Mount: Fuji X | Construction: 8 elements in 7 groups, 7 diaphragm blades | Closest focus distance: 18cm | Filter thread: 52mm | Autofocus: micro-motor | Dimensions: 65 x 41mm, 116g | Tested on: Fuji X-T1
Fujifilm's acclaimed X series of compact system cameras is supported by an unusually diverse range of wide-angle prime lenses. These include 14mm, 18mm, 23mm and 27mm options, and there's also a 16mm lens due in 2015. Thanks to the X series cameras' 1.5x crop factor, this 18mm lens has an effective focal length of 27mm (compared with full-frame cameras) along with a reasonably fast widest aperture of f/2.
The retro styling of the lens is a perfect match for cameras like the Fujifilm X-T1. As a 'pancake' lens, it's physically short at 41mm, and comes complete with an aperture ring that's calibrated in 1/3rd click stops. At one end of the aperture ring's travel, an 'A' setting gives access to program auto-exposure and shutter-priority shooting modes.
Build quality is impressive and the lens has a solid-feeling metal barrel and mounting plate, although it's not weather-sealed. Focusing isn't internal, though, so the lens extends physically through the focus range. The front element doesn't rotate, though, making it easier to use filters like circular polarizers and ND grads. Although there's no focus distance scale nor depth of field markings on the lens itself, this information is presented in the shooting display of the X-T1 camera, which was the model we used for testing.
There's impressively little vignetting even when shooting wide open. Autofocus is accurate and fairly speedy and image quality is good overall. However, image corners could be a bit sharper at any given aperture and suffer a little from colour fringing at medium to narrow apertures.
Sharpness: The sharpness chart provides an indication of lens performance across the focal range (for zoom lenses) and at different lens apertures.
Centre sharpness is pretty good even at f/2, but sharpness could be a bit better in the corners, throughout the aperture range.
Fringing: There's very little fringing at f/2 but it becomes worse than in competing lenses at medium to narrow apertures. Lower scores are better.
The Fujinon is better than most lenses for giving low distortion, but not quite as similar lenses from Canon, Panasonic and Pentax. Negative values indicate barrel distortion, positive values indicate pincushion distortion, and figures closes to zero are best.
Verdict: Corner sharpness isn't great and colour fringing is worse than average but the overall image quality of the Fuji XF 18mm f/2 R is pretty good.