Bottom Line Up Front…
The Fujifilm XF16mm f1.4 has a loyal fanbase of avid followers, with many people claiming its Fuji’s best. Although it has a somewhat wider Full Frame equivalent view of 24mm, many consider it one of the most versatile lenses in the Fuji Stable. It has insane close focus ability of 15cm which lets you get really close and to your subject and let you get creative shots that are simply not possible with other lesnes. Sharp, fast, unique. But also quite chunky, expensive and difficult to use from a framing / composition perspective as it really makes you think about what you’re doing.
Fujifilm XF16mm f1.4 sample images…
- Manual Focus Clutch
- Extreme Close Focus – allows for “Pseudo-macro”
- Great Bokeh
- Super sharp at all apertures
- Forces you to think about composition….
- …. composition is difficult!
- Big and Heavy
Fujifilm XF16mm f1.4 Performance
Build and Feel
Like most of Fuji’s offerings, the Fujifilm XF16mm f1.4 is extremely well build. Solid, great feel and includes the MF clutch as seen on a number of their other lenses. Lots of people don’t really like it, but personally, I do – especially for the pseudo macro style of shooting where you might need to fine tune the focus. That said, I often shoot in M mode, with AF-L set to back button focus to I can have the best of both worlds. But the clicking the clutch back seems to disable AF-L!
The markings for MF are pretty pointless though – mostly for show I guess, but you shouldn’t need them anyway given the excellent focus peaking on Fuji bodies.
AF – no real complaints, however, for anything moving I would opt to use this in MF using zone focusing. Fuji’s AF system isn’t as fast as some competitors, and the elements in this lens are big, so you need to manage expectations! I would sometimes miss focus during closeup / fast moving scenes!
MF – focus ring is a little loose for my tastes, I would often knock it inadvertently. Obviously, focus by wire.
This lens is SHARP at all apertures….. Sharpest from f/2 though!
Although subjective, I really like it and although it’s not technically “bokeh” the background separation you get at wide apertures, close up, is outstanding. The sweet spot between Bokeh / Sharpness is about F/2.
The Fujifilm XF16mm f1.4 has a minimum focus distance of 15cm (from subject to sensor) which equates to being about 7cm away from the front of the glass – AMAZING – and has a respectable 0.21X max magnification (your subject will can fill a maximum 0.21% of your frame!) This means you can really focus in on the small details and get an almost “pseudo-macro” effect.
Although not entirely performance related, the lens comes with a petal lens hood which is huge, ugly and intimidating. I replaced it with a square hood which makes the lens more compact and less obtrusive.
Conclusion – Who needs this lens?
I imagine for wedding photographers (which I am not), or anybody who needs a 24mm equiv, or needs a super close focusing lens. The XF 16mm f/1.4 is an obvious, and the only, choice. Its touted as being great from everything from landscapes to portraits. A great photojournalism lens, and great macro abilities.
For me, I found this lens a bit TOO wide for my tastes. I’d have to get uncomfortably close to my subjects in order to fill the frame with them. Even with kids and animals (the reason I bought this lens), they’d become acutely aware that there was a camera in their faces. But if you’re happy to get in there, it gives you a really playful field of view which is great for kids and animals as it really accentuates the “cute” features. It may not be so great for your significant other though – this is a wide lens and will distort people’s faces, especially towards the edges of the frame.
It is also a bit of a chunk. I found myself being reluctant to take it out in case it was redundant. It is also a fairly wide field of view, so not always viable for having as your only lens for casual photography. I think you need to have vision, and know when to use this lens to really appreciate the magic is can produce and be prepared to carry it around just in case this opportunity arises. For me, it was not an everyday lens. Check out Dennae & Andrew, two super talented and creative Fuji Photographers on Youtube to see this lens really be used to its full potential – here!
I ended up selling this (albeit beautiful) lens as I just wasn’t doing it justice. I keep thinking I might buy another copy, but the price point and size and weight makes it difficult to justify at the moment! For me something like the XF35mm f.14 is probably more versatile and a little bit easier to wield!