I spent the last weekend with the newest available lens on Fujifilm’s X mount lens roadmap: the long-awaited wide angle XF 16mm f/1.4 WR. Thanks to Fujifilm Switzerland I was able to walk around with a sample copy of this new lens mounted on my X-T1. Even though 16mm will be considered a wide angle lens, it is effectively a 24mm lens, when mounted on an APS-C sensor X body. It will be for sure an attractive option for landscape shooters, but I decided to give it a go on the street. Let’s have a look at how it performed.
First things first: when I review a piece of equipment (a lens, a camera, a tripod), I really, honestly don’t care so much about all the technical specifications. Naturally, I know what I am using, I know which aperture I need and what angle of view the lens is giving me. But I don’t analyse distortion and aberration differences at various apertures and I don’t zoom my photographs 200% to see if the edge of the wall or the eyebrows are tack sharp. If you are expecting this kind of review, please look for it somewhere else. What counts for me is what character of a photograph this particular lens is giving me and how easy and intuitive it is to use.
XF 16mm f/1.4 WR did not surprise me. It is an excellent lens. Let’s have a look at some details.
Build quality and handling
If you are used to Fujifilm’s previous top-of-the-line lenses like the 56mm f/1.2 or the 23mm f/1.4, you will immediately feel “at home”. The XF 16mm f/1.4 WR is a solid, robust lens, which feels very good in your hand. Its metal barrel and and metal mount make it feel like a tank. I didn’t throw it against the wall, but you get the impression it wouldn’t do it much harm. It is not the smallest lens (the size is kind of comparable with the 56mm), but considering the fact that it is a wide angle lens, its size feels actually pretty compact. It nicely matches the X-T1 – this particular combo feels really well-balanced and it is a pleasure to shoot with it.
It has two rings on the barrel: the aperture ring (closer to the lens mount) and the focusing ring (closer to the front of the lens), which is equipped with a push-pull manual focus selector and the engraved depth of field markings. Landscape shooters will just love it. It is a weather resistant lens. Landscape shooters will love it too.
Autofocus and speed
Mounted on my X-T1 this lens performed blazingly fast. I didn’t have any issues focusing on people walking down the street and quickly taking my shots. Focusing was basically instantaneous. I loved using this lens for street photography. Having an effective 24mm field of view seemed ideal for catching so many street scenes. And the fact that it is a wide angle lens made it possible to have entire scenes in focus, even if shooting wide open.
Sharpness and contrast
Fujinon at its best. I just love the results. Images are crisp, but still not overly sharp. XF 16mm delivers images with this unique mix of sharpness and softness I haven’t experienced from any other brand lenses. Colours are wonderful and natural straight from the camera.
It seems that Fujinon added another gem to their lens collection. As I already wrote before, I didn’t pixel peep, I didn’t test this lens at every possible aperture/shutter speed combination. But the images I got with it are beautiful. Sharpness, color rendition (yes, I still look at it, even though I am primarily a black and white photographer), speed of operation and the built quality make this lens another reliable tool in our Fujinon arsenal. It was a pain giving this lens back, but I will once seriously consider getting this lens for street photography.
Have a look at a couple more images I took with the XF 16mm f/1.4 WR last weekend:
P.S. Ok, for those who care about distortion and such… here is one shot of my table. Taken from approximately 50 cm above the table surface. SOOC.
And for those who were looking for some f/1.4 samples, here they are: