Est. 2020

Fujifilm XF 18-120 f4 LM PZ WR Lens Review

*This post may contain affiliate links. Affiliate links are links to external websites that provide monetary value to me if you decide to purchase a product on their website. This is at no extra cost to you. For more information, please see the Affiliate Disclosure and the Privacy Policy

Quick Facts about the Fujifilm XF 18-120 F4 LM PZ WR Lens

  • Weight: 1 lb/470 Grams
  • Weather Sealed: Yes
  • Filter Size: 72mm
  • Angle of View: 76.5 Degrees to 13.5 Degrees
  • Focusing Distance:  2’/.60m
  • Max Aperture: F4
  • Minimum Aperture: F22
  • Image Stabilization: No 🙁
  • Mount System: Fuji X
  • Price: $899
  • Zoom: Power Zoom; Internal 

Introduction

27mm – 180mm with an aperture of F4 

When I first heard about this lens, I was extremely excited. With a zoom range that large, I thought that this lens might be the best “one-lens option” for XF shooters. After all, it is weather resistant and contains an F4 aperture. (If you use the 10-24mm F4, you will feel right at home.) 

However, I immediately knew there would be compromises on the 18-120. It will not be as sharp as the 16-55 or even the 18-55. And the lens not having OIS meant that video shooters (or photographers planning on using the longer-end) will certainly not be able to use this lens to its full potential. 

Let’s go ahead and see if some new, defining characteristics that are not present on other XF lenses (the power zoom) make this lens worth the $900. 

Who is the Fujifilm 18-120 for?

An important but difficult question to answer. 

I thought that this lens might be geared towards videographers. (And this is what Fujifilm heavily promotes.) The zooming was internal, there are seemingly a thousand different ways to change your focal length, and the autofocus is quick. Additionally, the lens sharpness test below revealed some flaws in the image quality from this lens. (Which isn’t a big deal for video work.) 

After testing this lens with the X-T4, I might have made a mistake in assuming this. The 18-120 is missing a core feature typical of video lenses, Optical Image Stabilization. And although the autofocus is quick, it is unreliable on Fujifilm cameras. (Unless you want to spend $2,500 for the X-H2s.)

So, what type of photographer is attracted to this lens? Need a lens for portraits? This can do it. Need a lens for landscapes? Also done. 

I guess what I am trying to say is this, the Fujifilm 18-120 is made for everyone but also no one.

What other Fujifilm lenses cover the 18-120 (APS-C)/27-180 (Full-Frame Equivalent?)

Because of this long zoom range, there are seemingly a never-ending amount of XF lenses that cover a similar length. I am going to attempt and write the skinny for each lens here, but if you want additional information, please see the full reviews. 

Zoom Lenses

  • Fujifilm XF 16-55 F2.8

Everyone’s favorite red-badge. The standard 24-70 F2.8 (Full-Frame equivalent) is the best performing zoom lens in this focal length. However, it is similar to this lens in the exclusion of OIS. And is the image quality really that good? 

One of my least favorite lenses, the 16-80mm F4 always disappointed in regards to image quality. I think it’s a direct competitor to this lens. 

  • Fujifilm XF 18-55 F2.8-F4.0

The standard kit lens. A used copy can be purchased for around $300. 

  • Fujifilm XF 18-135 F3.5-5.6

Another direct competitor of the 18-120, this 18-135 is Fujifilm’s other one-stop lens. This lens does have OIS! However, it struggles in low light with an aperture of F5.6

A beast. This lens is the best performing Fujifilm telephoto lens, period. Is it a bit expensive? Yup. 

The telephoto equivalent of the 18-55, the Fujifilm 55-200 can be found for sub-$400. 

It struggles past 130mm. 

Prime Lenses

An instant classic. The XF 23mm f1.4 is sharp, has beautiful sunstars, and it’s bokeh is magical. 

Everything I said about the 23mm, but at the 33mm f1.4 ‘s focal length. 

  • Fujifilm XF 50mm F1

One of the few F1 lenses in the world that also has autofocus. However, with that 75mm FF focal length, how do you control your depth of field?

  • Fujifilm XF 56mm F1.2 WR

A refresh of the original 56mm f1.2. This lens is now weather-resistant and has a closer focusing distance. (50cm)

  • Fujifilm XF 90mm F2

It’s weather resistant, has pretty fast autofocusing speeds, and is a valuable focal length for portraits. (Full-Frame = 135mm)

 

Dials, Switches, Buttons, and more!

