The main problem the Fuji camera users have with lens choices is that the company holds their optical workings close to their chests. This means that third-party lens options are not a consideration.
So, it’s down to Fuji to supply the full scope of optics. Luckily, the company provides a good deal of variations to choose from, which in this case is the FUJINON XF 27mm f/2.8.
This offering is commonly known as a pancake lens and while you may not have had a culinary delicacy this thick, you should get the analogy. A pancake lens works well for those who want the lightest and most discreet lens solution while still offering great optics.
Therefore, let’s see if this little lens can produce the goods and if it goes well with a good helping of maple syrup. (caveat: don’t go smearing maple syrup on your pancake lens. As we all know it only goes well with zoom lenses……)
Terrible pancake-based analogies aside, the FUJINON XF 27mm f/2.8 is made for crop sensor, X-mount mirrorless cameras, having an equivalent focal length of 41mm. This makes for a respectable walkaround focal length that slots in the middle of the 35mm and 50mm standards.
The lens weighs a remarkable 78g, which basically makes it feel like you have no lens attached to the camera at all. This makes the whole setup easy to slip into a pocket for the likes of discrete street photography. The XF 27mm doesn’t come with a lens hood, but at least it’s supplied with a front and rear lens cap.
Optically, the lens comprises of seven elements arranged in five groups, including one aspherical element for added sharpness and clarity. A Super EBC coating has been applied to all lens elements to reduce the likes of ghosting and lens flares, along with increasing color and contrast.
The lens remarkably houses a High-torque DC coreless autofocus motor, with the only external features being the very slim focusing ring. Things like aperture changes need to be performed in-camera.
Essentially, this is a very straightforward lens which is very plug-and-play. This leads us on to how well the lens works in the field.
The FUJINON XF 27mm f/2.8 in Use
Considering that an autofocus motor is locked away within the tiny dimensions, the FUJINON XF 27mm f/2.8 is respectably fast to lock onto focus. AF-S mode focusing seems to work the best with AF-C mode making the lens hunt far more for focus.
When the lens has its aperture wide open at f/2.8, it’s respectably sharp in the center with the edges of the frame just a touch behind. Image sharpness dramatically improves across the frame when the aperture is stopped down to f/4 and reaches its peak by f/5.6. After f/11, diffraction starts to take a toll on overall sharpness levels.
Lens anomalies are well controlled, with only slight amounts of barrel distortion with the aperture wide open. Vignetting is only just noticeable at f/2.8, which is very commendable, with only a third of the stop needed in the aperture for the cleanest results. Chromatic aberration is extremely low at the widest apertures.
On the whole, images are rendered with a professional-level of quality that won’t disappoint you in the field. The lens can render very vivid colors and a good degree of contrast in the right situations. Sumptuous colors are the trademarks of the Fuji platform, which makes the lens a great solution for a variety of circumstances, bringing out the most from the whole system.
One benefit of such a lightweight lens is that it inspires you to throw it around and take more pictures. Having a lightweight camera and lens package that you can pull out at a moment’s notice can’t be underestimated in any shooting scenarios.
How Does It Compare?
One lens that is more or less the same price as the XF 27mm f/2.8 is the FUJINON XF 23mm f/2 R WR. The XF 23mm has a wider focal length and aperture, with its design being more like a traditional lens. As the XF 23mm has simply more real estate to fit in the lens element, it has more light-gathering capabilities and is a touch sharper at f/2.8 than the XF 27mm.
The XF 23mm also has an aperture ring and features basic weather-proofing. In some ways, this makes the comparison a little unfair as both lenses are completely different designs. The pancake design of the XF 27mm makes it unique in the Fuji lineup, making it difficult to compare like-for-like.
All this means is that if you don’t need the lightest lens possible and the more narrow field of view of the XF 27mm, the XF 23mm is the sharper lens for the money. However, as always this will ultimately depend on your individual shooting needs. Another option at 23mm is the FUJINON XF 23mm f/1.4 R if you need a more wide-angle view.
|FUJINON XF 27mm f/2.8||FUJINON XF23mm f/2 R WR|
The FUJINON XF 27mm f/2.8 may not have the wider aperture of f/2 or many external features, but it is one of the most compact lenses for the Fuji platform, like the Fuji X-T10 or 20. The lens delivers sharp results across the frame and the f/2.8 aperture is still wide enough for relatively low-light conditions and shallow depth of field shots.
Considering what the lens can achieve from the pancake design, it performs remarkably well. However, there are some downsides such as the tracking focus causing some focus hunting. Plus, the lens isn’t that great at capturing very close subject matter.