Compact Impact – The Fujinon XF16mm f2.8 review

As noted on the roadmap back in summer of 2018 Fujifilm was going to be launching a new small 16mm lens for the X-series system by start 2019. And here we are. Start 2019 has come – and indeed Fujifilm delivered on their promise and today announced the XF16mm f/2.8 R WR.

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The XF16mm f/2.8 – So weather sealed that you can take it with you in the shower!

The XF16mm f/2,8 fits into the line of compact, weather resistant, fast focusing primes that I have started nicknaming “The Fujicrons”. The lenses that I consider to be in this line up are the XF23mm f/2, XF35mm f/2 and the XF50mm f/2. And from today you can now add the XF16mm f/2.8 to that list. “The Fujicron Trio” is now “The Fujicron Quartet”

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The “Fujicrons”

I know that the 16mm f/2.8 is not an f/2 lens like the rest of the Fujicrons, but if you put it next to these lenses the physical traits, as well as the optical traits, are definitely the same across the board. Even more so than placing the XF16mm f/2,8 in the same series as the XF14mm f/2.8. The 14mm is a totally different concept. It’s not weather sealed, and uses the pull-back focus ring as found on the XF23mm f/1.4 and the XF16mm f/1.4.

And speaking of the XF16mm f/1.4. This lens is already loved, and owned by many Fujifilm shooters, and it is legendary for it’s insanely great image quality and usability. I have never used that lens much. I’ve always found it just a tad too heavy and big to lug around and fit into my type of photography.
That also means that I donate have that much experience shooting with a “24mm full frame equivalent” focal lentgh. So when I got a chance to test the XF16mm f/2.8 R WR, I was really feeling as if I was breaking new grounds, and learning new things for my photography.

 

There’s no denying that the 16mm (24mm full frame) is an insanely usable focal length. It’s wider than the “standard documentary” 18mm (28mm ff eq), yet it gives just a bit of a tighter crop than the very landscape oriented 14mm (21mm ff eq) – So it is indeed a focal length that holds its own really well if you ask me. And it’s possible to do a lot of shots in different styles in a very varied manner. It has indeed been very fun learning to “see” using the 16mm FOV.
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Now before I continue I need to post the usual disclaimers, just to keep the worst of all the internet-keyboard-warriors at arms length. 

Disclaimer 1: I’m an X-photographer. Thats spelled brand ambassador for Fujifilm. I don’t get paid for doing these write ups (and I have been doing them even before getting involved with Fujifilm). I get sent the gear when I do the editorial packshots for Fujifilm Japan (and for this I get paid, just as I should be!) – So I get to play around with the gear a little bit when they’re around the house. This means that I’m just about as biased as I can get, and whether you choose to believe my views or not is entirely up to you. I expect you to be adults, capable of forming your own opinions based on presented information
Disclaimer 2: All the images in this article has been shot using a prototype lens. Image quality might therefore not be final.
Disclaimer 3: All shots with- and of the product has been shot by me. 

Now – Let’s continue, shall we?

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XT30 – XF16mm f/2.8

Build and feel

The build of the 16mm f/2.8 R WR is sublime. Just like the rest of the Fujicrons, it has a metal barrel with a metal mount. It has rubber sealing pointing towards the mount to ensure the full weather resistant mounting when on-camera.
The aperture ring has great smooth 1/3 stops stepped clicks, with markings for each full stop. The focusing ring is perfectly dampened, and has just the right amount of resistance and give. It really has a superb build.

The included hood is of plastic, and has a new design. A leaf petal shape, all though it is a little different since its rather flat not too producing. It looks really really good with the lens. By far the best looking plastic lens hood that Fujifilm has ever shipped with one of their lenses in my opinion. 

