Sam Kacey

Sam's expertise is in Landscape, Portrait, and Travel photography. He and his team also review the best Cameras and Lenses on the market in 2022 for B&H Photo.

The Fujifilm 18mm f/2 is a great all-around lens to have in your camera bag. From sunny days to overcast days, it does a great job of balancing out sensor-based lenses and bringing out colors and textures based on the lens conditions. It also excels at one of its major purposes: practicality and affordability. Small and affordable, this lens is a great everyday shooter.

The Fujifilm 18mm f/2 is a prime lens. It’s the oldest X-mount lens in Fuji’s lineup and has garnered much attention since its launch in 2012. Ever since then, the Fujifilm 18mm f/2 lens has been constantly in battle with its pancake sibling 27mm f/2.8.

Sunset over the lake shot with Fujifilm XF 18mm f/2 lens

We have been using the Fujifilm 18mm f/2 lens for the past six months, and we’ve had a positive experience so far. Sure the 18mm doesn’t have weather sealing, accurate autofocus, and sharpness, but it’s a compact size and has a versatile focal length working in its favor.

In our review of the Fujifilm 18mm f/2 lens, we will focus on its performance compared to what the latest technology has to offer. We’ll also look into customer reviews, including the pros and cons of this lens, to paint a better picture. We have strict criteria for performance, which helps create an unbiased statement of facts. So for more details on the 18mm f/2 lens, keep reading.

What’s So Good About the Fujifilm 18mm f/2 Lens?

Unique due to its pancake design, the Fujifilm 18mm f/2 is a 27mm equivalent prime lens with an exceptionally bright f/2 aperture. Its small size and wide angles make it an excellent lens for street photography. Plus, its optical design has two aspherical elements that decrease distortion and improve picture quality.

The pancake lens has a coating called Super EBC that reduces ghosting and flare for enhanced contrast, but that’s not all. The Fujifilm 18mm realizes greater sharpness and accurate rendering. Finally, the rounded blades at the edge of the lens shoot beautiful bokeh effects without any distortion.

See the Best Price for the Fuji 18mm f/2 Lens at B&H Photo

We didn’t feel like carrying a lens in our backpack because it’s very lightweight. Plus, it fits perfectly on X-mounted cameras and doesn’t wobble. Therefore, your shots won’t be disturbed when focusing on single or multiple subjects. Besides these, there are other qualities of this lens worth your attention.

Important Feature #1: Autofocus

The autofocus of the Fujifilm 18mm f/2 lens is excellent for street photography but should not be your go-to choice for other situations. This is because the lens tends to lose focus sometimes. But if you don’t take pictures from a large distance, you will be fine.

Given the launch date of this lens, its autofocus was pretty good back in its time. However, this lens might not be” that” good for today. Nevertheless, the lens has an excellent wide-angle, making it perfect for all types of street photography. You can capture a lot in a single frame and don’t have to move backward for a wider view.

Important Feature #2: Sharpness

We were surprised by the polarizing customer reviews for the lens in our initial research. Some despised this lens, but others adored it. These reviews got us thinking we should try the lens ourselves to end the debate. After using the Fujifilm 18mm f/2 lens for six months, we had a positive opinion about it. Sure the lens wasn’t as sharp as you’d expect, but we sided with the positive reviews that spin the complaints about sharpness, saying it’s the lens” characteristics.”

It took some beautiful pictures at f/2 aperture. The sharpness got better as we increased the aperture. However, at the lowest setting, the pictures were soft. We noticed it when we started pixel peeping (extreme zoom-in). In our opinion, there is no point in stretching a picture to its limits by zooming in as much as possible. As long as the lens took gorgeous pictures at default image zoom, we didn’t mind the zoomed-in distortion.

lady smiling and shot using the Fuji 18mm f/2 lens

Important Feature #3: Build and Ergonomics

The build quality of this lens is exceptional for the time it was released. Although the 18mm f/2 isn’t weather-sealed, it has a robust metal body that sits on a metallic plate. And has a metallic lens hood that adds about 15mm in length to its pancake design.

The focus ring of this lens is located behind the bayonet fitting, and it’s roughly 8mm wide. The ring moves without any problem at a 360-degree angle without stopping at both ends. We didn’t face any problems with the focus ring, nor did the lens wobble. Plus, the ring wasn’t slippery because it was well covered with narrow ribbings.

Besides the placement of the control features, this lens has a compact design that can fit in your bag easily. You don’t feel like you are carrying anything heavy. Plus, you can fit this pancake lens in the side pocket of your bag for a quick pull-out. All in all, the build and ergonomics of this lens are phenomenal, given that its’ aperture is equivalent to a 27mm lens.

Performance Test

For the performance test of the lens, we turned to our lab after clicking a few pictures. We know most people don’t care about chromatic abrasion and lab reports because it’s all about how a lens performs during practical settings, so we’ll skip the tests we ran. Instead, we’ll take a closer look into the performance of the Fujifilm 18mm f/2 during street photography.

