Going wide on Fujifilm X-Series Camera

It’s been awhile since my last post. I have been busy with my work and my trip to Japan for the past 10 days or so. I’ll get my picture processed and share some over here soon. For the mean time, it seems that there’s a hot debate going on recently in the Fujifilm X-Series Camera circle. Yes, this is mainly due to the release of a new lens from Fujifilm, which is the XF16mm F1.4 R WR, a fast aperture wide angle prime lens. People has been asking whether to get the XF10-24mm F4 OIS R or this XF16mm F1.4 R WR. Some were asking whether they should sell their XF10-24mm F4 OIS R and buy this lens instead. Honestly, I have the same thought of selling mine and getting the XF16mm F1.4 R WR initially. But now, I think I won’t. I have been shooting extensively with the XF10-24mm F4 OIS R, so I know how it performs, and I managed to play with the XF16mm F1.4 R WR for like 30 minutes in the Fujifilm showroom. Here are my thoughts about them, and they are just generally my feeling about them.

XF10-24mm F4 OIS R

This lens has been the top Wide Angle lens for Fujifilm user, as this is the widest lens to date in the line up. Here are some of the thoughts I have on this lens:

  1. Being wide angle lens, extra care needs to be taken when shooting with this lens to avoid flare and reflections within the lens glass elements. You will get to know the limitation when you shoot more on this lens.
  2. It’s a F4 lens. It doesn’t mean that you can’t get shallow depth of field shot, I would say it is harder to get isolation on your subject, you need to get really close to your subject to get the background blur off, which is not what you can do all the time. There’s obvious distortion at the wide end, but Fujifilm has done a good job with their Lens Modulation Optimizer to correct the distortion in camera.
  3. It has OIS, which compensate on the slow F4 aperture. I have not found any issue with the OIS so far.
  4. It’s a little bulky and heavy, even on the X-T1. This is just my personal feeling, I have asked others for their opinion and they feel the lens is pretty balance on the camera. Well, I must say the size is indeed compact and light if compared to similar offering to other brands.
  5. This is a lens that’s good for landscape, cityscape or indoor. The zoom is versatile enough to allow composition in tight spaces. This is particularly useful as not all the time you’ll get the luxury to zoom using my leg. And the 16MP sensor on current Fujifilm camera doesn’t really give you a whole lot of room for cropping later on.
  6. This is not my kind of lens for street. If you shoot streets with F5.6 onwards, this lens will still make it. But if you like to shoot wide open like F1.4, F2 or F2.8 for streets… you are out of luck. The size and weight of this lens does not feel right to me as a street shooting lens either. But again, your definition on size and weight may varies with mine.
  7. Is it possible to shoot stars with this lens? I have never tried before, but I believe I have seen shots of milky way from this lens before, somewhere. At F4, likely you will need to bump up the ISO to 3200 or so, it’s not impossible, but of course lens with faster aperture do have advantage here.

XF16mm F1.4 R WR

Now, here comes the new challenger… the super fast wide angle prime lens:

  1. I have not tested the lens on the field, no comment on the flare of this lens. However, do note this lens does come with the new Nano GI coating from Fujifilm, which should give better result in flare resistance.
  2. It’s a F1.4 lens. Yes, I know a lot of people will like to shoot it wide open. Couple with the short minimum focusing distance, you can do a lot of shallow depth of field shots with ease. You can get subject isolation that is much better than the XF10-24mm F4 OIS R. Distortion is very well control in my opinion.
  3. No OIS, just like all the prime lens Fujifilm offers. But it does have Weather Resistance, something the XF10-24mm F4 OIS R does not have.
  4. It’s rather compact and light weight, similar to XF23mm F1.4 R and XF56mm F1.2 R. Well, prime lens being prime lens will have slight advantage in terms of resolution against zoom lens… but will you be able to notice it?
  5. This lens itself is good for what the XF10-24mm F4 OIS R is good for. Though I have not tested it on field, I believe it will be a very good lens for street, just like my trust worthy XF23mm F1.4 R. Prime lens shooter will love this lens.
  6. Talking about shooting street, this camera has depth of field scale engraved on the lens… but as a focus by wire lens, to me it’s hardly accurate to judge the focusing using the engraved markings on the lens. It’s not as easy to use as those manual lens for sure. And the worst part is, being a clutch mechanism lens, the depth of field scale will not shown on the LCD/EVF when you turn the focus ring. This make it difficult to judge your manual focusing correctly. Well, maybe this is my problem, but so far I’m having difficulties in reading the scale on my XF23mm F1.4 R.
  7. Being a fast lens at F1.4 and wide angle, it’s only obvious that people will use this lens to shoot stars and milky way. I believe there are samples picture already available on the internet. This lens should be able to get the job done nicely.

So, at the end of the day, which lens should you get? Well, you need to ask yourself a few simple question:

1. Do you shoot more on landscape or street?

If landscape is your answer, I would recommend you to go for the XF10-24mm F4 OIS R. It’s not that the XF16mm F1.4 R WR will not be a good landscape lens. It’s just that the wider perspective of the 10mm end will surely benefit you when shooting landscape. If street is your answer… both lens will do the job, but this will go to the next question.

2. Do you need the F1.4?

People always like fast aperture lens for their creamy bokeh. Well, creamy bokeh doesn’t mean good picture. So you must really know what you want to achieve and why you need it. If you need to shoot stars, I believe the XF16mm F1.4 R WR will be a better choice. If you want subject isolation like environmental portrait and etc., the faster aperture surely will help you to achieve that.

3. Do you need WR?

Well, I have been shooting my XF10-24mm F4 OIS R in the drizzle during my Japan trip. Of course I will shoot more if I know my lens is weather resistance. But still being a non weather resistance lens doesn’t mean that your lens will spoilt at the moment water hits it. So you need to weight how important WR is to you. I know people who bought all the WR gear and yet keep them in their bag and stop shooting when it rains. So ask yourself and be true to yourself. If you need WR, your obvious choice will be the XF16mm F1.4 R WR (or the XF16-55mm F2.8 R WR).

So, at the end of the day, what do I recommend? Well, it’s all up to individual to understand your need and buy accordingly. I was tempted to sell off my XF10-24mm F4 OIS R initially to fund for this XF16mm F1.4 R WR. I want the WR, and I would prefer to shoot streets with this lens than the XF10-24mm F4 OIS R. If at 24mm equivalent is not wide enough for me, I can always do a panorama and stitch them up later to get as wide and I want. But after shooting a whole lot of landscape in Japan, I came to realized that I still need the versatility of the XF10-24mm F4 OIS R. Does this mean I should only stick to this lens and not getting the XF16mm F1.4 R WR? Well, not really either. From my point of view, the XF16mm F1.4 R WR can be a good companion lens to the XF10-24mm F4 OIS R. Just like how my XF23mm F1.4 R being a good companion lens to my XF10-24mm F4 OIS R right now. They serve different purpose all together even though they share the same focal length. So if you are really on tight budget and can only afford one, ask yourself those questions and I believe you will know which is right for you. Otherwise, get both and you will live happily ever after 🙂

P/S: not to forget there are other options for fast aperture prime such as XF14 F2.8 R and Zeiss Touit 12mm F2.8. They are equally good, small, compact and light weight prime lens. You can easily get a used one at a bargain price and shoot with it. Though they are not WR, but still will be a good option for those who is looking for prime, and yet WR is not their priority.

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