We recently went to Venice for a city break armed with both our Fuji X – E1 with the kit 18-55mm lens and our Canon 400D, which was firing through the barrel of a Sigma 70 – 300mm zoom. Because the Fuji zoom lens is an above average stock lens we had most bases covered with this set up. Back home though and we decided to give some thought to adding a lens to our kit but the question was what to go for?
To help with this decision, I looked through our photos to see how we were shooting and it seems that with the Fuji X-E1 we shoot wide at 18mm, as below, or on full zoom at 55mm as above. We rarely shot somewhere in between. At 18mm I was either shooting at around f8 to f10 doing cityscapes or I wanted the lowest aperture I could get f2.8, or I was at 55mm zooming in close to get the detail as with the carnival masks shot above.
With the Canon we were picking out stuff further afield and getting the detail up close and dirty. Peanut especially enjoys the zoom work and snaffled perhaps our favourite shot of the trip, capturing the two gondoliers chatting below at 190mm.
This points us to a number of possible lenses then.
First, as we like 18 mm, we could go for the 18mm F2 R and enjoy the lovely possibilities offered by the even lower F2 aperture. Looking back on our photos and seeing the proportion of our photos shot at this length makes this at first seem a great choice. The camera would be smaller still and even lighter and 70% of our photos would be covered by this lens.
Secondly, we could add a zoom – the XF55 – 200 mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS. This would give us image stabilisation which we do not have with our budget but capable Sigma zoom and would be a lot smaller than the Sigma bolted onto the Canon 400D. Knowing how much Peanut likes the zoom work and knowing that a 200mm covers most of her work, including the gorgeous shot above, this is perhaps a more tempting choice than the 18mm prime. With this in our armoury we would be Fujied up from 18mm through to 200mm.
Finally, there is the 35mm F1.4 R. All the arguments are for, rather than against this lens to be honest, whether they be sensible informed ones, or the illogical and preposterous ones that usually sway both myself and Mrs Peanut. Wholly on the logic side are the facts. Fact Number one - this lens gets rave reviews both by the professionals and by the budding enthusiats and semi professionals that can be found hanging around the vignetted corners of the virtual WordPress world – check out Simon Peckham’s thoughts. Fact number two – this lens has a thrilling F1.4, which guarantees gorgeous bokeh. Next we have justification through illogical logic. I never shoot at 35 mm, so what is the point? Well the point is that I never shoot at 35mm and clearly I am missing something by not doing, so let’s get this lens and it will add to the width and variety of the photos we take. Makes good sense don’t you think? Then there is the preposterous justification. Namely this comes with one very sexy lens hood. Not only that but the lens hood is not universally loved – it falls off easily apparently and when we read this we felt sorry for the poor ickle lens hood that looked so good but seems to perform so bad.
So there you have it, the 35mm F1.4 R gets our vote, basically because it has a very sexy lens hood that actually isn’t all that good. Santa be a good lad, put this in our sack and drop down our chimney early!