Over the last month I have been testing out the Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.2 WR lens alongside the freshly released Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR lens. I have been trying to decide which of the two lenses I will add to my collection and I have found this is a much harder decision than I had initially imagined. Although I started off shooting with zoom lens I have definitely drifted to loving and preferring prime lenses not just for their amazing image quality but probably for their purist simplicity.
Using a prime lens takes one additional variable out of the photographic process and if I need to zoom then I move closer or further from what I am shooting. I find when I do use a zoom lens for landscape photography I do so at the extremes, i.e. it’s either at 16mm or it’s at 55mm. I personally found it impossible to chose between the 16mm and the 16-55mm lenses, when I had one attached to the camera I was longing for the other. They are both in short, pretty close to perfect.
I had the opportunity to familiarise myself with the Fujifilm 16mm lens during a family holiday, the unquestionable image quality, stunning depth of field, and capabilities raised the excitement of putting it to the test in the landscape photography setting.
Some may question the need for a wide angle landscape lens with a f/1.4 aperture but the speed is perfect for shallow depth of field captures and the additional speed makes it perfect for shooting the night sky during astrophotography outings.
The Fujinon 16mm f/1.4 lens is the first prime lens to offer weather protection. Ironically my gear rarely gets wet but it is something I am constant anxious about when in the mountains.
In Northern Ireland even a positive weather forecast and a sunny start doesn’t mean you will be rain free an hour late. Matching the Fujinon 16mm with the Fujifilm X-T1 creates a weather resistant setup and the 24mm (full frame equivalent) is one of my favourite focal lengths for landscape photography.
The Fujifilm 16mm lens feels solid thanks to its all metal construction, it weighs 375g and is 73mm in length feeling comfortable and well balanced when attached to the X-T1; the combination is certainly light enough to carry on full day hikes without issue.
Fortunately the 16mm has the same filter size as the 18 – 135mm so I was able use my Lee Filter Seven5 system when out on Northern Ireland’s Mourne Mountains. I didn’t take my tripod on either of these excursions so all images are hand held.
The X-T1 offers the ability to create stitched panoramic images directly in camera. I love capturing panorama images on the Fujifilm X100T camera but the 16mm is wide enough to really capture the sense of space.
Although these images focus on applying the lens in a landscape setting I found the XF 16mm to be a terrific documentary lens while on holiday. Although 16mm isn’t going to cut it for close up portraits it is perfect for action holiday shots and capturing small groups.
The lens really impresses, the autofocus is fast, accurate and near silent. The resultant images are sharp both in the centre and at the edges (even wide open). The barrel controlled aperture ring is smooth and the image capture process is intuitive when mounted on the X-T1. The Fujilm XF 16mm is a lens that is simply impossible to fault.
If you shoot landscapes or documentary / street photography then the Fujifilm XF 16mm is an exceptional lens. The f/1.4 aperture means it is perfect for night and low light photography or for creating images with creative shallow depth of field. The weather resistant seal is the big selling point for me, no more worrying about the drizzle of the clouds or an unexpected rain shower, add this to an already phenomenal lens and you have the perfect partner for the Fujifilm X-T1 that really is excellent value for money.