Views of Kenya with the Fujinon XF 16mm f/1.4 WR

Views of Kenya with the Fujinon XF 16mm f/1.4 WR
Fujinon XF 16mm f/1.4 WR Well balanced, but it couldn't be called a small lens.

Fujinon XF 16mm f/1.4 WR Well balanced, but it couldn’t be called a small lens.

 

Fujinon XF 16mm f/1.4 WR with it's tulip lens hood attached.

Fujinon XF 16mm f/1.4 WR with it’s tulip lens hood attached.

So just before I left for Kenya, I got a WhatsApp message from my contact at Fujifilm Malaysia telling me they had the yet-to-be-released Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR. I have been waiting for this lens since it showed up on the Fujifilm Lens Road Map. A 16mm f/ 1.4? That’s a lot of light!  But the real question was going to be, would I feel it was wide enough? Let’s face it, a 16mm lens on the X-system is effectively a 24mm in 35mm-speak and I generally like shooting wide. I like fast even better. This lens has not disappointed me.

f/1.4, 1/2000 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

f/1.4, 1/2000 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

 

f/1.4, 1/1250 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

f/1.4, 1/1250 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1


I really wanted to write this review before leaving and post it the day the lens was officially announced, but unfortunately I got the lens only the day before I left for Kenya and I have been working on an OFMP training everyday since I arrived. I was able to carve out a few moments here and there to put this little guy through some of it’s paces.

 

f/4, 1/10 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

f/4, 1/10 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1


Speaking of little, this actually isn’t all that small. It dwarfs the Fuji 14mm f/2.8. It’s bigger than the 23mm f/1.4 and the real shocker is, it is even slightly bigger than the 56mm f/1.2! I am not sure I understand why it needs to be this size. I understand the weight. It weighs right in between the 23mm and the 56mm at 375 g (0.83 lb), about where I expected. After all, it’s loaded with glass. But I don’t understand the size. It’s slightly bigger than the 56mm that is 3.5 times longer in focal length. But what this lens looses in size, it makes up in sharpness. Like many of the other Fujinon lenses, the 16mm is razor sharp. You need to be careful because you’ll cut yourself, its so sharp. It’s sharp at f/16 all the way to f/1.4. I was thoroughly surprised to see this lens was not only sharp in the center at f/1.4, it was also sharp from edge to edge.

 

f/10, 1/160 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

f/10, 1/160 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

 

I have yet to discover any chromatic aberrations at any f-stop. It’s here where I am suppose to tell you about the 13 lens elements in 11 groups, including 2 aspherical lens elements and the 2 ED glass lens elements to reduce lateral and axial chromatic aberration, but honestly I have no idea what that means, so as Clark Gable once said, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!”. All I know is it is crazy sharp!

 

f/10, 1/40 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

f/10, 1/40 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

 

I do know nice-looking bokeh when I see it, and this lens has it. Apparently it has to do with the 9 aperture blades. Again, I am less concerned with why it happens and more concern with “does it look nice?”, and it does.

The lens is weather sealed and becomes a great addition to the the weather sealed X-T1. Twice on this trip I was shooting in the rain and the camera got completely drenched. Not a problem.

 

f/1.4, 1/400 sec, at 16mm, 200 ISO, on a X-T1

f/1.4, 1/400 sec, at 16mm, 200 ISO, on a X-T1

 

f/1.4, 1/550 sec, at 16mm, 200 ISO, on a X-T1

f/1.4, 1/550 sec, at 16mm, 200 ISO, on a X-T1

 

I have read somewhere that this lens was slightly slow focusing using phase detection. Maybe, but I never experienced it. Every time I used it, it seemed to snap to focus as quick as the best Fuji lens.

I want to be fair here; I have not put this lens through a tough regiment of shooting. I just received this lens as I was leaving for an OFMP training at The Kilgoris Project in Kenya and only had a limited amount of time with it. What I can say is I am not disappointed with it. Unlike the 16-55mm, a lens that I felt was a well crafted lens but will never find it’s way into my bag, there is a chance this lens will not come off my camera! It is just wide enough to provide context in photos without creating undo distortion on the edges. It is fast, so it will be useful in low light situations, it is sharp and focuses quickly and accurately. What more can a photographer want? My guess is once I get this lens, my 23mm f/1.4 and my 14mm f/2.8 will stay in my bag a lot more.

