Last Updated on February 12, 2022 by Devaun Lennox
Released in the spring of 2019, the XF 16mm F/2.8 R WR expands the FUJINON lineup of Compact Prime lenses. And it sits alongside the XF23, XF35, and XF50mm lenses, now flushing out the line with a wide-angle. It’s a 24mm equivalent wide-angle lens that’s aimed to be the perfect suit for everyday travels, landscapes, and architectural photography. But one that surely strikes an interesting balance between size, portability, and speed.
Until its release, the higher-end XF16mm F1.4 WR lens was the go-to wide-angle prime in the current X-mount lineup. And, while good, its price point is out of reach for many and its size far too bulky. Enter this new XF16mm, which promises to give users a more portable and compact alternative to match smaller X-Series cameras. Not to mention, it debuts with a starting price over half that of the higher-end F1.4 lens.
In today’s post, we address how it stacks up to its higher-end brother, its strengths, and its value for money. We also cover the designations Fuji uses when notating these lenses and offer examples to showcase its capabilities.
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What are the designations that Fujifilm uses?
What is XF?
The first designation is XF, which is a term that signifies high-performing X-Mount Fujinon lenses. The XF lens lineup includes higher-end lens elements to reduce distortion, wider apertures, and metal constructions.
What is R?
The second designation is R, which is a term applied to lenses with dedicated aperture rings. However, these aperture rings change the aperture electronically rather than directly via gear coupling. So, it doesn’t work the same as an older-generation manual-focus lens. Instead, they work similarly to a command dial. But, the general function, in the end, is the same. And most of the rings have 1/3 stop increments.
What is WR?
The third destination is WR, which stands for Weather Resistant. These lenses have weather-resistant seals at various joints to prevent water and dust from damaging them. Some WR lenses also have bellows to eject water from the seals as they zoom.
What is EBC?
The last designation is EBC or Super EBC, which means Electron Beam Coating. This is a multi-layer coating on the front element that reduces flare and ghosting when shooting in backlit scenes. It also helps improve the lens’s contrast, light transmission, and color rendering. In many ways, this EBC coating is similar to what other manufacturers do, for example, Tamron’s BBAR coating. The names are different, but they function identically. Super EBC, however, is the latest generation of this technology, with better performance than the original coating.
What mounts does this lens support?
Fujifilm designs this and other XF lenses for their APS-C X-mount mirrorless cameras. You can use this lens on their entry-level models, such as the X-A7 and X-T200, all the way to the X-T4, X-Pro3, and X-H1 flagships.
Build Quality, Construction, and Design
Some general specifications, this lens opens to f/2.8 and closes to f/22. And it has an angle of view of 83.2º with a 49mm filter thread. In size, the lens is less than two inches long, at only 45mm, with a maximum diameter of 2.4 inches or 60mm. As such, it’s extraordinarily compact for a prime lens. But, perhaps, its weight is even more impressive. Weighing only 5.5 oz or 155g, it’s one of the most lightweight lenses in this class and offers exceptional portability. The lens also has a minimum object distance (MOD) of 17cm (6.7 inches).
Internally, it follows a similar design and construction as Fuji’s other trio of f/2 prime lenses. In this case, it consists of 10 elements organized into 8 groups and 2 aspherical lens elements. The aspherical elements help combat curvature and spherical distortion or aberrations. Fuji’s also opted for a nine-blade circular diaphragm for a pleasing background blur. And despite its impressive size, it maintains a weather and dust resistance construction, with nine sealing points throughout the barrel. And this gives the lens operational support at temperatures as low as -10ºC and full weather sealing when using compatible X-Pro, X-T, or X-H bodies.
This lens, however, skips the fluorine coating on the outer element that eliminates moisture and prevents debris. It’s an increasingly common feature on current lenses but not a feature present here. Instead, Fuji opted for a Super EBC coating, which helps control ghosting and flare. And it improves the lens’s contrast and color fidelity during backlit scenes. With that, this lens does have a tendency to collect dust and fingerprints.
For focus, the lens uses an internal stepping AF motor. And this design drives lightweight focusing elements for entirely silent and fast autofocus performance for both stills and video.
