The Fujifilm XF18mm F2 R – rekindling an old love in 2020.

One of the first three first lenses released for the Fujifilm X-mount, my fate with the XF18mm f2R has always been a love-hate relationship for the last 6 years, such that I had owned and sold it for at least three times. 

And in all honesty, this is hardly a long term review given that this lens has probably stayed in my repertoire for lesser than one-third of the 6 years but more of a “my exact true feelings about this piece of optics” type of sharing. 

XF18mm f2, X-Pro3

With the recent ownership of the X-Pro3 body, the hunt for a compact and high performing X-mount lens began, and that was when I decided to give the XF18mm the 4th try. 

One of the pancake lenses in X-mount, (The XF18mm is tiny about 65mm long with a 52mm filter size and weighs only 116g),  it gives an equivalent focal length of about “28mm” made popular again with the more modern Leica Q2, Leica Q and the GR III (my reviews of these 3 cameras as linked)

For the visual readers, well, the lens is simply as tall as a LEGO figurine. 

The XF18mm with some of the other family members, the XF18-55, XF56 and XF90 

Often skipped over in favor of the more modern choices like the XF16mm f2.8 or even the XF23 f2 and XF16 f1.4 lenses, the XF18mm is a surprisingly fast lens and it has some decent capabilities to achieve a quite shallow depth-of-field, especially when utilizing its short minimum focusing distance.

XF18mm on the X-Pro1
Though some will say XF10-24 or nothing else, the XF18’s 28mm view is plenty wide.

Anyway, I am not gonna spend word-count on the specs as this is not a paid or review post but one based mostly on a personal feel. 

Firstly, the not so good (aka, why I disliked it enough to sell it at least 3 times).

Being almost 7 years old (an eternity in tech years), the XF18mm lens has an internal micro motor that produces a bit of noise during AF operations. This for one renders it an unlikely candidate for videos. Unlike the more modern choices, it is also external focusing, which means the AF speed is decent but it’s nothing to rave about. Watch the video below for what this means. 

Similar to the Leica TL23mm Summicron, which 100% DOES NOT work with AF-C on the Leica CL body,  using the XF18mm for AF object tracking isn’t really advisable.

But in all fairness, the AF reliability is very good on the XF18mm though. When it nails the focus, it really does.  

XF18mm f2, X-Pro3, converted to black & white from Provia

Another reason was the relatively high retail price of SGD899 (USD640) vs the more modern but cheaper competitors like the XF16 f2.8 or the XF23 f2. And the XF18mm is not weather-resistant unlike modern competitors. 

But even so, I have managed to find a legit source from Thailand on Ebay selling brand new sets at USD200 and this admittingly helped in deciding to go for the XF18mm again. 

Now, let us go to what has made me fall in love with it again,

XF18mm f2, X-Pro3, Classic Neg

The build quality of the XF18mm has always been pretty great, thanks to a tightly assembled metal body based on a metal mount. The focus ring operates smoothly. And typical for most Fujinon lenses with the wording ‘R’ in its model name, there’s a dedicated aperture ring with distinctive 1/3 steps which is extremely useful to have. 

The short minimum focusing distance of 18cm of the XF18mm is pretty useful. 

And call me superficial, but I have a soft spot for the full metal hoods that Fujifilm used to provide for their XF35 f1.4 and XF18mm f2 lenses. In comparison, the plastic hoods nowadays are a disappointment.  

After my experience on the other 28mm equivalent fixed lens cameras, it has also come to that I’ve learned to work better with this focal length though my favorite is still the 35mm focal length for which I have the XF23mm f1.4. 

XF18mm f2, X-Pro3, Acros. 

XF18mm f2, X-Pro3, Velvia. 

Having the X-Pro3’s rangefinder based design also helped pushed me towards a more compact lens choice, plus the much improved autofocusing performance on the X-Pro3 has indeed made up for any auto focusing speed deficiencies the XF18mm had with previous bodies. 

XF18mm f2, X-Pro3

For me, the XF18mm is not the lens that will win awards for absolute sharpness like the XF23mm f1.4, the most appetizing bokeh like the XF56 APD nor the fastest autofocus like the XF90mm, but the sum of its strengths and imperfections somehow adds up to it being the lens that will always around for the everyday moments. 

What do you think? 

XF18mm f2, X-Pro3

Thank you for reading. 


24 Replies to “The Fujifilm XF18mm F2 R – rekindling an old love in 2020.”

  1. This was the first of the three original lenses that I bought for my Fuji XPRO 1. I sold it and bought it sold it again and finally I bought it a few months ago for good. It’s a great storytelling lens


    1. Hi, thanks for sharing 🙂 agree to what you said too. At 28mm it’s adept at filling in enough environment to share a story


  2. great review. agreed that sometimes it’s not about the absolute performance but how one lens can work out its magic to capture the moment.


