There’s plenty to be excited about for Fujifilm shooters these days. Currently, Fujifilm has a virtually complete lineup, with more lenses on the way each year. Their latest flagship primes are looking truly impressive: the Fujifilm XF 33mm f/1.4 R LM WR and the Fujifilm XF 23mm f/1.4 LM WR.
Now, the total number of X-mount lenses may pale in comparison to the volume of Canon, Nikon, or Sony lenses in production. However, Fujifilm makes each release count, and today, when it comes to APS-C mirrorless lenses, Fuji’s lineup is in the lead by a long shot!
Indeed, they’ve been diligently adding lenses to their line-up, with an incredible variety. Fuji’s native lenses cover a range from 8mm to 400mm (14mm – 600m equiv). Their prime lenses can be as fast as f/1.0 or f/1.2, and their zooms thoroughly cover constant f/2.8, constant f/4, and variable apertures, depending on the focal range you’re looking for.
The current lineup includes numerous primes and zoom lenses, and the overall construction (build quality) is typically composed of an almost all-metal barrel and lens mount, with a variety of attractive features like weather resistance (WR), an aperture ring ( R) image stabilization (OIS) and linear motor (LM) autofocus.
If you are considering switching to the Fuji system, or already have and are shopping for lenses to add to your collection, take a look at our list of 5 must-have lenses (plus some alternates) for the Fuji X-mount.
1. Nifty Fifty (50mm equivalent) – Fujifilm XF 35mm f/2 R WR
Now, this list is in no particular order, but a good place to start would be with a 50mm (full-frame) equivalent. Some photographers have based their entire careers on the 50mm; it is a versatile focal length that can be used for everything from portraits to landscapes.
The XF 35mm f/2 is one of the original, oldest “nifty fifty” equivalents provided for X-mount cameras, but is still quite respectable. If you’re on a tight budget, the Fujifilm XC 35mm f/2 ($199) has the same optics, but is made of plastic and doesn’t have the fancy glass coatings. Want the absolute best, newest option? You’ll have to check and see if the XF 33mm f/1.4 LM WR is available! ($799)
The lens may not be as fast as its f/1.4 counterparts, however, it is smaller, lighter, and still has weather sealing. Contrast and center sharpness are impressive wide open at f/2 with very little vignetting. It takes an aperture or f/5.6 to have competitive sharpness in the corners.
2. The Portrait Lens – Fujifilm Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R
I have been shooting this lens almost exclusively on my X-T1 for close to a year now, and it is no slouch. It’s Fuji’s second-fastest portrait lens, (the fastest being the monstrous XF 50mm f/1.0 R WR) and has an 85mm equivalent focal length. As with almost all Fujifilm primes, it lacks lacks image stabilization, plus there is no WR weather resistance.
Some would argue that the newer XF 90mm f/2 is better optically, well-suited for portraits, (especially solo/headshots) and has weather sealing to boot, but, the XF 56mm has reached legendary status among Fuji shooters, simply because the images look gorgeous.
The lens manages high image quality across the frame, edge-to-edge sharpness, with the image corners only being slightly softer than the dead-center. If you are buying an f/1.2 lens, you would want to shoot it wide open, and this lens practically begs you to shoot it wide open all the time.
Next to the XF 56mm f/1.2 APD, which is specifically made to create an even more unique, softer look, the bokeh of this ultra-fast f/1.2 mirrorless prime is arguably the best in the entire Fuji lineup. Just note that because of all the glass this lens’ AF motors must literally push back and forth, you would be sacrificing “snappy” autofocus speed compared to a more modest f/1.4 or f/2 prime.
3. Walk Around Zoom – Fujifilm Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 LM WR
The answer to the popular full-frame 24-70mm f/2.8, Fuji created a very capable 24-82mm equivalent. An excellent optic overall with impressive image quality, there is just some slight color fringing at the 16mm end of the zoom range, but, it’s nothing that can’t be controlled in post-production.
