The Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR is a weather resistant compact wide angle lens that weighs a mere 5.5oz(155g). With a full frame equivalent 24mm focal length, the XF 16mm f/2.8 is perfect for shooting travel and landscape photos while on the go. This lens also fills in nicely for candid people photos and a little street photography. The XF 16mm f/2.8 isn’t as fast as Fuji’s 16mm f/1.4, but it is nearly 8oz lighter, $600 cheaper, and is an overall much smaller package. These are the main factors that pushed me to purchase this lens and I will be detailing my very positive experience in this review.
Construction and Handling
The XF 16mm f/2.8 is my third Fuji WR lens, and rounds out a very serviceable trio alongside my XF 35mm f/2 and XF 50mm f/2. Just like the XF 35mm f/2 and XF 50mm f/2, the XF 16mm f/2.8 is built like a little tank. The XF 16mm f/2.8 has a premium feel in the hand, and is built much better than the lens I used to have at this focal length on my Sony system, the Rokinon/Samyang 24mm f/2.8. The aperture ring clicks nicely when adjusted, and alway stays put when coming in and out of the bag.
The Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 is a lens I use primarily for hiking and travel. This means it spends most of its life susceptible to variable weather while outside on dusty hiking trails and busy city streets. The weather resistance on the XF 16mm f/2.8 has proven to be very effective when paired with my weather resistant Fuji XT-3. I’ve used this lens in the rain and humidity of southeast Asia, the dusty deserts of Southern California, and the windy cold of high elevation mountain peaks. I have yet to have any issues with dirt or water getting into the lens or camera.
Fujifilm rates this lens down to 14°F which is a great feature for travelers and outdoor enthusiast. This focal length makes for a lens that will be tested quite a bit outdoors, so it is nice to have the peace of mind knowing that it was designed for such pursuits.
The weather sealed metal body of the Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 houses 10 optical elements in 8 groups, and has 9 rounded diaphragm blades. This combination has proven to be very resistant to flares and ghosting when shooting in harsh light, and provides pretty decent bokeh for such a wide lens.
The XF 16mm f/2.8 provides a 83.2° field of view, and a full frame equivalent 24mm focal length. The minimum focusing distance is around 6.7 inches or 17cm, which is really nice for getting shots of things close up.
The Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 has no image stabilization and neither does my Fuji X-T3. When paired with the IBIS of the new X-T4, the XF 16mm f/2.8 will gain 6.5 stops. I’m really looking forward to picking up an X-T4 for this reason.
The lens hood for the XF 16mm f/2.8 is a tiny piece of plastic which doesn’t offer much coverage, but does provide a little protection. This is similar to the mini lens hood that comes with the XF 35mm f/2, and nothing like the big lens hood found on the XF 50mm f/2. I’ve shot with this hood on sunny days outside, and find the lens performs just as well without it. I tend to only keep it on when shooting in crowds or while hiking on narrow rocky trails.
The Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 has a metal bayonet that is just as solid and sturdy as the rest of the all metal lens. Just like my Fujifilm XF35mm f/2 and XF 50mm f2, the XF 16mm f/2.8 leaves very little to be desired, and gives me a lot of confidence that it will last a very long time.
When shooting with a lens as wide as the XF 16mm f/2.8, speedy autofocus isn’t much of a priority. Still, the autofocusing on this lens is on par with the fantastic performance of my XF 35mm and XF 50mm. I’ve used this lens for a little street photography, portraits of my toddler, and candid shots of moving subjects while traveling, and have yet to be dissapointed. The XF 16mm f/2.8 has a silent inner focus system that uses a stepping motor to achieve these great results, and is also a great option for video. The Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 also gives users the option to manually focus using its dampened metal focus ring, which is something I prefer for static landscapes.
Size and Weight
The Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 comes in at a lightweight 5.50oz (155g) and measures just 2.36 x 1.79″. This is one of the main reasons I find myself using this lens so often.
Specs and Stats
Dimensions: 2.36 x 1.79″
Weight: 5.50 oz / 155 g
Filter Thread: 49mm
Focal Length: 16mm
Aperture: f/2.8 – f/22
View Angle: 83.2°
Minimum Focus Distance: 6.69” (17 cm)
Image Stabilization: None
The Fuji XF 16mm f/2.8 isn’t just compact and incredibly well built, it is also very sharp. Shooting wide open at f/2.8, the Fuji XF 16mm f/2.8 is already sharp at the center of the frame. By f/4.0 the results are razor sharp.
To evaluate corner and edge sharpness, the images below show the bottom left corner of a topo map. Shooting wide open at f/2.8, the corners look a tad bit smeared, but the edges look really good. By f/4, the corners look a little better, and by f/5.6, the corners are near perfect.
It’s tough to test for vignetting with Fujinon lenses since the RAW files and jpegs are processed with a built in lens profile that removes it. I’ve read that you can remove these profiles with editors like Iridient Developer. As a photographer that is already using Lightroom and Capture One, I’m going to pass on a third piece of software and just live with the built in corrections.
