Lately, I bought one of the most incredible lenses I’ve ever seen. Not cheap. Not small. But definitely worth the effort.
Fuji 16mm f 1.4. A masterpiece that I’ll probably glue to the camera.
Who’s the responsible for this Fuji 16mm 1.4 review?
The Fujinon XF 16mm F 1.4 R WR is my new entry. I’m not going to lie: here is the man responsible for my choice: Andrew’s review -you can find the link at the end of this article! (Andrew, if you read this, feel guilty!). So, how does it feel going around and shooting with this wide-angle?
Size doesn’t matter. At least this time…
The Fujifilm Fujinon 16mm 1.4 is quite big but not as huge as you could think. I tried it on my Fujifilm X-T2 (another new entry, I’ll talk about it in another post) with and without the Battery Grip, and guess what, it feels more balanced without the battery grip. Once you grab it in the shooting position, size is not an issue. Of course, that could be an issue if you shoot candid street photography and you like to be sneaky and stealth. But the lens field of view is wide enough to allow you to shoot not directly to your subject, let’s say 3 feet aside (as if you were shooting to his imaginary friend) from him, so he would hardly find out that he’s the main character of the story.
But right now, in this moment of my life, I’m not that concerned about being sneaky or ninja-like when I shoot street photography. I’m more focused and oriented on being part of the scene and creating a connection with the subject, so the size of the 16mm F 1.4 is not an issue at all.
Change the factory hood…and the magic begins…
What I don’t like about this lens is the original lens hood: it’s strange. Big. Intrusive. Meh. Much better the aftermarket one from JJC (you can find it here on Amazon).
The feeling is great, it feels sturdy, it’s, of course, water-resistant (not IP certified to go underwater, please, don’t try to go snorkeling with it) and well done.
But overall, my friend, when you look in the viewfinder, a new magic world unravels before your eyes.
Perspective, colors, tridimensionality are beautiful. And that’s all I have to say about image quality. I’m not a pixel-peeler, I’m not interested in that kind of thing. I have just this to say: the image quality is stunning, for my eyes, it’s probably one of the sharpest, if not the sharpest Fuji lens I’ve ever tried.
Storytelling is the karma of the Fuji 16mm 1.4
Using this lens in the right way it’s a whole different game. I love lenses that allow you to tell stories and, with this lens, it’s almost impossible to snap a photo without telling a story. That’s because this focal length brings so many items inside the frame that a story will be told, for sure. The downside is that it’s difficult to be aware of all the details, people, objects and composition elements that pour inside the frame. So, many of your photos, in the beginning, will look like a painting from Hieronymus Bosch. But once you make an eye on it, it will be just fun, ’cause you’ll be able to enjoy the limitless composition games you can play with it.
Fuji 16mm 1.4: almost a macro lens
The Fujifilm 16mm 1.4 is also a versatile lens. You can use it in a lot of situations: portrait ( mainly whole body), landscape, astrophotography, street photography, whatever. Bokeh is gorgeous, also because you can focus insanely close to your subject. And it’s fast enough to use it at any time, even in the night, without too much worrying about shutter speed.
General experience: versatility, pleasure and stunning image quality
Another magic happens when you open your files on a pc or monitor and look to the details it delivers. Many people are enthusiast about the sharpness of this lens and, without going too much into technical details, I’ll put my two cents saying it’s really, really, really full of sharp details. IQ is great. No one will ever complain about IQ talking of this lens.
When I buy a new lens, I usually live a period of insane enthusiasm for the new object (typical of G.A.S. suffering people like me). I tend to make the new lens my all-around lens for the next weeks. The same happened with the Fuji 16mm F 1.4. Literally, I’ve never taken it away from the camera. Christmas dinner, Kizomba Festival, Street Photography, niece portrait, I tried it out in every single situation and…it worked. I mean: this lens can do almost everything. Yeah, there were some moment in which I felt it was a little bit too short (i.e. when my niece runs aways and becomes so, so, so small in the frame) and moments in which the exaggerated perspective was overwhelming and forced me to think about a new composition, but it’s never been something to struggle with. If I have to go to a new event, or to a new place, this is the lens I’ll put on the camera, and I’m pretty sure it won’t fail and that I won’t miss other lenses.
If you love to travel…buy it. Period.
I think this lens is really perfect for travel. If you shoot travel reportage or photography this is the one-to-go lens. Think about it for a moment. Which kind of photos do you take when you travel? Landscapes. Monuments and buildings. Situations. People in environmental portraits. Stories. Maybe some macro (flowers, details, some strange small creatures). Well? This lens performs at the top level in all these kinds of photos. And it’s WR. Not that WR is a must-have feature, but it helps to build the fantasy about you taking pictures under a tropical rain in the forest (rather than protecting your lens from dust on the shelf).
That’s probably the main reason why, since I bought it, I feel the unexplainable wish to start a journey, to talk about journeying. This lens makes you wish to visit exotic lands, makes you dream of all the beautiful colors, sunsets, incredible situations that you could live with it. And you know what? Somehow it’s true. It’s true because…what is the sense of buying such an expensive prime lens if you’re not planning to put something amazing in front of it? And it’s true because, no matter what, traveling is wonderful, it shows you the beauty of this planet and you’ll end in being completely satisfied with the decision to leave for distant places. And this lens shines so much in the Fuji line up, that it seems to promise you that it won’t disappoint your needs to return at home with outstanding shots in your SD card.
Fuji 16mm f 1.4 vs Fuji 18mm f 2
And…what about the 18mm F 2, which I love? Abandoned?
No, not abandoned. They’re similar yet different at the same time.
The focal length is very similar, almost impossible to see the difference just looking at the field of view. They are different from the logistic point of view (18mm: very small, not WR, not so fast, 16mm fast, WR, but also considerably bigger) and, I must admit, from the side of image quality. Nothing wrong about the 18mm, I’m not a fan of super-sharp images, but…wow, sometimes it’s a pleasure for the eyes to see so much perfection and details in the frame.
For me, it’s a must-have. Whatever you want to do, give it a try, Reportage, Travel, Street, Personal Photography, landscape, it won’t disappoint you. But if you’re looking for a pure street photography lens, I’ll keep on suggesting the 18mm f2. Smaller, cheaper, lighter. That said, this lens is an optic masterpiece like the 56 mm f 1.2 and the 35 mm f 1.4. Superb. Nothing you can complain about it.
Oh, I forgot about one thing: the price. It’s quite expensive. In Italy, thanks to the cashback from Fuji, I’ve bought it for just € 750,00. Not cheap, definitely. You can find it also on Amazon.
But remember: photography is not about the gear. It’s about, in the end, how you feel when you’re shooting.
Nothing else matters (Metallica quote).
Monty Montgomery says
Timely post for me (even though it is now May 2019 ). My X100F will soon be replaced with an X-Pro2. I am trying to decide between the 16mm f/1.4 or the smaller 2.8
I know the 1.4 is superior optically, but size and price also play a role… I suspect I’ll go for the 1.4.
Marco Benini says
Hi Monty, I’ve been busy for a while so I couldn’t answer.
What did you choose in the end?
I haven’t tried the new 2.8 yet.
Let me know news about you.