When I first saw the rumoured specs of this lens at Fuji Rumors I was immediately intrigued, as it would be the second constant f2.8 zoom in their lens lineup. I needed to fill the void between my 10-24mm F4 and the 50-140mm f2.8 and I felt this would be the lens to do so. Obviously because of its focal range but more so because of the constant f2.8 aperture. The alternatives were the smaller and lighter 18-55mm f2.8-4 and the 18-135mm f3.5-5.6, but having owned the 18-55mm and rarely "wanting" to use it and the widely apertured 18-135mm just didn't seem to fit my needs in both focal length and apertures.
- Focal Length - 16mm - 55mm (24mm - 82.5mm equivalent in 35mm format)
- Focus Distance - @ 16mm/23cm @55mm/35cm
- Aperture range - max f2.8 - min f22 with a constant f2.8 at all focal lengths
- Filter size - 77mm
- Weight - 665g
- Auto Focus - Twin Linear Motor AF (LM)
- Optics - 17 elements in 12 groups and 3 aspherical and 3 extra low dispersion elements and a Nano-GI coating
- Weather resistant
Handling and Aesthetics
As the 16-55mm lens was released I went down to my local camera store - Camera Pro and sampled the lens, it was heavier and bulkier than I thought it would be, it felt like a great build but kind of went back on the philosophy of mirrorless being lighter and smaller. I held off from getting it for a while to see if it was something I truly needed. I had a few jobs come up where I was borrowing my wife's 18-55mm to fulfil the clients needs and made the decision to give the larger and wider XF lens ago.
Initially it felt so bulky and unbalanced on all of my X camera's, the X-T1 seems to be the only camera it feels okay on when the camera is bare of grips. At the time I was constantly using my Vertical Battery Grip with my XT-1 so it did feel better and more balanced. But as I have found, I don't like having the grip on full time, especially for walking around on the street, so I bought the official Fujifilm hand grip and a L-Plate grip from eBay. The Fujifilm grip helps out quiet a bit in balancing the system in the hand but the L-Plate really makes it more usable as a 'walking around' lens. The grip just beefs up the camera more and fits so nicely in the hand with the heavier zoom attached, and now this is an acceptable walk around system (I honestly think Fujifilm should make the grip on it's cameras similar in size to the images below).
The lens itself is easy to use, the clicks are firm on the aperture ring and the zooming and focusing is nice and firm also - making small adjustments easy. I much prefer the style of lens cap and hood on this lens compared to the 18-55mm attachments.
Quality and Usage
Through my usage of previous zooms from Fujifilm and almost all of their primes I find that the XF 16-55mm produces incredible quality. It is amazingly sharp and doesn't seem to have that one focal length that excels more than others, all focal lengths just perform flawlessly and provide stellar quality.
The lens offers great flexibility in the focal range and the constant f2.8 means this lens can perform in lower light situations with higher ISO's applied. The lack of OIS (optical image stabilisation) was a real concern for me, but I haven't really found to be in a situation where it has been a deal breaker or had me cursing about the lack of stabilisation. I feel like I have been in a few situations where I was on the cusp of really needing it, but I never crossed that line of really slow shutter speeds. In the future we will see if I end up throwing a tantrum about it, but as of yet it really hasn't been an issue.
The Twin LM AF system implemented in this XF lens performs perfectly. I have found that with either phase or contrast AF sections selected the lens performs almost identically. It's dead silent in focussing and the front element doesn't move so when using traditional filter kits there are no issues.
With this lens carrying the WR tag from its two fellow zooms and two primes, It does give you piece of mind especially as a landscape photographer. I used my X-T1 and this lens in the recent blizzard that struck the NE of the US. It survived and worked without a problem in -15c and being covered in snow from the blizzard. The WR really does work! I never thought I would be in a situation like I was and my camera be okay, but sure enough everything held up perfectly.
I can see this lens being in the bags of photographers shooting:
- Events and Weddings
I completely underestimated this lens, the external zooming, no OIS, the size and weight, it being a zoom in general. But I definitely haven't looked back since taking a chance on this lens, and believe me thats what I felt like I was doing. Buying a bulky, unstabilised and unbalanced lens to fit with my lighter and more nimble X System - may seem a little on the strange side, and at a steep price tag of AUD$1439.00.
In saying all this it truly makes up for all those shortcomings with stellar quality and great flexibility, you just need to find that system balance and the rest is history.