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To buy or not to buy: FUJIFILM XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR Lens

Updated: Jan 22


I bet you have seen this lens before – Fuji 16mm f/1.4. Maybe even done a bit of research into it. We hesitated for a long time as well – before we finally bit the bullet… well, more like emptied the wallet got it! Here I will guide you through all the insights we’ve got so far, show you our examples and hopefully, no, I’m pretty certain, I will help you decide on the good old question – to buy or not to buy.

Fuji lineup of fast primes is just one of many reasons why we have chosen to support the company and basically give all our money to them.

Usually when using wide angle lenses, people don’t expect to have creamy background or a nice bokeh. However this lens will surprise you with its versatility. It can be used for landscapes, architecture, nature, close-ups, group pictures, and even in portrait photo shoots. It’s basically Jack-of-all-trades. It almost goes as far as macro. Almost. Let’s go through it all.

Using a prime lens for landscapes or cityscapes can prove to be challenging due to lack of zooming possibilities but all in all it just makes you think more creatively, take a moment and choose the right composition, therefore increasing the possibilities of getting that brilliant shot that we all know we can make. As expected from a Fuji prime, this 16mm lens is an absolute joy to shoot with. No more switching lenses when you want to jump from shooting mountains to colourful little flowers right by you.

This lens is capable of providing with unquestionable image quality and stunning depth of field no matter what you’re shooting. Here we have majestic mountains by the lake Garda in Italy. Without switching the lens, you can drop down and take a closeup of some flowers.

It is astonishing how a wide angle lens can create such a great subject separation and creamy bokeh. With its minimum focus distance being just 15 cm, it’s basically as far as the lens hood goes. When you’re touching the subject with the hood, you know that it is as far or in this case as close as it goes. The high optical quality means that even at fully opened aperture of F1.4 it still works flawlessly, remaining crisp and easy to focus. Autofocus is moderately fast, and it’s very accurate, even at wide open. Due to an electrical motor inside it goes from close-focus to infinity almost instantly.

When shooting from close-up, at F 1.4 the background is completely blown out – making it virtually a nature macro shot (see our Fuji macro lens review here)

You can create some epic pictures when travelling – with a subject larger than life in spectacular surroundings. We constantly use this trick to accentuate the special uniqueness of places where we end up. It is pure pleasure using it in environmental portrait shoots.

The wide angle gives enough information about the place that a person is in. The effect of nature’s greatness would be even more exaggerated if we used our 10-24mm lens at 10mm. You will be able to compare these type of pictures and the effect that you can get with just 6mm of focal difference.

Daytime photography is pretty straight forward with any lens. Let’s have a look at what it can do after the sun has set.

Unsurprisingly, with its capability to go as low as f/1.4 the amount of light it lets in is crazy. It massively helps with keeping the ISO levels to the minimum. Here is a picture with a cityscape from London. Picture was taken handheld, with the camera being held against a side rail. It allows to shoot in near dark conditions with ease.

This next picture is taken in almost pure darkness, and the camera with 16mm lens managed brilliantly. It displayed all the details of the thousands and thousands of small LED light strings and created this surreal borderless image.

The amazing crispiness of the image all around is just a thrill. The focus control is perfectly accurate and sets on the selected object snappy even when you’re shooting in the dark.

This incredible corner to corner sharpness gets an A+ in our books.

Flare is extremely well controlled, maybe even a bit too well. We like the colourful sun flare orbs shooting out of images when the lens is positioned straight at the sun. It adds moodiness and has that romantic feel to it. With this lens you will need to work on different angles to create romance 😉

I feel like the bokeh on this lens is something that everyone is really interested in. It is very unusual to have a wide angle like this produce such a stunning bokeh. This and the close focusing distance were the clear selling points for us.

You can see perfect subject and background separation. And with nine rounded diaphragm blades, the bokeh is smooth and evenly shaped

Since we have started the subject of portraits… Let me tell you – this lens will surprise you. The option to get this close to your subject, creates a sense of intimacy that is difficult to mimic with longer lenses. It gives you foreground blur and background blur and that inevitably leads your eye straight to the subject.

16mm and close focusing range allowed us to get this picture. It is literally under a rose bush. You could not even dream to get this kind of a shot with, for example, portrait lens 50-140mm. So add ‘fun’ to the list of many advantages that this lens has. I am sure people will agree if i would say that it has a personality of its own.

Often times we have successfully used this lens for product photography. It gives a different perspective on the item and we can be creative with choosing background.

VIDEO

In my opinion – leaving the best for last, due to the great sharpness and amazing subject separation – this lens has great video capabilities. The focal length is great for vlogging if you are into it or as we are here right now – making background just a bit more soft to be less distracting.Let me show you the focusing. It is smooth and accurate.

Cons

There are really not many negative aspects to this lens.

It does not have Image Stabilization. To some people it might be disappointing, but wide angle lenses don’t really require stabilization that much and if you have XH1, it already has built-in IS

It takes a bit of time to get used to manual focus as it has this weird pull back clutch mechanism. It’s different than other lenses so at times there is this second of ‘why is it not listening to me..?!’

It’s also good to remember the price when deciding on all the pros and cons. However once you consider the construction and glass quality which is near flawless, price starts to seem reasonable.

Conclusion

Fuji has a vast choice of wide angle lenses (zooms : 8-16mm f/2.8, 10-24mm f/4, fixed 14mm f/2.8, 16mm f/1.4 16mm f2.8, 18mm f/2.0) but this 16mm is one of the most versatile primes in the whole lineup, while it now has a baby brother F2.8 which is both smaller and cheaper – it would only work if you don’t need that extra stop of light and shallow depth of field.

For us this wide angle chameleon is one of those lenses which goes straight into the camera bag on all occasions so be prepared – there’s a strong chance you will never want to use any other lens.

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