The XF 18mm F2 lens was released way back in 2012. It was one of the very first lenses for Fuji’s brand new APS-C sensor X-series mirrorless system, which debuted with the X-Pro 1 camera.
Fast forward 9 years to April 2021, and Fujifilm have released a much faster, F1.4 18mm lens that is markedly different from the F2 version.
Note that the new F1.4 lens doesn’t actually replace the older F2 version – you’ll still be able to buy that lens if you prefer what it has to offer.
So what are the main difference between these two Fuji 18mm lenses, and which is the best one for you?
We take a closer look in our detailed head-to-head comparison of the Fujifilm XF 18mm F1.4 versus the XF 18mm F2 to find out more…
Size and Weight
Viewed side by side, it’s obvious that, as you’d expect because of the difference in maximum aperture, the XF 18mm F1.4 is a much larger lens than the 18mm F2.
Having said that, the new 18mm is actually relatively compact for what is a fast F1.4 optic.
Weighing just 370g and measuring 68.8mm x 75.6mm with a reasonable 62mm filter size, the Fuji 18mm F1.4 proved to be a good fit even on a smaller camera body like the X-S10 that we tested it with.
The pancake style 18mm F2 is tiny though, weighing only 116g and measuring just 3.3cms in length, so if size is all-important and you don’t mind sacrificing the maximum aperture speed, it’s clearly the better option.
Being a faster lens, the XF 18mm F1.4 has a much more complicated optical construction than its predecessor – 15 elements in 9 groups including 3 aspherical and 1 ED elements.
By contrast, the XF 18mm F2 has a much simpler design – just 8 elements in 7 groups including 2 aspherical elements.
Both lenses have physical aperture rings which, given the tiny size of the F2 version, is a remarkable achievement!
The aperture range runs from the maximum value of f1.4/f2 in 1/3-stop increments to f/16 on both lenses, with an Auto setting available if you prefer to set the aperture via the camera body.
The aperture ring on the F2 lens has quite a stiff, notchy feel, though, whereas the one on the new F1.4 is much smoother and much more like the majority of other X-series lenses.
The XF 18mm F1.4 additionally benefits from having an A (Auto) Position Lock which locks the aperture ring into the A position, preventing accidental movement. The XF 18mm F2 lens doesn’t have this feature.
Despite their different price points, both lenses commendably have barrels that are made from metal, rather than plastic.
The main difference between them is their level of weather-proofing.
As the “WR” in the Fuji product name denotes, the new 18mm is weather-resistant thanks to seals at eight locations along the lens barrel, making it resistant to dust, moisture, and temperatures as low as -10°C (14°F).
The 18mm F2, on the other hand, has no such designation or protection, so you need to use it much more carefully in inclement conditions.
The XF 18mm F2 uses 52mm and the 18mm F1.4 uses 62mm filters. Both are common filter sizes.
The XF 18mm F1.4 benefits from having an internal AF system that’s driven by a powerful linear motor, which results in fast, accurate, and virtually silent auto-focusing
In stark contrast the 18mm F2 suffers from having a noisy, rather sluggish autofocus system that’s very similar to the one on the XF 35mm F1.4 lens.
When used side-by-side with the new 18mm, you can really notice the difference between the two in terms of their AF speed, noise and performance, so if auto-focusing is an important consideration, the XF 18mm F1.4 is the clear winner.
Both lenses have smooth manual focusing rings that are focus-by-wire, rather than using mechanical clutch-based focus rings, just like every other Fujifilm lens.
What the XF 18mm F1.4 doesn’t have is the manual focus clutch that’s on the similar 16mm and 23mm F1.4 lense, complete with a depth of field scale, which is a real missed opportunity on this lens.
Minimum Focusing Distance and Maximum Magnification
The old 18mm F2 can actually focus slightly closer than the new F1.4 version – 18cms versus 20cm – although the difference is so small that it makes little difference.
Likewise, the maximum magnification of the two lenses is also virtually indistinguishable – 0.15x on the F1.4 versus 0.14x on the F2.
The new XF 18mm F1.4 has 9 rounded aperture blades, whereas the older F2 only has 7 blades.
Coupled with the faster maximum aperture offered by the F1.4 lens, this means that it’s much easier to completely blur the background with the 18mm F1.4, and it also produces the most appealing bokeh effects too.
In the UK the Fujifilm XF 18mm F1.4 costs £879 / $999 in the UK and the US, respectively.
When is was first launched in 2012, the Fujifilm XF 18mm F2 lens was priced at £449 / $599. Nowadays, it actually costs a little more in the UK – £499 – but is still the same in the US.
So the price difference between the two is a not inconsiderable £380 / $400.
The XF 18mm F2 is one of Fujifilm’s less popular lenses, though, so you may be able to find a lightly-used second-hand one for much less than the new price.
The new XF 18mm F1.4 is faster, optically better, creates more appealing bokeh, focuses more quickly and quietly, and is more weather resistant than the old XF 18mm F2, but it’s also bigger, heavier and costs almost double the price.
So what do you think? Would you choose the new XF 18mm F1.4 or the old XF 18mm F2? Leave a comment below!