Tokyo in Pics


A photography blog about Tokyo, run by Australian photographer Rohan Gillett

My favourite lens - the Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR

If there were a lens to rule all lenses, for me, the Fujinon XF 16-55 mm f/2.8 R LM WR that was released in early 2015 would be it.  It is a high-quality, weather resistant lens with amazing optics and solid construction.  I’m not a professional photographer, but I do shoot a lot and I imagine this lens would satisfy even the most hardcore professional photographer, with its weather-sealing and ability to work in even -10°c weather.  I’ve owned it for over two years and still enjoy it immensely.  Most of the photos on this blog were taken with it.   Yes, it does have a couple of problems, but I think it is fantastic.  It’s not perfect, but it comes very close.

A four minute exposure of Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo taken at f/8 just before the sun went down

Just one thing though, I’m reviewing this lens as a non-technical shooter, I’ve learned by doing not by studying.  Also, I shoot RAW exclusively and I cannot remember the last time I took a JPEG.  In fact, have I ever taken a JPEG?  Not for many, many years …

So, let’s get into it.  In early 2017, after reading about the 16-55 and seeing images from it on various websites, I knew I wanted it.  What I had learned had really impressed me. With its nice focal range that would suit a wide variety of situations - it has become a real workhorse. 

The Fujinon XF 16-55 mm f/2.8 R LM WR lens

The image quality that the 16-55 mm produces, in my opinion, is beyond amazing.  I’m in love with it.  When you look at the image quality it makes you realise why the lens is so heavy, Fujifilm put everything it could into this lens, there (seems) to be no compromises as it is all about providing the best quality image possible.  If it had been made a lighter lens, there would probably would have been some trade-offs with the optics, which in turn would have resulted in not so stunning pictures.  The company has earned my eternal loyalty with the 16-55.

Here are the technical specifications:

Mount Type - Fujifilm X

Focal Length - 16-55 mm (in the 35 mm format 24-84 mm)

Lens construction (elements/groups) - 17/12

Angle of view - 83.2 - 29°

Number of diaphragm blades - 9 (rounded diaphragm opening)

Maximum aperture - f/2.8

Minimum aperture - f/22

Minimum focus distance - 30 cm

Max magnification - 0.16 x (telephoto)

Weight (with no cap) - 655 g

Dimensions - 83.3 mm x 106.0 mm (wide) / 129.5 mm (telephoto)

Filter size - 77 mm

Stabilisation - No

I think this lens was built to last, as it certainly feels like it.  It contains a lot of metal, and even though some parts, like the zoom ring and the front part of the barrel which appears when zoomed in are made from high-quality plastic, it feels very solid.  The lens feels good too and is very attractive.

Turning the aperture ring also feels solid and there are hard stops at each third of an exposure stop from f/2.8 until f/22.  From f/22 to the A (Auto/Aperture Priority), where it stops it is completely smooths.  Maybe the only thing you need to be aware of is that when you completely zoom in the lens, the front part extends, revealing the plastic part of the lens barrel.

Like other Fuji X mount lenses, the XF 16-55 mm f/2.8 is fly-by-wire.  This means that the focus ring is electronically controlled, not mechanical.  There is no focus scale on the lens and the ring will rotate in either direction.  If you want to manually focus the lens, there is a focus scale inside the viewfinder or on the rear display.

Usually the type around the front element is white, but I blacked mine out to reduce reflections for long-exposure photography

This lens comes with a twin linear motor, which is fast and quiet when autofocusing. I have heard that there might be some noise in continuous focus when the lens is scanning a scene, but I haven’t heard it on mine (maybe I need a hearing aid?).

The 16-55 mm focuses quite nicely, in both bright or low-light conditions.  I’ve used it for a lot of night-time street photography and have found it handles very well, no complaints at all.  And it’s a Fujifilm lens, so contrast and colour rendition are superb.

If I had to talk about sharpness, at 16 mm pictures seem slightly better than at 55 mm.  I think the difference is only minimal though.  But, generally speaking, this lens is sharp.  If it were any sharper you might cut your eyeballs on it.

Vignetting?  At worst it is very limited, and what you do get can easily be controlled in post-processing.  If you are worried about ghosting and flaring, the Fuji XF 16-55 mm f/2.8 comes with a couple of advanced coating technologies that reduce the occurrence of both ghosting and flaring significantly.  That’s not to say there is none, because you can get it, but is it really kept under control.  Chromatic aberration levels are also very, very good.

Does it have any flaws?  I’ve seen comments on the web that bokeh from this lens isn’t so great, and I’d have to agree.  At times it looks like onions, but it isn’t a big problem.  And as mentioned previously, there is the weight issue, which might bother some especially on a smaller camera.   Plus, it isn’t stabilised.  On some cameras this might be a problem, but with the advent of the X-H1 that will become less of a problem for many (and eventually myself).  And even though it is an expensive lens, I recommend it without any reservations.

The other problem is the weight. It’s a heavy lens at 655 grams. Combined with the booster grip, my little camera (a Fujifilm X-T2) suddenly became a big camera.  But after my first session with it, I didn’t mind at all.  Maybe it sounds childish, but I really felt like a pro shooter, because the setup looked great.  And after I saw the quality of the first pictures I took with it, I knew I was going to keep it.

That is pretty much it.  The 16-55 does have a few flaws, but it is a seriously good lens.  If don’t mind spending serious cash for your glass to get good quality, you should be looking a this one for your camera bag.  If you have any questions or opinions about this lens, please let me know by leaving them in the section comment section below.