Fujifilm’s 18mm Lens. The forgotten little beast

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Joe D’Agostino

"My name is Joe D’Agostino. I’m a father, husband and Photographer. My passion for photography started at a young age while learning from my father which I hope to pass down to my daughter. I believe failure helps you succeed so I take hundreds of bad photographs every day."

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OK… I’m here to talk about and in most circles defend one of my favorite lenses. A lens that for the most part everything you read you is how bad it is. I’m here to dispute that notion. I’m not going to do all that with statistical data because for all I know, maybe the charts don’t exactly favor this lens.  However this lens is not to be judged by numbers but by feel, and I gotta tell you it feels just great. Well suited for the street photographer in you but also a solid contender for landscapes and everyday images with fun perspectives.  It packs a serious punch.

The 18mm is one of Fujifilm’s older lens designs.  8 elements in 7 groups, Aspherical, with a concaved front element.  7 blade aperture design with a metal housing.  A very versatile focal length of 28mm in a 35mm Format Equivalent.  A very nice close focus with a sharp rendering throughout the range.  The little 18 is focused by wire so if you choose to manually focus this glass it can be a bit difficult.  I found the 18mm to have a noise AF motor (like most in this lens design) and although not lighting fast extremely accurate in its application.  It even boasts an all-metal squared hood which looks the part for a serious street shooter.

So why talk about this lens now in the latter part of 2019.  Well for me I see Fujifilm releasing new lenses in 2020 and while I love the classic 18mm it would certainly be nice to see a fresh new version of this same lens. I completely understand moving with the times but I believe a lot of photographers love this little gem and I think they are missing that.  The lens is small, lightweight and discrete.  You can achieve surprisingly beautiful separation for a pretty wide focal length.

Works well for street portraits as well. A delicate balance of storytelling and subject isolation. My beautiful wife Nikki, Cape May NJ

The 18mm gives a great distorted look when up close if you know how to work the lens and find that sweet spot.  This can be a fun option to use for a different perspective you normally don’t see.

With a close focus less than a foot you can almost use this as a macro…… well a close focus semi macro at least but with sharp optics, you will certainly be satisfied.

So essentially we are at a 28mm equivalent focal length.  While definitely not the widest for landscapes you can make an argument that this all arounder does a fine job capturing some dramatic images like the very first one posted above as well as some of these below.  Very sharp across the range and also lends itself well to architecture pics too.  Think big city here people!!!

So now thinking big city lets talk street photography.  Now we get to what’s special about this lens.  28mm has been a classic focal length for street photography or some time and easily one of my favorites as well.  Wide but not too wide, just a sweet spot.  At f/2 we can let in a lot of light if need be and at f/8 we can guarantee a pretty favorable depth of field to ensure we’re in focus.  I often choose to shoot this lens on my X-T3 ( until we get a flip screen on an X-Pro Body) for a dramatic perspective.  Plus it never draws attention allowing me to get close to my subjects and snag a natural expression.

Seaside Boardwalk NJ, X-T3 / 18mm f.8

In conclusion, what are my overall thoughts?  I would love to see Fuji focus more attention to this little gem of a lens.  I often feel like it has been treated as the forgotten child of the Fuji line up and that is such a shame.  Fun little shooters like the X70 with its fixed 18mm f/2.8 are amazing and one of the reasons for this is the incredible 18mm (28mm) focal length.  Sure we have the 23mm 1.4 and even the X100 series camera line up but that’s a 35mm focal length.  There is a big difference between that and this.  18mm is such a great all around lens.  A true storyteller and travel companion.  They don’t deserve the bad wrap they get that’s for sure and I can definitely say with confidence that if you were to run out and buy yourself one then most likely it would be one of your most cherished pieces of glass for years to come.

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