We had no major issues with the lens as its image quality was fair for starters. We weren’t expecting something robust from a lens launched in 2012, so we were happy with the results. Yes, the lens was noisy, as you have read before. But it doesn’t make much of a difference when clicking pictures in open areas with surrounding noise. Plus, this lens isn’t the best for wildlife photography, so noise isn’t a viable point here.

The autofocus speed was fair, and it didn’t jitter or lose focus. But on some occasions, when moving, the lens did lose its focus. The wide aperture and short focal length set no obstacles for the f/2’s fast autofocus.

The edges of the pictures we took were moderately soft, and this issue was persistent across all aperture settings. The test showed fair results for the lens, and we didn’t notice anything too exciting. However, the f/2 failed to meet the XT-3’s 26-megapixel sensor, which is a missed opportunity for this lens.

At aperture f/8 and above, the image quality drops due to diffraction. Moreover, we found traces of vignetting with the lens at aperture f/4. However, the vignetting disappeared at an aperture above f/5.6. Given the fact, we were using this lens on the XT-3, which has an automatic correction for vignetting and distortion.

We also observed veiling flare traces when bright light was outside the lens frame. But thanks to the super EBC coating, there wasn’t any ghosting. The lens handled the backlit subject very well and didn’t have any distortion.

All in all, this lens isn’t the best option for close-ups unless you have a relatively large subject. The bokeh effects weren’t as stunning as we’d expected from its rounded seven blades. However, the f/2 aperture provides little differential focusing scope with suitable subjects.

The Pros and Cons

Like all of our reviews, we tend to include a pros and cons section to share unbiased thoughts on the products. Therefore, the Fujifilm 18mm f/2 was no exception. Here are some positive and negative things we discovered about this lens.

Pros

  • Decent autofocus
  • Excellent image quality when standing still
  • Lightweight
  • Compact size
  • Wide-angle field of view

Cons

  • Soft at wide apertures
  • The autofocus is shaky
  • A little bit noisy

How to Use the Fujifilm 18mm f/2 Lens

The Fujifilm 18mm f/2 is a small lens with a focal length of 18.4-27.5mm, designed with a 35mm equivalent focal length of 27-37mm for the field of view equivalence to the human eye. If you have a Fuji camera that matches this lens, the Fujifilm 18mm f /2 lens is a great choice for landscape photography. The f/2 aperture is great for low-light photography, and the lens has a short focal length, making it perfect for capturing sweeping landscape and candid shots.

If you are using this lens for the first time, we recommend testing it out automatically. With autofocus, you can play around with other features to better understand the colors and contrast of this lens. Once you have an understanding, you can take full control.

We didn’t feel the need to use this lens on manual focus because it did a pretty good job on auto-setting. However, we had to take control in low-light situations, but it wasn’t necessary. The aperture setting is pretty fun to mess around with. You can set the right aperture according to your photography style, time of the day, and the shot’s requirements.

All in all, our experience with this lens was positive and not as bad as some reviews stated. On that note, here is a look a what some customers said.

What Do The Reviews Say?

As we mentioned above, the customer reviews about this lens were polarized. There was no in-between. Some loved the lens, while others didn’t. The negative reviews were related to the softness of the images. However, the positive reviews said it’s the lens characteristics.

However, we didn’t notice the pictures coming off as too soft during our six-month testing period. Sure the edge was soft, but the subject was crystal clear. As mentioned in some reviews, the lens didn’t lag or cause delays in taking pictures. The fan base of this lens had some pretty good points, but the negative reviews weren’t out of context either. In the end, we had a tie between both negative and positive reviews.

First of all, the lens doesn’t blow up pixels – unless you start pixel peeping. Secondly, the softness at the edges felt more like lens characteristics than the manufacturing fault because the edges were soft on most aperture settings. Finally, the Fujifilm 18mm f/2 was launched in 2012 when the technology wasn’t as advanced as it is in 2022. Therefore, if you plan to buy this lens, be a bit considerate.

How Does the Fujifilm 18mm f/2 Lens Compare?

Nine years later, after the launch, Fujifilm released its 18mm f/1.4 lenses. Note that this lens doesn’t replace its predecessors, and you can still buy the 18mm f/2 lens if you prefer what it has to offer. But for the sake of this review, we have compared both lenses to paint a clear picture of their differences and similarities.

Fujifilm 18mm f/2 vs Fujifilm XF 18mm f/1.4

In this section, we’ll take a closer look at both lenses to determine how they differentiate and on what grounds they are similar. So without further delay, let’s get into the comparison.

Weight and Size of Both Lenses

Viewed side-by-side, and anyone can tell the difference. After all, one is a pancake design, and the other is a full-size lens. The length of the f/1.4 is larger due to its high aperture. With that said, the f/1.4 isn’t as heavy as you’d expect. Thanks to the latest technology, the f/1.4 is much more compact than other lenses in its category.

The Fujifilm f/1.4 weighs around 370g with 68.8mm and 75.6mm measurements. And with a reasonable 62mm filter size, the f/1.4 proved to be a great fit even for smaller cameras. On the other hand, its rival pancake weighs only 116g and is an excellent lens to be carried around. If size matters to you more than high aperture speed, then the f/2 is the obvious choice. But if you like to take fast pictures and want the latest lens for your camera, the f/1.4 beats all the other lenses in its category.

