Fans of compact prime lenses are sure to be excited by the Fujifilm Fujinon XF 27mm F2.8 ($449.95 list). The slim optic is compatible with Fuji’s X camera system, and it’s slim enough that smaller bodies like the X-M1 and X-E1 can slide into jacket or cargo pockets when it’s attached. Like many pancake designs the lens is extremely sharp in the center, but you’ll have to narrow its aperture if you want to capture images with edge-to-edge sharpness. There are exceptions to this; the compact Samsung 30mm f/2 for NX mirrrorless cameras is sharp edge-to-edge at f/2, which helped to earn it our Editors’ Choice award.
The XF 27mm measures just 0.9 by 2.4 inches (HD), supports small 39mm filters, and weighs just 2.8 ounces. Its close-focus capability is limited, you’ll have to be at least 13.4 inches away from your subject to bring it into clear view. Autofocus speed is pretty fast when paired with the X-M1; that combination is able to obtain focus in about 0.2-second in good light and about 1.1-second in dim light. Due to its size, there’s no aperture ring; X-Pro1 and X-E1 owners will have to update firmware in order to control lens aperture from the camera body.
I used Imatest to check the sharpness and distortion when shooting with the X-M1. We call an optic sharp if it nets a center-weighted sharpness score that’s better than 1,800 lines per picture height. The 27mm meets that criteria, notching 2,126 lines at f/2.8, but we did notice that performance was much better in the center 80 percent of our SFRPlus test chart than it was on the outer 20 percent. Edge sharpness is just 1,398 lines at f/2.8. Reducing the amount of light the lens captures improves things; at f/4 the overall score is 2,377 lines with edges that are a quite decent 1,700 lines. And by f/5.6 the lens notches 2,532 lines on the center-weighted test thanks to a tack sharp center and edges that top 2,000 lines. Things are even better at f/8; there the overall score is 2,618 lines and edges top 2,300 lines. Images show 1 percent barrel distortion, which is just barely noticeable in field conditions.
But the Fujinon 27mm just isn’t as good a performer as the Samsung 30mm f/2 lens for Samsung cameras. It notches 2,155 lines at its maximum f/2 aperture, with edges that already hit 1,790 lines. If you own a Samsung mirrorless camera, that’s good news, but of course you can’t use a Samsung NX lens on a Fuji mirrorless body.
The Fuji X system has a few zoom lenses in its lineup now, but it launched with prime lenses only. It’s likely that more than a few Fuji mirrorless owners are considering the Fujifilm Fujinon XF 27mm F2.8 as a compact prime lens, and will be happy to know it’s a good one. It does trade some edge sharpness for a compact design, but narrowing the aperture a bit sharpens up the edges. It’s a little on the pricey side; you can get a 35mm f/1.4 for the system for only $150 more. But that lens is a lot bigger, and if weight and size are a priority, the 27mm is a good choice.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc