Review of the Fujifilm Fujinon XF16mm f/2.8 | 5 reasons for the essential wide lens.

Introduction. 

Being an owner of the extraordinary XF16mm f1.4 lens, the 1st thing that hit me holding the newly announced XF16mm f/2.8 lens was: 

This is too tiny to be real.

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Introducing the just announced today Fujinon XF16mm f2.8. 

I was secretly hoping to receive the much-mentioned XF33 f1.0 when I was told there is a new piece of glass to review but then the XF16mm f2.8 started to take hold of my curiosity – will this mid-range ‘re-release‘ of the full frame equivalent of 24mm focal length be able to capture the heart of users? 

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XF16mm f2.8, ISO160, 1/1000s

Lens placement wise, most Fujifilm users do know that Fujifilm has always focused the designs of its f1.4/ f1.2 lens range as image quality priority while the f2 and now f2.8 range of lenses are designed for a balance between size, budget and imaging performance and the XF16mm f2.8 follows this philosophy. 

46789603261_ab14359825_hThe XF16mm f2.8 weighs only 155 grams. 

A Quick relook of the XF16mm F1.4. 

And anyone considering the XF16mm f2.8 will find only it logical to consider how the f2.8 version compares to the f1.4 version so maybe let’s start with a short summary of what is excellent with the XF16mm f1.4mm: 

1. Excellent imaging quality with excellent bokeh and starbursts. The shot below was done in almost full darkness. 

17157315485_d421535fee_hXF16mm f1.4 , X-Pro1

2. A crazily short minimum focusing distance that will make any Leica-M lens weep plus some really good bokeh.

3. And throw in fast and confident auto-focusing and one really has a piece of glass easy to love. 

And to be complete, I will also include a bokeh comparison shot of the XF16mm f1.4 vs the XF16mm f2.8 in the later part of the post under the conclusions section. 

Then … why a f2.8 version now? 

Key to the answer is the word “Choice”

And instead of the typical drab and boring spec list most websites will copy and paste from each other, I shall start by breaking down the review into the 5 key reasons why the XF16 f2.8 lens is worth considering.

5 key reasons for the XF16mm f2.8 

Firstly, like the XF23mm and XF35mm f2 counterparts, the XF16mm f2.8 version is built to be significantly smaller and lighter than the earlier XF16mm f1.4.

Its diminutive size (its about the height of a Lego© minifig) while being only 49mm diameter across makes it too easy to argue that this lens is the perfect addition to anyone’s camera bag. 

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Below is a visual comparison of the XF16mm f1.4 and the XF16mm f2.8 diameter wise.

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Yeap, this is 67mm diameter vs 49mm diameter

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The XF16mm f2.8 make the f1.4 version look gargantuan in comparison. 

Secondly, the f2.8 version also boasts quicker, quieter autofocus performance and a narrower barrel that presents less of an obstruction to the optical viewfinder on the X-Pro bodies (a common complaint we had). 

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This is not going to be blocking any optical viewfinder any time soon. 

Thirdly, like all well-built Fujinon lenses, the XF16mm F2.8 is also weather resistant and built with tight tolerances and it easily gives the heft of a well made piece of glass in one’s hands. The XF16mm f2.8 can operate at temperatures as low as -10 degree celcius (14 degrees Fahrenheit) 

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The XF16mm F2.8 is well built with weather resistance capabilities.

Fourth, Fujifilm lens designers have ensured that the minimum focusing distance that some users love about the f1.4 version is carried over to the f2.8 version. I was told that the designers didn’t want to pull ‘removing a key functionality’ trick of the lens to have consumers torn between the 2 versions. 

In fact the minimum focusing distance of this lens is just only 17cm (or 6.7 inches)

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XF16mm f2.8, X-T3 at minimum focusing distance and ISO200, F5.6. 

Fifth, and all the while still keeping image quality consistent in the Fujinon range of excellent glass. A total of 10 elements, 2 aspherical and 9 rounded aperture blades give life to this piece of optics.  

