Getting closer and wider with Fujinon XF16mm F1.4 R WR

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X-T1 + XF16mm F1.4 R WR
A big thanks to my friend Charles for lending me his XF16mm F1.4 R WR. With his kind heart, I managed to put this lens through some paces during my recent trip to Sekinchan, Malaysia. It’s a 2 days weekend getaway and I have managed to shoot on various scenes and getting to know the lens a little better.
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This is the first Fujinon prime lens from Fujifilm that spots weather resistance and the all new Nano GI coating. It’s a 16mm lens, hence an equivalent focal length of 24mm. The built quality of this lens reminds me a lot of the also superb XF23mm F1.4 R. They share the same clutch manual focus mechanism, which is something I like about. The lens really gives you the solid feeling that it is ready to take on whatever challenge that you are about to throw to it, which is always a nice feeling that gives you that confidence to go out and shoot.
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A notable feature from the XF16 is that the minimum focusing distance is 15cm from the sensor, which means your lens front element can literally go as close as a few centimeters away from your subject and yet the lens will still able to focus. The large aperture of F1.4 is good for astrophotography and some shallow depth of field shots to isolate the subject from the background. Focusing is quick for general shooting, though it still suffers a little under the low light (probably due to the sensor rather than the lens).
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The good thing about this lens is the distortion is very well controlled. If you have shoot with the XF10-24 before, you will notice the distortion of the lens is quite obvious. But for the XF16, everything falls in neatly. I have been shooting the fishing village with this lens and it gives some very nice perspective as opposed to those provided by the XF23. Here’s a rather dirty comparison of pictures from both lenses on the same subject, as you can see, I can get almost identical framing and look from both lenses, which is why the XF23 was left in my bag all the time. There are of course some minor difference in terms of distortion and the pushing effect from the wide angle lens.
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XF23mm F1.4 R
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XF16mm F1.4 R WR
This lens is really good for shooting in tight spaces as get to cram in a lot of things into your frame. The ability to focus so close to your subject gives you a more intimate shot as you will need to get much closer to fill up the frame. Since distortion is well under controlled, this lens is good for environmental portraiture. I didn’t get to try out shooting some stars or milky way as the weather doesn’t favour me during my trip, not even some nice sunrise and sunset shot. Nevertheless, I still managed to grab some shots over the paddy field with this lens.
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As a lens for landscape, the XF16 is performing well just like any other Fujinon lens. The only let down is probably the loss of flexibility of the zoom range from the XF10-24, and ironically, the distortion from the XF10-24 itself which can sometimes be quite useful to exaggerate your foreground to create more impact on your landscape shot. For now, I still don’t see this lens to be able able to replace my trust worthy workhorse XF10-24 for my landscaping work. But this lens does resulted my XF23 being stored in my camera bag throughout the trip, which is something to be pondered about.
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So should you get this lens? I can’t give you an answer of yes or no, but I hope my user experience above will be helpful foR you to make your decision easier. If you want to go wide with fast aperture and on a budget, do take a look at the other offerings such as XF14mm F2.8 R and XF18mm F2 R. The Zeiss 12mm F2.8 is another good option if you managed to snatch a good deal for used lens. As of now, I will not get this lens yet. I’m tempted to test out the XF16-55mm F2.8 R WR and see how  it performs as compared to the XF16. Till then, I’ll continue to shoot with my XF10-24 for my landscape work and XF23 for my daily and streets work.
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