Fujifilm XF16mm lens ~ picture samples and first thoughts

Apr 18, 2015 | Continuous Lighting, Flash, Location | 23 comments

I’ve been fortunate enough to have a couple of copies of the new Fujifilm XF16mm prime lens so far. The first was a pre production unit I picked up in Japan back in February and I later swapped it out for a newer version at The Photography Show last month in Birmingham. My latest copy has serial number 00029 from the final production run. It came boxed and is in full retail guise. I’ve shot over 1000 frames with XF16mm lenses so far and I love this lens.

01.

01. XF16mm, ISO 200, f/14, 1/180th second. Lit with a Cactus RF60 Speedlight.

I’ll be linking the shots here in this blog post to their full size counterparts as soon as I’m allowed to do so. The full res images sparkle with clarity and will delight the pixel peepers among you. My idea of lens evaluation doesn’t dwell on the microscopic but uses a more holistic approach. I choose a lens because of the way it translates the three dimensional world into a two dimensional image. The overall look and feel of the images a lens captures are of utmost importance. I love to print my work too and the process of producing prints is the most telling step in image quality evaluation.

02.

02. XF16mm, ISO 200, f/2.5, 1/60th second. Lit with a Lupolux LED 1000 spotlight.

Models: Clair Tombs and Chantelle
Dress: Molly Mishi May

Zoom V Prime
Next week I’m off to Spain with a model to do final checks on locations for my September workshops. I’ll be taking my copy of the Fujifilm XF 16mm together with my other primes to compare with the highly praised XF 16-55mm zoom lens that I have on loan. I’ll be shooting the zoom alongside the 16mm, 23mm, 35mm, and 56mm primes in an experiment to see how they compare for portraits and maybe landscapes too. It’s an easy test really. I’ll be blogging my results together with 100% files for you to assess as soon as I am given the go ahead.

The lenses I'm taking to Spain to test. From left to right: XF 16-55mm f/2.8 zoom, XF 56mm f/1.2, XF 35mm f/1.4, XF 23mm f/1.4 and XF 16mm f/1.4 primes

The lenses I’m comparing next week. From left to right: XF 16-55mm f/2.8 zoom, XF 56mm f/1.2, XF 35mm f/1.4, XF 23mm f/1.4 and XF 16mm f/1.4 primes

The XF16mm lens is an exciting bit of kit for me because I photograph people usually at wide open apertures. The extra two stops of aperture over the 16-55mm zoom make a massive difference in subject separation so the images produced wide open by the fast prime will certainly be different to those produced on the zoom. The prime will win out on the electronic Image quality stakes too in the majority of my images as I’ll be able to use a lower ISO for the same ambient light level. OIS on the zoom would have levelled the playing field somewhat but out in bright daylight there will be no difference of course.

What about the optical quality? What about the corner sharpness? What about the overall level of detail and the contrast in the image? These are the questions I’ll be aiming to answer and discuss supported by my full resolution images.

 Weight is another issue. When shooting with four prime lenses the camera bag will be heavier than it would with just the one zoom but as I always put my bag down when I shoot, the lighter camera with a prime lens will be a great advantage over the heavy bulky zoom.

This 16mm prime promises to be Fujifilm’s best lens to date. Do the results of my real world testing prove this? I can’t wait to share my findings with you.

03.

03. XF16mm, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/100th second.

04.

04. XF16mm, ISO 200, f/1.4, 1/100th second.

05.

05. XF16mm, ISO 200, f/6.4, 1/15th second. (using a tripod)

06.

06. XF16mm, ISO 200, f/3.2, 1/15th second. (using a tripod)

07.

07. XF16mm, ISO 200, f/2.2, 1/500th second. Lit with a Lupolux LED 1000 spotlight.

08.

08. XF16mm, ISO 200, f/1.4, 1/60th second.

09.

09. XF16mm, ISO 400, f/3.6, 1/60th second. Lit with a Lupolux LED 1000 spotlight.

10.

10. XF16mm, ISO 200, f/4, 1/180th second. Lit with one Cactus RF60 Speedlight with a CTB gel as a backlight and an Elinchrom Quadra in a 70cm Rotolux softbox as the key light.

11.

11. XF16mm, ISO 800, f/8, 1/180th second. I lit this shot with an Elinchrom Quadra with the standard diffuser. I chose f/8 to deliver the depth of field needed to render the pebbles and rocks pin sharp front to back and corner to corner.

12.

12. XF16mm, ISO 400, f/2.2, 1/60th second. Natural light.

13.

13. XF16mm, ISO 400, f/2, 1/60th second. Natural light.

I’ll have more to report on this lens very soon. Feel free to ask me questions below.

