I’m lucky enough to work with some of Fujifilm’s most exotic lenses in my day-to-day work, as well as for my ongoing personal projects. It’s not uncommon for me to leave the house with the GFX100S + GF110mmF2 combo alongside something like the X-T4 with the new XF33mmF1.4. However, I recently spent a month working with the kit-lens-among-kit-lenses, the XC15-45mmF3.5-5.6 OIS PZ and wanted to share my findings with you here.
This piece will be a more experiential look at the lens but if you’re interested in a technical deep-dive comparing it to the pro-grade XF16-55mmF2.8, jump into the subscriber area in May for my full Gear Talk article on the technical side of the lens. In short, it’s quite a good lens. So, let’s take a look at some photos.
Spring weather: part 1
Seoul’s spring is still quite chilly, but we’ve definitely lost the biting cold of January and February. With that warmer air, though, typically comes the return of pollution, and yellow dust blows over for a week or so. When that happens, we’ll usually get a storm or two that comes through to wash it all away and give us some gorgeous blue skies for a few days.
These first frames are from one of those days. The storm blew in and I knew I had to get out and make some dramatic images of the city. Heading up to the ninth floor ‘Sky Park’ of our local TechnoMart electronics market gives a good view of the Jamsil downtown and the iconic Olympic Bridge and Lotte World Tower. With the low-hanging clouds, it was impossible to even see the 123-storey tower, so I focused my efforts on Olympic Bridge.
As the rain beat down, it was all I could do to keep water droplets off the little kit zoom. It’s not weather-sealed, so there’s always a chance of water droplets getting inside the mount. On top of that, because it’s an external zoom, there’s also the chance of sucking water droplets into the lens itself as you zoom in and out. With an umbrella in one hand and a microfibre cloth in the other, I got in a few frames of the bridge with some help from my Haida M7 graduated filter to bring a little additional drama to the scene.
Spring weather: part 2
I know I said that spring usually means the end of biting cold temperatures and I know this image looks quite cold. However, when I began this hike, it was 8°C at sea level and only marginally cooler at the top of this mountain. In Korean, there is a saying that roughly translates to “the flowers are afraid of the cold” and that refers to the couple of drops in temperature we get before spring truly begins. This was the last of those days.
I’ve been waiting for conditions like these up at this spot for a few years now and everything finally lined up. We had several hours of snow in the morning and I had no shoots lined up for the weekend. It was the perfect time to make the most of an opportunity and take the hike up there. The XC15-45mmF3.5-5.6, weighing in at only 136g, was the perfect companion for a hike like this. I’d be going straight uphill and potentially slipping on packed snow. A lightweight lens that could be replaced without breaking the bank was the perfect tool. If only I hadn’t taken my GFX100S as well…!
Another standout feature of this lens is its in-built stabilisation. That means that no matter what body you’re working with, you get a helping hand with keeping your images sharp. This was really useful as the light started to fade and my hands started to shake with the cold winds cutting through my clothes.
Spring weather: part 3
With those couple of storm days behind us, the skies started to clear and we got a few of those days that looked like what you imagine spring to be like. At this time, puffy cumulus clouds and clear air give the sense that we might finally be done with winter. This is the absolute perfect weather to get out and cycle Seoul’s river paths. Again, the lightweight and compact nature of the XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 makes it the perfect companion for a journey like this.
Dropping my X-T3 with only that lens into my Lowepro m-Trekker HP 120, I hopped on my bike and took a quick spin around a couple of neighbouring cities. As I was rolling back into Seoul, the sun was starting to go down and cast warm light across the apartment complexes and the 123-storey tower I couldn’t see through the clouds just a couple of weeks before.
I must say, I was more impressed with this lens than I thought I would be. As long as you’re careful with it, you’ll get some good images back. The lens covers a very useful set of focal lengths for the purposes I’ve been using it for, such as hiking, cycling and as a walk-around street lens.
I did find that it missed focus more often than I would like and I ended up needing to shoot multiple images and refocus in between to ensure I was getting perfectly focused images. Also, the detail in the corners of the frame (especially on the wide end) left a little to be desired. The power-zoom function did make it difficult to get the exact framing I wanted at times as well.
Honestly, I got it second-hand for around $80, so I certainly cannot complain about having such a capable tool at that price. While there are definitely better lenses out there, there really isn’t much you can get for the price I paid. Will I take this along to a job? Absolutely not. Will I take it on walks and holidays? More than likely.