I recently bought the Fujinon XF 18mm f2.0 lens for a very attractive price. Initially, I was hesitant because I have read plenty of reviews out there about this lens, mostly criticize for it’s corner sharpness, high amount of CA and the distortion of the lens.

But after using it for three weeks, I can say this is one special lens for me. Read on to find out why.

There are will be (possibly) five lenses covering the same 18mm focal length provided by Fujifilm, the others being the 18-55mm f2.8-4, the 16-50mm f3.5-5.6, the 10-24mm f4 and the upcoming 16-55mm f2.8 lens.

So what makes this lens so special? Here are four.

It has Character.

If there’s one attribute I can say about this lens, is that it makes shooting “fun” again. Shooting with a prime some how makes the experience of photography a little more different. It makes a person more deliberate when shooting and plan a bit more for their shot. I found that although I like the photo quality of the 16-50mm lens I have, I just don’t enjoy shooting with it as much as I do with a prime lens like this 18mm.

Having a prime some how makes one feel like they are holding a lens that was specifically created for  that one focal length and that the engineers got cracking just to ensure that this lens is optimized for it. A prime lens always feel like they have more character than a zoom lens, be it the bokeh or the physical built of the lens. Or maybe Leica has just psyched us photographers to believe that to be true!

For the Darker Moments in Life.

Compared to the other lenses, the 18mm is the fastest lens with a maximum aperture of f2, and it becomes a better option for low light photography. I shoot indoors a lot, so this really helps me. Since the depth of field is very big, I can keep shooting at f2 and still keep my photos sharp so long as the subject is not too close. Shooting up close does provide some bokeh, and generally it is pleasant but can’t beat the 35mm silky smooth bokeh.

Taken at f2.0 as well, color and bokeh is pleasant
Taken at f2.0, the background is hardly defocused.
Wide open, this lens is sharp.
Taken behind a glass window.

The Reason Why I Got a Fujifilm X Camera.

Ask yourself, what attracted you to the Fujifilm X that you feel you can dump your DSLR? For me, I really wanted to shed the weight of carrying my DSLR for those family outings and vacations without sacrificing image quality. Having a pancake prime as small as the 18mm makes my setup really nice and small. Although the 27mm lens is smaller, I do prefer a wider option especially since I already have the 35mm f1.4 lens. Some how it just makes me want to just take the lens out to shoot photos.

The Perfect Selfie Lens.

The feature I liked most about this lens is that it can focus close (up to 18mm. Easy to remember eh?). This was the feature that made me decide that I wanted this prime lens. Closer focusing makes all the difference, especially when I realize I prefer to take photos of things up close. I quite miss the close focusing ability of the Fujifilm X20 so this lens kinda fills that void.

More importantly, 18mm focal length (27mm in 135mm format) coincides close with the field of view provided by all smartphone cameras (e.g. iPhone 5s = 30mm; Samsung Galaxy 4 = 31mm). This focal length is just perfect for selfies and the XF 18mm excels at this unlike the other zoom lenses which struggle to focus due to the close proximity of the face when held at arms length. Also, unlike wider lenses (like the 14mm), your hands are hidden from view and not unnaturally elongated when doing selfies with ultra wide lenses.

Nope, I’m not gonna show you a selfie, so how about a cute girl instead? 😉 Taken at f2.0

Summary

Typical of Fujifilm, this lens is an excellent performer even with it’s known weaknesses. All the pictures in this set are taken RAW and edited with LR5.3. With a little editing, most of these weaknesses can be easily removed.

What is more important to me is that it’s making me have fun with my photography. I also can use my old 52mm polarizing filter which I got years ago for my Pentax kit lens without buying a new filter for it.