XF18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 lens for work and play
This past week, Fujifilm sent me a sample of their new, weather-sealed, high-magnification zoom lens, the XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR, to try. Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to use it as I believe it is intended. I took it with me on a day trip to a nearby island for the Saturday market. Fortunately, it was raining, so I tested it in optimum conditions (for a weather-resistant lens, that is). I also tried it for work this week, when I was photographing a protocol event in Vancouver.
First, the play report
This may be the only lens many photographers need.
This lens is perfectly suited as a travel/all-around lens. Particularly for shooting outside. The relatively slow maximum aperture creates some limitations for shooting indoors in low light. That said, the image stabilization is really fantastic, so if you are not shooting fast-moving subjects, you can capture in-focus images, in poor light, at very slow shutter speeds. The image quality it produces is also fantastic. Both of these features are at least as good, if not better than, the other two Fujinon XF zooms. I came away from my day of shooting with the XF18-135mm lens very impressed.
I also felt like a tourist. Although not a really large lens, the XF18-135mm lens on the X-T1 (OK, I had the battery grip on too), is not as discreet as I am accustomed to when I use the X100s or even the X-E2 and a small prime XF lens. And, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because the tradeoff was that I had the equivalent of a 27-206mm (35mm FF) lens, allowing me to capture a huge variety of subjects, without having to change lenses.
Now, the work report
After my a happy weekend of shooting with the XF18-135mm lens, I decided that I would use it for the visit of a foreign delegation this week. Again, fronted on my X-T1, I was fine with the variable maximum aperture because I would be shooting with flash, at f/5.6, for most of the job. The lens performed really well. Focus was fast and accurate.
Normally, in these situations, I would shoot with two bodies, each with flash, and a wide (18mm or 23mm) prime lens on one body and a longer (35mm or 56mm) lens on the second body. With the zoom, I only need one body, which is definitely simpler than using two bodies. However, I still prefer using the faster primes as I have a lot more latitude to react to changing lighting conditions and I could shoot without flash, wide open, which I would not have been able to do with the XF18-135mm lens.
As for the mechanics of the lens, there seems nothing to fault. Very fast focus speeds using either AF or back-button-assisted MF. The focus, zoom and aperture rings have a very good feel to them. And the weather sealing worked perfectly, as I experienced on that rainy Saturday.
Would I consider buying this lens for work? Only if I was primarily shooting outside. However, that is not what I encounter on a regular basis, so I will not be purchasing this lens. But I realize that the point of this lens is not to accommodate the type of photography I do for work. It’s purpose is for travel and primarily outdoor photography. Purposes for which the XF18-135mm lens is extremely well suited.
All images captured with the Fujifilm X-T1 fronted with the XF18-135mm lens. Weekend photos are OOC JPEGs with minor adjustments in LR, while the work photos are RAW files, also processed in LR 5.5.