Fujifilm 18-120 Buttons
Fujifilm 18-120 Buttons
  1. Manual Focus Ring
  2. Zoom Ring (Electronic)
  3. Zoom/Focus Control Ring (“The Zoom Rocker”)
  4. Zoom Buttons
  5. Zoom/Focus Button
 
What’s Missing

Although not necessary, two major features that are missing on the 18-120 are the marked aperture ring and the marked focal length. (It does not help that the zoom ring is electronic.) On my X-T4, I never knew what focal length I was shooting at. The menu setting that turned this option on the X-H2 and X-H2s is missing. 

How to PowerZoom & Review

Fujifilm 18-120 Buttons

If you have the X-Trans IV sensor or prior generations, you have 3 ways to zoom with this lens. 

#2) The Zoom Ring

#3) The Zoom Rocker 

#4) The Zoom Buttons 

Of the three, I found myself gravitating towards the rocker the most.

The process of using the zoom buttons seemed quite cumbersome. You press the button(s), and the lens automatically starts zooming in by itself. This is great, until you have to press the lens again to stop the zoom. Unfortunately, this action makes the video prone to camera shake. 

Meanwhile, the zoom ring just feels awkward. At least for me, I could never stop the lens right where I wanted to. 

If you have the X-Trans V sensor, there are 4 ways to zoom with this lens. 

  • The Zoom Ring
  • The Zoom Rocker 
  • The Zoom Buttons 
  • (Not Pictured) In the Camera Body
 

I am going to complain for a minute. 

On the 18-120, I could never see my focal length. It’s an onerous process to take a photo prior to a video, check the EXIF data to know the focal length, and then publish the focal length. 

Although I certainly don’t need all of the new settings or features of the new Fujifilm cameras, I felt that this impacted my ability to fully use this lens. 

I have one more complaint about the power zoom. 

Starting from the wider-end and going to the narrower end, you are going to see a noticeable warping of the image. 

In the video below, you’ll see it does not matter if the zoom feature is quick or slow. It’s rather unfortunate. 

Fujifilm 18-120 FOV

*The 33.9mm is close to the human eye’s field of view. This is what’s considered “normal.”

Build Quality Review

For the most part, the 18-120 had a solid feel. It is constructed out of plastic instead of metal, but I think that this lens was designed that way to reduce weight. 

Thankfully, the paint that Fujifilm used does not leave major streaks or fingerprints like other lenses. However, this paint is very susceptible to scratches. 

I think the weather-resistance will hold, too. (As long as you don’t use it underneath a waterfall.)

Finally, this lens also does have a fluorine coating. However, I still recommend using a UV filter. They are much easier and cheaper to clean. 

Sharpness Test

First up, let’s focus on the center sharpness of the 18-120. Then, we will focus on the corner sharpness below. 

Here are my takeaways from each of these focal lengths. 

  • 18mm 

At 18mm, the Fujifilm 18-120 struggles. Although it is sharper at F5.6 & F8, every other focal length on this lens performs better. 

  • 35mm 

There is a noticeable improvement at this focal length. 

  • 80mm 

For some odd reason, F11 performed worse than F4. 

  • 120mm

This image is certainly usable. However, it is less sharp than 80mm. Additionally, image degradation sets in around F11. 

Let’s focus on the top-left corner of these photos to show the image sharpness and more detail. 

Please note: This was cropped from a 20.80 inch by 13.86 inch rectangle to a 7.45 inch to 7.45 inch square focused on the top left.

From the corner-test, I found the following results. 

  • 18mm 

Unfortunately, the corners on the 18-120 struggle even more than the center. From my eye, I don’t even see how stopping down affected the image quality. 

I would go as far as saying, if you plan on using the wider-end of this lens for photography, don’t. 

  • 35mm 

A very much welcomed improvement in image quality/sharpness. The lens does start degrading around F11. And F4 performs better than F11. 

  • 80mm 

At 80mm, the 18-120’s F4 and F11 look the same. However, it performs better at F5.6 and F8. 

  • 120mm

I have never heard of a super-zoom performing better at its long end over the short end. But here we are. 

Sure, it still does not perform as well as it did at 35mm or 80mm, though. 

Bokeh Performance 

With a minimum focusing distance of almost two feet and an F4 aperture, you certainly are not going to get the creamiest bokeh from the 18-120. 

However, it is certainly passable. 

Regarding the transition from foreground to subject and subject to background, I didn’t find it unnerving in any way. 

Bokeh Balls

*There are 4 different pictures

Thankfully, there is no onion ring like effect on the bokeh balls. (I think Fujifilm has pretty much fixed this in the newer lenses.)

However, I wouldn’t go as far as saying that the bokeh balls are perfectly round at F4 or F5.6 in the corners. 

It may just take somebody actually staring to notice, but the bokeh balls on the corner of the photo loose their shape. 

