Fujinon XF 18-120mm F4 LM WR PZ Gallery
July 20th, 2023
Powerzoom lenses are always a bit of the oddball in the room – caught between video and photography. The PowerZoom function is most reminiscent of the focus on camcorders or similar video cameras, but the cameras that a PZ lens will be mounted on is, at its heart, a device designed first and foremost for photography. Serious cinematographers tend to use more complex focus-follow systems and gearing for their systems, while many of those who are photographers first probably aren’t all that interested in the idea of zooming during video recording even if they do video. That leaves a fairly small niche for these lenses, which in many ways is a shame, as the Fujinon XF 18-120mm F4 LM WR PZ is, in many ways, the perfect all-in-one zoom for Fuji X-mount. It has a great focal range (nearly 6.7x zoom ratio), a constant aperture of F4, quality autofocus via the linear motors, an internally zooming design, and fairly good optics throughout. That focal range is so useful, going from 18mm (27mm full frame equivalence):
to 120mm (183mm full frame equivalence):
The vast, vast majority of photography subjects fall within this range, and I found the lens very useful as a walkaround lens. I personally preferred it to either the 18-55mm F2.8-4 OIS or the 16-80mm F4 OIS (though surely some will dispute the latter), but that is with a major caveat: I tested the lens on two bodies that have IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization) – the Fujifilm X-H2 and the new X-S20. The one acronym missing from the 18-120mm PZ’s description is OIS – which stands for Optical Image Stabilizer. There is no in-lens stabilization, which is actually very rare for any Fuji zoom lenses with an aperture of F4. If you own a body with IBIS, you may not miss it, but it is a very odd decision in a video specific lens considering how many of Fuji’s cameras don’t have IBIS. Trying to get handheld video without stabilization is a nightmare! This is a lens that should probably only be seriously considered by those that have a camera with IBIS.
If you do own such a camera, Fuji has developed some of the best IBIS systems out there. My X-H2 held the viewfinder perfectly steady with the 18-120mm PZ zoomed out to 120mm, and I was able to easily get 120mm shots with 1/5th of a second shutter speeds (right over 5 stops) and some success going one stop lower to 0.5 second shutter speeds.
I’ve read a number of user reviews since this is a lens that has been on the market for a while before I’m actually reviewing it (it released in September 2022), and most of the criticisms seem to fall around the lack of OIS and some frustrations with the video specific aspects of the lens. I actually feel like the lens would have been better received if they had gone a more conventional route and added OIS rather than the powerzoom functionality.
There is some renewed interest in PZ lenses at the moment due to the release of the TG-BT1 Tripod Grip. I’ve reviewed several such accessories in the past for other platforms, and they are very useful for Bluetooth control, extending your reach for vlogging, a quick tabletop tripod, and even for video capture where you have the major controls right at hand. It’s particularly useful if you have one of the powerzoom lenses (like the kit lens 15-45mm OIS PZ) or the 18-120mm PZ as you can smoothly zoom in our out without grasping a ring of any kind. This definitely adds some versatility and reminds me of using a remote to zoom my camcorder in years past.
I’ve reviewed the 18-120mm PZ on two different camera bodies. One is the compact X-S20 body (which I reviewed here); the second is the larger, higher resolution X-H2 (my review here). The X-H2 is the camera I’ve done the optical tests on, and it is the most demanding platform at the moment for any lens to be tested on. So does this lens make sense? You can read my thoughts in my text review, watch the video review below, or just enjoy the photos!
Thanks to Fujifilm Canada for loaning me this lens for review. As always, this is a completely independent review and my conclusions are my own.
Photos of the Fuji XF 18-120mm PZ
Photos Taken with the Fuji XF 18-120mm PZ
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