Fujifilm 10-24mm f/4 First Impression

10-24mm.jpg

I was startled by how big the retail box was. Huge. Bigger than the box for a complete camera system that got shipped to me at the same time. Just how big was the wide angle zoom lens that was inside? Fortunately, not as big as the box it comes in might suggest. Still, it’s a reasonable large lens, almost 4” in length and 3.25” wide at the front element (72mm filters). 

As usual with Fujifilm, you get a thin “bag” for the lens and a bayonet lens hood. 

I have no specific comments on optical characteristics yet, as that is going to take some care to evaluate now that every camera uses correction to correct a number of possible problems, as do most raw converters. First examination didn’t reveal any surprises in this respect, though; as far as wide angle lenses go, this one is quite good. I’ll have much more to say in a review.

In terms of handling, it appears that Fujifilm has made a choice that I find problematic. When the X series first kicked off, all the lenses had aperture rings. Then two things happened: first, Fujifilm came up with some variable aperture zooms; second, Fujifilm dipped into the low-end body range with cameras that didn’t exactly have the direct controls necessary to substitute for an aperture ring, if necessary. The result was a ring that controls aperture that is click stopped, but not marked, and a switch on the side of the lens to set auto aperture versus user control of apertures. 

I’m not a fan. And here we have a lens that doesn’t have variable apertures that is using this unlabeled ring construct. Tsk, tsk. I expected more from Fujifilm, which seemed to at first get the notion that dedicated and labeled rings are useful for evaluating how the camera’s set without turning it on or looking at a display. This is a step backwards to me. Either do the retro thing right, or don’t do it at all. 

The aperture “ring” (near the back of the lens) is too easily moved from its click stops, a common problem amongst the lenses that share this design. Since I shoot in Aperture priority mode most of the time and Manual exposure mode most of the rest of the time, I’ve found that I’m having to watch that I haven’t accidentally changed apertures. That’s a small thing, but it’s a nuisance when the aperture gets changed and I don’t notice right away. 

The front element of the lens moves with zooming, however it’s recessed and separate from the filter rings, so filters sit where they’re placed and don’t move during focus or zooming. At 10mm, though, you’re going to need thin filters, as the front element is barely clearing some filters I tried. Indeed, I suspect that there will be glare issues with filters that aren’t back-coated, as you’ve got a flat/curved relationship right where light can get bounced the easiest. 

Heft of the lens is substantial. On the lighter X bodies even this modest sized lens is going to create a bit front-heavy of a system. On an X-T1, this is about as heavy a lens as you’d want without putting your hand under it for support while shooting. Unusual for a wide angle zoom, the 10-24mm has OIS to stabilize shots. I think that the light camera body users are going to appreciate that, especially those that don’t have EVFs and are doing the two-handed salute in front of them to compose. 

Both the focus ring (at front of lens) and zoom lens (aft of the focus ring and larger) are appropriately stiff and smooth on my sample. I wish all lenses had such nice feel to the rings. While the focus ring can be differentiated from the zoom ring by feel (zoom ring has a more rubbery touch), I wish there was a little more distinction here. 

The supplied petal lens hood bayonets onto the lens and can be reversed on the lens for transport, though it makes the front of the lens even wider when you do that. The front pinch cap has such wide pinch points that you can’t miss them, as you can on some lenses. Thank you Fujifilm.

Overall, the build quality is what you expect, with attention to detail, great materials, and tight fits all around. I’m looking forward to some backcountry shooting with this new lens. It’s probably what I’ll bring for my next remote slot canyon hikes, for example. 

I should point out that those evaluating other systems versus the Fujifilm system should pay attention to weight. Most of the Fujifilm lenses are built tank-tough, which means that, in addition to the bigger glass needed to cover an APS sensor compared to smaller sensors, the lenses do tend to become a bit on the weighty side. The Fujifilm 10-24mm is 33% heavier than the Panasonic 7-14mm for m4/3, for example. A lot of folk are getting hung up only on camera weights. It really is the full system weight you’re carrying where you’ll find tangible differences. Carry a camera and four lenses and some accessories, and the differences between Nikon 1, m4/3, Fujifilm X, and DSLRs start to become more pronounced.

For US$1000 you expect a good lens. In terms of build and handling, the 10-24mm certainly seems up to the level I expected, except for that aperture ring function I don’t like. I hope the optics live up to the same high standard the rest of the lens sets.


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