The XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR fits in a somewhat crowded wide-angle group in the Fuji X lineup, though it’s the only 16mm prime in the lineup at this time. There are three zooms that have the 16mm focal length and the 18mm f/2 is just a bit longer and a bit slower while the 14mm f/2.8 fills a wider view. However, it’s the only super wide with a bright f/1.4 aperture, and this fact gives the lens some versatility. However, it’s only truly versatile if it’s optically good at most settings. Fortunately, Fuji has pulled a rabbit out of its hat with one of the best corrected lenses in the X-Series lineup.
The XF 16mm f/1.4 is quite a sharp lens. The lens starts off with high-resolution over the vast majority of the frame right from f/1.4 and improves from there. At the widest apertures only the corners show some softness, while the rest of the frame shows very good resolution. Stopping down to f/2.8 or even better, f/4 or f/5.6, brings the corners up to very good territory and the rest of the frame to excellent. At smaller working apertures for architecture or landscape use, you can achieve corner-to-corner sharpness. The ability for the lens to work very well throughout its aperture range lets you choose the aperture for the desired depth of field you need for the shot, rather than worrying about ‘stopping down for sharpness.’ Among the existing XF primes, it’s right near the top. I think it’s a sharper lens than the XF 23mm f/1.4 and similar in performance to the 56mm f/1.2. Truly excellent performance here.
The fast f/1.4 aperture can be helpful in providing some subject separation for wide view environmental portraiture or isolating details while providing some context in the image. Fortunately, the bokeh rendered by the 16mm f/1.4 is quite good. While some nervousness can creep in at further focus distances, images where the subject is focused close up leads to buttery smooth backgrounds and smooth, round specular highlights with just a hint of a brighter outer ring. Even when focused further away, the subtle blur provides a really pleasing look to the images that makes the subject simply pop and lends real depth to the images. I was very pleasantly surprised by how the 16mm performed in this regard.
Contrast, Color and Chromatic Aberration
I think the most remarkable thing about the 16mm f/1.4 is the consistently rich color and contrast that, to my eyes, is essentially identical at every aperture. It doesn’t matter whether you’re shooting at f/1.4 or f/8, the contrast and color renderings are rich, vibrant and bold. The contrast profile is actually reminiscent of Zeiss lenses to be honest. There’s often very little post processing, even from a flat developed RAW file, that needs to be done. In fact, I actually found some of the JPEG conversions in camera to be a bit too bold when used with this lens…sometimes color and contrast needed to be backed off in the JPEG engine if shooting with a bolder film simulation like Velvia.
Also surprising is the exceptionally low levels of chromatic aberration. Lateral CA is essentially zero, as in, I can’t readily see any in my images, even when viewing at 100%. Even longitudinal CA is extremely well controlled, with only a small red fringe visible in very specific circumstances, and even then it’s quite limited. In some circumstances, a small amount of purple fringing can be induced, but it’s very rare and quite minor when it does occur. I was not expecting an f/1.4 wide angle to perform this well with regards to CA.
Distortion, Flare, Vignetting and Coma
There’s got to be a weakness with this lens, though, right? I mean, no lens is perfect. And, well, this lens isn’t either, but we have to go to the end of the review to find it. But first, let’s go to more good:
Distortion….what distortion. Much like its 14mm brother, the 16mm f/1.4 is almost perfectly corrected, optically, for distortion. I think I detected a slight hint of barrel distortion in one image, but I’m not even sure about that. What’s there is extremely minor, and it fully optically corrected. There are no distortion software profiles applied to this lens, and shots, even with lots of straight lines, are quite free of distortion. If you look at the first example on this page, you’ll get an idea, as no corrections were applied to that image. Eminently impressive.
Also impressive is the 16mm’s resistance to flare. It’s truly one of the best performing lenses against bright light that I’ve used. Shots with the sun in the frame show almost no reduction in contrast and ghosting, when you can induce it at all, is limited to a few small spots that are barely visible. I was frankly astonished by the flare performance when shooting with the sun in the frame.
