The Fujifilm Fujinon XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS ($599 list) is the first zoom lens introduced for the Fuji X-Pro1 and X-E1 cameras. The system launched with just three prime lenses, but Fujifilm has quickly worked to bolster it, and promises to follow with two more zooms—a 55-200mm and a 10-24mm—in 2013. The XF 18-55mm avoids many of the pitfalls that befall typical 18-55mm zoom lenses—it has a reasonably fast f/2.8-4 aperture, a solid all-metal build, and it’s extremely sharp—but it’s priced to match. It will set you back around $600 at retail, or $400 if purchased in a kit with the X-E1.
The lens is about the same size as others in its class, measuring 2.8 by 2.6 inches (HD), although it’s heavy for its size at 10.9 ounces. In terms of full-frame photography, it covers a field of view that is equivalent to 27-82.5mm. Close focus distance varies—it can get as close as 11.8 inches at its widest, but only 15.7 inches when zoomed all the way in. Its filter thread is 58mm, and as you would expect from a lens with this build quality the front element doesn’t rotate when zooming or focusing, so using a circular polarizer is possible. A hood is included, and the lens is optically stabilized for sharper photos at longer shutter speeds.
I used Imatest to evaluate the sharpness and distortion performance of the lens. It’s extremely sharp at the three focal lengths at which it was tested. At 18mm f/2.8 it records 2,252 lines per picture height, much better than the 1,800 lines required for a sharp image. At 36mm the resolution is 2,329 lines, and it scored 2,399 lines at 55mm. Distortion is less than 1 percent across the zoom range. All tests were performed at the maximum aperture; stopping the lens down improved its performance only slightly.
If you shoot with the Fuji X system and are interested in a zoom lens, the Fujifilm Fujinon XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS is your only option—and thankfully it’s a good one. This type of quality doesn’t come cheap, but even at $600 the lens performs admirably. A fixed f/2.8 aperture would have been better, but would have likely increased the size, weight, and price tag. The lens is optically stabilized, and both the X-Pro1 and X-E1 can shoot at ISO 6400 with impressive results, which mitigates the loss of light as you zoom all the way in.
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