If You Shoot Fuji, You've Got To Try This Lens

If You Shoot Fuji, You've Got To Try This Lens

The Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 DC DN Contemporary Lens is the new addition to the Sigma range for Fuji X Mount to accompany their three existing contemporary f/1.4 prime lenses. So how does this lens fair when it comes to image quality, value for money, and useability? We test it to find out. Sigma's definition of its Contemporary lens line is compact, high-quality, and affordable, to meet the needs of a wide audience of creators who simply want great images and product quality that doesn’t break the bank. These Contemporary lenses are different from Sigma's Art range of lenses in that they have slightly fewer features, which helps keep the costs for both manufacturing and retail down, making them more affordable for everyone. The quality and versatility of this lens in particular is something worth checking out for yourself.

Build and Handling

The lens is very compact and lightweight for such a wide aperture throughout the zoom. Weighing in at 285 g the lens contains 13 elements in 10 groups, with an 18-50mm zoom range equating to 27-75mm in full-frame 35mm. The stepping motor is quiet and provides accurate autofocus and according to the Sigma, has autofocus algorithms specially made for the Fuji X Mount. 

The barrel is of a polycarbonate-type construction and is dust and splash resistant as there is a small rubber gasket at the mount. I personally would use the lens in a downpour but for light rain and a good dry afterward, I wouldn't hesitate. The compact dimensions for this zoom are 61mm x 76mm with a 55mm filter thread, so it's great for everyday use in most conditions should you just want to take one lens. The knurling for the focus and zoom rings provides good friction. The zoom ring at the front turns anticlockwise which is the opposite of native Fuji lenses but I never found that this was a hindrance. No aperture ring, your apertures are controlled by your command dial on the camera. The focus ring when working close to a subject and on a tripod, I felt could benefit from being a little wider, but I have big hands so perhaps not an issue. There is also no OIS on the lens and considering the price, I wouldn't expect it. The lens hood, like the lens itself, is of polycarbonate-type construction and fits neatly and precisely with an audible click.

Once fully zoomed to its max the lens still remains compact and unobtrusive should you want to use the lens for street or travel. Think of this as an everyday very portable sharp lens with varying suitability for a whole host of subjects.

Performance

For a third-party standard zoom lens, it is extremely sharp and a joy to use given its lightweight and compact size. At f/2.8 it's center sharp with minimal softening towards the edges, but as always that is to be expected. By the time you stop down to f/5.6, the softness subsides. Sharp throughout the apertures with minimal diffraction setting in around f/16 and above. Considering this is a standard zoom lens and a small one at that, the constant f/2.8 throughout I found to be very useful. The aperture ranges from f/2.8 to f/22 but I only tested it at f/16 and above to see how much diffraction came into play; again this was present and to be expected.

The autofocus is fast and the eye tracking never missed focus once when I used it to record a youtube video, meaning even more versatility for the lens. It boasts a minimum focusing distance of 21.1cm with a magnification ratio of 1:2.8. The lens also controls flare really well with only a slight drop in contrast when shooting into the sun.

No OIS, no problem. Well not entirely true but I was able to capture quite a few long exposures at ISO 100 and 1/4 second with the lens and the help of the IBIS of the X-T5. Considering the images are handheld I do think it shows how compatible the camera and lens are when presented with these conditions. I did experiment with slower shutter speeds but with no luck whatsoever; this I expected.

The gallery below contains some of the images I've captured during my time with the lens. All photographs were captured using aperture priority to enable me to see how the lens reacted quickly to different situations. Photographed at varying focal lengths, most of the images are shot at f/2.8 or f/8 unless otherwise stated.  As always they are resized to a 2000 px long edge.

What I Liked

Everything about this lens just works and feels right for the camera. It's lightweight, compact, and carries enough focal range for everyday shooting. It's dust and splash resistant, has a minimum aperture throughout the focal range of f/2.8, and is sharp.

What I Didn't Like

It doesn't have a dedicated aperture ring, and that's nothing to do with the lens, it's more of a personal preference and doesn't affect the lens's performance in any way.

Conclusion

I'll be honest and say that I don't want to return this lens but alas I must. It's been great to use in all situations with no negatives whatsoever. The autofocus is fast for both stills and video and the eye tracking never lost me once when videoing; a perfect vlogging lens. The lens is versatile enough to suit many different subjects and with a minimum aperture of f/2.8 throughout the range you really can't go wrong with whatever you use it for.

Considering the retail cost of $549, and the weight of the lens it's fantastic value for what it achieves in terms of versatility and sharpness. Although it doesn't have the OIS that the FUJIFILM XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS has it makes up for this with a constant f/2.8 aperture throughout the zoom range.

Ultimately it's down to you, your photographic needs, and your budget whether this lens is best suited to you, but I for one am glad that FujiFilm hasn't hesitated in allowing third-party lens manufacturers to release lenses when you are getting such great quality like this. 

You can purchase your FUJIFILM XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS Lens here.

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12 Comments
Gary Pardy's picture

I'm what you might call an XF-only, aperture-ring snob. This one might be too good to pass up.

Pedro Pulido's picture

look at a few tests and comparisons before purchasing.
Seems like it's no match to the XF 16-55 in terms of sharpness, and the 16-55 is quite an old lens.

Gary Pardy's picture

Good to know! I like the compact size of the 18-50 for personal use, but I do see the occasional 16-55 deal kicking around. Thanks Pedro!

Gary McIntyre's picture

It's a very versatile lens and yes smaller and lighter than the 16-55 plus you have the f/2.8 through the range. I wouldn't dismiss the 16-55 either though both great lenses.

Albert Clinton's picture

Great review. Small addition though - this lens can easily replace the, impossible to find, XF27mm f2.8 R WR, which costs £419.99 in the UK, despite being in plentiful supply and only costing ~£300 in American and Asian markets.
Make it make sense.
Despite lacking the aperture ring and (claimed) 'weather resistance', the Sigma covers the entire standard focal range carrying the same aperture throughout. It seems like a no brainer if you're on a budget (or just value your cash).
Truth is, I wanted the XF27mm, but its pricing defies economic principles, I cannot pull the trigger on it knowing the same Canon lens (EF-S 24mm F2.8) can be found for less than a quarter of the price, and now THIS Sigma offering similar performance at the same price AND being 18-50mm.

TL;DR Sigma solves Fujifilm's price gouging of Europeans, and Fujifilm are effectively charging £320 for an aperture ring and a rubber gasket.

Gary McIntyre's picture

It's one lens I'd like to try but as you say the price is a tad steep. This Sigma lens performs great and would definitely be worth considering as an alternative to the 27mm.
I'm just back down from the mountains today and took 3 lenses with me, but because of the lens's versatility, it never left my camera; it's now on my wishlist.

Fred N's picture

What is the difference with the 18-50 kit lens?

Ian S.'s picture

fixed aperture at 2.8

Ian S.'s picture

I just bought it, along with the x-t5, as soon as i test it i’ll get back to you.

Martin Leblanc's picture

Sigma miscalculated on this one by not including an aperture ring, they most probably cut the market penetration by more than half for this product. It's unfortunate, and shows lack of understanding of the market.

Gary Pardy's picture

I'm always mystified as to why aperture rings are missing on budget primes and constant aperture zooms. When Sigma launched their old-to-Sony, new-to-Fuji trio of f/1.4 primes, aperture rings would have practically made them no-brainers. Surely the cost of implementing an aperture ring is far outweighed by, as you say, the potential market penetration. I could understand if they were trying not to cannibalize sales of a higher budget lens within their lineup, but for Sigma APS-C this doesn't seem to be the case.