Fujifilm XF18-135mm – Best Travel Lens for Fujifilm X-Series

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January, 2017

Travel lens are great companion lens that you don’t have to remove and can solely meet any travellers needs to photograph while on any travel adventure.

Fujifilm XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens is my favourite lens when it comes to travel photography and I will share my thoughts on why I feel this way.

The lens has a very useful zoom range that goes from wide enough to telephoto. In 35mm equivalent terms this is 27mm to 206mm. The lens is weather sealed (as denoted by WR) so it can withstand dust and water. Combined with a weather sealed X-Series body like X-T1 or X-T2 it becomes an ultimate travel combo.

Image Stablisation

The optical image stablisation (as denoted by OIS) ensures that even slow shutter shots like 1/10th are tack sharp. So you don’t need to swap over to a prime lens to get more light. The lens is rated to support up to 5 stops of stablisation, this means that if you can shoot handheld sharp image at 1/60th of a second then you can now shoot in the same condition at 1/2 a second. However I don’t have stable hands so I find mostly I get a sharp shot at 1/10th or 1/8th of a second at most. After that I need to rest the camera on something or pull out the tripod.

Chinese Hut (1/10th of a second)

Photograph by Harmeet Gabha

Versatility

Whether you are travelling for fun or for work, the main objective of having an all round lens is that you can shoot in multiple situations without having to reach for your camera bag. This lens let’s you do just that, capture the moment that is in front of you instead of missing it if you reach into your bag.

The other advantage of this lens is that you can travel light and not have to carry all your lenses, which means the camera is with you more. Hence more opportunity to take pictures.

In my case I travel for fun and for work, but majority of my travel is work related. So I need a lens that I know, I can rely upon for shooting in multiple locations. So my combo is X-T1 with XF18-135mm lens. I can just throw it in my backpack with my laptop, water bottle, charging cables and accessories…and I’m set to go.

“The other advantage of such lens is that you can travel light which means the camera is with you more. Hence more opportunity to take pictures.”

Controls

The zoom ring is quite firm and therefore doesn’t have any play when it its pointed down or up. The zoom stays firm which is great. This is great so I can hold my daughters hand and shoot at the same time without having to reset the zoom, I just set it to one focal length and keep shooting. I’ve used Canon lens before I moved to Fujifilm X-Series and I remember the EF 24-105mm is quite loose and will zoom in or out on its own depending upon the direction its leaning. It was a pain when shooting something directly below you, you had to hold the zoom ring.

There are individual switches on the lens to control the Aperture and Image Stablising so you can control this easily. The only drawback is that the aperture ring spins all the way and has no markings on the lens so have to watch the aperture setting. However I do understand why they wouldn’t design this and actually may not be possible because of the variable aperture of F3.5 to F5.6 which means that when zoomed in at 135mm Aperture automatically changes from F3.5 to F5.6. The Aperture ring itself is a electronic switch which switches the lens aperture based on how much you move it, it is not actually attached directly to aperture blades inside the lens.

XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

Zoom

Regardless if you are indoor or outdoor this lens really let’s you make the most of the situation. I have used the lens indoors where I want to capture a wider scene to outdoors where I want to zoom in on a distant object. It offers great versatility to be able to go from wide to zoomed very quickly.

Below are two images taken from the same location; one at 18mm and another at 135mm. If you can spot the zoomed image in the wide angled shot you can see how much of a difference there is between the two images and the versatility of this lens.

Quality

Quality is something that you don’t need to doubt as Fujifilm take a lot of pride in their lens and you can see it as soon as you look and hold their lens. The lens are rock solid, in fact I’ve tried a drop test of this lens with the X-T1 at Universal Studios in Hollywood you can read more about that here.

Image quality is also superb in all Fujifilm lens so this lens is no exception. The images are sharp and so far I’ve hardly seen any chromatic aberrations or profile correction or lens flaring. The camera of course has great sensor so noise is not a problem, you can shoot at high ISOs such as 1600 and still get clean images.

In their line up Fujifilm have other zoom lens but not one lens will offer such flexibility as the XF18-135mm lens.

The other favourite of mine is XF23mmF1.4 R but that’s a prime lens and has no zoom capabilities so we won’t talk about that too much right now. Maybe another article for it in the future.

Conclusion

The versatility and quality of this lens makes it, in my opinion The Best lens for travel photography, giving you the greatest flexibility and is easy on your back as well. Let me know your thoughts below in the comment section.

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