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.

 

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39 thoughts on “Compact Impact – The Fujinon XF16mm f2.8 review

  1. Hi Jonas, between this lens and the 14/2.8 which is has better rendering? Closer focus? Which one is overall the better lens? Thank you.

    1. I have the same question. I would love to hear how this lense compares to the 14/2.8 because if the image quality is similar or better, I would rather loose 2mm and gain a lighter and weather resistant lense

  2. Excellent review. My only criticism is “why couldn’t you have said it was rubbish?” 🤣🤣. Another great Fuji lens to put on my “want” list. Esp as I have the 1.4 version. Which I like a lot…but no WR…

    Thanks again tho. And…your images are superb.

  3. Ever since they announced this I had my fingers crossed that Fuji wouldn’t mess this up, not that they actually mess up with lenses but somehow could could not be exactly the same style as the other f2’s (I have all the Fujicron lenses). I’m so glad to hear they didn’t, can’t wait to be able to get one!

  4. Thank you for the great review and for sharing your photos! I already own the 16mm 1.4 and I am happy with it but I agree that the size of the new 2.8 would be perfect portability wise. Keep up writing these reviews, I really enjoy your comments / impressions.

    Little typo: {That also means that I “donate” have that…}

  5. Nice review, I usually follow your opinions because I find them honest and similar to my taste. I have a question about this lens: most rectilinear wide angles keep straight lines straight by stretching the borders and stretching a lot the corners, so any circular shaped (like people heads) object located near the borders get horribly stretched and ugly looking. How do you find this one?

    Thanks in advance

    1. That`s a problem with all wide lenses and it`s caused by laws of flat field geometry. In circular field geometry, fish-eyes or panoramic panning cameras this distortion is minimised ( circles stay circles and not turn to ovals at edges. The only remedy not to place faces close to edge or use correction software like Dxo Volume Deformation. It`s interestin topic and I would love to compare different lenses from MFT to MF with the same angular view to see if there`s difference in edge distortion.

  6. Hi Jonas! This is my first comment on your blog. I have always loved your style of photography and your editing seems to really capture a feeling. Thank you for sharing your wonderful photos with us.

    I have one question for you re: the new 16mm- I saw the sample gallery on DPReview, maybe with one of your photos mixed in (a little girl sledding), but I noticed a lot of visible chromatic aberration in the sample photos, visible from f/2.8 to at least f/5.6. It was pretty obvious unfortunately, even in non-bright areas (a rope in the shade had classic fringes). Did you experience any CA in your photos? I can’t see any in your photos, but some with lights seem like they would have had it, but you edited it out. I’m glad there’s no distortion of the frame but the sample shots I saw were not impressive for CA control. Any thoughts you have on this are greatly appreciated.

    Thanks again Jonas!!
    -Jay

  7. Jonas, thank you once again for another excellent “review” of a Fuji lens and providing “real life” test images. I was considering the XF16mm F1.4 to compliment my XF16-55 F2.8 but the F2.8 version is more budget friendly for me.

    This sentence made me LOL!

    These are not brick wall shots, since they are not what photography is for me.

    Me neither. I’ve never understood review articles that included zoomed in photos of brick walls and clocks faces.

    1. Another thing with brick wall shots is that lenses have field curvature of sharp focus and only some specialized ones have a completly flat field.

  8. It is a really attractive tiny lens, but I’ve got 16mm f1.4 already… If I own X-pro series, or if Fuji makes an 8mm or 10mm in this size, I’m definitely gonna buy one.

  9. Incredible images, as always! Hey, Jonas, your website has been the most influencing source of info for me to make the switch from the Sony A7 system to the Fuji X-Series. I’d love to be able to purchase these lenses through affiliate/associate links on your site, it’d only be fair! I’ve bought a few Fuji and Mitakon lenses and a couple bodies since I discovered your site. I just wish I could’ve bought them through these pages so you’d get some sort of monetary reward, you deserve it!
    Anyhow, I’m sure that’s not what you publish these pages for (which is probably why they are so good) and it might go against policy with being an official Fuji photographer, but just a thought!

  10. the 14mm is optically corrected for distortion, is the 16/2.8 also, or is distortion corrected via software?

    thanks again for another great review!

    1. I just recently bought it and one day after putting it on I was horrified by barrel distortion. Shit I just wasted money on it, I though. Then I remounted it and distortion was gone. Culprit was not clicking it completly in position thus contacts didnt match. Lesson is, yes it is corrected in camera. Unanswered one is it still visible in RAW or the software corrects it too?

  11. Hi Jonas, you certainly have an eye for this 16mm. Would it be possible to compare this with the 18mm/f2? Slightly different focal lengths I know. However, considering they are both small, it would be good to know what their relative strengths are. I am really keen on wider environmental portraits rather than landscapes.

    1. Yes, I would like to know this too. Even though the obvious comparison with this lens is the 16mm 1.4, the size difference distinguishes how I’d use them in the real world. In my mind the 18mm f/2 and the 16mm f/2.8 is a more interesting comparison since the 18mm has been getting new love with AF improvements through updated bodies and firmware. Are the advantages of the 16mm f/2.8 worth one stop less light, compared to the 18mm?

  12. I just pre-ordered this lens and can’t wait to try it out. I just love the 23mm f/2 for its size and picture quality and I’m hoping the 16mm f2.8 will give me the same. I’ve held off on getting the 16mm f1.4 due to its size, even though everyone raves about it. I like the smaller “Fujicron” lenses and will likely always have one of them on my X-Pro2. Thanks for the review!

  13. Your review prompted me to pre-order this lens. And I’ve never pre-ordered any piece of photo equipment before.
    But it looks as though it will make a nice light addition to the previous Fujicrons and round out the X-Pro2 kit.

  14. I’m thinking of picking up the new 16mm f2.8 or the 23 f2. But I really can’t decide on what one. I have the 14mm, 18mm, 27mm, both 35s, 18-55 and 55-200. Between the two, 16mm and 23 f2. In your opinion. What would be the better of the two? My 18mm and 27mm are both collecting dust in the bag along with the Xpro1. I like the 27mm but having to use the dials to change aperture is a pain. I don’t shoot a ton of street but I do shoot some festivals/events. I do shoot a lot of landscape. I still can’t decide on which one to get. I’ve read both of your reviews on the 23 f2 and the 16 f2.8. The sample images you posted of the 16mm f2.8 seem to be sharper or cleaner. Or is that just my tired eyes playing tricks on me?

  15. Great, thorough review and fantastic shots – you more or less convinced me it’s a lens to add to the arsenal, and I expect it to be great on my X-Pro 2 and (pending) X-T30. Two questions, if you can indulge me – I dearly love your night shots in this article; are you doing any adjustment in post to bring the blues out, or are those straight out of camera? Also, what ISO are you using for, say, the shot of your hand on the steering wheel from inside the car?

    I look forward to visiting the site again to check out more of your work. Best wishes from a fellow Fujifilm shooter.

  16. Hi, I have the x-pro2 and and whant to know if you can use the 16 mm f2,8 WR with the Optical view finder? Do you have frames for this lens in the view finder? Do the OVF correct for paralax when you get closer, just like for other lenses like the 23 mm? Thank you so much!

  17. What are your thoughts about pairing the x-t3 with the 16mm f2 for an upcoming short photo trip to Iceland

  18. Well, I just amazed about Your stunning photos.
    You have perfect triplet: eye, heart, mind.
    Thank you!

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