I personally shoot with the amazing Fujinon prime lenses for the vast majority of the time, but the XF18-135 WR did strike me as the perfect lens for the travel photographer and so I was interested in how it would perform. It seems like an ideal lens for use in environments in which you don’t want to be changing lenses, and Fujifilm UK were kind enough to recently send me a sample of the [easyazon_link asin=”B00KZHOYSW” locale=”US” new_window=”yes” nofollow=”default” tag=”m06d-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”default”]Fujifilm XF 18-135mm F3.5-5.6[/easyazon_link] lens to review and generally have a play with! I am not paid by Fujifilm in any way to write anything about their gear, or influenced at all to say good things!
This isn’t going to be one of my huge write-ups as I had a fairly limited time with the lens, and as I said, I’m mainly a prime shooter these days, but I got out and about with it a few times, both in the countryside and in the city. I’ll post up a gallery of full resolution images at the bottom of the page so you can judge for yourself how the lens performs!
The XF 18-135 is the 35mm equivalent of 27-200mm (or thereabouts) which is a good long range for someone if they want to go out with one camera and one lens. It makes the ideal range for travelling and combined with the X-T1 you have a full weather resistant system. The advantage of that long range in is that in an environment where you need that resistance, you never have to remove the lens from the body, therefore protecting the internals of the camera.
Being one of the largest XF lenses it isn’t quite as discrete on an x-series body as the others, with perhaps the exception of the new XF50-140 f/2.8, but it isn’t particularly heavy so doesn’t make the camera feel unbalanced, even with the barrel extended out to 135mm.
A first for an XF lens is the rubber zoom ring, which may seem cheap compared to the other XF lenses, but it does give a nice solid grip to allow you to zoom with ease.
It is an extending barrel design, and the barrel extends quite significantly when zoomed to 200mm, you can see that in the start of the video below. The range is a useful one with quite a good reach as you can see in the two images below, the first at 27mm and the second at 135mm.
As you can see, it gives a lot of options for the travel photographer walking around.
I was dubious as to the image quality of a long zoom lens, and whilst it may not have the super sharp optics of the Fujifilm prime lenses, is does perform very well indeed for such a lens although perhaps not quite as well as the other Fujinon zoom in this range, the excellent and highly acclaimed 18-55mm. I’m not hugely into the whole technical pixel peeping thing , there are plenty of sites for that if you want to look at things in minute detail, but from my own observations I wouldn’t have a problem using this lens on professional jobs if I needed to use it for that. Full-resolution images are available in my SmugMug gallery if you wish to check them out in detail feel free!
Auto-focus is quite snappy on the X-T1 body, Fujifilm are certainly getting better in this regard. Even in low light it performs well.
The aperture of f/3.5-5.6 doesn’t make it particularly fast, but here the OIS system really does help hugely, both allowing you to shoot in low light handheld down to about 1/5th if you’re very steady at 18mm and 1/20th or so at the long end. You can also use the OIS system to deliberately introduce blur into certain parts of the image even when handholding the camera. Fujifilm claim a 5-stop advantage.. I’m not sure about that, but it certainly works very well. My experience is to take the (any) manufacturers claim on stabilisation and reduce it by a stop in normal day-to-day use, so in that regard I’d say that a 4-stop advantage is certainly possible in general use by the average human being!
The tram was handheld to 1/12th and the scene in the station an amazing 0.4s exposure! I have to admit I did have the camera resting on a railing for that one, but I was hand holding it pointing downwards. Still, it shows how good the OIS system is!
One of the potential uses for the 18-135 is video because of the built-in OIS image stabilisation. Below is a video of the 18-135 and clips shot with it. If you’re shooting fairly stationary subjects the lens works well and gives good quality images, but because of the manual zoom it makes it very hard to zoom smoothly and the X-T1 struggles with keeping focus when zooming as you’ll see below. Once focus locks on it’s good and does lock quickly, but sometimes it thinks it is locked in when it isn’t and just completely refuses to try to re-focus! As ever I would point out that the Fujifilm X-Series cameras are not really set up for video in an serious sense, and although there is a firmware update on the way to improve that, if you were serious about wanting to shoot video on a professional level then they aren’t the cameras to buy.
The XF18-135 lens makes a good addition to the line up for the X-Mount cameras and gives you the ability to go out, never have to change lenses and travel light with the maximum flexibility currently possible with the Fujifilm X-Mount cameras. Put it on an X-T1 and you have a fully weather resistant system for those times you’re exploring the jungle, arctic, desert or somewhere equally exotic! The OIS system also helps for travel photographers as it reduces the need to carry a tripod, allowing you to handhold in many situations where you’re normally require a tripod to get a sharp shot.
For my personal use I will always be a fan of the prime lenses with their much faster aperture settings, but the 18-135 will make the perfect kit lens for many people who don’t want to invest in a multi-lens system and wants one do-it-all lens. The image quality isn’t quite up to the XF18-55, but it is more than good enough for the vast majority of people and I’d certainly use it on a professional basis.
If you only want one zoom lens for your Fujifilm camera with a bit more reach than the 18-55 then I can certainly recommend this as a good choice. If you can get by with the 18-55 range then that is the better lens in terms of image and the one I would go for, but I don’t see you being disappointed with the 18-135 either.
To view my gallery of sample images, click here to see them in full-resolution.
[easyazon_block add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”B00KZHOYSW” cloaking=”default” layout=”top” localization=”yes” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”yes” tag=”m06d-20″]Fujifilm XF 18-135mm F3.5-5.6[/easyazon_block]