Fujinon Super EBC XF18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS lens


    Photo Review 8.8
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    Fujinon Super EBC XF18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS lens

      In summary

      Buy this lens if:
       - You want capable general-purpose lens for Fujifilm interchangeable-lens cameras.
       - You require good edge-to-edge sharpness.
       - You want fast and quiet autofocusing and zooming.
       - You require built-in image stabilisation.

      Don’t buy this lens:
       - For macro photography and extreme close-ups.
       - If you're concerned about size and weight.

      Full review

      The compact Fujinon Super EBC XF18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS lens is the first zoom lens for X mount camera bodies. Covering the same angles of view as a 27-84mm lens in 35mm format, it has a maximum aperture range of f/2.8 to f/4.
       
       

      Fujifilm's first zoom lens for the X mount system, the Fujinon XF18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS. (Source: Fujifilm.)

      The  all-glass lens structure consists of 14 elements in 10 groups and includes three aspherical elements and one extra low dispersion element. A seven-blade rounded diaphragm and a minimum focus distance of 18 mm enables close-up shots to be produced with attractively blurred backgrounds and the perspective that characterises wide angle lenses.

      A fast linear focusing motor takes advantage of the high-speed signal readout of the CMOS sensor and the newly developed EXR Processor Pro to enable contrast-detection focusing in as little as 0.1 seconds. Autofocusing is also virtually silent, enabling the  lens to be used for video recording.

      The optical and mechanical designs of the lens are optimised to keep it compact at only 65.0 x 70.4 mm (in the wide position). The lens is equipped with an aperture ring and includes a built-in Optical Image Stabiliser (OIS) with a claimed advantage of up to four f-stops of shake reduction.

      Build and Ergonomics
       Build quality is similar to the prime lenses we reviewed with the X-Pro1. A high-quality metal and plastic barrel and metal mount makes this lens robust and gives it a quality look and feel, while its all-black exterior blends well with the X-E1 camera body, particularly the black version.

      Despite its size, the lens complements the X-E1 body nicely and feels comfortable to use. In fact, the overall size and weight of the camera plus this lens is comparable to large advanced compact cameras like Canon's PowerShot G1X and smaller than 'super-zoom' cameras like the Panasonic FX200.

      There are three rings on the lens barrel. Close to the front of the lens is the focusing ring, which is about 8 mm wide and has a finely-ridged grip moulding (not rubberised). This ring is well-damped but turns through a full circle with no well-defined stops at either end of the focusing range.

      The zoom ring is located just behind it. It's 25 mm wide, with the front two-thirds covered by the same ridged moulding as the focusing ring. The lens lengthens by 27 mm as you move from the wide to the tele position but doesn't rotate, making it easy to fit angle-critical attachments.

      Focal length settings for 18mm, 23mm, 35mm and 55mm are engraved into a smooth section on the trailing edge, which steps about a millimetre in from the grip. These settings line up against a white mark on the lens barrel. We found no zoom creep with this lens.

      The third ring is the aperture ring, which is about 6 mm wide and has slightly wider ridges than the other rings. This ring has soft click-stops at intervals of 1/3 EV and rotates through 180 degrees, although all aperture settings are covered within about 90 degrees of rotation. Because apertures vary as you zoom, there are no aperture marks on the lens barrel, although apertures are displayed on the monitor and in the EVF.

      Two sliders are located on the lens barrel behind the aperture ring. The top one is used for selecting between automatic and manual aperture control and has an 'A' marking for the former and a blade icon for the latter.  The lower one switches the built-in image stabilisation on and off. Fujifilm claims compensation of up to four f-stops against camera shake.

      Zooming is mechanical, allowing users to move instantly from wide to tele positions and anywhere in between. At the 18mm position, the lens covers an angle of view of 79.1 degrees, which narrows to 28.4 degrees at the 55mm position. The lens ships with a petal-shaped bayonet-mounting hood made from black polycarbonate plastic, along with front and end caps and a soft carrying pouch.

      Note: Photographers  who plan to use this lens on the X-Pro1 and X-E1 bodies may need to update the firmware in their cameras. The firmware will be supplied on an SD card that is bundled in the lens box or can be downloaded from  http://www.fujifilm.com/support/digital_cameras/.

