When Fujifilm make announcements about new cameras or lens I always react with acute excitement. Ever since the release of the weather sealed Fujifilm X-T1 I have been longing for the release of their first weather sealed lens. When Fujifilm announced the XF 18-135mm lens with image stabilisation I couldn’t wait to have a completely weather sealed system for out in the Northern Ireland mountains.
Please note: that all of the images in this post were captured with a pre-production version of the lens and, Prototype 7 (as I knew it) felt as close to a finished product as I would imagine and a great lens it was to.
Weather sealed, image stabilized and a range of 18mm through to 135mm (f/3.5 to f/5.6) it is a versatile beast. Having updated the firmware on my X-T1 to 1.10 it was time for some initial testing. I should say I am not going to get into the technicals of the lens, it is pre-production, the images are processed in Lightroom and for a number I have used the “upright” correction as no lens profile exists at this stage. For a preproduction lens I have to say it performed amazingly well and the images required very little work.
Day 1 : R-Space
I thought I would get to know this new glass in the R-Space Gallery in Lisburn, one of my favourite views of Lisburn and an area of the town I spent many times in guitar and coffee shops.
I love the view of Lisburn from this window and it was great to capture it a focal length that allowed for proper framing of the view. Indoors the image stabilisation went to work in a very low light environment. I have posted the colour version of this image on Facebook.
I was struck at how smooth the zoom operation worked and how accurate and fast the focus ‘locked on’ even in this very low light and dusty environment.
Day 2 : An Evening in Belfast
I was asked to follow an architecture theme for images so I opted for a walk around Belfast in the evening. We started out at the University and captured a few long exposure photographs using ND filters.
University Avenue is always busy but it was great to get a walk around where I studied for a number of years in the evening sunshine.
Making our way back to the car I captured this image showing just how versatile this lens combined with the X-T1 can be. Shooting directly into the sun the lens managed to capture the warmth of the evening sun.
One final stop to the Blackford Dolphin before it headed back to Brazil required to a trip over to Titanic Studios and Harland and Wolff. It was a sunny evening and the orange and yellow appeared vibrant in the sky.
Day 3 : Belfast in the Rain
What is the point of having access to a weather sealed camera and lens if you don’t venture out in the rain. Saturday saw the worst rain in a number of weeks so it was perfect for a walk around Belfast’s city centre.
The lens hood offered some protection from the rain hitting the surface of the lens. It was liberating not having to worry about the lens or the camera actually getting wet. Starting off at City Hall we made our way to the Cathedral Quarter.
The focus is quick and accurate and I was able to quick pick off shots as I walked casually around the city. I opted to shoot at the largest aperture which obviously changes according to focal length. The lens offers an aperture of 1/3.5 at 18mm through to f/5.6 at 135mm and is image stabilised to 5 stops!!
With rain comes puddles so it was a great opportunity to play with reflections. I have been actively looking for puddles to create some interesting themes. See Harland and Wolff and Playing in Puddles.
Despite the finished feel and quality image rendition I should stress this really was a very early prototype lens. That said, I was impressed both the image quality and also the technical performance. Although some may frown at a variable f/3.5-5.6 the image stabilisation is superb and I found even at 135mm the lens still performed in low light conditions.
Capturing the majority of my images out in the great outdoors the weather is often changeable at best. Having a weather sealed lens means I no longer have to worry about showers of rain or walking through the fog. Will I be adding Fujifilm’s first weather sealed lens to my own kitbag? Definitely, although the versatility of such a focal range means the lens offers more than just outdoor landscape photography. It is a remarkable, versatile lens with fantastic focal range and performance…. the technology is simply stunning.
Fujifilm X-T1 Review
The Long Exposure eBook