 

f/1.4, 1/320 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

f/1.4, 1/320 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

 

Did you know that this is the 4th lens in Fujifilms lens lineup at the 16mm focal length? They have the 10-24mm f/4, the 16-55mm f/2.8 and the XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6. None of these are primes and all of them slower, with the fastest being the 16-55mm at f/2.8. It might surprise some of you that I never bought the 10-24mm f/4. As sharp as that lens is, and it is really sharp, I found it too slow at f/4. Yes, I know it has image stabilization (OIS) but that just stabilizes the lens not the subject. When I did use the 10-24mm, it was almost always on at the wider end between the 10 to 16mm focal length. So the new 16mm lens gives me speed at f/1.4 and a nice wide focal length. Do I wish this was a wider lens? Sure. But at the moment, there is no wider lens at this speed on the Fuji Road Map. But I can live with that. This lens hits the sweet spot for me.

 

f/1.4, 1/1250 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

f/1.4, 1/1250 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

f/1.4, 1/60 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

f/1.4, 1/60 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

 

The 16mm seems to have plenty of contrast and shooting at f/1.4 it gives your subject a nice separation from it’s background. It focuses close, as you can see from the tea flower and the daisy image below. I think I was as close as 6 inch or more. The bokeh get more impressive the closer you get to your subject.

 

f/1.4, 1/1800 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

f/1.4, 1/1800 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

 

f/1.4, 1/1250 sec, at 16mm, 200 ISO, on a X-T1

f/1.4, 1/1250 sec, at 16mm, 200 ISO, on a X-T1

f/3.2, 1/90 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

f/3.2, 1/90 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

 

The lens is suppose to be selling on Amazon for $999… er $1,000. So in the end, it comes down to would I shell out $1,000 for a 16mm f/1.4 lens? The answer is a resounding, “Heck yeah!”

 

f/5, 1/1100 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

f/5, 1/1100 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

 

f/1.4, 1/1250 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

f/1.4, 1/1250 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

f/1.4, 1/1000 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

f/1.4, 1/1000 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

f/1.4, 1/2500 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

f/1.4, 1/2500 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

 

f/1.4, 1/2000 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

f/1.4, 1/2000 sec, at 16mm, 400 ISO, on a X-T1

 

f/16, 1/110 sec, at 16mm, 200 ISO, on a X-T1

f/16, 1/110 sec, at 16mm, 200 ISO, on a X-T1

FaceBook Comments

comments

About The Author

Matt Brandon

Matt is a Malaysia based humanitarian and travel photographer. Well known as a photographer and international workshop instructor, Matt’s images have been used by business and organizations around the globe. Matt also on the design board for Think Tank Photo, a camera bag manufacturer. In 2013 Matt founded the On Field Media Project to train the staff of non-profits to use appropriate technology to produce timely as well as quality images.

44 Comments

  1. George Neill

    Love all the smiles and your ability to share them.

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Thanks George,the Kenyan people are full of smiles. They make it easy to photograph them.

      Reply
  2. Trent

    Matt, if you don’t mind me asking, why did you gaff tape the “pentaprism” of your X-T1? As it is seen on first photos, it doesn’t cover anything specific.

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Trent, I use the tape to protect the body from scratches incase I want to resell the camera later to invest in a new model.

      Reply
  3. Retheesh

    Hi Matt,
    Do you use any VSCO presets to process the images?
    I love the colors.

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Retheesh, nope. Just Lightroom.

      Reply
      • Retheesh

        Wow… I just love the clouds in all your pictures, especially the one with the SUV and house

        Reply
        • Matt Brandon

          Retheesh, that is a simple matter of not blowing out the sky while shooting the images (watching the histogram for clipping) and then bringing back the detail in the sky in Lightroom using the gradient tool.

          Reply
          • Retheesh

            Thanks for the response Matt
            Do you do ETTR exposing, also do you set the DR to 400% by default?

          • Matt Brandon

            I tend to exposing to the right. I use the histogram to make sure I am not too blown out on the right side. As for the DR, I probably should use the Dynamic Range function. There were times I had wished I had left it to the camera. I guess old habits are hard to break.

  4. Rick

    Nice pictures and good review. But can you explain me why you don’t use the 16-55mm? It seems a very good lens to me too.

