A second try… the Fujinon XF18 F2

Update 2021-05-31: Here you will find my thoughts on the new XF18 F1.4



The former German chancellor Konrad Adenauer is said to have made the following statement: “What do I care about the balderdash I spouted yesterday?” I have no idea if he really ever said this but it perfectly could apply for my former review (German only) on this lens. Last year in November I have bought a used copy of the Fujinon XF18 F2. To my surprise, I had nothing good to say about it – at least for the most part. At the end of the story I have sold it again and decided to put the much larger XF16 into my bag for my four-month journey through Europe.

Maybe some of the German readers remember my glowing review on the XF16 (German only). Therefore, this choice might sound quite comprehensible. But what made me change my opinion and let me buy this lens again somewhere in Poland after two months of traveling? For sure I had no issues at all with the quality of the XF16. However, after a really intensive use I would consider that lens as too large and too heavy. For both, my personal taste and for the kind of use on the road. Otherwise it’s still exceptional on a shooting!

A second try

So, to my own surprise, I gave the XF18 a second try. And I was not disappointed, to put it briefly. The lens for sure has not changed, but maybe I have… 😉

By the way, the following post can hardly be called (a technical) review. It’s in most parts just a collection of pictures as well as some thoughts on photography from the perspective of using that lens.

All the concerns about this lens that I have pointed out in the first try are still valid in my opinion. It’s optically no special revelation. And I still do not like most of its mechanical shortcomings. The aperture blades chatter annoyingly, the autofocus is somewhat nervous and by no means quiet – albeit pretty quick though. Furthermore, the front element seems to bounce out of the lens while focusing. A really stupidly designed rubber cap (that I definitely will lose after a while  have long lost for sure) for the otherwise great lens hood and a not really smooth operating aperture ring do their parts to an overall picture that is not really satisfying at first sight.

However, what I have found out after some weeks of using now is that the lens simply delivers in practice. First of all it’s a true joy to carry your camera with that lens attached. I normally hold my camera in my right hand like you see on the picture below without hanging it around my neck or shoulder. With the XF18 this is not a problem even if I do this for hours. Wwith the XF16, it’s completely another story.

Apart from that it’s a huge advantage to use a very small and unobtrusive lens while photographing on the streets. I hardly ever take pictures of people hidden so it’s not a question of being recognised or not. It’s more a question of not being perceived as an unpleasant threat. I really have experienced to be more welcome with this kind of gear and people more often agree to be photographed – even if you are right in the middle of the action as you usually have to be with a wide angle lens.

A perfect companion

This lens is a perfect companion for almost any type of documentary work. Since its purchase the XF18 was attached to my camera almost all the time and I have done a very wide variety of photographs with it. Many of the pictures I have taken with it simply were snapshots – some were more serious work, sometimes even very sad and heartbreaking like those for a short documentary about the memorial and museum Auschwitz-Birkenau. But that’s exactly what documenting human life and the world is about: The tremendousness and the beauty often are so close. I am on the road to capture both – each in its time and each with respect to its own meaning.

This lens brought back the delight and joy to make pictures back in many of my days strolling around and searching for things worth to be seen – at least for me. It might sound silly, but even in Auschwitz the use of that lens made me feel less like a paparazzo who deprives the dignity of that place. And above all I have no complains about its optical quality. It’s by far sharp enough for me and has – to my personal taste again – a quite nice type of rendering. The images have a little bit of that vintage look, not that sterile and perfect rendering that most modern lenses show nowadays. I simply like this…

Lessons learnt

What have I learnt of this all? First of all, that the best is not always the best for any purpose. Secondly, I was shown once again that emotions and feeling-well with something definitely beat just ‘better pixels’. And finally, an opinion can change like everything in the world changes.

Is that lens now not imperfect any more? It still is, but who cares? 🙂

What else?

There is always light somewhere – so go out and shoot! 😉


  • This is one of my favorite focal lengths (28mm ff). I shoot nikon DSLRs and have been thinking of getting their new 28mm f1.4. And I really need that f1.4 for the type of work I do. But dang it’s so tempting to get this lens and an X-t20 . It would save me a ton of money and I’d have a step into the Fuji mirrorless system. I could even get the X-t2 with a battery grip and this lens right now for about the same price as the Nikkor lens. Decisions decisions.
    I do live music photography and videos so any suggestions would be great.

