Fujifilm 16mm f/1.4 Review
The Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.4 has high-speed autofocus and a wide maximum aperture making this lens a winner. Is it for you? Find out more in our in-depth review.
Let me just start by saying that Fujifilm makes amazing lenses. With almost every Fuji lens I have tested or owned, the optical quality and general performance have been phenomenal.
Having the chance to review the Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.4 is pretty exciting as this is arguably one of the BEST Fuji prime lenses for sharpness and image quality. It’s my job to seriously and honestly share that excitement with you all.
What’s more, when this lens launched way back in mid-2015, it was ahead of its time and went a long way to boosting the reputation of Fujifilm.
High-speed autofocus and a beautiful wide aperture make this lens a winner.
The Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.4 delivers one of those must-own focal distances for every serious photographer’s kit. And with a lens like this, you’ll fall in love with photography all over again.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it will become your favourite lens that you tend to use in every photographic opportunity you encounter.
Let’s take a closer look at the XF 16mm f/1.4 to find out what makes it an exceptional piece of glass.
Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.4 Specs
- Amazing image quality
- Great build quality
- Weather sealing
- Additional metal lens hood
- Manual clutch focus
- Slow focusing in low light
- The cost of the additional metal lens hood
- Focal length: 16mm (24mm full-frame equivalent)
- Dimensions: 73.4mm x 73.0mm (2.89″ x 2.87″)
- Weight: 375g
- Angle of view: 83.2 degrees
- Aperture control: 13 elements 11 groups (includes 2 aspherical and 2 extra-low dispersion elements)
- Minimal focus: 15cm – ∞
- Filter Thread: 67mm
- Focusing: Manual (via pull-clutch) and Auto
- Weather Sealing: Yes
Build & Ergonomics
Starting with the build quality, the Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 is one of the most robust and solid lenses you’ll ever come across.
The entire body is made of metal – this includes the aperture ring and clutch-pull manual focus ring.
While the included lens hood is made of durable plastic, you can opt to buy a Fuji made metal square hood. When you have that lens hood fitted to the 16mm, and that lens then mounted to a Fujifilm X-T body, the retro enthusiasts will go wild.
Even though this was one of the first Fujifilm prime lenses developed for the X mount system, the XF 16mm f/1.4 is fully weather-sealed. For those that love to shoot street or landscape photography regardless of the weather conditions, this is a perfect companion for those rainy-day adventures.
The manual clutch-focus ring won’t budge at all when pushed forward for autofocus. When you pull this back, there’s a reassuring click, and like magic, manual focus distance markings are revealed. The glide of the focus ring is smooth and hits hard stops at o.15m and 5m/infinity.
As with almost all Fuji lenses, the 16mm f/1.4 features an aperture ring that’s clearly marked from f/1.4 down to f/16 and then on to Auto.
This ring has a nice silky-smooth glide with clicky feedback. The lens is very barrel-like and features a 67mm filter thread – making it ideal for mounting standard filters and filter kits.
When mounted to a larger Fujifilm body such as the X-Pro3 or the X-T4, the pairing is perfect. Visually, it just looks like an incredibly stylish, yet retro, combination.
In the hand, the 375g lens balances perfectly with the approximate 600g Fuji body.
Given its 73mm diameter body is a solid barrel, the lens sits very comfortably in the hand and the coarsely-ridged aperture ring feels very different to the finely-ridged focus ring. As a result, shooting without having to glance down at the lens is made easy. The aperture ring moves in 1/3 steps all the way down to f/16.
The only risk with the clutch-pull manual focus ring is that you can accidentally activate it when the camera is set to Autofocus. As a result, there’s a risk that you may have forgotten the ring was pulled back for manual focus or you may have knocked it in your bag.
So, before you start off on a shoot, be sure to check that the focus ring is pushed forward so Autofocus can do its thing.
The exterior of the Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 is brilliant, and on the inside, there’s a lot of cool stuff going on too.
The lens houses 13 elements in 11 groups that includes 2 aspherical and 2 extra-low dispersion elements. The 16mm features 9 aperture blades that deliver a gorgeous rounded diaphragm opening – this contributes significantly to the delicious bokeh captured wide open.
Overall, it’s a solid lens that when paired with a Fuji weather-sealed body is a formidable opponent to any fowl shooting condition.
While we have already talked about the mechanics of the manual-pull or clutch focus system, I wanted to talk about its performance.
As mentioned earlier, even when you have your Fuji camera set to Autofocus, you can simply pull back the focus ring to engage manual focusing. When the ring is pushed forward you can’t shift the focus ring in either direction.
Once you’re in manual focus, the ring has a smooth glide and what’s especially appreciated is that there are hard stops at either end of the focus rotation.
I wish more lenses, Fuji and other brands, would adopt this. I often feel lost in the softness of unfocused vision trying to regain focus with a ring that spins forever.
