I’ve used just a small portion of the lenses available for the Fuji X-system, but I wanted to share a few thoughts for those interested on the lenses I have tried.
XF 23mm f/1.4 R
This is the widest lens I have, and also one of the biggest. The pros of the lens for me are:
- Fantastically sharp.
- The manual focus ring, with distance gauge, is fantastic.
- The focus seems fastest of all my lenses.
The biggest con is that the lens is truly big. When on my X-E2 the camera does not sit flat, as the lens diameter lifts the front of the camera up. The weight isn’t that big of an issue, but it is just physically large.
The large size does mean that you get a beefy set of adjustment rings, but it is by no means a compact lens.
Overall though, my favorite lens and the classic 35mm focal length on the X-system.
XF 27mm f/2.8
This is the slowest lens I own, but it is also tiny in comparison to all the lenses, as it is a ‘pancake’ lens design. This is like a slower aperture, faster focusing, Fujifilm equivalent of the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 that everyone loves on the micro four-thirds system.
The only reason I own this lens is because it makes my entire camera setup easy to carry around. It’s interesting to note that Photozone.de loves the optics of the lens — I just am not enamored with the lack of aperture ring and the focal length is a bit odd (just like the Panasonic lens).
The size, and relatively low cost, is why you own this lens.
XF 35mm f/1.4 R
This is probably the most popular lens (outside of the kit lenses) on the Fujifilm system. It provides the classic 50mm focal length on the X-system. It is fast. It is tack sharp. It is small.
This is truly the ideal lens for the X-E2 and it feels made for the camera. Truly fantastic. I have nothing but great things to say about this lens, but the lens hood, I hate the lens hood. It’s this odd metal hood that many love, but makes the traditional lens cap unusable when on, instead requiring use of a hood cap — I find that very annoying.
If you want to get started with primes, this should be at, or near, the top of the list.
18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS
I rented this lens and was extremely impressed — as many told me I would be. I typically don’t like zoom lenses (more on that in a bit), but this is a truly good lens no matter how you look at it.
It is sharp, has optical image stabilization, and a decent aperture range for a zoom lens. Having said all that, I am glad I rented the lens and did not buy it. The cons are just to great for me on the lens:
- The zoom ring was too fidgety for me.
- The lens was too heavy (though I didn’t think too big).
- I like that there is an aperture ring, but it is more like a programmable dial as it is not marked out for the apertures. (That’s understandable given that the max aperture is variable, but it doesn’t quite feel right in the Fujifilm ethos — just as the 27mm feels odd too.)
I would happily own this lens, but only if I bought it as part of the kit — otherwise I wouldn’t bother because I think the stand alone price is a bit high for the lens. Having said that, it’s the best zoom on the X-system.
Primes versus Zooms
I won’t dive too much into this debate, because it’s a big one, but I will note a few of my personal feelings on this — since this is something I struggled to understand initially too.
I fell in love with primes when I got the Canon 50mm 1.4 — from then on I was sold on primes. I just like prime lenses better now.
Primes can be faster, and have less distortion (operative word there being can). I used to be big into zoom lenses, but I find them more challenging to work with now then I do prime lenses. (Though more convenient.)
Instead of standing in one spot and playing with the focal length, I find myself actively exploring to find new angles and shots. I pay less attention to the camera, and more attention to the view — to me that is worth going with primes alone.
Of the above lens choices, the real decision is if you want the 35mm focal length (the 23mm Fuji) or the 50mm focal length (the 35mm Fuji, confusing, I know). The answer to which is highly personal, but I think I’m now a convert from the 50mm focal length, to the 35mm length. Luckily I have both, but man it’s a tough call.