Fuji XF27mmF2.8 Review
I've always heard the XT27mmF2.8 was an underrated lens, but it only really when I got my X-E3 that I got one to trial it with the X-E3 as an X100 replacement, that I truly understood what people were talking about. The Fujifilm XF27mm is the smallest lens in the Fujifilm lineup. It's dimension and weight are unmatched although it loses the aperture ring to reduce the size and weight of the lens.
With Fujifilm's recent cash back combined with in store discounts of 10-20% depending on when you buy, the price of the XF27mm has reached a price point where it's hard for anyone to justify not owning one. At AUD$275 with 20% off and a $75 cash-back in Australia, it worked out to a little under AUD$150. For that price, you could be excused for thinking the result is a cheap soft lens. The XF27mm is anything but that.
Construction and Packaging
The packaging on the XF27mm is Fujifilm's usual setup. Black box, soft pouch, if you've ever seen the Fujifilm unboxing videos, this will seem like déjà vu. The construction is probably one of the few areas on the XF27mm that is lower than what I am used to with the existing lenses I have. It feels light, almost too light. The actual construction isn't bad. It reminds me a little of the nifty 50 f/1.8 From Nikon, a little more plastic than I am used to. The 27mm comes minus the aperture ring everyone is accustomed to with Fuji lenses.
The focal length
23mm is the preferred local length for a lot of people, it's my personal favourite as well which is why I was a big fan of the X100. So how does the 27mm Focal compare? I’m not a fan of 35mm (50mm Full Frame) for everyday carry, I prefer something wider. Personally I find the 27mm Focal length very good, but not perfect. I would still love to see a 23mm pancake lens at some point in future, perhaps even a much more expensive one with metal construction and an aperture ring.
What's it for?
There are a couple of options that the 27mm is perfect for:
1. Everyday carry - having something small for everyday carry is critical, because if it isn't small, you wait carry it.
3. Locations requiring compact cameras - There are a couple of time's that having a compact camera are a major benefit. If you head to a concert or theatre show, you'll generally get away with a compact camera.
This was the real surprise for me. You don't expect much from a $150 prime, it's not supposed to be that good and it's definitely not supposed to be sharper than the X100, but it is. It's sharp wide open at 27mm, a little soft in the corners, but it's still very sharp. Sure it loses the option of f/2, but that's only one stop.
I heard stories about the AF on the XF27mm so I was interested to see how bad it was. Maybe I wasn't expecting much or enough, but I was pleasantly surprised. It's not as fast as some of the modern Fujifilm primes like the XF23mmF2, but it's not terrible either when you combine it with some of the newer cameras like the X-E3 or X-T2. It's a fair amount faster than my previous X100T, although not as fast as the X-T2 with XF3mmF2 , about midway between the two is how I would see it.
What's wrong with it? So what is missing and what would I change?
1. I would love to see a 23mm version of the pancake. I don't think Fujifilm will do it but I can hope.
2. Aperture ring - although this is an obvious one. The question is how much it would add to the size?I can live without it but it would be nice.
3. Construction - I'd personally pay for a better version of this if it was available, better image quality and faster AF
4. Lack of lens hood support - I'm a fan of lens hoods, if not just to protect the front element from knocks. The current filler slice is to small to allow a decent filter based hood.
5. Lack of dedicated cases like the X100 cases. In the end, I found a company on ETSY who made me a custom case to my spec, and the advantage with this is that I could get it made up for the camera with grip, thumbrest and soft shutter.
There are a lot of people who say the XF27mm is one of the most underrated lenses in Fujifilm's line up and I cannot agree with them more. I think the XF27mm suffers a bad rap as a result of the legacy of previous pancake lenses. Pancake lenses of yester year were generally cheap poor quality lenses, and the only thing it has in common with that is cheap. It small light and optically superb.
As an easy to carry lens, it gives you the capacity to downsize your mirrorless to a small compact size, create your own X100 minus the hybrid viewfinder. It's not perfect but for the price it sells for, it would be hard to expect more, and I’d consider this incredible value for money. I'd recommend buying this now, or before the cashback ends, particularly if you find it on special.