Since the dawn of light on camera sensors, amateur and professional photographers alike have been plagued by a dilemma that arises right before upcoming trips or vacations: gear selection.
Because physics is a heartless bitch we can’t just have one lens that does it all and does it good. So many times we either get to pack all the symptoms of our chronic G.A.S. and regret dragging everything along, eventually while being pestered by family, friends or spouse for our choice either we don’t pack enough and miss that one awesome shot, tasting the bitter “what if”. I’ve been balancing between the who myself and have yet to figure out the winning combination.
Last year I made the switch to Fuji and my back has been thankful. However having little cameras and lenses makes it ever more tempting to cram everything in a bag and go fully loaded. Trying to resist that temptation my current travel kit consists of an xt20 body, a Samyang 8mm fisheye, Fuji 35mm f1,4 (it breaks my heart but I leave the hood at home) and a zoom lens. I used to take the 18-55 f2.8-4 with me and I do find it an excellent companion but then Fuji just had to come out with this little guy, giving me even more options. Damn marketing!
Cue the Fujinon Xc 15-45 f3.5-5.6 OIS PZ. Smallest zoom Fuji makes. Travel G.A.S. instantly triggered.
I thought, “Hey. it can’t be bad. Fuji makes only good lenses optically.” So I got one when it was available at the local camera store.
It’s been referred to as the muffin zoom too which kinda fits. It’s not a pancake or a burrito. It’s about the size of the 35mm f1.4 and ridiculously light. A breeze to carry around.
It’s all plastic and definitely does not feel as nice as the more expensive Fuji lenses. Also, as soon as you power on the camera the barrel extends quite a bit, making it about the size of a 16-50mm at the wide setting. It’s not bad by any means but I wish they could’ve made the zoom internal somehow to keep that small size.
Also, powering on and extending the barrel does take close to a second so if you’re used to turning off the cameras to save battery all the time you might find yourself missing shots because of it. Which brings me to the power zoom.
The power zoom is reminiscent of being back in the early 2000’s using a compact camera. You can use either of the two rings on the lens for it. The focus ring works as a zoom ring when in AF mode and the zoom ring, which is more like a zoom toggle, works in all modes. I prefer spinning the ring. The toggle makes me feel like I’m 12. Zooming has two speeds and it’s pretty smooth. The downside is that you don’t have focal length markers on the lens or displayed on the evf/lcd. Maybe with a firmware update, Fuji? This makes precise framing difficult sometimes but it feels like I’m nitpicking for a lens at this price point.
Even if it’s the cheapest, flimsiest lens in the Fuji lineup, it does deliver. I would compare the image quality to be on par with the 16-50mm. It’s sharp and contrasty enough but I do feel it’s somewhat missing that elusive microcontrast and 3d feel that the better Fuji glass renders.
The 15-45mm focal range is enough for most applications. It’s quite nice to have the wide side that wide (22,5 ish FF equiv) and the long end is decent enough for portraits. You don’t get smooth and creamy bokeh but some separation is there.
The best feature of this lens has to be the close focusing distance. Only 15cm! This can get you close enough for some decent macro shots. You can now get much close to subjects before out of reach. I even shot product photos with it! Just make sure to close the aperture to have everything in focus. The autofocus itself feels like it’s on the slow side. All my other lenses perform better. But again – cheapest lens, I’m not asking for miracles on this department. It acquires and locks fast enough in AFS but AFC is not really usable with the lens struggling and hunting continuously.
You’ll be fine for most situations tough. Oh and the image stabilisation works reasonably well. I think I could squeeze 2-3 stops of exposure out of it.
I had the muffin on the camera for a recent trip and I can say it’s been a love-hate relationship so far. It has polarising pros and cons. Check out the photos. I tried shooting in various conditions, mostly handheld.
I guess I’m gonna have to live it for some more time to see if it finds a permanent spot in my gear and travel bag.
What’s your opinion on this little lens? Let me know in the comments.
*All photos edited to my liking. If you’re looking for SOOC jpgs I’m sure the internet is a vast enough resource.
This is not a sponsored post and I am not affiliated in any way with Fujifilm inc. I wouldn’t mind though. 🙂