  3. There is not much to add, Keith…. maybe just a view thoughts: the metal hoods are awesome, on the XF 18 it actually saved the lens when I smashed it to the ground somewhere in Bangkok – the hood is pretty bend now, but the lens survived 🙂
    There is a lot of talks that this lens is not sharp wide open, specially in the corners… well maybe, but who on earth uses a wide angle lens wide open, when he wants a tack sharp image of the entire frame?
    The noise is a downside, the speed is not really, since, bei g a wide angle, there is no long way to focus and on my Pro2 it feels snappy enough – different story on my Pro1, but then – what did ever feel snappy on that camera 🙂 still, I got a lot of great photos with the Pro1 and the 18mm
    My son, right now learning to become a pro photographer, uses this lens a lot on his T3 for videos, im mf, and it works amazingly!

    In my book: a heavily underrated Gem (yes, a Gem!) in Fujifilm‘s line up


    1. Ah … nice detailed sharing , thank u. The metal hoods are yeap, a different league vs the plastic ones. The one that’s bundled with the XF23/2 is a joke in my opinion.

      Interesting is after talk of the 18/2 went up , a few friends have went ahead to purchase the lens again 😂


  4. Thank you for sharing Keith!

    How does it work with the optical finder?


  5. Totally agree.

    I sold this lens because of the soft corners. Then I realised I had lost an amazing story telling/documentary lens. To compound my regret I realised I seldom take Landscape photos anyway that need edge to edge sharpness. I will be buying this one again. This plus 35mm f1.4 is an amazing combo for family life and travel.


    1. Thank u for the sharing 🙂 like u I had sold it back then , with the same thoughts of its optical performance but got it back again and now to use much more. Maybe it’s also a case of with experience we also get a better understanding of what we need vs what we want 🙂


      1. Yup. I pulled the trigger, I can blame you partially! ;). Ordered one from HK, heading to UK soon. It seems from your photos you seldom shoot wider than 28mm equiv. Is that because you prefer photos of family and documentary?


      2. Haha , congrats and I hope u have as fun with it as many of us do. You noticed that thing about focal length haha. I seldom go above 28mm due to having to manage distortions too, other than I prefer to keep my framing at max 28mm as personally I lack the ability to frame wide and yet still keep a point of interest in the image


    2. Hi, thank you for sharing your experience. The 35/1.4 and 18/2 may be aged in today’s context but to me, they were really well engineered with pride from Fujifilm back then when X-mount started where the focus was really on image quality. Glad to find someone who thinks similarly. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Good article & photos, thanks! I love 18’s color rendering, it has some magic of 35/1.4. and it pairs X-Pro3 very well – like made it for X-Pro bodies. And corner sharpness? Who cares, let’s solve this when we we’ll need to make 3 meters prints like Andreas Gursky 🙂


    1. 🙂 hi Andreas, thank you for dropping by ! Yes , I agree haha. Sometimes it is simply just more important to focus on the experience and happiness in photography vs obsessing about the technical aspects.


  7. Great review, I currently own an xt3 with the 35mm f2 as my only lens. I’m considering if I should pair it with this lens as a compact street option or get a used x100f (out of budget) or x100s.
    Although I’m not sure how much more compact the x100 is as it’s not exactly pocketable.
    Would love to know your thoughts.


    1. Hi Michael, thanks for dropping by. Both the X100 series will give a 35mm equivalent focal length vs the XF18’s 28mm hence this is something to note. On the XE3 , it’s more likely the AF will be still faster than the X100T/S and comparable to the X100F. Size wise they are quite comparable frankly.

      For me i will be more inclined to get the lens over another body unless I am more keen to have an extra camera body as a backup but that’s my 2 cents 🙂


      1. Hi Keith,

        Thanks for your reply, I may take your advice and get the lens for my X-t3 as it is only slightly less compact than the x100 series but I’ll get much better performance and value out of it.

        Also lenses you keep forever and bodies change, it’s what initially pushed me towards the x-t3 over the x100v haha

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Keith,
    I wonder what your thoughts are on this compared to the 23mmF2. I currently own this 18mm F2 and the 35mm F2 to go along with my my x-t3. But I’m considering replacing this with the 23mm F2 for the weather resistance and better performance.



    1. Hi Mike, thank u for dropping by. The XF23/2 is much much quieter (when focusing) faster and of course WR in comparison. It’s overall much more modern design compared to the XF18/2.

      I’ll pick the XF18/2 only mainly for its pancake size and focal length and frankly , it’s decent rendering. Logically the XF23/2 is improved almost across the board.


      1. Hi Keith,
        Thanks for your reply again,

        Yeah its a tough choice since the size is nice for the 18 F2 but the WR of the 23mmF2 would be great for travel once we eventually can. Also I currently own the 35mm F2, which would make a better pairing of focal lengths in your opinion?


      2. With the 35/2 in your possession , I’ll actually go further and consider the XF16/2.8 for example so there’s further differentiation and 24mm equiv is kinda the widest one can go without obvious distortion.

        But it will be rude to tell pple what to get as it’s always very personal and I can only help to guide haha.

        Overall my take is it does have to go back to what u value more, a more different focal length or AF/WR performance and also how much will u be using it.

        For example I use the 35mm focal length mostly , hence the value of the 23/2 is very high to me , much over the 35/2’s value and thus I end up mostly with 35 and 85mm (for portraits) equivalents for my systems when I start.


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