The lens is really nice and compact. It fits the smaller Fujifilm bodies perfectly. I think it is a perfect match for my X-Pro2, but also for the X-E3 and the newly announced XT-30. It is small and inconspicuous, and compared to the XF16mm f/1.4, this new 16mm is a mouse next to and elephant. It gives way for really unobtrusive shooting, hence it is perfect for getting up close in street- and documentary photography.
For travelling this lens is also perfect. As this is being posted online, I’m travelling through Florida and the Caribbean, and the compactness of this lens is perfect. I’m carrying it alongside the XF23mm f/2, the XF50mm f/2 and the XF35mm f/1.4. A very versatile kit that fits very snuggly inside my ONA Bowery bag! It’s so nice to travel with this lens.

The lens is weather sealed, and this fact makes it even more versatile in outdoor shooting situations. I already brought it to massive snow fights, on the sleigh-hill, the ice skating track – and even in the shower. This little lens is amazing. 

The focus is very fast and very precise. This is probably a new number one on my list of fast focusing XF lenses. It snaps on dead quick, and VERY VERY precisely. This is of course because the lens elements are quite small in this small wide angle lens. But still….. very impressive!

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XT30 – XF16mm f/2.8 – Very fast and accurate combination

Now I’m just going to copy paste the technical specifications for the lens directly from the info I got from Fujifilm. I really don’t now much about lenselement coatings and aspherical elements, but the brilliant engineers at Fujifilm do know a lot about that, so I believe in what they write. 

Type XF16mmF2.8 R WR
Lens configuration 10 elements 8 groups (includes 2 aspherical elements)
Focal length (35mm format equivalent) f=16mm (24mm)
Angle of view 83.2°
Max. aperture F2.8
Min. aperture F22
Aperture control
  • Number of blades:9(rounded diaphragm opening)
  • Step size : 1/3EV (19 steps)
Focus range 17cm-∞
Max. magnification 0.13x
External dimensions : Diameter x Length* (approx.)
* distance from camera lens mount flange
ø60.0mm x 45.4mm
Weight* (approx.)
*excluding caps and hoods
155g
Filter size ø49mm

Image Quality

This is obviously where I can attribute with something. If we’re looking at the image quality compared to the XF16mm f/1.4, I would have to give the edge to the 16mm f/1.4. This was no surprise to me, and it is the same thing across the Fujicron-range. If you load these images into a raw editor that doesn’t support the lens yet, you can see that corrections are being put into the jpegs. This is just the same as the XF23mm f/2 and the XF35mm f/2.

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XT30 – XF16mm f/2.8 – Great image quality in this lens!

The lens will give you very straight lines, with no apparent curvature near the edges. At least I didn’t find any problems with either my landscape- or architectural shots that I took during the test period.
The sunstars are not as easily achievable, nor as beautiful, as when using the XF8-16mm f/2.8 lens, but they are pretty nice in their own right . And the XF8-16mm sunstars are some of the most amazing sunstars I’ve ever seen in a lens.

 I was hard pressed to make it flare, but when I finally managed to do so, it created a nice controlled flare across the image. 

Image quality with this lens is very good. It’s sharp edge to edge, no visible light falloff at the edges, and it has very nice contrast. It’s getting quite tiresome to write it every time I do a lens review, but the Fujinon image quality is really something. And this lens is no exception. It’s a fantastic piece of glass, that I advice any Fujifilm shooter to carry in their arsenal of lenses.

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XT30 – XF16mm f/2.8 – Beautiful landscape lens.
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X-Pro2 – XF16mm f/2.8 – Perfect street lens.

Conclusion

I’m sorry to write this once again, since it makes me sound like a broken record, but Fujifilm has once again managed to make a small marvel of a lens. The image quality in this very compact lens is really really good. It has great contrast, and has good sharpness, and a very minimal amount of distortion, if any.
It’s probably the fastest focusing lens Fujifilm has yet produced for the X series, and overall it’s an amazing lens to use. A definite new favourite of mine.

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X-Pro2 – XF16mm f/2.8

Samples

Samples have been processed in either Lightroom CC or Capture One 12. Some of them where shot on the prototype XT30, while some where shot on my X-Pro2. These are not brick wall shots, since they are not what photography is for me. This is how I chose to use the lens, and it might differ somewhat from what you plan on using it for. I tried to test it in various settings, really pushing its capabilities.