A Couple Of Fuji X Primes

The wonderful thing about metadata is that it can tell you a lot about your camera and lens use. In fact it can tell you things that you may not even realize. Every once in a while I'll go take a look at things using metadata like what lenses I use the most, or the least. With zoom lenses I'll take a look at how I really use them vs. how I think I use them. For the Fragments side project I've used the 18-55 XF exclusively. Not really on purpose, it just turned out that way.

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I've mentioned before that when using the 18-55mm I use it a lot like I used the Leica Tri-Elmar twenty or so years ago. I choose a focal length then decide where to stand vs the other way around. If you were to have asked me before I went and took a look at number of frames made vs focal length for the 18-55mm on the Fragments side project I probably would have guessed that I used the 55mm end about the same as the 35mm normal position. I also could have told you that I use the 18mm end a lot more than anything else. I was correct on the 18mm part but not as much as I would have imagined without looking at the metadata. I was completely wrong about the 55mm end being about the same as 35mm, dead wrong. I use 35mm 100 times as much as I've made pictures at 55mm on the Fragments side project.

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The breakdown is 18mm the most, 35mm comes in second at about half of 18mm. Third place goes to 23mm which is about half of the number of frames made at 35mm. The distant fourth place goes to 55mm. It's not even worth discussing fractions compared to other focal lengths. I can count the number of frames at 55 on one hand. That's an exaggeration but only a slight one. I have less than ten frames shot at 55mm.

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I've know for a long time my favorite combo of prime lenses has been a 28mm/50mm in full frame 35mm film terms. Maybe my use is force of habit? In any case it's a very useful combination of lenses if you only want two. Funny thing is I don't have either focal length in prime lens form for the Fuji X system. I delayed grabbing the 18mm and the 35mm when I got my XT-1 only because I happened upon a great deal for the XT-1 with the 18-55mm kit lens. I thought I'd hate the 18-55mm and grab primes in short order. Turns out I liked the kit lens so much that I didn't.

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The punchline to all this is I just ordered myself both an 18mm and 35mm prime for the Fuji X kit. Why? Is it because I'm unhappy with the image quality of the 18-55mm? Do I some how think I'll make far better pictures with the primes? Not a chance. I may have marginal better IQ in a minority of circumstances but probably won't be noticed by anyone including myself. The big deal for me is size but not in the way one might think.

I've not even bothered to compare weight or anything like that. I don't care about a few grams here or there, I'm not a backpacker or biker. The 18-55mm XF is small enough for the most part. In fact it's probably fine no matter which way you look at it when at 18mm. The improvement I'm looking for is when you start to go a bit longer. I don't like the extending front. A minor thing but as the lens gets longer I have a notion it may influence subjects in ways I don't want it to.

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The 18mm f/2 XF is tiny. A characteristic I love above anything else. I'll give you a run-down on how it works out and how it looks after I get some milage on it. The 35mm choice was difficult as I'm familiar with the 35mm f/1.4 XF from my first foray into the Fuji X camera system with my XPRO-1. I loved that lens. I stuck with the XPRO-1 longer than I should have due entirely to how much I loved that hunk of glass. The conundrum now was there's two choices as everyone knows. Now we have the 35mm f/2 WR. If you read reviews all over the place the vast majority claim that somehow the f/2 WR version has way better IQ. I don't believe that at all for a bunch of reasons. Maybe I'm wrong, I've not made one frame ever with the newer 35mm. I do believe it focuses faster and it's obviously smaller looking.

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You might be able to guess which one I ordered based on my goals. Yep, I ultimately decided on the 35mm f/2 WR. I wanted the most inconspicuous, smallest lenses I could get for what has been my go-to prime 28mm/50mm equivalent combo I could get. Obviously once they arrive and I have a chance to make more than a picture or two I'll give my 2ยข on both as soon as I have a moment.

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I do have confidence that both will deliver a look that I like given Fuji's track record which is more important to me than any particular other performance metric. I have used the 18mm a few times. Not enough to be intimately familiar with it at all but my impression is that it's similar to the 23mm on the X100 series cameras in the sense that it looks great but performance is so-so wide open from a technical point of view. Honestly that's a positive in my book. I much rather have a lens that I like the overall look and has performance numbers that are a little lower than lenses with numbers that are great where I hate the way they look (yes, I've had those).

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All of the images included in this post were made at 35mm with the 18-55mm XF. Just a smattering but my metadata mining exercise surprised me enough to pull the trigger on the 35mm prime when I already have the awesome 23mm/1.4. I would have sworn up and down I used the 18-55mm more at 23mm than I did at 35mm. Are your habits what you think they are? Go check, heck if you are on the east coast mid-atlantic area in the USA there's nothing else to do this weekend. We're all trapped.