Friday, May 15, 2015

NEW! Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.4R WR

The new XF 16mm f/1.4R WR (second from the right)

Update [May 15, 2015]: Due to an unexpected delay in shipment, we did not receive our stock on the 14th as hoped for. According to tracking, we should be seeing a partial shipment arrive on Tuesday, May 19th. Unfortunately, the first shipment is not quite covering our pre-orders either. Hopefully we'll see the balance in a couple of weeks...

The good news is that I have had an opportunity to thoroughly test a production sample of the lens and have posted a follow-up review and a gallery of images on my personal blog here:


A couple of weeks ago, Fujifilm announced a new, fast wide-angle 16mm prime lens, equivalent to a 24mm in full-frame terms. Notably, this is Fujifilm's first prime lens with the WR designation, meaning it has dust and water resistant construction. I had the opportunity to test a pre-production sample of the new 16mm and while I cannot share any photos from it, I will say that I was extremely impressed. Compared to the Fujifilm XF 23mm f/1.4R, which I consider one of the very best wide-angle lenses I have ever used (regardless of brand), I would say that even the preproduction 16mm held up to the 23mm as far as image quality.

Like the 23mm and the 14mm f/2.8, the new 16mm seemed 100% corrected optically for distortion, therefore no software correction will be needed; straight lines render straight with no apparent barrel or pincushion distortion, even at the very edges of the frame. In addition, I could see no evidence of any chromatic aberration either. With its Nano-GI anti-reflection lens coatings (which the older prime lenses do not have), it proved extremely resistant to lens flare when shooting into the sun as well, something that fast, wide-angle primes are often not very good at. Corner sharpness on the preproduction lens was exceptional as well, and once the lens was stopped down to /2.8, the corners were already essentially as sharp as the centre. Even wide open at f/1.4, the centre of the frame is tack sharp, the edges were very good and only the extreme corners showed some obvious softness. Even the wide-open bokeh was surprisingly smooth and pleasing, not something one would necessarily expect from such a wide lens.

As far as potential negatives, not that there were many at all, there was some purple fringing along high contrast edges wide open, much reduced by f/2.0 and completely gone by f/2.8 already. The lens might have exhibited a bit of plane-of-focus field curvature as well, which may have caused the softer corners at infinity at f/1.4-f/2.0 on a few shots, but I did not shoot enough with it at wider f-stops with both foreground and background detail to get a good handle on that. Being pre-production I wouldn't necessarily read too much into those two comments either. A final production lens may indeed perform even better.

Generally speaking, like with the 23mm f/1.4, photos taken with the new 16mm exhibited the same "effortless" look to image quality, never seeming strained, no stretching blur in the corners and virtually no hint of any quality reducing aberrations. I have made 24x36 inch prints from images taken with my 23mm f/1.4, ones which have blown people away with their overall sharpness, and I actually expect that this 16mm will perform equally well. Of course, I cannot be 100% sure of any of my conclusions until I test a final production lens - stay tuned for a followup once I do. However based on the preproduction unit, I think the new XF 16mm f/1.4 will end up being a "must have" prime for anyone who likes to shoot wide-angle with a Fujifilm system, and I will almost surely be picking one up for my own kit.

The lens will be $1,149 and we are taking pre-orders now. At present, they are slated to start shipping in mid to late May. Here is a larger image of the lens by itself…

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