    • Hi Troy,

      I was in the Nikon system for many years and even had the 24mm 1.4 which is a fantastic lens as well. I always needed and loved fast lenses… apart from the fact that they are so heavy and so expensive of course.
      I really started to rethink that though. I have the 35mm F2 (a great lens!!!) and now the 18mm F2 and most of the things surprisingly work for me with these lenses. I still allow myself the luxury to own the 16mm F1.4, but… hmmm… it’s really a luxury. Things have changed in the last decade and with these modern sensors I am fine with F2. Mostly. But you have to make your own decision… 😉


      • I understand that I need to make the final decisions yes . I see pluses in both systems and yes for what I do f1.4 is almost a must.
        The phase focus on sensor is also almost a must in the way I shoot. Maybe I’ll wait a year on the mirrorless system then jump in.

  • Hai Peter!
    Ich interpretiere das so, dass Du kräftemäßig nicht auf diese Reise vorbereitest war! Das 16er ist im Vergleich wahrlich ein Schatz und läßt das 18er eher als guten Flaschenboden aussehen…..
    OK, Spass beiseite. Erstaunlich, dass manche Dinge einen zweiten Anlauf brauchen, um akzeptiert zu werden! Aus welchen Gründen auch immer.

    Fotografische Grüsse
    Auch Peter

    • Hallo Peter,

      das schöne am Netz ist ja, dass man frei interpretieren darf… 😉
      Aber ganz im Ernst: Du hast recht und dann doch wieder nicht. Das 16er ist optisch besser, aber ganz ehrlich: wen interessiert es? Meine Bilder wären dadurch weder besser noch schlechter geworden. Ich werde es zwar sicher nicht verkaufen (und bei vielen Gelegenheiten nutzen), aber das 18er eben entgegen der ersten Idee (verkauf nach der Reise) auch nicht. Trotz seiner kleinen Schwächen ist es in der Praxis auf Reisen echt kaum zu schlagen. Ich bin mir noch nicht einmal sicher, dass ich in jedem Fall eine vermutete zweite Version davon kaufen würde. Das müsste ich mir erstmal ansehen.

      Lieben Gruß vom letzten Tag (ufz)

  • Wir alle warten sicher ganz gespannt auf das 18mm mark II. Das 16er hatte ich mir geliehen und war so dermaßen begeistert. Eine 24er und eine 28er Brennweite zu haben ist für mich im Moment aber zuviel Luxus…

    Tolle Seite übrigens!

    • Hallo Christopher,

      vielen Dank für die Blumen! Und zur Sache: Ich warte gar nicht mehr so gespannt auf das MKII, aber werde es mir sicherlich mal anschauen. Das ein 18er und 16er zusammen ggfs. zu viel des Guten sind, kann ich verstehen. Ich werde es aber vorerst so lassen und beide behalten 🙂


  • Hallo Peter,

    schöne Seite, gefällt mir vom Schreibstil und von deinen Bildern wirklich ausgesprochen gut. Wann gibt´s mal wieder was neues von dir?

    Würdest Du mir verraten, von welcher Firma der braune Kameragurt ist?

    Grüße Marcus

    • Hi Marcus,

      vielen Dank! Was neues gibt es hoffentlich bald… die letzten Monate nach dem Europaprojekt waren dann doch mit anderen Dingen voll. Und der Gurt (das ist der Deluxe Strap in Natural Aged Brown) ist von http://www.luigicases.com. Absolut grauenvolle Webseite, aber gute Qualität und der Typ sowie seine Tochter (übernimmt die Kommunikation) sind nett und zuverlässig 😉


  • Hi Marcus,

    toller Blog, sehr schöne Bilder! Danke für den Hinweis auf Luigi! Ich hab lange genau danach gesucht und er ist wirklich nett und fix! Lustig, das hier beim Stöbern zu finden.

    • Hi Oliver,

      ich bin zwar nicht Marcus (wie die Adresse der Seite auch schon vermuten lassen könnte), aber trotzdem danke. Und ja, Luigi ist schon speziell.


  • Hallo, auch ich habe das 18 mm F2.0 zweimal gebraucht gekauft. Ich war nie ein Freund von Weitwinkel.
    Ich war in HH zu einer Foto Tour mit einen Fotografen und er zeigte mir Weitwinkel Fotografie.
    Fotografie neu entdeckt. Der Preis, Größe und Gewicht von 18mm F1.4 sprechen gegen die neue Festbrennweite an meiner X-E4. Es muss nicht immer das neuste sein, lieber eine schöne Foto Tour.
    Grüße aus dem Schwarzwald Jens.

    • Hallo Jens,

      Weitwinkel sind eher nicht einfach und brauchen viel Übung, sind aber für mich und meine Art zu fotografieren absolut die einzige Wahl. Und für mich sind es auch die viel interessanteren Objektive. Klar kann man damit keine Tierfotografie in der üblichen Weise machen… aber das mache ich auch nicht. Und was die Qualität angeht: früher gab es wesentlich schlechtere Objektive und tatsächlich auch gute Fotos… 😉

      VG Peter

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