23 Comments

  1. Michael Rubitschka

    Great work, love picture 01 (could be from a high class real estate magazine) but on many pictures (f.e. 02,04,10,11) the faces look very soft.Did you use manual focus ? Anyhow great work and compositions,

    Reply
  2. Tony Dale

    Hi Damien- canon kit all but gone just 24-70 left!!
    With part of the funds from the Canon… I’ll wait for xpro 2 body.!!
    Kit now is xt1 and x100s. 14, 35, 56, 50-140, 18-55. I’m not sure which lens would complete the range 10-24 or 16 or the new 90.
    ?any thoughts

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Tony,

      You already have a lot of lenses. I’d say you have a hole between 14 and 35 Unless you carry both cameras. Your tele needs are covered. So really the choice is yours. If you get the zoom then you have three OIS zooms that cover the whole range. If you get the 90 then you have primes that cover the whole range. Your call.

      Kind regards, Damien.

      Reply
  3. Nathan

    Damien,

    Your advice has definitely helped steer me in the right direction. I picked up the 14 last week and I’m finding it’s now one of my favorite lenses! Thanks again and look forward to all of your great work to come!

    Kind Regards,

    Nathan

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thanks Nathan :) The 14mm is so neat too. I much prefer using the 14 to the heavier 10-24. Stay inspired, Damien.

      Reply
  4. Nathan

    Hi Damien,

    Like always, your photographs continue to astound me. I messaged you with a question a few weeks back about the Fuji system and your answer caused me to finally decide to make the switch from Canon. I could not be happier and have a renewed love of photography every time I use my XT1.
    Alas, another dilemma has me stumped. I currently have the 35, 56, 60 and 18-55 lenses, plus the X100T. All of them blow me away. Next month in August, I will be taking a trip over to your side of the pond. I feel as though I’d regret not bringing a wide angle lens. I was going to purchase the 14mm 2.8, which you’ve taken some of my favorite photos of yours with, but now I can’t help but consider the 16. The lens will be mainly for landscapes, though if time permits I stitch panos together, and the many architectural sites. It will also act as a portrait lens after the trip for environmental portraits. Based on this, what would you think would be my best choice? I know this is long winded, but the question has had me going back and forth for weeks now! Haha gotta love that GAS.

    Best Regards,

    Nathan

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Nathan,

      Thanks for the compliments. Congratulations on your switch to X-T1. If I was in your shoes I’d partner the 14mm with the 18-55 on the X-T1 and have the X100t for evenings and the times you don’t want to carry the X-T1 around. The 14mm is light and super quality. The 16mm is much heavier. It comes down to personal preference. I have both and the 14mm is my travel wide lens. The 16mm is my wide portrait lens.

      I’m not sure this helps,

      Kind regards, Damien.

      Reply
  5. Martin Lyons

    Very Interesting read, lovely work, hope your keeping well :)

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Martin,

      Thank you. Yes I’m well. I’m back up your way next week :)

      Cheers, Damien.

      Reply
  6. GRJ

    As usual I like your images. I find it interesting that you like 16mm, 23mm and 35mm lenses for portraiture. Most photographers that I read say these lenses are not good for portraiture. You frequently how that is not necessarily true.

    If you are looking for tutorial ideas, consider taking portraits using the lenses above or the Fuji X100.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you GRJ,

      I’ve extensively used the X100 for portraits and I’ve posted a gallery here: http://www.lovegrovephotography.com/fuji-x100-gallery/

      It’s a fabulous camera for shooting portraits. I’ve now replaced my original X100 with an X100T. I’ll be adding a new gallery with that camera soon. Kind regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
  7. mike gill

    Beautiful as always.
    I know this is more about the lens, how are you processing your raw files from the fuji.

    Reply
  8. Ben Cherry

    Brilliant images Damien :) I’m hooked on this thing!

    Reply
  9. Mick Hammond

    Beautiful images Damien. You say it has a 77mm thread size and not compatible with the Lee Seven5 filter system but I have looked at the specs and it say’s 67mm? Please tell me that was a mistake. As I have all the filters and don”t want to be forking out more cash.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Mick, well spotted. Yes it’s the 55-140 zoom with the 77mm filter size. Sorry to give you worries.

      Cheers, Damien.

      Reply
  10. Oliver

    Interesting to note that the 4 primes in your photo together weigh almost exactly double the 16-55. I know they are faster and, individually, lighter on the camera but it will be interesting to see how you find they compare to the zoom. Personally, I love the 16-55 for the optics and convenience (and those shots not missed while changing lenses!) though it is large (by Fuji standards) and heavy! I chuck the 27 pancake on when I want to travel light……

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Oliver,

      I’m writing up my findings over the next 2 days. The quick answer is the zoom is generally as good as the primes at f/2.8 but in low light I was forced to use ridiculously high ISO to get the shot. The extra two stops of light is everything to me. If you shoot in bright light and don’t want to lug a bag around put the zoom on the camera and hang it round your neck.
      I just found the zoom on the X-T1 too heavy in my hands. It was a bit unwieldy for all my close action. The 50-140 is a monster too but somehow I forgive it because when you need a fast, long telephoto with OIS there is no choice right now.

      I hope this helps,

      Damien.

      Reply

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