The lens is great for portraits of both individuals and groups, has excellent sharpness across the frame, and is weather sealed; could you ask for more? Well, I guess I could ask: this zoom lens lacks OIS stabilization, which can be a deal-breaker for some. Still, it’s hard to argue with the versatility of an f/2.8 zoom, especially if your Fuji mirrorless body has in-body stabilization! (IBIS)
4. Ultra-Wide Angle Zoom – Fujifilm XF 8-16mm f/2.8 LM WR
With the variety of wide-angle lenses that Fuji provides, professionals and hobbyists alike will discover which wide-angle focal lengths and apertures suit their needs and creative styles. If you want a fixed f/2.8 aperture that is truly as wide as possible, the XF 8-16mm is what you need.
At 8mm it matches the truly exotic full-frame equivalent of 12mm, while at 16mm it matches full-frame’s popular 24mm, of course. Indeed, it is a “modest” exotic flagship lens, if ever there was one.
One great alternative in the wide-angle category that you might want to consider, of course, is the the (updated) XF 10-24mm f/4 WR. The zoom range, equivalent to 15-35mm, is a very popular focal range, plus this lens is downright “tiny”! Color rendering and image sharpness are excellent, and things like distortion and color aberrations are well-corrected with this modern lens’ raw profile!
5. The Telephoto Zoom – Fujifilm Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR
Besides offering a full serving of alphabet in its name, the XF 50-140mm is Fuji’s offering for the 70-200mm crowd. Combined with the XF 16-55mm, you have the dynamic duo that most wedding photographers rock in their kit. (Or, add the 8-16mm f/2.8 for the “holy trinity” of f/2.8 zooms.)
Thanks to the linear motor, autofocus is quick and snappy, and highly precise on any of the latest Fuji mirrorless bodies with technology like face/eye detection and tracking. The focus and zoom mechanisms both take place internally; some folks dislike zooms that extend. Image quality is almost as crisp on the edges as it is at the center of the frame; merely stopping down to f/4 will make image quality virtually perfect.
Distortion is on par with an equivalent lens from other top brands; that is to say, it is negligible. Also, like name-brand flagship full-frame lenses, it is a weather-sealed, metal-clad monster that will appease the telephoto junkies out there.
Picking the top five lenses out of Fuji’s lineup can be difficult, as the lens quality of Fujinon/Fujifilm lenses can rival those offered by exotic, luxury names such as Zeiss. However, there is an incredible diversity of options available, almost all of which are excellent. So, here are three runners-up that did not make the list.
This body cap of a lens can be labeled as the normal lens of the lineup, even though it technically equates to forty-something millimeters. It comes as is no surprise how much I love 28mm lenses on crop sensors as it creates a very cinematic, dare I say “reminiscent of the film days” …look.
Why wasn’t it on the list? The only reason is that it seems a mediocre lens compared to thothers in the lineup; it ffers beautiful images with no distortion, however, there is nothing special about this lens aperture or focal length, so it gets overshadowed.
This kit lens is shockingly good and can satisfy street and portrait photographers alike, and can be a viable option instead of the XF 16-55mm f/2.8, especially if you plan to stay at the wider end of the focal range when you require the f/2.8 aperture.
It is robust and sharp, epically for a kit lens that might have come with your camera! Speaking of which, if you come across a Fuji 15-45mm or 16-50mm “kit” lens as a package with a particular Fuji camera body, I recommend skipping them and going with this 18-55mm instead, even if you’re on a budget. Alternately, Fuji does make a professional-grade 16-80mm f/4 R OIS WR, for those who want the also popular 24-120mm equivalent range in a high-quality package.
Why wasn’t the 18-55mm on the main list? – The cost is a bit steep for a kit lens; at around $600; a better investment can be argued in favor of the XF 35mm f/2. I believe a zoom lens is only as good as its fastest aperture, as consistent results are important, therefore the XF 35mm is, in fact, $200 less and yet 1-2 whole stops faster.
Here’s a unique lens that deserves an “honorable mention” if only for the simple reason that many people have an interest in macro photography, and such lenses aren’t as abundant on the X-mount.
Why wasn’t it on the list? – You might think the focal length and decently fast aperture would make it a perfect low-light and portrait lens, however, with its truly “old” autofocus motor and technology, it is one of the slowest focusing lenses of the lineup.
Conclusion | Top 5 Must-Have Fujifilm X Lenses
Fuji is making multiple new lenses every year, however, their current and even “older” lenses are already quite excellent. In other words, you can definitely fill your bag now with all the best lenses for whatever type of photography you like to do!