Even vignetting is under control right from f/1.4. There’s some visible corner shading at f/1.4, though it’s very minor. By f/2.8 it’s irrelevant in the field. So…this lens is sharp, has nice bokeh, excellent flare control, low distortion, almost no CA and low vignetting. Unfortunately for those looking for the perfect astrophotography lens, there is a weakness, and that weakness is coma.
The 16mm f/1.4 unfortunately does show some coma effects at wide apertures, and there’s minimal improvement even stopped down to f/2.8. If shooting subjects with point light sources (such as stars), as you get towards the edge of the frame, the stars will display a flat disc shape around the point source. How much this bothers you will be up to each photographer, but there are other lenses, such as the Rokinon 12mm f/2, that perform notably better in this regard. Below is a 100% crop of the image above, showing the coma on the star on the left.
However, with only that one knock against an otherwise exceptional performance, I believe the 16mm f/1.4 to be among the finest lenses available for the Fuji X system. Well done, Fuji.
22 thoughts on “Review: Fujifilm Fujinon XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR”
With regards to the aperture ring I’m guessing it’s simply sloppy manufacturing tolerances. I picked up my 16mm last week and the ring is perfect! Tighter than my 14mm and 23mm, it even feels better than my 56mm.
After picking up the 56 I was disappointed that my copy of the 23 is a bit loose but I heard from others that theirs are perfect. When I pulled the 16 out of the box and felt how perfect the ring resistance is I thought maybe Fuji have finally nailed their process. After reading your very thorough review I’m disappointed to hear that is not the case.
The 16mm had replaced the 35mm as the default lens for my X-T1–something even the 23mm wasn’t able to do, and it bumps the 56mm off the best build feel pedestal. Too bad they’re not more consistent on that aperture ring.
Yes, I agree about the sloppy aperture rings. I bought the Fuji X-T1 along with three lenses, the 14mm, 35mm, and 56mm f/1.2. I could not believe at how loose and poorly fitting these rings were and returned the whole system.
I really enjoy the use of an aperture ring but not if it is as sloppy as Fujifilm’s are. I’ll do without instead as I replaced the Fuji with a new Sony A7.
Thanks for the review. Can you please let us know how it performs for infrared – any hotspot ?
Unfortunately, I don’t have any IR converted Fuji X cameras.
If you have an infrared filter, like Hoya R72, you can still test as the Fuji’s allow a good enough portion of IR to go through without the need to convert. Otherwise no worries.
Also, how does the lens compare with the 16-55 which you recently reviewed ? Can you tell any noticeable color/contrast/sharpness difference ? Thanks!
Thank you for this excellent review! As a new Fuji X photographer, I have the awesome Fuji 16-55 f/2.8 zoom as well. Afragisk, I too, was wondering how that zoom at 16mm compares to this prime at 16mm…I realize the prime should be better in terms of sharpness, but that 16-55 is the highest-quality zoom I’ve ever had the pleasure of using, and I’ve used everything from Nikon to Olympus to Pentax. Thanks again!
14-24 2.8: Get the Nikon and a body if it’s that critical uenlss you’re not pro and/or you can’t afford it in that case, get a job 100-400 replacement: Borrrinnnggg! A 400 5.6 IS is a bit more interesting though.24-70 IS: Yes you can’t compete with other photographers without this lens, right? Oh wait a minute no one has one!135 1.8 IS: Again, if it’s that important, pick up a cheap a850 and a ZA 135. That lens is very nice too (from personal experience). Surely if Canon made that entire list of lenses you mentioned available, you wouldn’t go running to the shop to bag all of them at once, right?200-400 f/4 IS: Another boringggg lens have you used the Nikon one? Take it from me it is boring, heavy and for that 200-400 range, there are faster aperture, better lenses that’ll do the job much better again, that is if you care about the shots. If you don’t care about aperture or you’re too lazy to carry the best gear then why not get a 50-500 OS instead?50 1.4 II: Ok no manufacturer has made a perfect fast 50, so there’s always room for improvement.85 1.4: Have you tried using the 85 1.2 II? Anyone who has won’t complain. It’s better at 1.2 than all the current 85 1.4s out there. Plus the slow AF talk is pure BS and I got the shots to prove it.
Very good reviews and great pictures! well done Jordan.
