When the Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 WR, a fast and weather resistant wide angle prime lens, was introduced amid much fanfare, I talked myself out of lusting after it. I had no doubt the image quality would live up to the hype, but in my mind, having both the excellent 14mm and the versatile but somewhat uneven 18mm makes the 16mm redundant, or so I thought. I also didn't think I would have a need for a wide angle lens with large aperture. Boy was I ever wrong!
The good folks at Fujifilm loaned me a copy for this review, and I spent a few weeks shooting with it around the city of Toronto. During this period of time, I really bonded with it, it's a perfect match for the X-T1. The 24mm full frame equivalent focal length really feels natural to me and suits my shooting style. While the 14mm f/2.8 can be too wide sometimes for me personally, I didn't feel that way with the 16mm. To me, this focal length is just right, it's dramatic enough but not too wide to make you think twice about composition. The auto focus is very fast and on point, the focusing speed edges out the 23mm and matches the new 35mm f/2. I truly enjoyed shooting architecture and urban landscape with this lens.
It is equally brilliant in indoor spaces, you can create dramatic images with ease, but this is the area in which I think the 14mm still has a slight edge. I've always believed that ultra wide angle is not necessary in an open space, but it's a different story when you are indoors. Wider is better when there is a space constraint. However, when it comes to street photography, the 14mm is more challenging, I personally don't find the 21mm full frame equivalent easy to shoot with, I'm not comfortable with getting THAT close to people on the street. When I'm on the streets with the 16mm, I tend to get more keepers. Here are some images from the financial district.
The 16mm truly shines in low light conditions, that is when having a fast lens makes a big difference, it means you can still shoot without a tripod and get decent results. Being able to shoot wide open at f/1.4 in the night time is tremendous. Coupled that with the great auto focus performance, it makes night time shooting an enjoyable experience. The below images are all from an evening shoot at the Toronto Christmas Market.
All of the aforementioned attributes make the 16mm the perfect lens for travel photography. It is sharp, it is fast, and it is weather sealed, what more can you ask for? The only minor complaint I have is regarding its size and weight. Compared to the 23mm and the 14mm, it is both bigger and heavier. However, it still feels balanced when attached to X-T1, so it's not really an issue.
I wish I had this lens when I was visiting Taiwan ( I only brought the 23mm f/1.4 and the 35mm f/1.4). The weather resistancy would've come in handy for those rainy days, and a wide angle perspective would've been ideal for the mountainscape and the seascape. This lens now occupies the number one spot on my wishlist, and hopefully it would occupy a spot in my bag the next time I go on a trip. Thanks for stopping by! I wish everyone a great year full of Kodak moments, or rather Fujifilm moments in 2016!