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XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO640, 1/20s (this was shot through glass) 

Bonus, Crazy as it sounds, the XF16mm f2.8 is priced so significantly lower than the XF16mm f1.4 version that I feel Fujifilm may have inadvertently killed the market for one of its lenses, the XF14mm f2.8. 

And of course, for the spec divers, here is the link to the official specifications list of the XF16mm f2.8 lens. 

Image samples

Before I go into sharing more samples I’ve with the XF16mm f2.8, allow me to share a few disclaimers.

1. The XF16mm f2.8 was loaned from Fujifilm for 2 weeks and was returned at the end of the review period. I did not receive any payment in any form for this review.
2. This XF16mm f2.8 in the review is a pre-production sample and hence the final production model will only perform better.
3. All images were shot either with the Fujifilm X-T3 or X-T30 (yup, only announced today too).
4. All images have been edited to my preferences in LR.
5. I shoot my own product photos as I don’t believe in that any self-respecting reviewer cannot find time to produce his or her own shots of the product. 
6. As far as possible to make it worth your time and that to put forth the belief that the XF16mm f2.8 lens is one very versatile lens, the samples will try show the XF16mm f2.8 lens in different shooting situations, in all – its versatility. 

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XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO160, 1/500s

 

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XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO160, 1/100s

 

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XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO640, 1/1000s

 

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XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO160, 1/50s

 

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XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO500, 1/1000s

 

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XF16mm f2.8 at f5.6, ISO500, 1/20s (no, it wasn’t very pleased)

 

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XF16mm f2.8 at f6.4, ISO160, 1/80s

 

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XF16mm f2.8 at f5, ISO160 1/1000s

 

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XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO160, 1/1100s

 

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XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO200, 1/450s

 

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XF16mm f2.8 at f4, ISO160, 1/220s

 

46736790082_9abf41ad22_hXF16mm f2.8 at f4, ISO160, 1/250s

 

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XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8 ISO160, 1s

 

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XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO160, 1/1700s

 

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XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO160, 1/1600s

 

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XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO160, 1/350s

 

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XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO160, 1/1100s

 

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XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO160, 1/1400s

Conclusion

The XF16mm f2.8’s key strengths lies in its capability to perform well (auto-focusing and image quality) despite being shrunk so much significantly from its larger sibling. One of the most pleasant surprises was of course the short minimum focusing distance of the lens also allows it to be truly versatile for wide perspectives to environment portraits to even close-ups shots.

Obviously the older XF16mm f1.4 delivers a shallower depth-of-field and smoother rendering and in some of the close-ups shots, I felt the Xf16mm f1.4 does deliver even more sharpness than the f2.8 version too but that doesn’t mean the XF16mm f2.8 performs badly, rather, 

It is a comparison between Excellent and V.Good.

Personally I will still say with all honestly if imaging quality is your absolute top-most priority, the XF16mm f1.4 still stands more attractive than the XF16mm f2.8 despite it costing around 2.5x to 3x as much. 

A significant difference between their maximum apertures at F1.4 and f2.8,( aka a full 2 stops difference and in layman terms – which means the f1.4 wide open is pulling in 4 times the amount of light the f2.8 does wide open) does show in the bokeh one can obtain (see below) and it is really back to one’s preferences and needs in deciding yay or nay for this f2.8 version. 

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I will say that more choice is definitely welcome, and that with the XF16mm f2.8’s competence plus that it is now actually way more affordable than than XF16mm f1.4, I will not find it surprising that this nice piece of glass becomes a necessary piece of glass that most enthusiasts will add into their camera bags for the extra versatility. 

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Fujinon quality in a palm.

I did enjoy having this lens with me, a lot. 

Thank you for reading. 

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keithwee

Keith Father, Teacher and Life Photographer. Lives a life of positivism & seeks to photograph Life & his 2 toddlers Kei & Lynn.

27 thoughts on “Review of the Fujifilm Fujinon XF16mm f/2.8 | 5 reasons for the essential wide lens.

  1. Great review Keith and nice images … to be honest, I didn’t think I would consider this lens at all but now I am. It is such a cute little bugger! I didn’t think the f/1.4 incarnation’s close focusing prowess would be passed onto its diminutive cousin. As of right now I only own the 16-55 for my XT-3 (just bought in December). This lens would be a weight savings relief on a long strenuous hike in the mountains.

