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XF 18-55 vs XC 16-50 for my X-T3 ?


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I just got myself a Fuji X-T3 body.

I am looking to pair it with an affordable lens as well as many manual focus adapted lenses that I already own.

But the majority of photos and video will be taken with the zoom I am planning to buy.

My budget allows for XF 18-55 or XC 16-50

I am really fond of the wide angle of 16 vs 18mm. But also I am worried that at the longer side of the zoom range f5.6 will not give any out of focus effect on portraits. Note that I am mostly a landscape and cityscape photographer rather than a portrait guy. Also night time photography will be better with the extra stop with the 18-55.  

From what I have read from a sharpness and image quality those two are on par. The 18-55 seems to be better made. 

So it's either the wider angle or the extra stop and build quality. Image quality should be the same I guess. 

 

What are your thoughts, experiences, opinions?

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  • 2 months later...

I know this question is a couple months old, but I just went through this exercise again myself. I'm afraid my recent experience will just complicate your decision, but perhaps I can offer a little information you may not be aware of.

I have the XF18-55, the XC16-50 OIS II, and I recently acquired an XC15-45 PZ. If image quality alone is the deciding criterion, I would go nuts trying to choose a clear winner because all three have very good image quality, and I can't tell them apart on a computer screen. Clearly, the XF18-55 is the 'best' of the three depending on your own definition of 'build quality', and what 'best' means. I say it is best because of the additional controls, the faster speed, and the metal mount ring. I am undecided if its metal body is actually better than the bulletproof plastics of the XC lenses. But the metal XF body is also heavier.

I don't think autofocus speed is much of an issue between the three, either. I would not have said this six months ago, but the latest firmware in these lenses makes all of them seem to equally focus faster and quieter without hiccups or hunting. This is especially true of the XC16-50, which had some pretty serious bad behavior with firmware 1.12, but with 1.13 is just as well behaved as the XF18-55. 

The XC15-45 PZ is a weird little animal. It is very, very small and light; nearly the same size as the XC35 f2 prime. It is the same speed as the XC16-50. It has the same very good image quality and focus speed, but the power zoom just feels weird. I use it on an X-E3, and as of yet, I am not able to tell what the focal length is before I take a shot. But it is super-small, and super-light. If I remember correctly, the XC15-45 can focus a little closer than the XC16-50, and both of them can focus much closer than the XF18-55.

In summary, both XC lenses are very light compared to the XF. Both XC lenses are a stop slower than the XF. Both XC lenses are far less expensive than the XF. Note that 15 mm vs. 18 mm on the short end made a more significant difference than I though it would. I consider the XC lenses 'disposable' because of the low cost, and I use those in any outdoor or hazardous environment. I plan to shelve the XC16-50 in favor of the XC15-45 because of its smaller size, and otherwise equal performance. I will never do without an XF18-55. It is just the gold standard, and so very versatile. I use it indoors, and in otherwise safe environments. I consider it a permanent member of my kit. It may not be the very best at anything, but it is real good for nearly everything.

You really can't go wrong with any of these lenses, but if you restrict your collection to XC lenses, you may continue to wonder if you're sacrificing anything by not having the XF18-55. IMHO, you would be, especially since you will use it on one of Fujifilm's most capable cameras.

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I overlooked your concern about portrait backgrounds, but I can say I shoot a lot of my grandson's LEGO work. I think this qualifies more as product photography, but there some features of these lenses that one could apply to portraits.

I shoot the LEGO scenes with the XC's because of the close focus. I shoot at 35 mm from about six inches away at f6.4 or f8, with the background about eighteen inches behind the subject, and use flash from overhead. I was surprised to see the background was beautifully blurry, so I would say when these lenses are in a close focus situation, they do real well with the rule of thumb that the distance from lens to subject and subject to background should be four-to-one to get some blur. This doesn't work as well with the XF18-55 because its minimum focus distance requires too large of a product stage to get the four-to-one ratio.

So, I think you can still achieve suitable background blur in a portrait by situating the camera as close as is practical to the subject, and situating the subject at four times that distance to the background.

Well, that was just too many words to say I think you can shoot portraits just fine with XC lenses.

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