      Performance
      On the X-E1 body the review lens provides fast, quiet and smooth autofocusing, while also handling smoothly for manual focusing. It was possible to focus very accurately in manual mode, particularly with the viewfinder, although the monitor was also usable, despite its relatively low resolution.

      Subjective assessments of test shots showed them to be sharp across most of the frame. Image stabilisation was reliable for up to three stops and able to be pushed a further stop (or more) if you're prepared to tolerate some misses.

      Imatest showed it to be capable of matching – and at times exceeding – expectations for the X-E1's 16-megapixel sensor, with best performance between one and three f-stops smaller than the maximum aperture. The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests at the four indicated focal lengths.
       
       

       Lateral chromatic aberration was negligible throughout the aperture and focal length range, as shown in the graph below. (The red line indicates the border between 'negligible' and 'low' CA.) No coloured fringing was observed in any test shots.

        

      Distortion was relatively low for a zoom lens, with very slight barrelling at 18mm, which is easily corrected in editing software. Vignetting was also negligible. No in-camera corrections for either aberration are provided by the camera.

      Close-up capabilities are limited by the minimum focusing distance of 30 cm from the sensor plane. Bokeh was pleasant for a lens of this type, as shown in the sample images below.

      Conclusion
       In terms of build quality and performance, the Fujinon Super EBC XF18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS is decidedly superior to the average kit lens and very pleasant to use. All the common aberrations have been addressed effectively and centre sharpness is excellent, with edge softening admirably low.

      Focusing and  zooming are smooth and quiet enough to be used while recording movies and internal focusing enables filters to be used without hassles. The only disincentives are the relatively high price and the fact that only two camera bodies can accept it.

      If you're in the market for this lens, buying it with the new X-E1 body could save you money as the body-plus-lens kit has an RRP of AU$1599, while the body is priced at AU$1199. (Shopping around will probably result in further savings.)

      Buy this lens if:
       - You want capable general-purpose lens for Fujifilm interchangeable-lens cameras.
       - You require good edge-to-edge sharpness.
       - You want fast and quiet autofocusing and zooming.
       - You require built-in image stabilisation.

      Don’t buy this lens:
       - For macro photography and extreme close-ups.
       - If you're concerned about size and weight.

      SPECS

       Picture angle: 79 degrees one minute to 28 degrees four minutes
       Minimum aperture: f/22
       Lens construction: 14 elements in 10 groups (includes one abnormal dispersion element and three aspherical elements)
       Lens mounts: Fujifilm XF
       Diaphragm Blades: 7 (rounded aperture)
       Focus drive: STM stepping-motor
       Stabilisation: Yes (4 stops compensation)
       Minimum focus: 30 cm at 18mm, 45 cm at 55mm
       Maximum magnification: 0.08-0.15x
       Filter size:  58 mm
       Dimensions (Diameter x L): 65 x 70.46 mm
      Weight: 330 grams

      RRP: AU$799; US$700
       Distributor: Fujifilm Australia; 1800 226 355; www.fujifilm.com.au

      TESTS

      Based on JPEG files recorded with the Fujifilm X-E1.

       

       

      SAMPLES

       
       

      Vignetting at 18mm f/2.8.
       
       

      Vignetting at 55mm f/4.
       
       

      Rectilinear distortion at 18mm.
       
       

      Rectilinear distortion at 55mm.
       
       

      18mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/350 second at f/6.4.
       
       

      55mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/350 second at f/5.6.

      Close-up with an aperture of f/5; ISO 200, 1/58 second.

      Close-up at 55mm with an aperture of f/4; ISO 200, 1/85 second.
       
       

      Close-up at 55mm with an aperture of f/5.6; ISO 200, 1/105 second.
       
       

      Close-up at 55mm with an aperture of f/4, showing a subject against a busy background; ISO 200, 1/500 second.
       
       

      Flare with the sun just inside the field of view; 29mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/400 second at f/11.

       
       Stabilisation challenge: 34mm focal length, ISO 6400, 1/14 second at f/11.

      Additional image samples can be found with our review of the Fujifilm X-E1 camera.

      Rating

      RRP: AU$799; US$700

      • Build: 9.0
      • Handling: 8.5
      • Image quality: 9.0
      • Versatility: 8.8

      BUY

        No