New 27mm f/2.8 Pancake Alternative by TTArtisan

TTArtisan 27mm f/2.8 … photo courtesy of Pergear

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.

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

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

Fujifilm Deals

There are a few new Fujifilm deals that were announced today. A couple are worth noting, namely $400 off of the X-T3 and $1,500 off the GFX50R! If you’ve been considering getting into the GFX system, this might be your best opportunity. For those looking out for a deal (perhaps for holiday shopping), those Fujifilm items that are currently on sale can be found below.

Cameras:
Fujifilm X-T3 – Save $400 – B&H Amazon
Fujifilm X-T4 – Save $200 – B&H Amazon
Fujifilm X-T30 – Save $100 – B&H Amazon

Lenses:
Fujinon 23mm f/1.4 – Save $200 – B&H Amazon
Fujinon 50mm f/1 – Save $200 – B&H Amazon

GFX:
GFX50R – Save $1,500 – B&H Amazon

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

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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