review Fuji 18mm - 55mm zoom lens

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review Fuji 18mm - 55mm zoom lens

Postby Matt. K on Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:35 pm

At last I was able to get hold of a Fuji 18mm – 55mm F2.8 to F4 lens to complete my XPRO outfit. First impressions….nice build, and quality of materials is evident. Not too heavy, machining is high precision….Fuji style. Lens is tactile….would have been nice if it were a little smaller.
Now let me get the silly bits out of the road. Only Fuji can snatch a masterpiece from the design table and add loopy bits to spoil the cake. The supplied lens hood looks nice and works well but is an absolute PITA to attach/detach and reverse. Sure…line up the white line with the white line and it just clicks on…providing you can get it to seat 100% perfectly flat with micrometre precision. It can take me 3 or 4 very frustrating minutes to mount the damned thing when I should be just able to slam it on or rip it off. I’m a photographer…not a watch maker for Christs sake! Fuji…how could you screw up what should be the simplest of problems to solve? And why didn’t you change the design when your beta testers all complained about the poor function of this part? (You do beta test?).

Next…even worse, because the lens is a variable maximum aperture lens, (F 2.8 at the wide end and F4 at the 55mm end), Fuji decided not to engrave the F/stops on the aperture ring! Why? Because an accurate F/stop would not be indicated when you zoomed the lens. So in order to know what F/stop is set on the lens you have to look into the viewfinder…and what a bloody irritating buggerance that is! Fuji, photographers need to know what F/stop is set on the lens …WITH A QUICK GLANCE AT THE CAMERA! It is an important part of the craft.
It would have been simple to engrave 2 sets of F numbers on the barrel in 2 different colours. 1 colour for 18mm and the other for 55mm. And if the lens was set in between these settings at least I would know what it was within half a stop or so of accuracy. As it stands I don’t know if I’m set to F22 or F2.8 before I lift the camera to my eye. That slows me down. To make matters worse…the aperture ring has no limit of travel stop at all! It goes around and around and around so I can’t rotate it to a stop and know at which extreme setting I’m at. I can’t teach myself to count the detents and set F/stops by feel. What were they thinking? I wish I was sitting at the table when they came up with that bit of stupidity. If I was the CEO I’d be frogmarching that designer down to the foyer and throwing him out on to the sidewalk. IT IS JUST PLAIN NUTS!

Now onto the good bits. The lens is beautifully sharp and easily performs to professional standards. Colours pop with that Fuji colour magic and there is very little to criticise about the performance. The zoom ring is buttery smooth and the auto-focus is adequate for the kind of work you would do with this camera. The lens has image stabilization built into it and that performs well. The lens makes the camera a great walk around, take anywhere camera that is good for street photography and general purpose photography. And the image quality is outstanding. Digital cameras have come a long way in the last 15 years and if Fuji can refine the XPRO over the next few years then they will have a classic camera in their catalogue.
Some examples:

Image
Image
Image
Image
Regards

Matt. K
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Re: review Fuji 18mm - 55mm zoom lens

Postby Remorhaz on Mon Dec 31, 2012 2:05 pm

I guess with the aperture thing the lens effectively becomes like our Nikon G lenses with no ring and we just use a dial to change aperture (with no end stops). I'm totally used to that now (having to look on the body LCD or in the viewfinder to see the aperture/shutter/etc) but I guess the diff is that that all I can do (unless I'm using an old style lens manually - which is basically never) - if you're used to changing the aperture with a ring on the lens as the "normal" mode I can see how the change (from lens to lens) would be frustrating. At what focal lengths does it go from being an f/2.8 to an f/4 lens? if it's like many others it shifts fairly quickly?

I'm obviously too new to this (can't remember what I did in the film days) but what happens with (D)SLR cameras with zoom lenses with variable aperture with a physical aperture ring?
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Re: review Fuji 18mm - 55mm zoom lens

Postby Mj on Mon Dec 31, 2012 10:17 pm

All sounds about what I'm hearing although I've not had feedback on the hood before (not all that impressed with the 35mm hood either).
I agree with your suggestion on the aperture issue... there were probably a few fairly simple options that would have addressed this satisfactorily.
My question though is WHERE IN THE WORLD DID YOU FIND ONE FOR SALE !!!
I'm not in a great hurry but I'm surprised how long it is taking for a couple of these lenses to get out into the market for sale... I'd be keen to check out the 14mm too in the near future.
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review Fuji 18mm - 55mm zoom lens

Postby Reschsmooth on Tue Jan 01, 2013 12:02 pm

Out if interest and ignorance, why is the reason for effectively or definitively getting rid of the aperture ring?

That I can't use Alicia's 24-70 on my Fs is a pain in the mount.
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Re: review Fuji 18mm - 55mm zoom lens

Postby Matt. K on Tue Jan 01, 2013 12:10 pm

Patrick
The aperture ring is there....you turn it to change the F/stop just like on a real camera.....but it has no markings engraved on it whatsoever!
Michael

Teds camera store.
I have no doubt if you wait long enough and shop around then you will most likely save a hundred bucks as the price will probably come down a bit.
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Re: review Fuji 18mm - 55mm zoom lens

Postby aim54x on Tue Jan 01, 2013 12:32 pm

Congrats on obtaining this lens, I have played with one in the shop a few times. The aperture ring is annoying, but it is better than not having one, or one that has no feedback altogether. As for the lens hood...yes....just weld it on and pretend this is an obscure ultrawide with a built in hood. As for variable aperture, it just comes with the territory of smallish zoom lenses, even if this lens was a fixed f4 (and be a lot less attractive) it would probably be no smaller. They are rare as hens teeth outside of the X-E1 kits so you have done well to find one so quickly.

Remorhaz wrote:ture thing the lens effectively becomes like our Nikon G lenses with no ring and we just use a dial to change aperture (with no end stops). I'm totally used to that now (having to look on the body LCD or in the viewfinder to see the aperture/shutter/etc) but I guess the diff is that that all I can do (unless I'm using an old style lens manually - which is basically never) - if you're used to changing the aperture with a ring on the lens as the "normal" mode I can see how the change (from lens to lens) would be frustrating. At what focal lengths does it go from being an f/2.8 to an f/4 lens? if it's like many others it shifts fairly quickly?


It does become a bit like a G type lens except you have an 'aperture' ring on the lens to turn. Nikon used to provide a secondary marking in yellow to denote the other maximum aperture but you were pretty much relying on TTL metering and the camera to let you know what aperture you have (like your 18-200VR)

http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/28105af.htm

Have a look a the green dot and yellow dot above the aperture ring (note the green 28mm marking)
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Re: review Fuji 18mm - 55mm zoom lens

Postby ozimax on Tue Jan 01, 2013 5:56 pm

The photo of the dude hanging out of the bus window is a classic!
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