The Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR is hailed to be one of the sharpest Fuji lenses for its size and very reasonable price, so how does it fair on the Fuji X-T5 with its 40mp sensor? It's one on a list of lenses that Fujifilm recommends you use to get the best out of the sensor, and if that in fact is the case it certainly does it well. I was in the market for a prime lens that would cover areas of landscape and travel photography plus be compact and lightweight and after jumping between this and the 23mm I opted to purchase this lens secondhand from Ffordes Photographic. The reason I went with this one was the fact that most reviews mentioned it was marginally sharper than the FUJIFILM XF 23mm f/2 R WR Lens, certainly not by much but when I considered that I could also use this for landscape, I wanted to see how good this lens actually was.
Build and Quality
This prime lens is remarkably lightweight and compact considering the quality of the images it produces. With a weather-resistant all-metal build which is rated to work in temperatures as low as -10 degrees, this lens provides some serious bang for your bucks retailing at $399.
It's a full frame equivalent of 24mm and without the hood, measures 45.4mm with a diameter of 60mm, and has a filter thread size of 49mm. The petal-shaped hood is plastic and again compact so keeps the entire setup small and discreet and weighing in at only 155g.
The focus and aperture rings are just under a thumbs width apart and have discernible knurling differences so that you don't make any mistakes when your eye is on the viewfinder. Soft audible clicks emanate from the aperture ring and it actually feels better to use than some of the other Fuji lenses I have. The aperture ring ranges from f/2.8 to f/22 with an A for Auto that is present on Fuji lenses allowing for control via the camera's command dials. The focus ring is dampened and sweet in that you feel the controllable resistance it provides without being overly heavy. Autofocus on this lens is fast and accurate and didn't hunt for focus in any of the lighting conditions.
There's no image stabilization with this lens so depending on whether your camera has IBIS or not you'll have to factor that into your requirements. On the X-T5 I had no issues at all when it came to any of the handheld shots due to the camera's IBIS.
This lens is the next in the lineup from the FUJIFILM XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR Lens which retails at $849. With a saving of $450 for the FUJIFILM XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR Lens you have to ask yourself, what will you be using it for, and whether is it worth it for you to sacrifice 2 stops? Because this lens performs excellently. It's center sharp at g/2.8 with some softness at the corners, which can be expected and once you stop down to f/4 - f/8 the lens shows you its quality. I did find at g/11 it was beginning to show signs of diffraction with certain subjects but only sometimes, so due to this, I am putting it down to user error.
I photographed various subjects with the lens and it returned clean sharp images each and every time except for the odd occasion at g/11. As I was mainly concerned with the sharpness the subject matter varied as you will see in the gallery below. I haven't actually had a chance to try it solely as a landscape lens due to the current weather conditions I am impressed with how it's handled everything so far. All the images are handheld and some, thanks to IBIS, were shot at 1/20 second and again it returned sharp images.
As a side note, some of the images for this article were processed using Adobe Lightroom, and the images looked sharp, but after reading Ivor Rackham's excellent recent article I opted to download and try Capture One for Fujifilm and the differences were immediately noticeable and so I edited the remaining images with Capture One. What was originally sharp images became even sharper which I can only put down to a combination of this lens coupled with the 40mpx sensor of the X-T5 and the way in which the software handles the Fuji files. The images in the gallery have been resized to 2000px long edge.
What I Liked
Everything about the lens has appealed to me, from its compact size, the weather sealing, and the sharp images it produces. The lens is enjoyable to use which is one of the main things for me after the quality. I never once found myself wishing it could do more or had extra features like image stabilization, as I was able to shoot at quite low shutter speeds due to the camera's IBIS.
What I Didn't Like
So far there has been nothing that I have found detrimental to the performance of the lens, it handles great, has super-fast autofocus, and produces sharp images.
I shoot most of my landscapes with the 10-24mm and wanted to see if this lens would produce sharp images on the X-T5 as it's one of the lenses recommended by Fujifilm to get the most out of the 40mp sensor. I'll have to do a side-by-side comparison to see how much of a difference it makes, but going by what I've seen so far it seems to.
This is a great lens and if you already use it I'm sure you know what I mean. A prime wide-angle lens might not be to everyone's taste due to the fixed focal length, but coupled with the X-T5's 40mpx sensor allows for a little maneuverability for cropping. This lens would also be great for travel and street photography and if you paired it up with the FUJIFILM XF 23mm f/2 R WR Lens and the FUJIFILM XF 56mm f/1.2 R Lens I think you would have a fantastic multipurpose travel kit that's lightweight, compact and relatively inexpensive considering the quality of the glass.
This is a top-class lens that produces brilliantly sharp images and if you are able to sacrifice 2 stops while saving quite a bit, you can purchase this lens here.
It seems every review I've read on lenses this century, since I got back into photography focuses on the priority of how sharp a lens is as if that's how we are supposed to judge the quality of lenses. All modern lenses have a sharpness that's more than adequate but sometimes it feels like other qualities are seen as secondary (even if they are not). I own a Voigtlander lens that some people instantly dismiss because it's not blisteringly sharp wide open, even though by design it would be impossible to be tack sharp wide open. I, at least have other priorities with lenses.