The XF 27mm f/2.8 is an ultra small, ultra light, and ultra portable lens for the Fujifilm X-mount system that has quickly become my most used piece of Fuji glass. In a world of muffin sized “pancake” lenses, the XF 27mm is a true flapjack. The XF 27mm lacks the aperture ring and solid build of Fuji’s newer ‘Fujicron’ lenses, but matches or beats those lenses on sharpness and portability. At first glance, I was put off by the lack of an aperture ring, longish 41mm focal length, and slightly slow max f/2.8 aperture. Once I went out shooting though, all of these hang-ups disappeared and were quickly replaced by my enjoyment of shooting with the XF 27mm and my appreciation of the end results. I’ll dive into all of this and more in the following review.
Construction and Handling
The XF 27mm f/2.8 is the sixth Fuji lens I’ve reviewed, and as mentioned above, is quickly becoming one of my favorites. It’s not as solid as my metal Fujicrons (16mm f2.8, 23mm f2, 35mm f2, 50mm f2), but it does have a decent build for how light it is (2.75oz / 78g). The bottom half of the lens has a metal casing, is capped with a metal focus ring, and has a plastic front element. The lack of an aperture ring is noticeable for someone like me that almost always shoots in aperture priority mode, but readjusting to using the dial didn’t take long.
The Fuji XF 27mm f/2.8 does not have any weather sealing, but as a small prime lens with limited ingress points, I haven’t had any issues with dust or moisture. I haven’t been out in harsh conditions though, as I prefer the security of my WR Fujicrons.
The Fuji XF 27mm f/2.8 is a very small lens at just .9 in (23mm) in height and 2.4 in (61mm) in width. At a scant 2.75oz (78g), this might be the lightest lens I’ve ever used. Paired with my X-S10 or X-Pro3, I feel like I’m walking around with a point and shoot. For the glass, Fuji uses 7 elements in 5 groups, and utilizes 7 rounded aperture blades for surprisingly pleasant bokeh.
The 27mm focal length works out to around 41mm on a full frame camera, and hits the ‘human eye’ sweet spot of a 55.5° angle of view. I’m often torn between the width of my 23mm f/2 and the tighter composition of my 35mm f2, so the 27mm provides a nice middle ground.
As a minimal pancake lens, the Fuji 27mm doesn’t come with a lens hood and the provided lens cap is as big as the focus ring. That’s how compact this lens is. The Fuji 27mm has proven to be very resistant to flares and ghosting due to the very small glass elements, so the lack of a lens hood has not been an issue. The front element uses a tiny 39mm filter thread for those looking to us with an ND filter.
The back of the Fuji 27mm sports a solid metal bayonet and keeps the majority of this lens’ weight right against the camera body. This makes for a very balanced feel in my hands on the X-T3, X-Pro3, and X-S10.
Released back in 2013, the 27mm f/2.8 is one of Fujifilm’s oldest lenses on the X mount system and it shows in the autofocus. The 27mm uses a coreless DC motor that is noisy and requires the front element to pulse to find focus. In AF-S, the focusing is accurate and quick despite the noise. In AF-C, the 27mm starts to show its age by missing most moving subjects. On my X-T3 with the latest autofocus firmware (v4.0) things have improved a little, but nothing like shooting with the Fujicrons. For MF, the 27mm is really nice with a well dampened focus ring that provides just the right feel.
Size and Weight
As I’ve mentioned a few times now, the greatest feature of this lens is the size and weight. With the 27mm coming in under 3oz and less than an inch tall makes it the perfect travel companion. The combination of the 27mm on my X-Pro3 has relegated my beloved X100v to backup duty, as it allows for swapping lenses should the need arise.
Specs and Stats
Dimensions: 2.41 x 0.91″ / 61.21 x 23.11 mm
Weight: 2.75 oz / 78 g
Filter Thread: 39mm
Focal Length: 27mm (41mm on full frame)
Aperture: f/2.8 – f/16
View Angle: 55.5°
Minimum Focus Distance: 1.12′ / 34 cm
Image Stabilization: None
The most talked about feature of the 27mm f2.8 is its size and portability, but my favorite feature is the image quality Fuji was able to deliver in such a small package. My previous experience with pancake lenses had me initially skeptical that there would be major sharpness tradeoffs to account for the small size. After a few months of shooting, I have nothing but positive things to say. In the photo below, you’ll see that the Fuji 27mm is already pretty sharp in the center wide open at f/2.8. There isn’t much room for improvement, but things get razor sharp by f/5.6.
The corners on the Fuji 27mm are equally impressive. The corners are expectedly a little soft wide open at f2.8, but improve nicely at f/4 and f/5.6. By f/8, the corners are very sharp, making for an impressive landscape lens while hiking and backpacking.
It’s tough to test for vignetting with Fujinon lenses since the RAW files and jpegs are processed with a built in lens profile that removes it. I’ve read that you can remove these profiles with editors like Iridient Developer. As a photographer that is already using Lightroom and Capture One, I’m going to pass on a third piece of software and just live with the built in corrections.
