I like prime lenses. I don’t use zooms very much. In the 25-ish years that I’ve been photographing, I could count the number of zoom lenses that I’ve ever owned on my two hands, with a few fingers to spare. Probably 98% of the photographs that I have ever captured were on primes. This is all to say that I wasn’t going to comment on the upcoming Fujinon zoom, but a number of you have asked me to give my opinion.
There are several reasons why I prefer primes over zooms. Prime lenses, since their focal length is fixed, are often engineered more precisely, have superior image quality, and better build quality. They often have larger maximum apertures, too. Primes can be smaller. And I appreciate the restraint of one focal length—I think limitations often improve art. The advantage of zooms is that you can cover a lot of focal lengths with just one lens. There’s no right or wrong approach. Use what works best for you and your photography, and don’t worry about what other people think of it.
The only zoom lens that I’ve ever used that I actually like is the Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8-4. I say that while owning the Fujinon 100-400mm, which is the most expensive lens that I’ve ever purchased. The kit 18-55mm f/2.8-4 is actually pretty darn decent for a zoom, and it’s fairly lightweight and compact, too. I had this lens on my first Fujifilm camera—an X-E1—but because I don’t like zooms I sold it, something I later regretted. A year ago I purchased an X-T5 bundled with the 18-55mm lens. Even though I like this zoom, I still only use it occasionally.
Fujifilm will soon be discontinuing the 18-55mm f/2.8-4, and introducing a new zoom in its place: 16-50mm f/2.8-4.8 R LM WR. This is according to Fujirumors, which is where I get my information on yet-to-be-released upcoming Fujifilm gear. The new lens will be more wide and less telephoto, and will have a smaller maximum aperture at the long end. It also won’t have IOS. Apparently it will be able to fully resolve the 40mp resolution of the X-T5 and X-H2. It will have internal zooming, meaning that the lens won’t extend as you zoom. The advantages of internal zooming are better weather-sealing and potentially build-quality, no zoom-creep when pointed up or down, and potentially smoother zooming.
It would appear as though there’s a lot of give-and-take with this new kit zoom. Losing stabilization might be a big deal, but maybe not if you are pairing it with a camera with IBIS. Some will really appreciate 16mm over 18mm. Some will really dislike 50mm over 55mm, and f/4.8 over f/4 (I’m one of those people). Internal zooming will be a big deal for a few and irrelevant to most. As far as resolving the full 40mp resolution, if you print very large—say, 40″x60″—you’d have to stand a couple of inches further back for the print to look as crisp with a lens that doesn’t fully resolve the resolution vs one that does. For most people and purposes, the difference is negligible and unnoticeable. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest that the 18-55mm lens can’t fully resolve all of the resolution from my X-T5, because the pictures still look excellent and detail-rich—I can’t tell the difference.
I feel like this new lens is solving a problem that doesn’t really exist, but maybe I feel this way because I don’t use zooms very often. A whole lot of copies of the 18-55mm have been made, so if you would prefer that over the new one, you should have no problems finding one for many years to come. I assume that the new lens will be excellent, but it’s not for me personally. I have no desire to buy it; however, I’m sure many will love it.
I’m very curious what the development of this lens means. Generally speaking, Fujifilm likes to introduce lenses that are intended to pair well with certain camera models. Since this lens doesn’t have IOS, it likely means it will be bundled with cameras that have IBIS. Since the lens will (apparently) resolve 40mp, Fujifilm believes some with 40mp cameras will buy it. But it’s a kit zoom, and the 50mm f/4.8 spec is unimpressive, so which camera does Fujifilm have in mind? Certainly it won’t come bundled with the X-Pro4. I could see Fujifilm offering it as an X-T5, X-H2, and X-S20 bundle—I wouldn’t be surprised if they do. But is there some upcoming model that makes a lot of sense for this new lens to be paired with? Something that’s not high-tier, that has IBIS, and a 40mp sensor? I really don’t think so. I don’t believe that we can read that much into it. My guess is that the presumed someday upcoming X-T30 II successor will come bundled with this lens, but that camera won’t be weather-sealed, have IBIS, or the 40mp sensor.
In my opinion, the upcoming Fujinon 16-50mm f/2.8-4.8 is just Fujifilm making a change to the mid-tier kit zoom lens option to reflect changing desires within the camera industry—today, generally speaking, 16mm is more preferable over 18mm than 55mm f/4 is over over 50mm f/4.8. In some aspects the new lens will be better than the “old” zoom, and in some aspects it will be worse. Some will like it, and some won’t. I would suggest to Fujifilm that they should continue to manufacture the 18-55mm simultaneously with the new 16-50mm, and not discontinue it; however, perhaps that would be too many similar options to offer.
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-T5 in black: Amazon B&H Moment
Fujifilm X-T5 in silver: Amazon B&H Moment
Fujifilm X-T5 + 18-55mm in black: Amazon B&H Moment
Fujifilm X-T5 + 18-55mm in silver: Amazon B&H Moment
Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8-4: Amazon B&H Moment