Build Quality

Fujifilm doesn’t hold back on its lenses and goes all out with build quality. After all, the brand has cultivated years of trust among its consumers, and dropping the build quality to make other lenses more appealing isn’t the right approach. Thankfully, Fujifilm didn’t drop the build quality on both lenses despite having nine years of technological difference.

But some critics argue that Fujifilm hasn’t improved its game in terms of quality because almost a decade has passed, yet we have the same build quality? Well, it’s up to you to decide whether it’s consistency or lack of innovation. But we will share that the Fujifilm 18mm f/2 isn’t weather-sealed like the f/1.4.

Weather Resistance Details

While we are on the subject of weather resistance, there is no harm in adding a bit more detail about f/1.4’s weather-sealed lens body. The lens is sealed from 8 different locations along the barrel, preventing dust, moisture, and water from seeping inside. Moreover, the f/1.4 can survive temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 degrees Celcius).

Autofocus

Those who complain about f/2’s autofocus and noise can upgrade to the f/1.4 for a quiet camera with rapid autofocus capabilities. The XF 18mm f/1.4 benefits from an internal autofocus system. This AF system is driven by a powerful linear motor that takes fast, accurate, and silent auto-focus shots. In terms of f/1.4’s accuracy, its users have made it the best lens for sports photography.

The f/2 has a sluggish and loud autofocus mechanism in an unfair contrast. One can say that the technology wasn’t as advanced back then, but the noise is too much to justify unless you are into street photography because you’ll barely notice it.

The latest 18mm lens takes the win when used side-by-side, and there is no doubt about it. So if autofocus speed matters to you and you like clicking sounds, then you should upgrade to the 18mm f/1.4 lens.

Aperture Ring

Both lenses have a physical aperture ring which is a remarkable achievement for the pancake lens. The aperture range runs from f1.4/2 in 1/3 stops all the way to f/16 on both lenses. Thankfully, both lenses have auto settings if you prefer setting the aperture via the camera body.

However, the aperture ring on the f/2 has a stiff and notchy feeling. On the contrary, the f/2’s aperture ring is smooth and doesn’t lag when you move it. Both lenses sit well on their size-appropriate camera bodies and don’t wobble at all.

The f/1.4 takes the lead with its aperture lock system, which locks the ring in one position preventing accidental movements. But this feature wasn’t available in most cameras back in 2012, so we can cut some slack for the f/2 lens.

Bokeh Effect

The more rings, the better the bokeh effect, and on that note, the f/1.4 lens takes the win with its nine blades. But that’s not all. The faster aperture settings on the f/1.4 produce a clearer and more stunning bokeh effect than the f/2 lens. Moreover, you can completely blur the background with an f/1.4 lens – something not possible with the f/2.

Manual Focusing

Speaking of Bokeh effects, how can we forget manual focus comparison? Both lenses have smooth focus rings that are focus-by-re instead of a mechanical clutch. But what both cameras don’t have is the manual focus clutch that’s found on 16mm and 23mm f/1.4 lenses. You also don’t get the depth of field scale with the f/1.4, which is a missed opportunity.

Magnification and Focus Distance

If you read this comparison from the bottom up, both lenses are more similar than different. The Fujifilm 18mm f/2 lens can focus slightly closer to its newer model, and the difference is indistinguishable. The actual focus numbers are 18cms (f/2) versus 20cm (f/1.4).

Likewise, the magnification of both lenses is also indistinguishable. The actual numbers on magnification are 0.15x (f/1.4) versus 0.14x (f/2).

You also may be interested in the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/2 lens which is a normal length prime.

Verdict: Is The Fujifilm 18mm f/2 Lens Worth It?

The purpose of this review is to help you make an informed decision. Therefore, we shared extensive information about the Fujifilm 18mm f/2 lens. However, if you lost track of everything we shared above, here is a quick recap.

The most distinguishable feature of the 18mm f/2 lens is its pancake design and 27mm equivalent aperture. You don’t get that with many lenses these days. Moreover, it has a physical aperture and focus ring, which is quite an achievement for its compact size. Plus, the f/2 is convenient because of its compact size and lightweight.

Its key features include autofocus, ergonomics, and build quality. Despite being launched in 2012, the lens has a strong metallic build quality which is on par with the f/1.4. This raised many red flags among customers who were questioning whether Fujifilm is consistent with its quality or failed to improve since 2012. Finally, the performance test of the f/2 was fair. We didn’t find anything to be surprised, both positive and negative.

It’s a straightforward lens with excellent low-light photography, and it performs exceptionally well with backlit subjects. Moreover, the Fujifilm 18mm f/2 is perfect for everyday photography.

However, as mentioned above, it’s not an ideal lens for close-ups unless you are capturing a large subject.

We hope this review brings you up to speed with the Fujifilm 18mm f/2 lens and its characteristics and paints a clear picture of its performance.

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