I’ve just discovered your blog and went through some of your Fuji reviews. I’ve been a proud owner of a Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 Ais (and a 28mm f/2 and Nikon FE2 for about 30 years now and it is still an indestructible, but heavy beast. Problem is this overall kit is quite heavy on the neck! and I’m not getting younger.
I’ve bought a few Canon digital compacts in the last 10 years, at least to get quick snapshots of the kids, nothing serious, and now I must say that my Xiao Mi mobile phone is good enough to handle this kind of quickly consumed picture, when you need a camera in the pocket…
So, I’ve never really been bugged as with my old timer and the reason was: I hate fiddling through a menu on a screen just to get the exposure right.
I’ve been wishing for many many years to get a “real” camera with the usual dials for quick access to manual controls just has they did in the older time, when things were simpler, and particularly now that I need glasses for reading! I’ve discovered these Fuji cameras and I am really very tempted to get back to real photography, sadly it will be not with Nikon.
I was going for the XE-2 until I saw your review and changed my mind for the XT-10. And I will buy first a wide angle, and here I am hesitating between the Fuji 16mm f/1.4 and the 14mm f/2.8. This is a difficult choice, the pictures you took with the 14mm are really great, but I reckon the 16mm should offer more latitude with its low light capability… but I don’t know, they both look good.
When using my Nikon gear, I was only using my 85 and the 28 (no zooms, no 50mm, nothing else really…). But I found the 28 was still not wide enough. I love to take pictures of people / portraits / architecture / landscapes / street photography / light and bokeh… in color and B&W. I will definitely go for the 56mm F1.2 later, but the question remains open for the wide angle: 16 or 14?
Please could you tell me what would be your choice between those 2 exceptional lenses? (price doesn’t enter the equation)
How does the 16 1.4 compare (performance wise) with the fuji 16-55@16mm? I know they have somewhat different uses,but I’m primarily interested in their performance as landscape lenses. Thanks.
The 16-55 is a good lens, but the 16/1.4 is among Fuji’s best primes…it is definitely the better optic, especially when concerning edge and corner sharpness.
Thank you very much; would you still consider the 16-55 to be suitable for shooting landscapes when printing at decent sizes (16×24 and smaller)? I know you mentioned it can have some problems when focusing at long distances. Sorry if you would prefer me to post this on the 16-55 review; I just wanted to keep the conversation together.
Yes, I think it does fine. I have a 16×24 that I took with the 16-55 that looks great.
Thanks; I guess I know what my next lens is(it’s the 16-55).
I will say, if you don’t need the 16 and 17mm focal lengths, especially for landscape use, the good old 18-55mm is a better value. Similar image quality stopped down and you only lose a little bit on the wide end and a stop of aperture at the long end, but get a much smaller lens with OIS. The 16-55 is a bit better, but it’s not a huge difference, and for my uses, the 18-55 fits my needs better (even though I would like the extra width).
If you haven’t seen my comparison between the two, check it out:
I’ve considered the 18-55+ a wide prime, but I would much prefer to have weather sealing since I’m moving to Minnesota.
Hi Jordan. Thanks for your insights, reports and pics. Here is my dilemma. I will by an XT-1, but am still undecided about the choice of lenses. I am in love with wide angel photography, so I’m very tempted by the 16mm F/1.4 prime. But I also want a cover of larger focus ranges. I thus consider combining the 16mm prime with the 18-55mm F/2.8 zoom, but I am a bit anxious about the difference in quality between the two. An alternative might be to purchase the 16-55mm F/2.8, but Then I might regret missing out on the excellent 16mm prime… What would be your view? Thanks in advance. Bas
Thanks for the review, Jordna. I rented this lens and immediately fell in love with it! I love the manual clutch focus and simply love, love, love this lens! Wide angle is my preference and even if people were to point out bad things about this lens, I don’t care. It is the most FUN I’ve had with a lens! Ever!
Even if I don’t use it all the time, there is no way I’m giving it up. I have great wide lenses from Nikon but they are what they are. Tools. I have a love affair with this Fuji lens so I look for reasons to use it.
Thanks for the review. How does the 16 compare with the 23mm f/1.4 –if given a choice with just one which would you choose? I’m in the market for a new lens for my X-T20 and narrowed my choice between the two.
Appreciate your input.