Bokeh and subject separation aren’t lens review topics that most would rank high on for a 27mm (41mm) pancake lens with a f/2.8 max aperture, but the Fuji 27mm actually does quite well in these categories. Before I say more, I’ll mention as I always do: I see bokeh in two ways, It’s either a compliment to the photo or its a distraction. I’m not interested in onion rings, cat eyes, aberrations, or astigmatisms, and steer clear of technical evaluations of bokeh.
To get a good test of my compliment vs distraction evaluation, I’ve selected a few sample photos with busy backgrounds. In these photos and others, I find that the Fuji 27mm does an average job with rendering out-of-focus areas. I was expecting the 27mm to provide the same nervous looking bokeh of my XF 18mm f/2, and in practice, it is marginally better, especially at high shutter speeds. I still give the XF 27mm f/2.8 a positive review here, as the bokeh is nice given the lens. As always, opinions are heavily influenced by expectations, and this is not the XF 90mm f/2.
Real World Performance
Real world photo samples are what drive every one of my lens purchases these days. I’m sure there are people out there making decisions based on charts, graphs, and brick wall photos… but I’ve yet to meet one in person. It’s important for me to see how a lens performs in situations that are similar to how and where I shoot. I also like to see photographers post photos using a style of shooting I’d like to learn from. As a landscape photographer that spends most of my time on hiking trails, it helps me a lot to see photographers of street, studio portraiture, real estate, etc., talking about how the quality of a lens compliments their style of shooting. I’ve learned a great deal from these reviewers and am very grateful that they take the time to share their experience. For that reason, I want to cover my personal experience with the Fuji XF 27mm f/2.8 in the situations I’ve used it most: environmental family portraits, walk-around, street, travel, and landscape. Obviously there is a lot of crossover in these categories, but I will try to organize my photo samples as best as I can below. I’ll also note that I wasn’t able to shoot this lens in travel situations as much as I had hoped due to Covid travel restrictions, so you’ll see a lot of usage in Southern California in the photos below.
For candid family photos and environmental portraits, the Fuji XF 27mm f/2.8 has been fantastic. The 41mm full frame field of view is wide enough to pull in the landscape without losing sight of the subject. I’ve been able to captures some print-worthy family photos on roadtrips over the past few months. This lens can capture landscapes and points of interest, and then grab a quick portrait without missing a beat. The XF 27mm is very sharp in the center wide open, and as I mentioned above, the bokeh is serviceable.
The only downside of the XF 27mm for portrait use is the sluggish performance in AF-C. With face/eye detection on, I find the hit rate quite low on a moving toddler. In standard AF-C, I have to keep my dogs very still.
Street Photography and Architecture
During the waves of Covid lockdowns over the past few months, I’ve been walking around 5 miles each morning and taking photos every day. The lightweight XF 27mm f/2.8 has been my lens of choice for many of these walks lately due to its weight and versatility. In the first wave of the lockdown back in March, I did a lot of shooting with the XF 18mm f/2, XF 23mm f/2, and x100v, but wanted something a little longer while keeping the size of my X100v. The XF 27mm has been the perfect choice and has helped me capture some of my favorite walkaround street images of the year.
Travel and Landscape Photography
As much as I’ve enjoyed XF 27mm as a walkaround lens, I find that it really shines for landscape and general travel photography. Many of my hikes reach 10+ miles with thousands of feet in elevation gain, so having a lightweight and packable camera matters a lot to me. This is also the case for backpacking and camping where I need my gear to be robust and portable. Like the XF 18mm, the lack of weather sealing is the main issue with this lens for travel and landscape. The lack of weather sealing makes me much more cautious of dust and moisture while out and about. The sharpness across the frame and flare resistance of the XF 27mm make it a nice option from dusk to dawn. Stopped down to f/16, the sunstars are fanned shaped and lack points, but are still nice to look at.
The Fuji XF 27mm f/2.8 comes in at an MSRP of $450, but don’t bother buying new. I was able to pick up a near perfect used copy for $200, and there are many on the market in the $200-$300 range. At that price, this lens is a near steal for what it can do. The XF 27mm is light, portable, and very sharp, making it the perfect travel companion. If the 41mm full frame focal length fits you’re shooting style, than this lens will help you capture many print worth photographs. The best thing I can say about this lens is that it will inspire you to bring your camera everywhere. With it’s small size, it makes most Fuji camera bodies small enough to slip into a fanny pack or side bag. As is often said, pick the camera gear you’re most likely to always take with you. The XF 27mm f/2.8 is exactly that.
***Update Note*** It is rumored that Fuji will be releasing a Mk2 of the XF 27mm f2.8, so I wanted to add a small wish list should this be the case. I love the performance, handling, and size of the XF 27mm mk1, but there are some areas Fuji could improve this lens. First, and most importantly, this lens would be great with weather sealing. Even if this adds a little size and weight. Second, an aperture ring would be nice to have. It’s not as important as the WR, but I love being able to make exposure adjustments before I turn on the camera. This is key in harsh light when I’m wearing goggles or polarized sunglasses and can’t see the screen text very well.