Fujifilm XF 27mm lens: Some Impressions

This last few weeks haven’t offered many opportunities for photography. I moved offices about 2 weeks ago and frankly I’m still getting used to the new building and the wider area.

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What has turned up in that time was the rather impressive (but within its limits) Fuji 27mm lens for the X system. I’ve put my X100S to one side to give this one a trial run and… discovered you can be invisible as a photographer.

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Always I’ve been of the opinion that lens colour doesn’t matter though I can see that size matters (fnar, fnar…). Well there is an extent to which colour of lens can also be important – silver lenses are more obvious in bright sunlight, but that isn’t something we suffer from too much in London! The 27mm is black and tiny, so it is practically invisible, even in bright sunlight. Here’s a shot of it mounted on my X-E1 to show how small it really is:

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It weighs just 78g and is 23mm in depth. Mounted on my (black) X-Pro1 no one seems to notice me much at all.

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For some people the optical performance of the lens will be secondary. For a lot of street photography it’s all about the subject rather than the quality of the image. However, this lens doesn’t disappoint optically, even if it isn’t up with the best lenses available for the X system.

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I think people have to put this into context – this is a small, relatively simple optical design. It isn’t going to perform at the level of the Zeiss Touit 32mm. But that isn’t the point. I can tell you that if you are querying the sharpness of the lens vs the kit zoom, this lenses probably isn’t for you. It is sharp enough in the centre, even wide open (it is probably about as sharp as the 18mm) though the edges aren’t quite at the same level, but they aren’t soft either, just softer. I had to stop the lens down to about F5 to improve the sharpness of the edges. Otherwise, the lens doesn’t suffer significantly from aberrations – CA is a non issue and vignetting doesn’t seem too bad, even wide open. Bokeh is, subjectively, decent enough for a F2.8 lens.

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The 27mm has an internal focusing system with a relatively loud coreless DC motor. However the auto-focus is both fast and accurate. This is one of the fastest AF lenses available for the system.

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The lens has a metal mount and focusing ring, plastic barrel (but the plastic is good quality) and a 39mm filter thread. The focus ring is smooth to turn. It is a little narrow and it does not stop turning at the ends of the focus range. The lens doesn’t have an aperture ring on the lens barrel like other Fuji lenses. Instead the aperture is set via the rear control wheel.

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In the final analysis: the 35mm will give you sharper pictures and a wider aperture, but is larger and slower to focus; whereas the 18-55mm is sharper in the centre, but is larger and has a narrower maximum aperture at 27mm. However, I think there is a good place for this lens, even if you don’t plan to use it all the time. It’s sharp enough, small enough and fast enough to AF that I plan to have it with me when I’m carrying my X-Pro1. The only real downside for me is the price, which was £379 at launch. I don’t feel cheated but I think £300-350 would be fairer, given the limitations of the lens. Other than that, I’m very happy with the 27mm.

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7 thoughts

  1. How do you get such sharp images with imaging colours? Is it the sensor or PP? I understand you shoot Leica as well as Nikon D800E and 4/3 but mostly publish Your work with Fuji. Why is that? Thanks

  2. Hi Ben, thanks for taking the time to comment. The images you see here benefit from higher shutter speeds – given the excellent high ISO performance of the Fuji X-trans sensor it makes sense to up the shutter speed for sharpness. The colours are a combination of the really great base palette from Fuji RAW files and processing through NIK Color Efex using various film simulations to give the colour a little extra.

    As to why I choose to shoot with my Fuji cameras even though I have full-frame alternatives? Well often that comes down to size, weight and the fact I do a lot of shooting in my lunchtimes. The Leica is great image quality but it isn’t autofocus – that is fine for some shots and not for others. It is also relatively dense and heavy. The D800E is stunning at base ISO but can be a little flat above about ISO1600. The D800E also slows my iMac to a relative crawl with its enormous RAW files. Thus the Fuji cameras have a tendency to be first in the queue for use, at least in the week when I take more photos. I hope that explains things!

  3. Pingback: XF 27mm: technical test at dslrmagazine and some impressions at sgoldswoblog | Fuji Rumors

  4. Thank you very much for a very concise and helpful review, with really excellent illustrations of its use. For real world photography, this gives us as much as we need to know as any big technical test.

  5. Hi, great review on this lens. I’m pretty new to the Fuji X system and like you shoot a lot of other formats for work but reckon with the Fuji’s I’ve found something pretty great. Looking forward to seeing what comes next with the X Pro2.

  6. Great review. I’ve been on the fence about this lens ever since its release. I have the XE1 and the 18-55 and I”m considering which lens to add my kit, whether the 35mm or this one, well actually I’ll have both but which will come first is the better statement. Street photography is my forte so I’m the 27mm, so tough decision, lovely images. I’d love to see a profile shot of the XE1 if possible. Cheers and Thanks

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