The new Fujifilm XF 18–135mm (~28–205mm-e) ƒ/3.5–5.6 R LM OIS WR lens uses 16 elements in 12 groups, including four aspherical elements and two extra-low dispersion glass elements. The lens is weatherproof, having over 20 weather seals. Fuji says there is a "ventilator" which allows zooming without allowing dust or moisture to be sucked into the lens. The 18–135mm includes newly improved image stabilization said to provide five stops of improvement, which you should consider to be another way of saying "better than before" (generally speaking, manufacturers' claims of image stabilization are excessive).
All of this lens's specs bespeak a great deal of care and cost in development, indicating that Fuji expects this lens to be a big seller within the XF system. The slowish ƒ/5.6 maximum aperture at the long end and large 67mm filter size (meaning: the lens is large, although, at just over one pound [490g] it's not heavy) are probably its major drawbacks, but when you try to do this much in one lens, something's gotta give.
Cost: a nickel shy of $900, and it's available for pre-order.
Curiously, $900 is the same amount as the price rise that Leica has announced for July 1st for its super-duperized version of the traditional plain-Jane normal for rangefinder 35mm and FF cameras, the 50mm ƒ/2 Summicron. (Officially the APO-Summicron-M 50mm ƒ/2 ASPH.)
A lens with a long and interesting history, the current version features three anomalous partial dispersion elements, two high refractive elements, and a floating group for closeup correction.
The APO-Summicron-M 50mm ƒ/2 ASPH, which is closer to my own idea of a perfect lens than a superzoom, is perhaps the most highly perfected single lens it is currently possible to buy for use on cameras. At the very least, one of a scant handful. Even the bokeh is outstanding. Its only drawback, if it has even one, is that enough other lenses are close enough to it in performance that the differences might not be easy to detect in practice; we've passed the point at which most lenses are sharp enough. But if you would rather not worry about whether you have the very, very best, this is the lens you should save your pesos for.
The price after July 1 will be $8,250. Until then, you can order it and the Fujifilm XF 18–135mm for the same amount.
The July 1 price hike will affect a dozen other Leica lenses as well. Hope you'll use our links when you stock up! :-)
Original contents copyright 2014 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
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Featured Comments from:
Tim: "I read this article around three times, clicked the 50mm ƒ/2 link twice, and then searched Google before my brain let me read the critical word 'rise.' I kept reading the sentence as 'Curiously, $900 is the same amount as the price that Leica has announced for....' I thought the deal of the century was happening and I could get the latest 50mm Leica for a scant $900. Well, if it's too good to be true...."
Mike replies: Some numerology for you, courtesy of my friend Oren Grad:
Popular Photography, Sept 1988, B&H Photo ad:
Leica 50mm Summicron-M: $649.00
AIS Nikkor 50mm ƒ/1.8: $68.00
AF Nikkor 50mm ƒ/1.8: $56.95
OM Zuiko 50mm ƒ/1.8: $66.00
SMC Pentax-A 50mm ƒ/1.7: $65.00
SMC Pentax-F 50mm ƒ/1.7: $67.95
Canon EF 50mm ƒ/1.8: $64.00
Today, B&H Photo web site:
Leica 50mm Apo-Summicron-M ASPH: $7350.00
Leica 50mm Summicron-M: $2350.00
AF-S Nikkor G 50mm ƒ/1.8 special edition: $276.95
AF-S Nikkor G 50mm ƒ/1.8 : $216.95
AF Nikkor D 50mm ƒ/1.8 : $129.00
Canon EF II 50mm ƒ/1.8 : $110.00
Kent Phelan: "And, not apples-to-apples, but related, $900 (more or less) is the price of a Zeiss 50mm ƒ/2 Planar lens—new. Not an Apo Summicron, but certainly in the same conversation as the 50mm ƒ/2 'regular' Summicron. On an M Monochrom I am finding that the differences between Leica and Zeiss lenses diminishes. All of the concern over color shifting in corners simply goes away on the Monochrom."