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  2. Hi Keith. Nice review on the new lens. It’s tempting. But I have the 18-55, the 2mm for 16 doesn’t seem to make that much of a difference. Budget and weight wise, should I just hop to Samyang 12mm f2? Though I’d love an autofocus…

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    1. In real life the 2mm does make a diff 🙂 and you need to try shooting this vs the XF18-55 to see the difference in view. That said, I’ll pick the 16/2.8 over the Samyang unless I only plan to use the lens to shoot landscapes.

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    1. Hi Chandra, I used to have the 14/2.8 and personally I feel the 16/2.8 will cannibalize 14/2.8 sales. True that the 2mm focal length does make a difference in view but for the 16’s price at USD399 and performance, the 14 does not look like a good deal. Moreover people wanting wide fixed lenses can use the Laowa lenses too.

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  3. Hi Keith,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and review for this exciting new lens released. Just wondering if this lens could match the 16-55mm f2.8 at the wide end in terms of IQ especially at wide open aperture? So I wonder if you can replace this lens from one to 2 body setup: X-H1 with 56mm f1.2, and X-T30 with 16mm f2.8? I guess the AF speed with be at least on par if not better?
    Cheers
    Si

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  4. Thanks, Keith. If the two were the same price, how do you go about deciding? I was looking at 14/2.8 vs 16/1.4 and decided on the 14/2.8 but now the new 16/2.8 comes along. I could get the 14/2.8 used in good condition for USD360.

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  5. Hello! I’m not a huge wide shooter, and have had the Rokinon 12mm for a while and rarely use it. When I do its for architecture, astrophotography, and occasional interior shots. Do you think the 16mm focal length will cover my needs? It seems like a really fun lens and the price point is very attractive.

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    1. Hi , the Rokinon / Samyang 12mm is the one more suited if one shoots mainly Astro, architecture or landscape. If you need maximum wideness then the 16/2.8 might not be enough, however what it offers if excellent auto focus (that’s a big advantage alone) in a small package that will give this lens more shooting potential in comparison.

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  6. Hi Keith, realy great pictures with great quality you have done. I love the small lenses (using 23/2 and 50/2 as standards). So I’m thinking about the 16/2,8. Your comments are shot and “on the point”. Go ahead.

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    1. Thank you for the kind words. I feel with the XF16/2.8 now, the F2 (WR, compact and fast focusing) series is now really more complete and for users, more choice is always welcome too. Nicest touch to me (pragmatic me) is also the USD399 SRP for this lens, which puts it within reach for much more users who will want a wider lens.

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  7. Hi Keith,
    Great review. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with this new exiting Fuji XF lens.
    Just wondering if the 16/2.8 could replace the 16-55/2.8 with a two body setup – X-H1 with 56mm f1.2 and X-T30 with 16/2.8? Would you expect the IQ to be at least on par with the 16-55/2.8 at the wide end, especially at wide open aperture? The primary use would be for portrait/event shoots.

    Thanks,
    Si

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    1. Hi, I’ve the 16-55/2.8 too but I have not compared them extensively enough to conclude but personally I find the zoom still sharper in comparison and of course more versatile. I just did a concert shoot with the 16/2.8 and XT3 and it performed pretty well, (minus the versatility)

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  8. Hi Keith,

    Great review. In the comparison shots between it looks like the white balance is a little different between the two lenses. Is that due to the way the lenses render or something else?

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    1. Hi, I’m sure nope it’s most likely due to user issue (oops) if it’s WB related. Lenses will maybe render differently for example sharpness but I’m sure WB won’t be one of them.

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    1. Hi, these are easily managed if it matters to personal tastes. If u have used a Fuji camera, accessing the Q menu one can adjust parameters from shadow to even noise reduction.

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    1. Hi, I guess you are mentioning the XF35/2 instead, the lens is built very similar to the XF23/2 and XF50/2 to be fast, small and WR. However I’ve the XF35/1.4 which is one of Fujifilm’s lens release back then which I absolutely love for its rendering even if it is nowhere as fast as the XF35/2

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