The Fuji XF 18-55 R Lens

I got the Fuji kit zoom for free. What's not to like about free? My first impressions of it can be summarized as "meh". I think that's due to two factors. First is my initial StupidCrap™ testing was where it performs at it's worst, minimum focus distance at the 55mm end on flat-ish objects. The second was what I was comparing it to; The 60mm macro and the 56mm/1.2. Both stunningly good performers.

Fast-forward. I used it in more realistic circumstances and found out why it gets such high praise from the fan-boy crowd. It's really really good. Not only that but I personally love the way it renders out of focus areas as well as the transition from in-focus to out. Looking back on the project so far I'm shocked at how much I've depended on this lens. Candidly it's stopped me in my tracks on what I though I was going to buy. Specifically I've not considered grabbing the 18mm/2 or the 35mm/1.4 the entire time I've used the 18-55mm.

When I started a six month XT-1 exclusive experiment to see if the two of us could get along I considered both of those primes essential. Sometime over the last couple of years working with the Nikon Df I've gravitated towards a 28mm/50mm field of view combo for more than 80% of my personal work.

I don't use zooms much. I hate most for one reason or another. They're too damn big and heavy both for me using all day as well as putting my subjects in a mindset I rarely want to see. They look really bad in terms of the way they render even if optically good in terms of measurements. The horrid plastic-on-plastic grinding feel of the zoom ring for the small ones. They are just too damn slow somewhere in the range. Whatever the reason, there are very few I just love. The 18-55mm has none of these characteristics.

So far I've treated the Fuji kit-zoom like a tri-elmar. It's a lot like that lens in terms of it's size, optical quality, quality feel (maybe not quite that good but in the ballpark). I didn't like the Leica Tri-Elmar when I had one a long time ago. Mostly because it didn't do well with my high-magnification viewfinder at the wide end which was why I bought it I think. In many ways it's even better. The 18-55 is more like a quad-elmar. It's also faster at the wide end and focuses a lot closer.

I mention that I use it like a Tri-Elmar in terms ot that particular lens's inability to do any "in-between" focal lengths. It's 28/35/50 only, no 40, no 45, nothin'. I do this mostly because I get really lazy really quick and given how important where you stand and what your point of view is I personally need to make conscious choices or I will end up standing in the same place with the same point of view and just framing with the zoom. Not a great idea. I've use the little zoom about 90% at 18mm and 35mm rarely at 55mm or 23mm. I typically reach for my 23mm or 56mm primes instead. Again this keeps me present and engaged vs. auto-pilot mode.

Fuji XT-1 18-55mm. All of the included images shot at either 18mm or 35mm.One of the few times I used it as a 23.