In the world of photography, there is a particular type of lens about which most photographers get excited, the pancake lens.
A pancake lens is a colloquial term for a lens that's shorter than it is wide – hence looking like a 'pancake'. Due to their compacted dimensions, pancake lenses are always fixed focal length ('prime') lenses and much smaller and lighter than a regular lens.
When Fujifilm first announced the Fujinon XF27mmF2.8 lens, many photographers were excited because it was the first pancake lens for the system. This lens has high image quality and excellent build quality.
But it isn’t perfect. The Fujinon XF27mmF2.8 is a plastic lens and has no aperture ring. Additional there is no manual-focus override. There are no controls other than the focus control ring.
I switched to the Fujifilm X system because the system offers camera and lenses that offer quick access to the triangle of camera settings, ISO, aperture and shutter speed. The Fujinon XF27mmF2.8 disappoints in that regard. While it’s easy enough to map the rear command dial to change aperture settings for this lens, the process breaks my current working style as it requires learning some new muscle memory.
The Fujinon XF27mmF2.8 lens has no lens hood because a pancake lens with a lens hood defeats the purpose of a pancake lens.
When used on the X-mount cameras with their 1.52x crop factor sensors, it has the same angle of view as a 41mm lens sees when used on a 35mm camera.
I have mixed feelings about the Fujinon XF27mmF2.8 lens. I appreciate the compact nature of the pancake lens and fast autofocus. The 27mm focal length (~ 41mm full-frame) is ideal for street photography; however, the lack of manual-focus override and no aperture ring limits it's overall usefulness to me. If Fuji were to release a lens at this focal length with an aperture ring, I would seriously consider purchasing. In the meantime, I make do with my manual focus Asahi Optical Co. Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 28mm f/3.5.
You have to move a switch on your camera to get to or from manual focus mode and move a dial on the camera to change the aperture.
Compared to my Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR lens, the Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR is very light. It weighs 430g, just slightly less than two Apple iPhone 11 Pros. The Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR is smaller and less expensive than the Fujinon XF35mmF1.4 R1. The Fujinon XF35mmF2 R lens has a noticeable taper from the camera mount toward the end of the lens barrel, which is, along with the lens mini lens cap, a design that is not to my liking. I wish Fujifilm would make a wether resistant version of the Fujinon XF35F1.4 R.
Like most Fujinon lens, the Made in Japan Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR lens is an all-metal design and feels solid in my hand. The filter threads are metal. The front barrel is metal. The focus ring is metal. The aperture ring is metal. So that you get it; this is an all-metal lens. The R means the lens has an aperture ring while the WR signifies weather resistance. The aperture rings had a noticeable click when moving between the 1⁄3 step f/stops. The focus ring is smooth and continuous.
The Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR has a close focus distance of 35 centimetres, but an iPhone 11 Pro can focus at a closer subject distance. This fact may not matter to the target audience for this lens; street photographers. For my test, I used the lens around Witherspoon Street and Nassau Street in Princeton, New Jersey. The auto-focus felt fast, and the images are sharp.
I didn't include them here, but you can see images captured with the lens wide open on this entry for a craft ale.
If you choose to purchase this lens, please use Ritchie Roesch's affiliate link. I don't have one of my own.
I have rented this lens three times to use for birding photography. I have always admired Ray Hennessey's wildlife photography from afar, but earlier this year, I booked a few of his anytime bird photography workshops. During the spring migration of Warblers, I reserved several dates that worked with my schedule and Ray introduced me to these beautiful birds. I love the colour and behaviour of these delightful little birds.
I have only one lens for my Fujifilm X-T2; the Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR. It's an excellent lens but lacks sufficient focal lens for wildlife photography. For the one-on-one workshops with Ray, I rented a Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR, a super-telephoto zoom lens, from Lensrentals.
Fujifilm seems to enjoy using a long and complicated naming convention for their products, and while the Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR has the longest name I have seen yet, every part of the name is significant. Similar to Nikkor for Nikon lens, Fujinon is the brand name of Fujifilm lenses. The XF means that the lens is designed for Fujifilm’s X-Mount cameras. The R indicates that the lens has an aperture ring, something that is infrequently found in lenses from the "Big Brands", but something that I consider a requirement for all my lenses. LM stands for Linear Motor, the auto-focus system inside the lens.
The “WR” signifies weather-resistance, which is quite useful if your camera is weather-sealed and you like shooting in damp conditions like in the rain or snow or near waterfalls or the ocean. I once was caught out in a thunder-storm with some friends and none of our Nikon’s was weather sealed. My friends' Nikon was soaked and stopped working. I once went out shooting during a light snowstorm. Melting snow caused my Nikon DSLR to start “throwing errors”. I like WR lenses.
The OIS stands for Optical Image Stabilisation with this lens having five stops of stabilisation. The Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR has a maximum aperture of f/4.5 or f/5.6 depending on the focal length setting.
The focal length of the Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR is 100-400mm which, when attached to a Fujifilm X-Mount camera with 1.52 (APS-C) crop factor, has an equivalent 35mm format full-frame focal length of 152-609mm, which makes it a super-telephoto lens. With the exception of wildlife, sports, and portrait photography, long and very long telephoto lenses are a lot less useful than a "standard" zoom.
Although the Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR is a 152-609mm 35mm full-frame, to me the lens did not feel as large or as hefty. A Nikon 600mm lens weighs 2.3 kg which is more than the weight of the Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR and Fujifilm X-T2 combined. I carried the Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR and Fujifilm X-T2 in my hand with a hand strap. I did not get tired from holding this kit in my hand and so saw no need to hang the kit off my shoulder.
My rental unit arrived with a plastic hood which extended this 10 cm long lens to 16.5 cm, however, the Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens is mostly made of metal. It feels and operates like a well-made product.
Auto-focus on the Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens is very quick and is nearly silent, which is precisely what I wanted while out in the field, huddled behind bushes while photographing birds with Ray. I did not use the manual focus.
As one would expect from Fujifilm, the Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR is a sharp lens.
The Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR is an excellent option for wildlife photography, although but may not reach far enough for some scenarios. Fujifilm makes two weather-resistant teleconverters, the Fujifilm XF1.4X TC WR and Fujifilm XF2X TC WR, which extend the zoom range to 213-853mm and 304-1218mm respectively. All I can say to that is “whoa”! I have not used these teleconverters.
To conclude, I think the Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR is an excellent option for wildlife photography. In fact, it may be the only option for the Fujifilm X-Mount system. If I had the budget for and a regular need for an expensive wildlife lens, the Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens would be definitely worth owning.