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Feb 25

Review: Fujifilm Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR

16-55_singleConclusion

Pros

  • Well-built lens with weather-sealing and smooth and positive controls
  • Fast and accurate autofocus
  • Excellent image sharpness right from f/2.8 throughout the focal range
  • Outstanding contrast and rich saturated color
  • Bokeh is fairly nice for a standard zoom
  • Good flare control in most situations
  • Minimal vignetting

Cons

  • Quite large and heavy for a mirrorless standard zoom
  • Pronounced lateral chromatic aberration
  • No optical stabilizer

The Fujifilm XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR is a pro-grade zoom lens, and it certainly performs like one.  It’s got excellent sharpness right from the maximum f/2.8 aperture, good bokeh for the most part and truly stunning contrast.  Optically, the only real flaw is the presence of lateral CA.

The biggest knocks on the 16-55mm are going to be about size and the lack of an optical stabilizer.  The lens is quite large, though it’s not particularly unwieldy on a body with a grip.  The complaints come in comparison to the competition.  Fuji’s own 18-55mm f/2.8-4 has an optical stabilizer, is almost as fast, and is downright tiny in comparison.  Samsung’s 16-50mm f/2-2.8 is a full stop faster at the wide end, has an OIS unit, and is still slightly smaller and lighter than the Fuji.  The size is, therefore, a concern.  However, ultimately I don’t view it as a deal breaker depending on your uses.

If you’re after an all-purpose compact lens, it’s obviously not going to fit the bill (look to the 18-55).  However, if you are looking for a lens to produce prime-like image quality over a range of focal lengths, then the 16-55mm will work quite nicely.  I think the 16-55mm is especially well suited to professional event shooting for Fuji users, and for landscape photography, particularly in inclement weather where changing lenses isn’t a great idea.  You can bring just the 16-55 and the 50-140mm, and cover a huge range with impeccable image quality in only two lenses.  The weather-sealing only adds to that usage scenario.

The $1199 price tag and the lack of a stabilizer may drive away some buyers, but for those looking for great optical quality in a single lens solution, the 16-55mm is hard to beat.  Fuji’s created another excellent lens for the X-Series lineup, and while it’s not quite as optically incredible as the 50-140mm, it’s darn close and makes a great one-two punch with that lens for serious shooters.

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Image Samples

Click on an image to enlarge.

Main Street Bridge - Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 @ 16mm, f/8, 1.9s

Main Street Bridge – Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 @ 16mm, f/8, 1.9s.

Ohio Statehouse - Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 @ 33mm, f/5.6

Ohio Statehouse – Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 @ 33mm, f/5.6

Looking Out at the Cold - Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 @ 18mm, f/2.8

Looking Out at the Cold – Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 @ 18mm, f/2.8

Breaking Through the Cold - Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R @ 44mm, f/8

Breaking Through the Cold – Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R @ 44mm, f/8

Graffiti - Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R @ 32mm, f/5.6

Graffiti – Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R @ 32mm, f/5.6

Ohio Statehouse - Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R @ 16mm, f/5

Ohio Statehouse – Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R @ 16mm, f/5

Sunrise - Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R @ 31mm, f/10

Sunrise – Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R @ 31mm, f/10

Frozen Falls - Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R @ 16.5mm, f/11

Frozen Falls – Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R @ 16.5mm, f/11

Cold City Shadows - Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R @ 23mm, f/11

Cold City Shadows – Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R @ 23mm, f/11

Snowy Sundial - Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 @ 40mm, f/2.8

Snowy Sundial – Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 @ 40mm, f/2.8

Snowy Sunrise - Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R @ 16mm, f/11

Snowy Sunrise – Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R @ 16mm, f/11

Snow Tracks - Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R @ 55mm, f/8

Snow Tracks – Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R @ 55mm, f/8

Bridge Over Miranova - Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R @ 45mm, f/11

Bridge Over Miranova – Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R @ 45mm, f/11

Columbus through the Trellis - Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 @ 16mm, f/11

Columbus through the Trellis – Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 @ 16mm, f/11

Snow Covered Scioto - Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 @ f/8

Snow Covered Scioto – Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 @ f/8

If you enjoyed this review, check out my other camera and lens reviews in the Review Index.

About the author

Jordan Steele

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Admiring Light; Photographer; Electrical Engineer and Dad

6 comments

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  1. Albert erickson

    Jordan, good review. I am considering buying the xt-1 and will likely buy this lens with the camera. I am moving away from my big FF nikon gear and using smaller more manageable mirror less equipment. Thanks

  2. Malcolm McGhee

    Thanks for this comparative review between the Fujinon 16-55mm f/2.8 and the 18-55mm f/2.8-4lenses.

    It seems to me that the 16-55mm f/2.8 would be better for me for my landscape use.

    I have both the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 and the 23mm f/1.4 for landscape use with a Fujifilm X-T1. Can you comment on the differences between the 23mm f/1.4 and the 16-55mm f/2.8 for landscape work ?

    Have you completed the comparison of the 16-55mm f/2.8 and 18-55mm f/2.8-4 when focussing at longer focussing distances yet ?

    Best Regards

    Malcolm McGhee

  3. Y.W

    Thank you for the nice review. I have spent a week thinking about getting used XF14, 23, 56, or a new XF 16-55. I think eventually I will get 16-55 first. It is impractical to keep swapping lens on a travel. Primes are good but to snap a shot speed is more important under many scenario. How many bodies I could carry with me would eventually be the limiting factor.

  4. George Hudetz

    Thanks for the view Jordan.

    I’m wondering about the occasional edge softness you report. Do you think that could be distortion correction? Lenstip (using dcraw) reports fairly high distortion for this lens, and, in my experience, correcting such (barrel) distortion can sometimes result in visible added edge softness. This would most likely manifest itself at the wide end, where the distortion is barrel.

    Anyway, just a thought. If you still have those raws it might be interesting to run them through CaptureOne with the distortion correction disabled, or something like RawTherapee.

  5. Thomas

    Almost bought this lens yesterday but at the last moment knew the sale on the 50-140 + 1.4 extender was too sweet not to invest in since I could afford it. This lens for me, due to the OIS might get the cold shoulder and Primed instead. Loving the 23 already and the 16 is back ordered . But the 14 makes me drool too in BW. Love your sample images and someday would love to see an actual comparison of your jpegs to your processed Raw, it’d be interesting. Do you have any sponsored links in case I order from Adorama where I can support your site? I’m trying to support a local camera dealer but whippin’ out an extra 1-200$ for sales tax gets old after awhile. Thanks Again for this site.

  6. Jon Porter

    The 16-55mm is an excellent lens to be sure, and I would have bought it in an instant if had been an f/4 with stabilization. But I’m not going to pay for speed I don’t need and bulk I don’t want. So I’ll stick with the 18-55mm and 16-50mm for now.

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