Impression on FUJINON XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR
Imagine you shoot Street photography, or Reportage kind of images. Maybe you like Landscape photography. Or you’re like me who’s shooting everything in the Urban environment. What lens would probably come to your mind, what field of view? Chances are that you’re like me and immediately think of the 18mm lens.
It has a perfect field of view in so many ways. It lets you be close to your subject, yet lets you get so much into the frame at the same time. When you get close to whatever you’re photographing, it still places surrounding objects on a pleasing distance without being too wide angle. It’s no wonder that so many established photographers favour the 18mm field of view and even choose it as their go-to lens.
Placed on my X-Pro1 the original XF18mmF2 R taught me how to shoot street photography and the urban landscape. Still, it was one of the first three lenses presented together with the ground-breaking FUJIFILM X-Pro1, in 2012. Since then, Fujifilm technology has taken leaps forward and it was time to upgrade the old workhorse. Not only camera bodies regularly get new features and innovations. Lenses get new optical formulas, new autofocus solutions and the desirable weather resistance.
It’s no wonder the FUJINON XF18mmF2 R quickly became a favourite among Street and Landscape Photographers. Being a small unobtrusive and fast lens with the fast aperture of F2.0 rendering it perfect on the small X-series cameras. You just had to choose if you wanted the SLR-style or the Rangefinder-style of camera. It was an excellent choice on them both and its small size made it easy to slip the lens down into the pocket when you changed to another lens.
However, Fujifilm came up with new ways of designing its FUJINON lenses and time started to take toll on the early design of the lens. Now some nine years later after the release of that legendary first trio of FUJINON XF Lenses together with the X-Pro1, the XF35mmF1.4, the XF18mmF2 and the XF60mmF2.4 Macro, Fujifilm is presenting the new FUJINON XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR! They not only though of upgrading the old lens but they rebuilt it from the ground and made a new lens.
I don’t hesitate to say that the new formula of the XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR has widened its usability in so many ways. So let us start with the walkthrough of the uniqueness and the new features of the 18mm lens. Like I mentioned earlier the field of view that you get from the 18mm has become the standard in many fields of photography. The closest competition comes from the 23mm and the 16mm lenses. Landing it just between them both, the 18mm brings the best of both worlds.
The 16mm can often feel a bit too wide and this can also affect the edges of the frame pulling out the features and risk some distortion of whatever you place there. Also, if you shoot Street Photography you have to get in really close with your subjects and this can intimidate the people in the frame. Better to take a couple of steps back with the 18mm. I would say the 18mm field of view is the most popular if you shoot in the streets.
The 23mm has a classic reportage field of view, coming from the days when making good wide-angle lenses was hard. However, when quality got better, reportage and documentary photographers turned to the field of view you get with the 18mm lens. Making it the new classic. Just like with Street Photography you get a nice portion of the environment into the frame to tell whatever story you want without having to back up too much.
If you’re into Landscape Photography or Urban Landscapes and Architecture, the same arguments go for you, making any 18mm lens a must-have in any photographer’s bag.
So, what do we get in this new 18mm lens? Well for starters the lens is now Weather Resistant and that’s a great deal for a photographer like me who regularly shoots in all kinds of weather all year around. When you’re out in a rainfall or a snowfall it’s comforting to know that your equipment can handle it.
But I would say it’s inside the lens the biggest changes have taken place and I would like to mention three big developments. The first obvious is the new aperture of F1.4 putting it in the group of Fujinon fast aperture wide-angle lenses, a long-awaited contribution to the existing line-up. It will give me the possibility to shoot in lower light situations and also to choose whether I want short depth of field and a soft nice out of focus background or if I want maximum sharpness from foreground to background. It’s all up to my creativity. Speaking on the subject of sharpness, the new lens construction has a higher resolution making it future proof, resulting in better low light handling and sharpness from edge to edge with low aberration.
Another highly welcomed feature is the new linear autofocus motor making the lens virtually soundless and superfast. No matter what kind of photography you do precise and fast focus is a demand. When you’re out on location you just want that focus snap in so you don’t miss a precious image. Let’s not forget the closest focusing distance of 20 centimetres paired with the large aperture of F1.4 giving you new amazing possibilities.
My overall feeling of the new features and the design of the lens is that it gives me new creative possibilities. It balances well on my camera and given the larger aperture, it still has a pleasing size. It continues the successful legacy of the FUUJINON lenses and already has a place in my camera bag. Next time you see me out shooting in the streets or doing a reportage, chances are it’s the XF18mmF1.4 that’s on my camera!