Andy Westlake tries out this weather-sealed wideangle in our Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.4R WR review
Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR Review: Introduction
Since the launch of Micro Four Thirds by Olympus and Panasonic in 2008, every other major camera manufacturer has come up with its own mirrorless camera system. With this proliferation of new mounts for compact system cameras, though, comes a need for new lens ranges to match.
Different companies have naturally had different approaches and emphases on building up their own systems, but Fujifilm has been arguably the most focused. It has made the decision to concentrate unashamedly on the higher end of the market, catering specifically to enthusiast and professional photographers who are most likely to build up an extensive lens system.
It has also made the decision to work purely with the APS-C sensor format and choose focal lengths optimised for it, rather than simply reusing ones familiar from the days of 35mm film. The result has been an impressive range of high-quality zooms and primes, with the 16mm f/1.4 the latest addition to the X-system arsenal.
With an angle of view equivalent to that of a 24mm lens on full-frame, this lens offers a wideangle perspective that should interest landscape and architectural photographers. The impressively fast maximum aperture is appealing for hand-held low-light work, allowing the use of lower ISOs than would otherwise be possible. It also gives potential for selective focus effects, giving a depth of field roughly equivalent to that of an f/2 lens on full-frame. This combination of wide angle and fast aperture is currently unique for a CSC lens.
Fujinon XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR Review: Features
The XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR employs an optical formula of 13 elements in 11 groups, including two aspherical elements and two extra-low dispersion (ED) glass elements, which together are designed to minimise distortion and chromatic aberration. Fujifilm’s Nano GI coating is applied to the inside surface of the front element to combat flare and ghosting, along with HT-EBC (high transmittance electron beam coating) on other glass surfaces.
The ‘R’ in the lens name denotes that, like most of the Fujinon lens range, it includes an aperture ring. This has markings from f/1.4 to f/16 in full stop increments, and click stops at intermediate one-third stop steps. An ‘A’ position passes aperture control to the camera’s automated systems in ‘program’ or ‘shutter priority’ mode.
The large focus ring behaves in the same way as those on Fujifilm’s existing 14mm f/2.8 and 23mm f/1.4 primes. In its forward position the lens is in autofocus mode and the focus ring is locked from moving. Pull the ring back towards the camera and it engages manual focus, exposing a distance scale in the process. There’s also a depth of field scale on the barrel, but its markings are so closely spaced compared to the sparsely labelled distance scale, that it’s of little practical use. The minimum focus distance is a mere 15cm, and a floating focus system is employed to maintain good image quality through the full focal range.
For the first time on a Fujifilm prime lens the ‘WR’ suffix is used, denoting weather resistance. The lens has nine seals to protect against dust and water, including one around the bayonet mount. The lens is also freeze-proof and usable at temperatures as low as -10°C at least.
Filters can be attached using 67mm thread; this does not rotate on focusing, making it easy to use with polarisers and neutral density gradient filters that are popular for landscape photography.
A bayonet-fit, plastic petal-type lens hood comes as standard and can be stored in the reverse position when not in use. An optional cylindrical metal hood with a rectangular baffled cut-out, the LH-X16, is due to appear in September 2015.