Hands-on with the Fujifilm XF 18mm F1.4 R WR

Fujifilm’s latest lens, the XF 18mm F1.4 R LM WR, is a weather-sealed fast-aperture prime lens for the company’s X-mount interchangeable lens cameras. Offering a field-of-view equivalent to 27mm on a full-frame camera, the XF 18mm F1.4 makes for a great walkaround lens for all types of photography, from landscape to street. Follow along with us for a quick tour of how the lens handles and shoots.

Compared to the XF 18mm F2 R

For those familiar with Fujifilm’s X-mount lineup, here’s the new 18mm F1.4 (R) next to the previous 18mm F2 R, which was one of the very first lenses released for the system. As you can plainly see, this is a very different lens, with an entirely new optical design.

Comprised of a fairly complex set of 15 elements in 9 groups (versus the 18mm F2’s 8 elements in 7 groups), the XF 18mm F1.4’s optical construction also includes 3 aspherical elements and 1 ED element. All that extra glass translates to an increase in weight to 370g (0.8 lb) versus the F2’s 116g (0.26 lb).

Lastly, while the older lens focused externally (and was a bit on the noisy side), the new model focuses internally using a linear motor that drives a total of six focus elements and does so completely silently.

Hood, control rings and build quality

Overall build quality of the XF 18mm F1.4 R WR is excellent, as is the case with all of Fujifilm’s weather-resistant XF lenses. The aperture ring moves in 1/3-stop detents (the lens has an aperture range of F1.4 – F16), but we found it to move just a bit too easily for our liking, but it’s possible that’s just a feature of our pre-production lens.

The focus ring is very broad and nicely damped, though we’ve noticed that if you have the camera set to a ‘linear’ manual focus response, it makes for a rather short throw from minimum focus distance to infinity – possibly also a pre-production foible. And speaking of focus, the 18mm F1.4 focuses as closely as 20cm (7.9 in) from the imaging plane for a maximum reproduction ratio of 0.15x and some nice foreground-background separation. (That’s 11cm or 4.33 in from the front element.)

The included hood mounts with a bayonet lock, so you can turn it around for a more compact package for travel.

Aperture control lock

The XF 18mm F1.4 R WR joins a growing number of Fujifilm lenses that offer an aperture control lock. Activated when you turn the aperture ring to ‘A’, you can specify on the camera whether the aperture is controlled automatically or whether aperture control is simply passed off to a command dial.

Filter thread and diaphragm

Around the front, the XF 18mm F1.4 comes with a reasonably sized 62mm filter thread, and nine rounded aperture blades help keep out of focus highlights circular at wide apertures. We noticed just a bit of cats-eye effect on off-axis out-of-focus highlights wide-open, and they turn just slightly polygonal as you stop the lens down, but overall, we found the bokeh to be pleasing.

Also worth noting is that when you stop down the aperture enough, the 18mm F1.4 churns out some really pleasing sunstars.

Rear gasket and weather resistance

We mentioned the 18mm F1.4’s weather-resistance earlier, and here it’s exemplified by a visible gasket around the mount to help keep dust and moisture out of the camera body. Fujifilm also claims a total of eight weather-resistant seals throughout the lens, though as always, it ain’t meant for underwater shooting.

Balance

In our shooting, we found the 18mm F1.4 balances really well on both the X-T4 and the X-S10 camera bodies, feeling solid without being too front-heavy. It might feel a little awkward on the likes of the X-E4 though (at least without that camera’s accessory add-on grip).

Hands-on with the Fujifilm XF 18mm F1.4 R WR

And that’s a wrap for our in-hands tour of the new Fujifilm XF 18mm F1.4 R WR. Be sure to check out our pre-production sample gallery to get an idea for how it performs optically. Is it a lens that you’re considering picking up? Or are you waiting for a new, more pancake-like update to the 18mm F2? Let us know in the comments.

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