By F6.4, this is resolved. However, most people are not using F6.4 to get perfectly round bokeh balls. 

There are better lenses for bokeh, such as the 56mm F1.2 WR.

Video Autofocus 

  • Any Eye
  • Tracking Sensitivity +2
  • Autofocus Speed +3

All of Fujifilm’s newer lenses are quick, accurate, and can track the subject quite well. The 18-120 is no exception. 

Sure, you are going to see around 1:57 where the camera fails to focus initially. But a quick change of my expression allows the system to find my eye. 

I would even go as far as saying that you won’t need to input a focus limiter on the X-T4 with the 18-120, if you use the best settings possible. 

Missing OIS- A Critical Mis-step? 

Above, I repeated the image warping and distortion test. However, I wanted to show you what the Internal Body Image Stabilization of the X-T4 looked like. 

Now, according to the spec sheet, the X-T4 has up to 6.5 stops of image stabilization. The X-H2s and X-H2 both have up to 7 stops. Meanwhile, the X-S10 only has up to 5 stops. 

These are just some of the current Fujifilm cameras that contain image stabilization, so it’s important to consider. Otherwise, you may need to look at purchasing a gimbal.

(Side note: The video at 0:26 has digital stabilization enabled on the X-T4. I really don’t recommend that with the IBIS/OIS on. That is what created the weird warping.) 

Personally, I would have preferred Fujifilm scrap the light weight motif for this lens, and add some optical image stabilization. I know that’s what we get with the 16-80, but I think this lens is a better option for almost everyone. 

Macro Performance and Focusing Distance

Fujifilm 18 120mm 120mm @ F4 Bokeh 1

The Fujifilm 18-120mm has a minimum focusing distance of 60 centimeters or 2 feet. It has a maximum magnification ratio of .20x. 

Honestly, two feet is a lot further away than I realized. On my video tests, you will see that I repeatedly lost focus as I zoomed. 

It makes sense, as the depth of field at F4 is slowly getting smaller as you extended into the telephoto portion of this lens. However, it’s just going to take some practice. 

Sunstars

I was actually in love with the sunstar/starburst effect from the 18-120. So much so, I would even say that this lens’s sunstars are better than the 50-140!!

Now, if you find 16-point stars distracting, you are going to want to look elsewhere. I recognize that this effect is purely stylistic and personal. 

Pros of the Fujifilm 18-120

  • Fun to Use (It’s different for the Fujifilm system)
This lens was a joy to use. Fujifilm purists will argue that the lack of an aperture ring take away from the photography experience. 
However, I found it refreshingly different. 
 
Fujifilm has been willing to experiment a bit with their recent lenses (such as the super-telephoto 150-600), and this makes me excited to see where they are headed next. 
 
(Now, if only I can get a refresh of the 16-55)
  • Great-one day carry 

If you are going to purchase one lens for the XF system, the 18-120 should be it. 

The angle of view changes from 76.5 to 13.5 degrees. It is weather resistant. etc. etc. 

It’s weather resistant, covers a large focal length. After all, Angle of View: 76.5 Degrees to 13.5 Degrees. And if you have a camera with internal body image stabilisation, it becomes less of a problem. 

  • Beautiful sunstars

I was not expecting the sunstar effect that was present on this lens. 

I was not expecgting the sunstar/starburst effect I got from the 18-120. 
  • Quick Autofocus 

The autofocus was quick and tracked well. This is despite the fact that there are fifteen different elements in twelve different groups. 

Cons of the Fujifilm 18-120

  • The Minimum Focusing Distance of 2 Feet

It’s something to be aware of as you use the power-zoom feature. 

  • Lacking OIS
I think I’ve ranted enough. 
  • Sharpness at 18mm

Probably the biggest disappointment of the 18-120 was the performance at the wider-end. If you need something to fill this gap, I think the perfect combination is the 10-24mm F4. 

Fujifilm 18-120 Sample Photos

Final Notes

I think the best phrase that describes the 18-120 is, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” 

My Rating 

Price: 4.5/5
 
I have yet to find a camera lens where I was happy with the price. 
 

Reliability: 3/5

This lens is missing points for numerous reasons. 

  1. Not being able to use the wider-end for photography. 
  2. The weird warp and distortion when using the power-zoom. 

Functionality: 4/5

Not being able to see the focal length or use the full menu to enable the power-zoom means that Fujifilm users will be stuck upgrading to the newer bodies. 

Style :4/5

The black paint does not leave fingerprints. However, it lost some points due to this paint is actually very easy to scratch.

Total: 15.5/20 or 77.5%

Want more travel?