Fujifilm XF18-55mm

The Fujinon XF18-55mm was, for many years, the primary kit lens for Fujifilm’s flagship cameras. While Fujifilm has started shipping some of its newest offerings, such as the Fujifilm X-T5, with the bulkier XF16-80mm lens, we would argue that the XF18-55mm remains the king of the kit lenses.

 

The Fujinon XF18-55mm

 

As we mentioned in our post on the best Fujifilm lenses in 2023, the Fujinon XF18-55mm is an exceedingly versatile lens that makes for a fantastic all-in-one lens for photographers on a budget or those trying to travel light. Moreover, the XF18-55mm fits into one very niche category in today’s market: that of kit lenses that are actually worth buying on the used market as opposed to just as a heavily discounted inclusion in a camera kit.

Now, let’s begin by diving into the Fujinon XF18-55mm’s strengths and why we think it’s a fantastic option for anyone in the market for a standard zoom lens for their Fuji kit, before covering the ways in which we think this lens could be improved further, should an updated version be released.

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Where the XF18-55mm excels

Fujinon XF18-55mm front
Fujinon XF18-55mm side

One such way is, unavoidably, its price. The Fujinon XF18-55mm is easily one of the cheapest entries to the world of Fuji’s premium XF lenses, and it is far from the worst.

Since I bought my trusty X-T2 on the used market, I didn’t purchase the Fuji XF18-55mm as a kit lens. I bought it on MPB for around £295, or roughly US $375 (though now it’s available for even less), and used it whenever I wanted the versatility of a zoom lens and didn’t need the full weather sealing of the very first lens I bought, the Fujinon XF23mm f/2. Given the build and image quality that this lens delivers, the Fujinon XF18-55mm is an absolute steal.

 

Portability

 

That being said, the XF18-55mm is not exclusively for budget conscious Fuji shooters. Given its weight of only 310 grams and its dimensions of just 65 x 70mm, the Fujinon XF18-55mm is a truly tiny lens. This makes it a perfect companion for any travel photographer that likes to travel light or anyone using their Fuji kit as their daily carry.

Fujinon XF18-55mm on Fujifilm X-E4

Pairing the Fujinon XF18-55mm with a smaller Fujifilm body like the Fuji X-E4 or the X-T20 results in a kit weighing in at less than 700 grams, making it very easy to toss it in a bag and forget its there.

 

Image quality

 

Photographers everywhere have long scratched their heads wondering why camera manufacturers would put such an abundance of time and resources into designing and marketing the best and highest spec camera bodies, only to pair that camera body with a sub-par lens capable of tapping into a mere fraction of its potential. With the XF18-55mm, Fuji sidestepped this unfortunate trend, making sure that their kit lens wouldn’t be immediately sold or left to gather dust in the box it arrived in.

Moalboal with XF18-55mm

The 18-55mm’s image quality holds its own against many far more expensive lenses, allowing photographers to make full use of their APS-C size sensor to yield results that, unless you’re pixel peeping, can hold its own against much bulkier full-frame cameras. The Fuji XF18-55mm delivers great results throughout its zoom range and remains sharp throughout its aperture range, though it does seem most comfortable between f/3.6 and f/11.

 

Very useful and versatile focal lengths

 

Stretching from 18mm (27mm full-frame equivalent) at its widest end to a 55mm telephoto (84mm full-frame equivalent), the XF18-55mm covers most, if not all, of the focal lengths required by most photographers. For a city break or a short hike, I’d have no problem at all carrying the 18-55mm as my only lens. 

18mm is wide enough for most architectural and landscape photography and, in the occasional scenario where you need to fit more into your frame, it’s also possible to just take a panorama and stitch these together in post. If you’re a Photoshop user, this you can do this by following this guide.

Since the Fuji XF18-55mm stretches to 55mm, it’s also capable of reaching towards subjects that are a little further away. It even provides enough zoom range to achieve some lens compression, bringing the background closer to the foreground to call attention to it.

Lens compression 1
Lens compression 2

Where the XF18-55mm falls short

 

While there is a lot to love about this lens, no lens is perfect, and the XF18-55mm is no exception. The following are a few of the ways in which we believe the Fujinon XF18-55mm could be improved, should Fuji ever decide to release an updated version of this lens.

 

No weather sealing

 

While the 18-55mm’s overall build quality and almost entirely metal construction is impressive, adding the full weather sealing that Fuji seems to be adding to each of their new lenses would make it that much better.

That being said, I have used my XF18-55mm in very humid environments, light rain and also very dusty conditions in various deserts, and I’ve never had an issue so far. Despite this, for the additional piece of mind, I personally would pay the inevitable premium that adding weather sealing to this lens would necessarily incur.

 

Not the widest maximum aperture

 

As can be expected from a fairly budget-orientated standard zoom lens, the XF18-55mm does not come with the widest maximum aperture. It has an acceptable maximum aperture of f/2.8 at its widest focal length of 18mm, but at 55mm it stretches to only f/4, which may be too slow for some uses, especially when shooting in low light.

Adam's peak Sri Lanka with XF18-55mm

This means that, while you’ll be able to reach a similar focal length with the XF18-55mm, it will be no match for lenses such as the bokeh monster that is the Fujinon XF56mm f/1.2 R. And while, of course, it was never built to compete with this lens, this is something to keep in mind if you’re, for example, looking to use this lens for portrait photography.

 

Variable aperture

 

Following on from the last point, another aperture-related annoyance that’s particularly common in more budget-orientated lenses is their variable aperture. This means that zooming in or out will change the aperture setting, which is why the aperture ring is not marked on the lens barrel.

This may not be an issue to many photographers but, for me at least, one of the appeals of using Fuji X-T cameras is the ability to adjust my settings without needing to turn the camera on. All of the exposure settings can be physically read and manually adjusted at any time, meaning that I very rarely have to access the camera’s settings menu.

Baguio with XF18-55mm

For many photographers, however, this may not be an issue or a consideration at all. Therefore, let’s move on to the question that anyone reading this post is likely asking.

 

Is the Fujinon XF18-55mm worth in 2023?

 

Unless you’ve decided to just skip to the end without reading the rest of this post, you probably already know that our answer is a resounding yes.

When you consider the combination of the Fuji XF18-55mm’s build quality, image quality, portability, and overall value for money, it’s difficult to think of a lens that comes close. For the price, it’s a no brainer and if I was buying into the Fuji system for the first time and only had the funds for one lens, the XF18-55mm would, without a doubt, be that lens.

 

Wrap up

 

So, there we have it: our review of the Fujinon XF18-55mm, along with an overall judgement on whether it is a worthwhile purchase in 2023, nearly 11 years after it was first released.

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