I spent a lot of time over the last few months shooting street photography in Vancouver, with a focus on using high contrast light and shadows. Most of this work was done with the Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 pancake lens, a lens that I hadn’t worked with before. I was really curious to try it though, and my friends at Fujifilm Canada were kind enough to send one out to me.
The 27mm pancake lens was originally announced on June 26th, 2012. At that time there wasn’t a lot of small glass available for the Fuji X Series, making this tiny pancake lens an attractive option for those who wanted a more compact system to carry around. Fast forward to the end of 2016, however, and we now have the new Fujinon 23mm f/2 and the Fujinon 35mm f/2 lenses available to us. In regard to price point, the 3 lenses break down as follows:
- Fujinon 23mm f/2 – $449 USD
- Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 – $449 USD (currently on sale for $349 USD)
- Fujinon 35mm f/2 – $399 USD (currently on sale for $299 USD)
Having just been released this year, the 23mm f/2 and the 35mm f/2 are much newer lenses. They focus incredibly fast, are weather resistant, and operate smoothly and silently. I love working with both of them, so I was curious to see whether or not the 27mm pancake lens still held up to its newer siblings.
On the surface the 27mm pancake lens is slower, at f/2.8 wide open versus the f/2 of the newer lenses. It isn’t weather resistant, which the newer ones are. And, ergonomically speaking, it doesn’t have an aperture ring which definitely took time for me to get used to. Honestly, the newer lenses are so good that it would be hard not to recommend them if you are looking for new glass in this focal range.
I have to say though that I have really enjoyed working with the 27mm pancake lens. First off, it is tiny. Literally, it is not much larger than a lens cap. The camera profile remains very small when it is mounted, making it easy to put into your pocket and carry. It performed well, and I had no issues with the autofocus even though it was noticeably slower than its newer siblings. To be honest I was impressed with how well it held up to some of the newer glass. Do I prefer the image quality from the newer 23mm f/2 and the 35mm f/2 lenses? I do, but only marginally so. Both of those lenses have a character that is unique to them though, and that is important when selecting a lens.
So the question really came down to this: In 2016 (almost 2017), could I recommend the Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 pancake lens to people? The Fujifilm X Series has grown in leaps and bounds over the last 5 years, and their lens design has matured along with that growth. The new 23mm f/2 and 35mm f/2 lenses are so good, with excellent AF and weather resistance (at great price points); but the answer is yes, I would still recommend the 27mm pancake lens as a viable option, mainly if size is a deciding factor. It really is that small, and having the option to put glass on an X-Pro2 that still allows me to slip it into a coat pocket is a great option to have at times. I think it is a testament to how good Fuji’s lens design is that a lens from the early days of the system still manages to hold a valuable place in the Fujinon lens line up. We have so much choice available to us now as X photographers, and that really is a great thing!
Getting away from gear, let’s talk about light and shadow. How amazing is it when you find great light while shooting out on the street? I love it. I get excited when I find a good spot, in great light, and know it is just a matter of tenacity and patience before I have a new street image that I am going to be happy with. That is what this selection of photos represents. I hope you like them, and if you need something small and pocketable don’t discount the 27mm pancake lens!