In the photographic community, the words ‘kit lens’ often carries a negative meaning of something created as an afterthought. A temporary solution that will produce mediocre results at best. Despite being labeled as ‘kit lens,’ Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS is the exact opposite of mediocrity.
The build quality alone is surprising. It is mostly made of steel and feels very solid. The zoom ring is tight and responsive. Optical stabilization works like a charm. Focusing is very silent and fast. You almost hear nothing. I use an XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR for paid gigs and the 18-55 for my weekends and street photography, and I must say that performance vise I am delighted with a kit lens, and I rarely feel that I might use a constant aperture of 16-55 pro lens. The kit lens is almost half the size and weight of 16-55, which is useful when you want to stay as discreet as possible while shooting street photography.
Actually, I bought 18-55 because last year, while I was photographing people enjoying the last day of summer in parks and some people were notably intimidated by my X-T3 and 16-55 combo size. That’s when I decided that I need to be less visible to my subjects. The Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS had a perfect form factor for this purpose.
It took a couple of days to get past the ‘kit lens’ factor. After viewing numerous reviews and sample pictures, I bought the Fujifilm X-E3 with 18-55. In this kit, the 18-55 cost me around 200$. To say that I was impressed by the image quality it renders is an understatement. Obviously, it is less sharp when wide open, but it gets very sharp when closed to F4 and stays sharp all the way to the F11. Of course, there is a slight softness at the edges when it is wide open. Also a barrel distortion, but it gets corrected in-camera, so you probably won’t even notice that.
To sum it up, the Fujinon 18-55 kit lens is a perfect budget ‘Jack of all trades.’ I can take beautiful portraits of my son and shoot street photography candidly, and it is great for landscapes and travel photography. With a good optical quality packed in a pretty small body, for its price, the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS is one of the best zoom lenses you can get for your X-line camera.