Fujifilm 16mm F/2.8 Lens Review
Is this the best value for money Fujifilm lens... ever? Check out this in-depth, real-world review of the Fujifilm 16mm f/2.8 to find out.
By Greg Cromie
When I made the decision to move to a mirrorless camera system, I was well and truly ready for a change. I was sick of carrying multiple camera bags packed with big heavy DSLR glass and gear.
I was immediately attracted to what Fujifilm had on offer as their system was lighter, cheaper and they had a fantastic retro design and look.
I picked up a Fujifilm X-T1 camera and the very first lens I purchased was the Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.4. This is one of the all time best Fuji lenses, that delivers amazing image quality in a hardy and weather resistant metal body. I found it ideal for street photography, architecture and landscape, which were my main shooting genres at the time.
Despite its great qualities, it was a bigger, heavier and far more expensive than other lenses in the line-up.
Recently Fujifilm opened the door for photographers to have greater choice in a wide prime and released the Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8.
This neat little prime lens is half the size, weight and cost of its older sibling yet still delivers great image quality and exceptional autofocus.
I prefer the smaller prime lenses that Fujifilm have recently released to provide more choice over similar focal distances for its Fujifilm X Series system.
Again, this particular lens and focal length would suit those interested in architecture, landscape and also street photography where 16mm gives a greater level of story and context to a street scene.
The Fujifilm 16mm f/2.8 joins the other newer f/2 primes (23, 35 and 50mm). While this lens is not an f/2 like the others, it is still a smaller, lighter lens that follows the same styling and functions as the other lenses in this size range.
Let’s have a closer look at it in my review.
Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 Specs
- Size and weight
- Fast autofocus performance
- Image quality
- Value for money
- That I do not own one yet!
- Focal Length: 16mm (24mm full-frame equivalent)
- Fujifilm X Mount
- Aperture: f/2.8-22
- Filter Size: 49mm (1.93″)
- Size: 60.0mm x 45.4mm (2.36″ X 1.79″)
- Weight: 155gm (5.47 oz)
- Weather and dust resistant
Build & Ergonomics
Despite its weight and diminutive size, the Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 lens is incredibly well built and sturdy.
The lens has a solid all-metal body including its base that mounts the lens to the camera securely.
Another key feature of this mounting plate is that there is a rubber gasket that rings the entire base to ensure the lens lives up to its dust and weather-resistant capabilities.
Like almost all Fujifilm lenses for this system, this lens has a manual aperture ring that allows for full manual control from f/2.8 through to f/22 and A for auto.
This ring is also made of metal but has a very smooth glide with just the right amount of resistance and click to set the aperture in 1/3 stop increments.
The lens also features a manual focus ring with a metal ridged grip, smooth glide and the perfect amount of resistance.
It features the same pinch release lens cap that Fujifilm place on most of its lenses now with some being quite fiddly. This one, however, seems to fit more securely than others in the lens range and I feel confident that it won’t come loose in a camera bag.
The Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 features a petal-shaped lens hood that is made of plastic that is sturdy but not indestructible.
I cannot fault the build of this lens nor do I have any concerns with the ergonomics and handling.
When fitted to any of the top Fujifilm cameras, this lens operates silently aside from the soft click of the aperture ring.
I found my hand could easily find and control the aperture and the focus ring despite their relative size compared to the lens.
Recalling my earlier comments about not wanting to carry too many heavy or bulky lenses, the Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 sits at the other end of the scale compared to most lenses. At 155gm (5.47ox), this lens makes no impact to any camera bag.
It won’t take up much room at all, and when accompanied by some of the other smaller f/2 Fujifilm lenses, prime shooters can carry any number of them and still not notice their presence.
The Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 has super fast autofocus that may only be rivalled by the Fujifilm XF 23mm f/2 lens in speed and accuracy.
The small size of this lens means that the glass elements are small and as a result, there is far less weight for the focus motors to shift to attain focus.
When it’s attached to a flagship Fujifilm camera such as the Fujifilm X-T3, this lens is lightning fast and incredibly energy efficient.
I did not notice any level of focus hunting even when shooting in low light conditions. Its focus performance was able to behave exactly the same as it did in good lighting with the only exception being when I was trying to gain focus on an object that was far too close to the front element.
I shot in two low light settings with this lens and found no issues with its overall performance under such conditions.
I love shooting with the Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 in any conditions as it just delivers lovely sharp images every time.
Regardless of if I am shooting on the street and taking shots from my hip or setting up a more stable shot such as landscape, I have full confidence in the quality of image I will get in return. I have found this to be true in any lighting conditions.
I predominately shoot at f/8 with a fast shutter speed to freeze the entire street scene in the frame and capture a full story. The wide focal length of the Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 is absolutely perfect for this kind of storytelling and this lens meets those needs perfectly.
It also ensures that I have the edge-to-edge sharpness in my images that I desire, and this lens delivers flawlessly.
Full open at f/2.8, there is some softening of the image in the corners, but stopping down to around f/4 reduces this significantly.
In my time shooting with this lens, and editing the subsequent images in Lightroom, I didn’t come across any examples of noticeable distortion.
Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 Sample Images
Check out these sample images taken with the Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8:
Value for Money
The Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 lens currently retails for under $700. This provides Fujifilm shooters with an exceptional alternative to spending twice that amount on the Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.4 lens.
Both produce great images, with the f/1.4 version producing more pleasing bokeh and overall image sharpness.
However, the f/2.8 lens blasts the slower f/1.4 out of the water when it comes to its far superior autofocus performance.
This makes this little lens an incredibly attractive fully-featured option that is fantastic value for money.
As mentioned, a Fujifilm prime lens shooter has the same level of flexibility with the other smaller cheaper prime lenses that they now have on offer.
As a result, you could have all four of the smaller lighter primes in your kit for the same price as having only two of the larger, older f/1.4 primes.
Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 Review | Conclusion
The Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 is a fantastic lens that ticks all of the boxes for excellent usability, performance, value for money and image quality.
The small form of this lens makes it incredibly fun to shoot with, regardless of if you have it attached to a smaller body such as the X-T30 or the larger flagship X-T3.
Many would consider this lens and the other smaller, lighter primes in this range as entry-level lenses. Whilst their value compared to the older larger lenses would make that statement true, these lenses are definitely not slouches.
These are highly capable lenses that will not let you down in image quality. The Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 is a no-brainer for anyone looking for a high quality wide-angle prime lens for their kit.
For me, this lens is at the top of my bucket list of gear I want in my kit. And what is great is that once it is in my everyday kit, I will hardly even notice that it is there!
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