Here we are again, and I can already hear people say “another lens from a camera manufacturer”
Most manufacturers offer you an expensive “fast” lens, the more affordable mid priced high performance “slightly slower” lens, and then your budget option (which is normally a good entry level option in to the world of photography).
Why do we need faster lenses?
It’s all about how much light we can harness. The wider we can open those aperture blades, the more light we let in, and this allows us to take pictures when we don’t have enough light at our disposal.
Now, Fujifilm have had the red badge 16-55 f/2.8 lens for some time which is equivalent of 24-82.5 mm if we consider the crop factor from the Fujifilm sensor. In steps the 16-80mm f4 lens. This is a 24-120mm equivalent, a very popular lens used by many photographers over the world.
The lens has a constant f/4 aperture and a really innovative OIS system (optical image stabilisation). We will get in to that a little bit later.
Will f/4 let in enough light ?
If you have your doubts, read on.
I spent a limited amount of time with the lens, but the short time I had with this lens really excited me, so much so that I was very reluctant to give it back. I was with Fujifilm South Africa in Port Elizabeth where we hosted a photowalk with local Fujifilm retailers and some of their clients .
Barry Matthews and myself decided to give the area a good scout (seeing we are not local boys) and we recall that another X-Photographer Mardee Maree (@mardeemaree on Instagram, check out some of his awesome work) suggested we take a look at Cape Recife.
We arrived at Cape Recife and purchased our pass to enter the reserve. What we were greeted with, was a stunning reserve and pristine beaches, and then a historic lighthouse which I became very infatuated with.
It was late afternoon and the light really played along creating awesome contrasts, little did I know that this would be the one area where the 16-80 f4 would excel. The lens has an uncanny ability to capture amazingly deep levels of contrast.
Being a cloudless day with pristine and crisp blue skies, I decided that we had the perfect opportunity to create some black and white images with an intense mood. The first image I took was a wide angle of the Lighthouse and surrounding dunes.
I was already impressed when I viewed the image back through the viewfinder on my X-T3. I then decided to take a closer cropped image using the beautiful patterns in the small dune as a leading line up to the Lighthouse.
From there we moved further down the beach as I wanted to make some pictures of the rocks and test the lens out over some slow shutter speeds. I set up my tripod and pushed the exposure times as far as possible narrowing the lens down to f 22 (why f 22 some may ask).
I firmly believe that the Fujifilm lenses defy the laws of physics and man made beliefs in the case of diffraction at these narrow apertures. This was something I learnt very quickly with my beloved 10-24mm.
We managed to capture some beautiful colour in the sky as well as some of the afterglow of the setting sun.
At this point I was already in love with this lens. It is compact, light and very well built.
Immediately noticeable, when looking at the front lens element, is how much bigger the glass is to that of the 10-24 f4.
On the Saturday morning we stepped out and made our way to the beachfront, it was a rather chilly morning with fortunately a very light breeze.
Once again we had a totally cloudless sky. The issue for me here, is that when one shoots into the sun at sunrise it becomes very difficult to balance the shadows with the highlights.
The clouds normally make for a beautiful natural “scrim” and they also add an extra dimension of depth to the overall presentation. Any way, regardless of the “not so perfect conditions” I put on my big boy photographer underpants and proceeded to do some seascapes.
It’s not everyday one gets to test a new lens before it’s official arrival. This time I decided to add my 10 stop ND filter in order to get some long exposures taken.
I love long exposures for mood and drama.
Immediately noticeable, is that the 16-80mm f4 has exactly the same 72mm thread diameter as the 10-24mm f4. Yet again, this lens did not disappoint and I hope that the images here reflect that.
Once we were done with the seascapes we discussed the ability of this lens to create some lovely depth of field when used with people portraits at 80 mm and f4.
I wondered how this lens would stack up against it’s bigger brother the 16-55 f2.8 taken at the same focal length at a max of 55 mm.
Barry was my willing model and we positioned him with the P.E. harbour behind him.
I took an image with the 16-55 at f2.8 and then with the 16-80 mm at 55 mm. and f 4.
There is a noticeable difference in the depth of field and one can see that the 16-55 f 2.8 does give a shallower depth of field , a more “blurred background”
But this is where it gets really interesting.
The next day we headed back to Cape Recife for our walk. I tried several frames and images on this walk, as my time with the 16-80 f4 was about to come to an end.
The first image I took was of the very same Lighthouse and straight in to the sun, the 16-80 did not even sweat. We then took a stroll down the beach and I saw an opportunity to take some images of shells and sand formations, these I took at 80 mm and f4.
The lens has a very close focussing distance, this is as a result of the unique design and the way the lens elements have been constructed.
The images shared here of the shells show just how smooth the bokeh with this lens is, and also how much detail the lens does capture.
Another immensely unique feature of this lens is the OIS, this is the image stabilisation system of the lens.
Fujifilm have included in the barrel of the lens an aspherical ED lens.
According to Fujifilm the lens has image stabilisation of up to 6 tops.
Holding the lens in your hand gives no indication that this is in fact an IOS lens ,the usual “on/off” switch is not there. The outer barrel is clean and very minimalistic in it’s design.
For me the beauty of this, and bearing in mind that when I do cityscapes, I shoot a lot handheld images and then the next second back to a tripod. The OIS system in the lens has been designed to automatically detect when it’s on a tripod, or when the photographer is panning.
This is one blazingly unique feature and I can vouch with my life that it works flawlessly.
I have attached sample images showing the 16-80 f4 next to it’s other family members.
The 10-24mm f4 as reference as reference to its compact size, and lets bear in mind that this 16-80 extends to 80 mm on the long end, then also next to it’s bigger brother the 16-55mm f2.8.
The 16-80mm f4 is powerful, compact and has some amazingly new design features that will hopefully make their way to other lenses in the Fujifilm range as Mk2 versions.
Who is this lens for ?
Quite simply anyone who cares about the best image quality at the best value for money.
For professionals who are looking for an all day carry around lens and for the traveller who is looking for a compact carrying kit, yet they still want the ability to create images that will hold their own against the best on any platform.
For videographers there is good news, the lens has very little breathing.