The Fujinon XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR is the 39th interchangeable lens from Fujifilm, so the company has come a long way in a comparatively short time. This lens the four addition to a small sub-range of fast f/1.4 primes, from a 16mm f/1.4, the widest, through to a 35mm f/1.4, the longest.
The new lens is only 2mm longer in focal length than the existing XF16mmF1.4, but there is more to this than just focal length, given that the 16mm lens is now six years old, does not have the linear motor (LM) AF of the new 18mm, and has a different optical configuration.
The Fujinon XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR is close in specifications to the older lens, but is perhaps a much more modern and efficient design.
Construction: 15 elements in 9 groups, including 3 aspherical and 1 ED element
Focal length: 18mm (27mm equivalent) Angle of view: 76.5°”
Max. aperture: F1.4 Min aperture: F16”
Aperture blades: 9 (rounded diaphragm opening) Minimum Object Distance: 0.2m
Max. magnification: 0.15x
Dimensions: 68.8mm x 75.6mm
Filter size: 62mm
Fujifilm has designed this lens to be compact and light while maintaining first rate optical performance. The optical path consists of 15 elements in 9 groups, which is pretty sophisticated for a prime lens, and includes three aspherical elements and one ED element (the older 16mm f/1.4 is slightly simpler with 13 elements in 11 groups, two aspherical elements and two ED elements).
With a length of 75.6mm and a weight of 370g, the Fujinon XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR is pretty light and compact for such fast wide-angle lens, and this is where the smaller APS-C format does have an advantage over full frame systems – though you will not get the same degree of background blur and separation that you would from a full frame f/1.4.
The LM in the name refers to the use of a linear motor for AF actuation. These are fast, powerful and near-silent, so this lens should be ideal both for stills and video.
The linear motor drives a focus group of six lens elements with a total travel of just 2.5mm – Fujifilm says this combination means the lens can move from its closest focus distance to infinity in just 2.5sec, and that autofocus speeds can be as fast as 0.04sec.
The new lens is also weatherproofed (hence the ‘WR’ in the name), with a metal barrel and weather seals in 8 locations. It’s also designed to work in temperatures as low as -10 Centigrade.
Like most (but not all) Fujinon lenses, this one has a physical aperture ring, with a push-button lock on the ‘A’ setting. It’s the idea companion for X-series cameras with shutter speed dials rather than mode dials, but will of course work fine on any X-mount camera.
Build and handling
The Fujinon XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR’s comparatively light weight and compact design is welcome, given that most of Fujifilm’s X-series cameras are themselves pretty small. It handles pretty well on the X-S10, for example, and on the new X-E4.
The design is so straightforward that there is not much to comment on. There’s no focus distance scale or depth of field markings, but these can be displayed in the camera viewfinder. The aperture ring is clear and positive – and the huge range of apertures available is a reminder of the advantage and scope of fast prime lenses over regular zooms!
We did notice a knocking sound inside our pre-production sample when it was unmounted. This disappeared when the lens was fitted to a camera and the camera was switched on. It didn’t seem to affect performance and it seems likely that this might be the internal AF group not being firmly ‘parked’ when it’s not powered up. We have raised this with Fujifilm, and we will have to see if this is a feature of production versions.
We need to repeat that our results are from a pre-production version of this lens and may not represent the final quality… but if the production versions match the performance of our sample, then users should be very happy indeed.
We took wide variety of shots in different conditions and at different aperture settings and the results were impressive. Our sample was possible a fraction softer at f/1.4 than at smaller apertures, but we would want to see a full set of lab results to be quite sure.
Otherwise, our images showed impressive edge to edge sharpness, no visual distortion, no chromatic aberration – even with fine twigs and leaves against a bright sky – and no perceptible corner shading.
The Fujinon XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR does seem a slightly odd addition to the Fujinon lens range, given that there is already an XF16mmF1.4, but that is a six-year-old lens while this one is a brand new design. It’s unlikely you would buy both.
The design is clean and uncomplicated – almost spartan, in fact – and the performance of our sample was pretty stellar. 28mm f/1.4 is a fairly common configuration for full frame cameras, but APS-C owners are pretty short-changed when it comes to fast primes – unless you are a Fujifilm users.