well for me and my photography, and I believe that they will do well for others, as well. If you do go with my suggestions, know that I am sincere in my recommendations, but that doesn’t mean that those lenses are necessarily the right ones for you and your photography, because I don’t know what your exact needs are. These are definitely generalized suggestions, and it’s a good idea to consider what would be the best options for what you will be capturing. Anytime you see someone recommend a certain camera or lens or other gear, it’s smart to do your own research to better understand what your needs are and how to best meet those needs. I hope that this article has been helpful to you in some way in your search for a new lens for your Fujifilm camera!