Fujinon XF8-16mm f/2.8 mini review – A wider shade of Fujifilm

Just when I thought I’d get around to posting more personal work stuff in between reviews, the time flew by, and Fujifilm decided to release not just one, but two amazing new lenses into the wild. So yet again, I’m bound by this desire to share my enthusiasm about the new products with you guys.
DSCF5561I had the XF8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR along with the XF200mm f/2 R LM WR for 7 days. I had to do product shots as usual, but I had 4 days of festival photography to attend to within that period, as well as taking care of my practice, so time was sparse. That also means that most of the shots within this review are concert photography shots. Not something that I consider my main expertise, but it is something I enjoy doing. And guess what? The 8-16mm f/2.8 is heaven sent for concert photography, and I know at least a couple of dedicated Fujifilm concert photographers that will be really thrilled with this lens.

DSCF0027
XF8-16mm f/2.8 @ 14.6mm

Normally I would write all the technical specs clean from release sheets, but this will be the first time that I will copy/paste the techspecs from the official Fujifilm press release. I just don’t see any point in using so much time re-writing that info. And to be honest I’d rather write about how it feels to use the lens.

DSCF7163
XF8-16mm f/2.8 @ 8mm

The down and dirty specs

Below are the official tech specs for the XF8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR.

Type FUJINON LENS XF8-16mmF2.8 R LM WR 
Lens configuration 20 elements 13 groups

(includes 4 Aspherical elements, 3 ED elements,

3 super ED elements)

Focal length (35mm format equivalent) f=8-16mm (12-24mm)
Angle of view 121°- 83.2°
Max. aperture F2.8
Min. aperture F22
Aperture control

Number of blades

Stop size

9(rounded diaphragm opening)

1/3EV (19 steps)

Focus range 25cm~∞ 
Max. magnification 0.1x 
External dimensions: Diameter x Length (approx.)

(distance from camera lens mount flange)

Φ88mm x 121.5mm 
Weight (approx.) 

(excluding caps )

805g   
Filter size
Accessories included Lens cap FLCP-8-16

Lens rear cap RLCP-001

Wrapping Cloth

I’m not going top comment to much on those specs, since…you know…well…. they’re specs 😀

DSCF7213
XF8-16mm f/2.8 @ 16mm

Build

Before I go into all that is good about the XF8-16mm, let me start of with the thing which is less than ideal.
What immediately caught my eye when I first saw the lens, and as you can probably see from the tech-sheet is that there’s no front filterthread. The lenshood is permanently fixed to the front of the lens like for example the Samyang 8mm fisheye. This means that for all you long-exposure landscape geeks, you will need to wait for your filtersystem manufacturer to provide a filter adapter. This is far from ideal, and to me it’s the single biggest flaw of this lens.

 

As you can tell from the dimensions, this is not a small lens, but at the same time it’s a lot smaller than the early prototypes that was shown back in late 2017. When on the camera though, it doesn’t really matter much. It does make the X-T2 front heavy, but on the X-H1 it fits just perfectly.

 

The build of the lens is gorgeous. This lens is one of Fujifilms “Red Badge” zoom lenses, and it fits perfectly into that lineage in regards to build quality and feel. It’s an all metal barrel. The focus is incredibly smooth and perfectly dampened, and the aperture ring has just the right amount of resistance and clicks. Fujifilm has refined their lens builds a lot since the first XF lenses, and this latest batch is by far the best built of the entire lineage. Amazing build quality. No less. – Let me note that I only spent a week with the lens, so I cannot report back on long term durability. But time will tell.

DSCF5744
The “Red Badge Badboys” – The XF8-16 is about the same size as the XF16-55

The lens does not include an OIS as the 10-24mm f/4 does. I didn’t miss it, since I always turn it off for these ultrawide angle lenses anyway.
One thing that the lens does indeed have going for it, in comparison with the 10-24 is weather resistance! Finally a true weather sealed wide angle lens, that I can drag through the elements of danish climate. I was looking forward to testing that, but the danish summer this year thinks that it’s from Morocco or something. I’ve seen nothing but sun since May 1st! But weather sealing is there, and it’s about time!

Autofocus is really fast and precise no matter what X-series body I threw it onto. But obviously performing best using the X-H1 or X-T2 with newest firmware (and probably now also the X-Pro2 with firmware 5.00).

Image Quality

Los disclaimeros numero uno: I’m a Fujifilm brand ambassador. I get early access to the prototype gear for product-shooting, and I take the liberty to throw the gear in front of my face and test it out a little bit. I don’t do that for money, cause I earn enough of that being a doctor and all. I do it because I want to share all the good things that I find within the Fujifilm ecosystem. If you think that makes this little writeup invaluable, cool beans. There will be 6000+ YouTubers telling you how bad this gear is without ever having handled it. You probably know where to find them.
My advice would be to go to a store once the product is available, and test it out. See if it fits your shooting style, and then decide if you want to spend your hard earned money on it.
Isn’t it cool being a grown-up that can experience, and process different opinions of subject?
Anyways. Enough with the pseudo-apologetic mumbo-jumbo. Let’s resume broadcasting.

Now, let’s get onto the thing that everyone wants to read about. Image Quality! And let me just say this right away. It’s AMAZING! What these super-wide angle lenses often suffer from is distortion as well as corner softness. This is quite natural since the light rays get bent completely out of shape. Fujifilm has placed no less  than 4 aspherical elements, and 6 low-dispersion elements into this lens to tame and shape the light. It gives heft to the lens, but oh boy does it work marvellous wonders on image quality.
DSCF0019

 

The lens is rectilinear, opposite of fisheye lenses that distorts on purpose by design. A rectilinear lens that has its widest setting at 8mm and doesn’t have any optical distortion is incredible in itself. I was blown away by the Laowa 9mm f/2.8 ability to handle distortion, but the Fujinon 8-16mm is equally straight, and it has close to zero vignetting, which is the most prominent downside of the Laowa.

The lens is so sharp corner to corner. It’s incredible. Much sharper than the 10-24. And this even hold true when shot wide open at f/2.8. I have nothing bad to say about the sharpness of this lens. It’s very very good. Bokeh is actually quite alright. You have to get really close to you subject in focus, to actually gain some background blur, but this is an ultrawide, so bokeh is probably not of any concern to those of you who wants to buy this lens.

DSCF0033-2
“The Florines” XF8-16mm @ 8mm

One thing that caught me completely off guard, was how cool the sunstars from this lens are. I mean, I’ve seen some cool sunstars in my time, but this is just ridiculously good. Even stage lights shot at f/16 gives you star-level 1000.
And at f/22 shooting into direct sunlight is just downright epic! – obviously when you do this you’re playing ball right on the edge of the cliff of flaring, but even when flaring do occur, it’s very very well controlled. The coating of this lens is really something.

DSCF0149
“Turboweekend” – XF8-16mm @ 16mm f/16 – Look at that sunstar! Amazing!

 

Make sure to click the gallery above for full sunstar-goodness!!

As I wrote in the beginning of this mini-review, I only had 7 days with this lens, so there are obvious limits as to how varied the test material is. Obviously mostly used for concert shots, this lens is amazing for that particular usage. But I had a little bit of time to test out some architecture, street and landscapes. This lens does it all. It’s amazing, and its one of those lenses that I definitely need to own when it’s released. Supposedly not released until November, the wait for the 8-16mm f/2.8 to be released will give the filtersystem manufacturers some time to launch a filter holder system.
DSCF7125

Samples

As per usual, samples has been smacked around in an image editor of choice, and will give you an idea of how I use a lens like this. RAW files straight from camera will not be found at this site.