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.
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?
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.
The 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.
XF16mm 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.
Below is a visual comparison of the XF16mm f1.4 and the XF16mm f2.8 diameter wise.
Yeap, this is 67mm diameter vs 49mm diameter
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).
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)
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)
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.
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.
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.
XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO160, 1/500s
XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO160, 1/100s
XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO640, 1/1000s
XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO160, 1/50s
XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO500, 1/1000s
XF16mm f2.8 at f5.6, ISO500, 1/20s (no, it wasn’t very pleased)
XF16mm f2.8 at f6.4, ISO160, 1/80s
XF16mm f2.8 at f5, ISO160 1/1000s
XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO160, 1/1100s
XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO200, 1/450s
XF16mm f2.8 at f4, ISO160, 1/220s
XF16mm f2.8 at f4, ISO160, 1/250s
XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8 ISO160, 1s
XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO160, 1/1700s
XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO160, 1/1600s
XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO160, 1/350s
XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO160, 1/1100s
XF16mm f2.8 at f2.8, ISO160, 1/1400s
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.
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.
Fujinon quality in a palm.
I did enjoy having this lens with me, a lot.
Thank you for reading.