Outside of that, the lens features a dedicated aperture ring, similar to other XF lenses, with precise clicky feedback and full-stop markings. There’s also a focusing collar with good resistance, though a bit narrow. But, there’s no built-in focusing scale. But truthfully, but that’s somewhat uncommon on XF lenses. Nevertheless, the lens feels incredibly robust and quite premium despite its price. And it’s well engined with solid ergonomics.
It’s also available in either a black or silver finish. And Fuji includes front and rear caps along with a removable lens hood and carrying pouch.
The images this lens provides are excellent, particularly when coupled with the Classic Chrome or Provia film simulations. Images are centrally sharp at f/2.8 and remain so throughout the aperture range. Resolution in the center of the frame and the edges hold starting at f/4 and sharpen fully by stopping down to f/5.6. Overall, the level of sharpness and detail here is quite impressive for a lens of this price. It brilliantly resolves fine detail, contrast and delivers a pleasing color rendering. As such, there’s little fear with shooting wide open. And you can shoot wide open to gather enough light without losing unnecessary detail doing so. But, if you want utmost sharpness, stopping to f/5.6 or f/8 is best. Though going further will gradually result in diffraction.
On another note, distortion is also well-controlled and virtually imperceptible. Likewise, there’s minimal vignetting even when fully open at f/2.8. And the lens evenly illuminates the frame. Additionally, the optical design here results in minimal chromatic aberrations and fringing, which is rarely visible in high-contrast edges on the frame’s outskirts.
Overall, while not as sharp as the higher-end XF16mm f/1.4, it comes close enough and provides excellent resolving abilities. And it’s mostly free of any major optical issues. So for the price, it represents excellent value considering its performance.
Autofocusing performance is excellent, silent, and fast. We tested this lens in combination with the Fujifilm X-T200 and X-S10. And the focusing on the lens in both cases was excellent. Both still and videos exhibit reliable, smooth, and entirely silent autofocus driving. And the lens moves fairly quickly through the focusing range as well.
Additionally, it offers a reasonably close focusing distance at 6.7 inches (17cm) with a 0.13x magnification. But, its wide-angle view does limit it somewhat for macro photography.
As a lens inherently designed for the X-mount lineup, it supports the full gamut of software technologies these cameras provide. These features include Face or eye-detection, peaking, and various manual focus assists. So no worries there.
Manual focus is done through focus by wire; a direct connection with the camera that changes the focus motor electronically. But, even so, the focus collar is consistent and provides a reasonable working range. So if you want to focus manually, you’ll have little difficulty doing so. But, the focus collar is relatively small, so it’s not ideal.
Of note, there’s also no optical stabilization with this lens, unsurprisingly. It’s not a standard feature for these kinds of lenses. As such, stabilization is nonexistent and solely camera dependent.
Lastly, for video, the lens performs well when using Face & Eye-detection. But, it’s unlikely the target demographic for this product will use it in this fashion.
The Fujifilm XF16mm F2.8 R WR presents excellent value for money. As a 24mm equivalent lens, it’s the perfect compliment for landscapes, travel, and architectural photography. And it’s also a solid option for street photography, given its excellent portability. This is a comfortable take-anywhere lens that offers reliable image quality across the board without causing back strain to do so.
Of course, it’s no optical match for the higher-end XF16mmF1.4. Even so, if you want a more compact prime lens, this is an excellent performer for the price, especially for photographers on a budget. And it’s certainly much more incognito than its bulky F/1.4 brother, making it a better choice if you also want both portability and discretion.
Overall, the Fujinon XF16mm is yet another strong entry into their current ecosystem of APS-C lenses. And it’s their best wide-angle lens in terms of value. So if you’re looking for a wider angle lens, weather sealing, and a portable and practical design, it looks like you found a winner.
Below are some examples you can expect from this lens. If you wish to look at the RAW (.RAF) files from the lens, click here. And if you want to see a more extensive gallery of images, then click here.
The XF16mmF2.8 R WR capitalizes on its small footprint and delivers an impressive design, image quality, and price point. And it’s a powerful wide-angle lens for the budget-conscious Fujifilm user.