- Excellent zoom range from wide-angle to medium telephoto
- Sturdy weather-sealed construction
- Excellent close-up capabilities
- Fast and accurate autofocus in most light
- Very good central image sharpness throughout the zoom range, right from wide open
- Very nice bokeh for a super-zoom
- Rich color and high contrast throughout the focal range
- Good distortion control considering the focal range
- Excellent optical image stabilization
- Weather sealing at the lens mount isn’t completely effective
- Relatively large
- Sharpness at image edges is only average, especially at the wide and telephoto ends of the focal range
- Autofocus slows down in dim light
- Zoom gets harder to turn near 135mm
- A tad expensive
The Fuji 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR is the first super-zoom lens for the Fuji X-Mount, and the first Fuji lens to feature weather sealing. When combined with the excellent close-focus ability, the lens has the versatility to serve as an all-in-one take anywhere sort of optic, and for the most part it succeeds here. Fuji has put in an incredible image stabilizer that will get you close to 5 stops of extra handholdability, the range is incredibly useful, and it makes a perfect companion for the times you just don’t want to bother changing lenses. The lens is also optically quite good, though it falls short of outstanding. Color and contrast are fantastic, and even the bokeh is quite nice.
The 18-135mm is capable of producing images with very good central sharpness as well, even wide open. Where it falters is at the edges, especially near 18 and 135mm, where there’s softness that remains even after stopping down. As a result, it’s not going to blow anyone away with cross-frame detail, and for those looking for a high-end single lens solution, you may feel better off grabbing those excellent Fuji primes, or the two lens combo of the 18-55 and 55-200mm.
While the 18-135mm is weather sealed against dust and moisture, the sealing at the lens mount isn’t particularly well-engineered, and a bit of water was able to make it past the gasket and between the metal mounting surfaces of the lens and camera. While no water made it into the camera, I feel that a more sustained wet shoot would have resulted in some potential problems.
The big question is this: Would I recommend the lens? I’ll have to give a qualified ‘yes.’ I do think that its price is a bit high given the ultimate performance. When a slow zoom is pushing $1,000, it needs to be not just good optically, but excellent optically, and the 18-135mm falls short of excellent. The softness on the edge of the frame won’t ruin images, but it also may make you wish you had something sharper when you get that great shot and want it printed large. However, if the price isn’t a deterrent, the XF 18-135mm is a very versatile and useful single lens solution.
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