I was honoured to be asked by Fujifilm to recently test a pre production version of this lens. In truth I’m not sure whether it was because of my credentials as a Travel Photographer or simply the fact that I have been pestering them to introduce such a lens for the past few years! Anyhow, here is my review and some images shot with the lens on a beautiful summers day in the Cotswolds.
There is no subject guaranteed to prompt more discussion than the question of “what’s in my bag” and perhaps none more so than in the world of travel photography.
With weight being a critical factor it means that our lens selection comes under rigorous scrutiny. If only there was a small, lightweight, all round Fujinon lens capable of capturing the majority of shots. Well now there is, enter the new XF16-80 f4.
As a travel photographer I had waited impatiently for this lens and was delighted to be asked to put this lens through its paces.
This super versatile lens covers an excellent focal range from 24mm to 120mm in 35mm format equivalent. Whether you are shooting stills or video this range has you covered. Great for shooting landscapes, architecture, street, portraiture and more.
My first impressions were very positive, impressed by the small size and light weight (440g) of this lens, reassuringly well built and, with its metal body, feeling typically robust. It sits on the XT3 perfectly.
Comparing the size to other XF lenses the 16-80 fits in between the XF18-55 and XF16-55 and features a 72mm filter thread. If you use the smaller filter systems they fit very well with this lens though I found there was some vignetting when using the front mounted polarising filter (on my 2 slot holder) between 16-21mm.
A constant f4 aperture means that whatever focal length you choose the lens will let in lots of light up to its widest aperture of f4. The aperture ring features 1/3 stop clicked increments and the focusing ring rotated very smoothly.
Hugely impressive 6 stops of Optical Image Stabilisation means that you can hand hold at lower shutter speeds without needing to resort to a tripod, great for shooting indoors, at twilight or for those many places where tripods are banned.
The closest focusing distance is only 35cm across the entire zoom range, perfect for achieving those dreamy backgrounds.
You needn’t worry about “rain stopping play” either as the comprehensive weather sealing means you’ll not miss a shot when you’re caught in a shower. When combined with the XT3 you have the perfect kit for outdoor shooting.
Of course all the benefits of such a lens mean nothing if the Image Quality doesn’t stack up. However you needn’t worry as I found the quality to be similar to the excellent XF18-55. On my pre production model, the images were impressively sharp between f5.6 and 16 at most focal lengths. Performance at 80mm was good especially at f5.6 and f8. There was some slight darkening in the corners at 16mm but nothing that concerned me and is easily removed in post processing, though I normally add some slight dark vignette anyway! At f4 the bokeh was smooth and very pleasing especially when zoomed to 80mm where it compared closely to my XF16-55 at 55mm and f2.8. The lens also displayed impressive distortion control when shooting architecture at wider focal lengths due to its Aspherical design. The Super EBC coating designed to significantly reduce flare and ghosting worked well even when shooting directly into the sun.
I was initially surprised and disappointed that there was no switch on the lens to activate and deactivate the OIS thinking I would constantly have to dive into the menus, or reassign a button, however Fujifilm beat me to it. This lens knows when it’s on a tripod and automatically switches off the OIS, how neat is that?!
My only slight gripe is that the lens is not internal focusing meaning that as you zoom from wide to telephoto the barrel extends but this is certainly not a deal breaker and it’s probably a measure of how good the lens is for me to nitpick this point.
Of course the XF16-80 isn’t your only choice for a travel lens. Options would be the superb XF18-55, the XF18-135 which for me both fall short with their more limited wider focal length or the stunning XF16-55 f2.8 which is larger, heavier and offers no image stabilisation.
So what’s my verdict? This lens ticks all the boxes for a great, versatile, travel lens delivering quality images. It certainly means that decision of which lenses to pack is suddenly made a whole lot easier.