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      I did a review of that lens as well, you can find it HERE. I felt that the 16-55mm is too heavy and costly for what it delivered. BUT… with that said, it really is a personal choice for the way that you shoot. Understand, I didn’t hate that lens, I just couldn’t justify the cost when I don’t tend to use much of those focal lengths. I have the 35mm f/1.4 and I don’t use it much. I have the 23 mm f/1.4 and I don’t use it hardly at all as well. I tend to shoot wide, even when I was shooting Canon, my 24-70mm stayed in my dry-box (I live in Malaysia and it is humid here) in my office and never was used. I hope that helps.

      Reply
  5. pabloledesma

    I wonder how This lens could fit in my bag.
    I have the 14mm and the 23mm….
    I’m affraid the 16mm would be not wide enough and too close to the 23mm :S

    What’s your opinion?

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      As I stated above, I have both of those lenses as well. I see myself keeping the 14mm as it is nice and wide. But I imagine I might be passing the 23mm (and fantastic lens) on to my daughter to take to University. I think the 16 is just wide enough to be useful. Again as I have said before, it is really a matter of how you shoot. I found the 16mm to fit nicely into a sweet spot and as you can see in my comments to Rick the 23mm falls into a zone I don’t really use much.

      Reply
  6. Fred Thomas

    Matt what wonderful images and a mission that is very much needed. OFMP is extremely worthwhile!

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Fed, thanks for these encouraging words. If you want to know more about what The On Field Media Project does you can watch our short video linked HERE. If you want to know more about The Kilgoris Project you can visit there site linked in the review or watch these videos linked HERE.

      Reply
  7. Will

    Thanks for this great review, I too have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of this lens!

    Just a small question – what is the little red and black “fob” on the side of your X-T1?

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Will, thanks. Those black and red fobs are made by Peak Design and are the attachment anchors to a strap system. Attaching the strap to the fobs gives the strap the ability to be removed quickly and the anchor points are small enough to keep from getting in the way when I have the camera packed or photographing it like I did here. You can read more about the specific strap I use HERE.

      Reply
  8. Carlos

    Wonderful images Matt, so human and so full of the energy of life. Thank you for sharing them!
    Did you apply any lens distortion correction on the images? The close-ups of people seem so undistorted, I am very curious to know.

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Thank you Carlos, To answer your question, no – I didn’t do any lens correction on these images in Lightroom or otherwise. All I did was process them for color and detail, I don’t think I even cropped any of them. I also was amazed with both the lack of distortion in images as well as the amount and creaminess of bokeh in the background, especially when shooting an images close up, like the daisies.

      Reply
  9. ken

    hi matt,
    hello from kl :).
    beautiful pics. is the 16mm colour rendition and sharpness on par with its 35mm sibling?
    regards,
    ken

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Ken, I would say it is. This is at least on par if not sharper. Though that statement is anecdotal as I have not run test on the two lenses.

      Reply
      • ken

        wow! it’s an absolute winner then.
        a star in the making 😉 .
        thanks, matt.
        ken

        Reply
  10. Carlos

    Well Matt, then this is surely an absolute winner lens. Thank you again for the sharing 🙂

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Carlos, It certainly is!

      Reply
  11. Eraser Head

    Really inspiring photos, Matt!
    It’s not the camera, but the eye behind 😉
    The 16mm looks fabulous.
    The only minus factor is its size.
    I understand we are talking about a rock solid, weather sealed and faster lens that the 14 mm. That 1.4 also comes with the invaluable ability of keeping enjoying it in poor light conditions, when the 14 mm 2.8 becomes virtually unusable. But was it really necessary to increase that much the size?
    As the X system evolves it seems that FUJI prime lenses are stepping out of their original concept of compactness and portability. Not really good news! But I suppose that the law of physics are not that easy to break…. Even for Fujifilm
    Sounds like a keeper, anyway
    Thanks again for your review and pictures!

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Eraser Head, I hear you and feel your pain. I agree the lenses do seem to be getting bigger. However, with that said, I think it is, as you stated, matter of physics. If you think about it, 16 mm is a pretty wide lens and to make it a f/1.4 is an amazing feat. All that light has to pass through a large opening and thus a lot of glass. I am not a lens designer, but the complexity of such a fast lens and keeping the diameter to 67mm is impressive. As someone once said, there is rarely a “free lunch”, it’s always a give and take. Frankly, I can’t think of any other another manufacture that makes a 16 mm f1.4 lens for either APS-C or otherwise.

