Fuji 18-55mm compared to Nikon 28mm f/1.8G


If I have a motto in life, its 'Assume Nothing' and I've found that its served me well over the years. I'm therefore not particularly surprised (though not particularly pleased either!) when deliveries don't turn up, travel arrangements go wrong and in general not everything goes as smoothly as I expect or could reasonably anticipate. Applying this to my cameras and lenses I sometimes get unexpected results, which does show the virtues of actually doing some testing and finding out what actually is the case rather than what I would think it would be, or I wish it to be.

In the couple of posts I wrote recently, I was of the opinion that the Nikon 28mm f/1.8G lens I attached to my X-E1 was superior to my Fuji 18-55mm zoom. This from editing lots of images taken with both. I certainly believe that the Nikon is the best 28mm lens I've ever owned. However I decided to see, as a further exploration of my 'Manual focus lenses on Fuji X cameras, is it worth it?' theme, whether my non-tested opinion was true.

I set up the cacti for some tests. (And yes, those of you who suspect I bought them for exactly this purpose are right) and had a look at what each lens could deliver under ideal, tripod mounted conditions.


There are of course fundemantal differences between the two lenses. One is a zoom, one is a prime, one has AF the other doesn't have this option on a Fuji X camera, and the Nikon is a faster lens with a wider maximum aperture. However since the chances are that I would be using both lenses close their optimum apertures I decided to compare results at f/8 on the Fuji, and what I guessed was roughly f/8 on the Nikon. Roughly because due to my Kipon Nikon G > Fuji X adapter I have no way of knowing what the exact aperture is. However I moved the aperture ring on the adapter for the prime until the shutter speed matched that of the zoom so the results are reasonably close.

The first thing to say is that files from both are pretty impressive. Both delivered incredibly sharp results when the raw files were processed identically via Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop CC. However, though you may not be able to see it due to the Google+ internet reproduction, the result from the 18-55mm is just ever so slightly sharper when 'pixel-peeped' to 100% on my monitor. This did surprise me and shows just how good this zoom is and Fuji X lenses in general. The 28mm prime does of course offer that fast aperture and the zoom does have some softish edges at wide apertures at the 18mm end, but it does show that the Fuji 18-55mm is a rather special 'kit lens'. While there is no doubt that the 28mm mounted on either of my Nikon DSLR's would turn in a better performance than the zoom at 18mm on my X-E1, it does again question the belief that high quality third-party primes will always best native kit zooms, especially when the native lens is made by a company that knows how to design optics. That is certainly true of Fuji, who though they has a long break from producing both high-end cameras and lenses have a history of producing quality gear.  This is something I have found quite often in the past with m4/3. Many, including myself, have imagined that third party lenses with good reputations would outperform the native lenses, but lenses like the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 and especially the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 have proved that be not the case.

As far as I'm concerned this is actually good news. Despite lots of early reservations with the Fuji X system in general I am getting more and more impressed with what I can get from my X-E1. With its PhotoMadd L-Plate grip attached its now really good to work with and via Iridient Developer and Photoshop I'm getting some seriously impressive results. Incidentally I still think that Fuji did something in the last firmware upgrade that has resulted in better results via Adobe software and no I can't prove it, and no I don't have any evidence for it, but thats certainly my feeling. 

I remember when I bought my X-Pro 1 last year I felt like I was about to embark on an adventure and its certainly been like that. Whatever you say about Fuji X cameras, they certainly aren't boring! Fortunately the adventure is taking me into more and more rewarding territory and I'm really pleased with what the camera can deliver. It does make me somewhat impatient for the wide-angle zoom and I may yet feel the need to give the 55-200mm a try. And todays results seem to have made that more likely.



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