The view at 40 – Thoughts on the Fujinon XF 27mm F2.8

I have a little XF 27mm f2.8 pancake lens on loan from Fuji Nordic, which is fast becoming my favourite lens to have on a camera.

It was a funny few minutes of figuring out how to operate this little lens after I first put it on my camera. All of the other Fujinon lenses I use have aperture rings, which makes shooting in aperture priority (my staple mode) a no brainer.  This one doesn’t though – you change both aperture and shooting mode using the rear command wheel on the camera body. So if you scroll too enthusiastically to get to f16, you’ll find yourself in P mode, or in my case going “Argh, what is it doing?”

As I get older, I find myself a reluctant advocate of the instruction manual. I hear it’s all downhill from here.

A magical forest in Hannover, Germany
A magical forest in Hannover, Germany

Until now, I haven’t regularly used anything that offers a field of view wider than 50mm equivalent when I shoot for myself. In the last few years, this was enforced at a practical level, as the XF 35mm f1.4, which is about 50mm on the X-T1’s APS-C sensor, was the only lens I owned until very recently. But I’ve been a fan of the 50mm focal length since I first owned a camera – generally, it means I have to have enough proximity to my subjects to keep the interaction honest, without my being in their faces, which I loathe doing and having done to me.

A part of artist Dries Verhoeven's Ceci N'est Pas... A commentary on our increasing fixation with youthfulness in an ageing society.
A part of artist Dries Verhoeven’s Ceci N’est Pas… A commentary on our increasing fixation with youthfulness in an ageing society.

I use wide angles frequently in commissions, but much of my personal work was developed at 50mm, so my perspective still corresponds to that range by default. This is where the pleasure of 10 extra millimetres comes in. The 27mm – 40mm equivalent focal length on an APS-C sensor – doesn’t force me any closer than I’m comfortable getting, while allowing me a little more space in the frame. Perfect.

Ok, there were a couple of pictures in colour. Hamburg Central Station, Germany.

But aside from more leeway while framing, the 27mm is also a very light, tiny lens. Without the weight of larger glass in front, this little pancake lens lightens the camera in my hand and makes the whole kit, and consequently the photographer, feel surprisingly incognito, offsetting some of the self consciousness brought about by the X-T1’s flashiness mentioned in the last post. Thus unburdened, I find myself making lots of black and white pictures.


I’m attracted to color, and most of my work is very color oriented, so I’m not sure what to make of it all.

I want to say it wasn’t the documentary-shooter-wannabe in me coming out, so I will attribute this instead, to the light in northern Europe that wrapped everything it fell on in a heavenly glamour, which begged to be respected in monochrome.

Street side, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Street side reflections, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Underground metro station, Hannover, Germany
Underground metro station, Hannover, Germany
One more full color image for the road. Long summer shadows on Dronning Louises Bro. Copenhagen, Denmark.
One more full color image for the road. Long summer shadows on Dronning Louises Bro. Copenhagen, Denmark.


  1. Pauly says:

    You voice the same opinion I have about the 27mm 2.8. Very indiscreet, lightweight and makes my X-E2 look like a small
    point and shoot camera on the street. I even use it for street portraits and gives just enough width nothing more than what
    is needed in the photo. Very underrated lens in the lineup.

    1. Charlene says:

      Ahhhh that’s gotta be my favourite camera body to date. Agree re the underratedness of the 27mm. There’s been little fanfare about what is a really great lens. I’ve not mentioned color, contrast, sharpness etc at all in my post, but I certainly find it up to par with any other Fujinon lens in that respect. The only thing that limits me using it professionally is its relative slowness to the f1.4 and f1.2 lenses I’m spoilt enough to own.

  2. Brian Miller says:

    Been thinking about getting that lens.

    1. Charlene says:

      What are you shooting with these days Brian?

  3. Erin Wilson says:

    Your photograph of the Dries Verhoeven’s installation is sublime. It’s that boy’s face, tucked in unexpectedly against the aged skin. Not sure if he’s standing there or a reflection. But it’s the perfect moment. Perfect.

    1. Charlene says:

      He was actually there, starting into the glass cage. His face reflects that of just about everyone else who was looking at that installation. It was a very accessible piece, and so confronting partly because of it.

  4. Brian Miller says:

    I got the XT-1 recently.

    1. Charlene says:


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