      Reply
  12. Matt Thomas

    Matt,

    Your article and pictures have helped cement my decision to make this piece of glass the next purchase for my X-T1. My wallet will hate me, but it is what it is. I was also pleased to find out that an X-T1 was behind the latest Time Magazine cover shot during the Baltimore rioting. I love this camera!

    I wanted to ask if the images in your review are SOOC jpegs with any specific film emulation mode applied? I’m very impressed with the sharpness and clarity visible here at the widest apertures. It’s one of the reasons I love my 56 and looks like these two lenses will pair up nicely. Thanks

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Matt (good name), This is a killer lens, no doubt! As for SOOC jpegs. Nope. I shoot RAW, I don’t want/need a jpeg. What I want is an image file that has stops of leeway to make up for any screw ups by the operator. I don’t always ad sharpening, but when I do it generally runs around a +25 in Lightroom, my choice of editing software. I don’t use any prefab presets. In fact, I don’t even use my own presets most of the time. I simply adjust the blacks down a tad, The whites up a smidgen, and add a touch of relief to the shadows and bring down ever-so-slightly the highlights. The last thing I might increase the contrast a little. That is a very, very simple overview of my Lightroom workflow. 😉

      Reply
  13. jkb

    There’s just one problem folks: That lens is way too big. I really wished for something smaller.

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      It is bigger than I hoped. But I don’t think it takes away from the use of it. It certainly didn’t put me off from spending the money.

      Reply
  14. Kevin Chang

    Hi Matt, great article & photos!! I am not a professional photographer but I love taking photos of my kids with the XF56mm. However, the focal length has a lot of setbacks for me and I was just planning on getting the xf35MM before the newly release XF16mm caught my attention and eventually got to your article. If I were to purchase the XF16mm, would you suggest selling off the XF56MM? Thanks so much for you professional advice!

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      I just bought the 16mm and am really excited to start using it. The one I used in this review was a loaner. But I would never sell my 56mm! To different uses for these two very different lenses. The 16mm would not be good for formal portraits, You will always get some distortion with this lens if you are too close. It’s just the nature of the best.

      Reply
      • Kevin Chang

        Hey Matt, thanks for your reply! What is your impression on the XF35MM? It is a good portrait shooting lense?

        Reply
        • Matt Brandon

          So if you like shooting a 50mm focal length is great. Fast and sharp. Honestly these Fuji reviews can get boating as I end up saying the same thing: fast and sharp! It’s the truth.

          Reply
  15. Connor

    Thanks for sharing Matt, love your images, and impressions of the 16mm.

    A couple of questions for you: I love how you’ve been able to get the subject separation and OOF background in a couple of shots, such as the boy writing in his journal, and the journal in the empty classroom. What sort of distance were those shots taken from, and did you do anything in post to de-emphasise the backgrounds?

    Cheers, and thanks again for the great article.

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Connor, that is all the lens! No post production magic. The 1.4 gives an amazing drop off and thus separates your subject from it’s background.

      Reply
      • Connor

        Thanks Matt. How close were you to your subjects to get that sort of separation?

        Reply
        • Matt Brandon

          Inches. Maybe a foot. I honestly can’t recall with certainly. But you can get pretty close without any bad distortion. But it will be there so be careful. 😉

          Reply
  16. Fabrizio Arena

    Hello Matt! What’s the name of that neat metal grip that you have on your xt1?

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      It is a Vertical Shoot Quick Release L-Plate Bracket Hand Grip for Fuji XT1 X-T1. Inexpensive but well made and functional. You can find it HERE on ebay.

      Reply
  17. Jarosław

    What about Samyang 12 mm f/2.0 NCS CS ?

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      I have never shot it so I can’t comment. It looks good. Is it an auto focus lens?

      Reply
      • Jarosław

        It is manual lens. I bought it recently. It is quite good lens.

        Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. “Sharp from edge to edge at f/1.4, Nice Bokeh, Fast & Accurate AF” XF 16mmF1.4 review at thedigitaltrekker | Fuji Rumors - […] Brandon tested the XF 16mm F1.4 in Kenya. You can read his first impression at thedigitaltrekker. Here an […]
  2. Views of Kenya with the Fujinon XF 16mm f/1.4 WR | Matt Brandon - […] Source: thedigitaltrekker.com […]
  3. No 26 · Der Drang zu Großem | radioRAW - […] Kenya, Fuji, 16mm – schweinegeil […]

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archives

Categories

Get my new ebook!

Signup and receive my newest ebook. You will learn how to travel light & efficient and up your photographic skills as well.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This