The autofocus on the Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 is fast, accurate, and silent. This is great for video, and nice for photos. This lens also works very well with the face recognition mode on my Fuji X-T3. I don’t shoot a lot of portraits with a lens this wide, but it is nice for candid shots and environmental portraits. The Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 also does a great job of locking onto moving subjects using continuous autofocus.
Bokeh and subject separation are lens qualities that usually rank fairly low when researching a wide angle lens. When cross shopping the XF 16mm f/2.8 against the 16mm f/1.4, I realized how many people were using the f/1.4 for portraits, food photography, and other applications that showcase the f/1.4’s pleasant bokeh. For this reason, I thought it would be worth posting a few photos from the XF 16mm f/2.8 for those interested. Obviously, the max aperture of f/1.4 will provide a much shallower DOF than the max of f/2.8 for this 16mm, but the results are still impressive here.
First off, I’ll say as I always do, I see bokeh in two ways: It’s either a compliment to the photo or its a distraction. I’m not interested in onion rings, cat eyes, aberrations, or astigmatisms, and steer clear of technical evaluations of bokeh. To get a good test of my compliment vs distraction evaluation, I’ve selected a few sample photos with busy backgrounds. In these photos and others, I find that the out-of-focus area compliments the subjects nicely, especially for a wide angle lens with a max aperture of f/2.8. In this regard, I feel the 16mm f2.8 is punching above its weight.
Real World Performance
Let’s face it, real world photo samples are what drive most lens purchases these days. I’m sure there are people out there making decisions based on charts, but I’ve yet to meet one in person. Looking at real world photo samples is what ultimately influences my purchasing decision on new lenses. It’s important for me to see how a lens performs in situations that are similar to how and where I shoot. I also like to see photographers post photos using a style of shooting I’d like to learn from. As a landscape photographer that spends most of my time on hiking trails, it helps me a lot to see photographers of street, studio portraiture, real estate, etc., talking about how the quality of a lens compliments their style of shooting. I’ve learned a great deal from these reviewers and am very grateful that they take the time to share their experience. For that reason, I want to cover my personal experience with the Fuji XF 16mm f/2.8 in the situations I’ve used it most: environmental portraits, street, travel, landscape, and handheld shots in low light. Obviously there can be a lot of crossover in these categories, but I will address each one separately below.
Lenses with a 16mm (24mm full frame) focal length are not traditionally thought of as a portrait lenses, since they require a photographer to get really close to a subject to fill the frame. This wide angle focal length can also lead to some facial feature distortion that isn’t as pronounced on longer lenses. What this focal length is really competent at is environmental portraits when I want to photograph a subject and capture the surrounding area to add to the story. For this use, the Fuji XF 16mm f/2.8 has been a great performer. The center and edge sharpness wide open really help me capture the scene as I see it. The wide focal length is also very close to most cell phones, which makes it easy for strangers to take pictures of me and my family while traveling.
Street Photography and Architecture
Many street photographers recommend shooting with a fast 28mm, 35mm, or 50mm lenses (18mm, 23mm, or 35mm on Fuji X APS-C) for their speed and versatility. I really like those focal lengths as well, but also enjoy shooting with wide angles and short telephoto lenses to get a new perspective. The XF 16mm (24mm) allows me to capture an entire scene and is much better at reproducing life as I see it with my eyes. The maximum aperture of f/2.8 is a limiting factor in low light situations, but it’s small size and sharpness help make up for that.
Travel and Landscape Photography
Landscape and general travel photography is the area that I use this lens most often. The XF 16mm f/2.8 is a compact and lightweight lens, which is perfect for shooting photos on the go. The maximum f/2.8 aperture is just fast enough for handheld indoor shots, and the optics are mostly distortion free after Fuji’s processing. With the center and edges tack sharp from f/4 onward, I’m able to use this lens for wide landscapes, buildings, temples, street food, candid portraits, and much more.
Low Light Handheld
As I’ve mentioned above, the XF 16mm f/2.8 can leave a little to be desired when available light is limited. If I needed a much faster lens, then the extra $600 and added weight of the XF 16mm f/1.4 might be worth a look. For now, I’m looking forward to the extra 6.5 stops Fuji is claiming the XT-4 will add to this lens. Even with non-IBIS Fuji models, the XF 16mm f/2.8 is a solid low light performer.
The Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR comes in a $400, which is a relative bargain for its performance, build quality, and size. If you’re looking for a wide multi-purpose lens for landscapes, travel, and the occasional portrait, this is a tough lens to beat. If you’re like me, and like to shoot with multiple prime lenses based on the situation, this makes for a great addition to a travel trio or four pack. If you need a faster lens at this focal length and don’t mind the size and heft of the 16mm f/1.4, that is another option. The smaller size and cost savings are ultimately what pushed me to the 16mm f/2.8, and so far I have no regrets.