As for autofocus, in strong lighting conditions, the Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.4 has good response with minimal signs of focus hunt. I say minimal as there’s a little bit of focus breathing evident just before it grabs focus.
On a responsive camera like the Fujifilm X-T3 or X-T4, the focus response is much cleaner and faster.
I took the Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 and Fujifilm X-T2 on a trip to Osaka a few years ago. I was giddily taking shots of the Shinkansen bullet trains as they pulled into Shin-Osaka Station every five minutes.
Once on the train and travelling at over 300km/h, I was snapping away at the Japanese countryside, rice paddies and mountain villages with no issue.
However, when in lower light conditions the autofocus is a little sloppy. Like some of the other early Fuji primes, low light focus hunting is evident with the odd occasion where it just cannot lock onto focus at all.
It’s not a deal-breaker as this is a 5-year-old lens and for its time, it’s a solid performer. And when compared to the lightning-fast focus performance of the newer, cheaper and smaller Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8, it’s a bit of a slouch.
But as I said this isn’t a deal-breaker as it’s all going to depend on what you are shooting. Being a wide-angle lens, you’re likely going to use this for landscape, street scenes and possibly architecture – all genres where the subjects are either immobile or not moving in a hurry.
I’ve used this lens extensively for street photography and that included shoots at night. In poorer light, there were some missed shots but nothing that made we want to trade it in.
Overall, the focusing performance of the Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.4 is great and will meet most demands with ease.
I have shot with almost every single Fujifilm lens and I am not exaggerating when I say that this lens belongs in my top 3 primes for image quality.
If you read my other work you’ll probably think I say that about every Fuji lens. And while I do love my Fuji glass, there are always going to be varying levels of output.
When it comes to primes, the 56mm f/1.2, 80mm f/2.8 macro and the XF 16mm f/1.4 are by far the best. If you have a different view, please let me know in the comments below.
The Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.4 delivers super sharp image quality throughout the aperture range, and the 16mm (24mm full frame equivalent) angle of view provides a uniquely immersive viewing experience.
Wide-open at f/1.4, there’s a small hint of vignetting in the corners – but what prime lens doesn’t have some element of vignetting? It’s not that obvious until you go looking for it.
And being a wide-angle lens there’s always a risk of image distortion – the brains-trust at Fuji have clearly earned their Yen as there’s no evidence of any distortion.
The centre is crystal clear and sharply rendered with the extreme edges much the same. Once you drop the aperture down into f/2.8 or f/4, any hint of edge-sharpness completely disappears and does not return until you hit the minimum of f/16.
When shooting wide open, the background softness is creamy and the bokeh is clear and beautifully formed. This is the ideal storyteller’s lens as it gives you a wide field of view that still delivers sharp foreground subjects.
In a wedding, street and even portrait photography session, there’s a distinct subject separation between your key subjects and the background narrative.
Overall, it’s an incredibly sharp lens plus it renders detail and contrasts gorgeously.
Plus, with a minimal focus distance of only 15cm (6″), you can get incredibly dramatic shots with point-sharp foreground and smooth fall off of in-focus elements.
Food photographers would usually shoot with a more compressed focal range but I suggest they give this a crack too!
Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.4 Sample Images
Check out these sample images taken with the Fujifilm 16mm f/1.4 wide angle lens:
Value for Money
As I mentioned, there’s a newer, smaller and cheaper sibling to the XF 16mm f/1.4. The compact Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 is a brilliant little lens that retails for under $700 USD. I recently wrote a review on it and you can check it out right here.
The Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.4 is a premium quality prime lens and retails for around $1400 USD. And while the smaller prime is half the price, you are easily getting double the value with the older version.
The image quality alone is worth the additional price especially if you take photography serious or do it for a living.
For that investment, you’re getting an incredible piece of glass that delivers unbelievable image quality, sharpness and crystal clear rendering.
If you’re an enthusiast or even a pro photographer and are looking for a wide-angle X mount lens, look no further.
Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.4 Review | Conclusion
This was the very first Fujifilm X series lens that I purchased when I grabbed the Fujifilm X-T1 back in 2015.
I had ditched my Canon DSLR set up as I had fallen out of love with photography – I was no longer inspired or engaged.
But once I had that X-T1 and 16mm Fuji combo in my hands, my joy of photography instantly returned and my own skill level and quality of output dramatically improved.
I used this lens for street photography, for my travels to Japan and everything else in between. I stood in the pouring rain in the middle of Tokyo and captured it’s citizen’s interactions with their world countless times.
A lens like the Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.2 has the ability to amp-up your creative output and I guarantee you’ll:
- find it difficult to leave home without it
- never take it off your camera at all, and
- notice that your joy of photography is elevated.
This is an incredible lens that’s well suited to almost every genre of photography. That’s why I highly recommend that every enthusiast or professional Fuji shooter take a closer look at this lens and consider grabbing a copy for their kit.
High-speed autofocus and a beautiful wide aperture make this lens a winner.