Introduction to the Fuji 16mm f1.4
Like most people, I always read the reviews of items before I purchase something.
And when I was purchasing my first prime lens for my Fuji camera, I repeatedly read about the Fujifilm 16mm f1.4 lens.
The Fuji 16mm f1.4 (I have to clarify because there is a f2.8) is:
- One of the most highly rated lenses in the Fuji ecosystem.
- One of Fuji’s most popular lenses since its release date in April of 2015.
Some users of this lens even claims that this lens contains “magic.”
Now, I have questions about what the technical definition of magic is. However, in my experience it typically means there is a really good combination of image quality (IQ) and low aperture. (f-Stops)
The Fuji 16mm f1.4 does have both of these characteristics. But do I think it is good for most people?
The Semi-Macro Possibilities
In my opinion, the macro capabilities are what allows this lens to excel.
The focusing distance is an impressive 15 centimeters (6 inches), which is actually one of the closest focusing-distances of the entire X-Mount Series.
This ability to have wide-angle, short-focusing distance, and low-aperture allows for shots like this
That’s a pretty good picture of a basic electrical adapter. (A must-have for any travel blogger…)
The Build Quality
The Fuji build quality is one of the main reasons I jumped into the Fuji ecosystem, and the Fuji 16mm f1.4 is no different.
This lens is exceptionally built, and it is made out of metal instead of plastic.
Also, this lens is actually weather resistant. (Another important feature for a travel blogger. Just don’t change your camera lens out in the elements!)
At 375 grams (.82 pounds), to me, it really doesn’t feel as heavy as it is. The lens shape is short and squatty too, with dimensions of 2.89 x 2.87″ or 73.4 x 73 mm.
For some people, they invest into the X-Mount for compact size, and for some people this lens is still to big. However, I don’t think it is. I would still be able to fit this lens in my jacket pocket if I tried.
The Low-Light Video Possibilities
It can be really difficult to find a Fuji lens that is good for low-light video work. However, the Fuji 16mm f1.4 CAN be it. (There is no great Fujifilm lens for low-light video besides the large, expensive lenses.)
Did you notice how I used the word CAN?
That’s because the Fuji 16mm f1.4 has no optical image stabilization.
Wide angle lenses don’t really need image stabilization (oddly enough, the 10-24 MkI and MkII do), but if you are shooting video, you might need image stabilization.
This would especially be the case if you are shooting on the Fuji X-T3. (The X-T4 and the X-S10 both have IBIS in the camera bodies themselves.)
But an issue arrises when you are using the aperture of 1.4 for video.
If your subject moves too far back from the shallow depth of field, then your subject will be blurred out from the entire video. Sure, you could turn on the eye-tracking auto focus, but this may not work.
In order to maximize the low-light possibilities of the Fuji 16mm f1.4, you probably are going to need a gimbal.
The gimbal will also keep the hand shake in check.
Just like the word “magic,” fun can be subjective.
However, I like to experiment with a variety of different apertures when I am shooting a subject. The Fuji 16mm f1.4 allows me to do that.
Most wide angle camera lenses seldom dip below 2.0, let alone go down to 1.4.
Also, the 16mm (24mm) on a full frame is a unique focal length to use. It really makes me think about shot composition as I can’t just look at scene and just “shoot away.”
Alright, so this lens is pretty sharp. However, there are some issues with the coma and sharpness when you are shooting at anything below 2.8-ish.
I won’t get into the details, mainly because my favorite camera reviewer has a saying,
“Lens sharpness depends more on you than the lens.“
As for what I mentioned about the coma, I’m actually going to talk about this in the con portion of my Fuji 16mm f1.4 review, so we might as well get to talking about the cons.
I would be lying if I didn’t say the price is a major deterrent.
At $1,000, I feel like most people would run far, far away from this lens.
And even if you are purchasing a used Fuji 16mm f1.4 (this is really hard to do), the price is still between $700 to $800.
Now, I do not know everyone’s financial situation, but for me that was a lot. (Granted, there are other Fuji lenses like the 200mm f2 that cost $5,000.)
I just wanted to warn you there might be a bit of sticker shock.
The Filter Size
This is more of a personal issue than an issue with the lens itself.
For me, I like to remain versatile and pack light. However, this lens makes me add *that much more to my gear if I decided to carry it.
Most photographers will use a variety of filters, ND, polarizing, and UV filters.
Now, you don’t have to use any of these things for amazing photographs.
However, if you ever want to use a camera filter with the Fuji 16mm f1.4, then you might have to pack extra filters specifically for this lens.
Confused? Let me explain.
The 16mm f1.4 has a front filter size of 67mm. The only entire camera in the Fuji line-up with this lens diameter is the Fuji 18-135 f3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR.
Now, I’m sure the Fuji 16mm f1.4 and the 18-135 would be a decent kit, but that is not the one for me. (right now)
Because of this, I would have to carry even more filters on any trip I take.
I’m probably complaining about filters more than I should, as camera filters do not add that much weight to my pack. However, it is just something that should be considered.
Whenever people hear that the lens has a maximum aperture of 1.4 AND it is a wide angle, most people will automatically assume it is good for astrophotography.
However, the Fuji 16mm f1.4 is an exception to the rule.
The camera suffers from coma, especially in the corners at f1.4.
What is coma? Coma in photography is when you start getting cones from the light sources. In this case, the coma turns the stars (circles) into little cones.
The great thing about coma on this lens is it is limited. It will show up on long exposure photography, but it won’t for anything less than 5 seconds.
If you want to read more about coma and the Fuji 16mm f1.4, a great thread on DP Review can be found here.
One note: The coma is also completely gone by the time you reach the aperture of f2.8.
You really don’t need the low-aperture
This lens is awesome because it’s a weird combination, wide angle and an aperture of 1.4. However, for most people, they really don’t “need” this shallow depth of field.
When I picture a wide-angle lens, (which the 16mm does qualify for even with a 24mm equivalent in full frame), I really don’t imagine doing close-up photos of people.
Wide angle lenses this wide are primarily used for landscape photography.
And as a landscape photographer by trade, I really don’t ever shoot at f1.4. Instead, I typically shoot around f8 to f11, as I want more of the frame to be in focus and have a deeper depth of field.
Because of this, I pretty much negate the advantages of having a lens that shoots at f1.4.
Even more so, there are more versatile lenses for someone who likes to shoot at wide-angles instead of the Fuji 16mm f1.4.
The most versatile wide-angle lens is the Fuji 10-24 f4 WR (the MkII and the MkI are the same price). It still omits distortions and is a lot more versatile for someone who is shooting at f8. Also, it is still weather resistant.
Fun Fact: My favorite thing to photograph is actually people. However, This camera lens has a field of view of 83.2 degrees, and it will highly distort people’s faces if I decide to do person portrait work.
Other wide-angle Fuji X-Mount Lenses
The Fuji 16mm f1.4 has a lot of competition in the Fuji wide angle lineup.
There is the:
- Fuji 8-16mm f2.8
- Laowa 9mm f2.9
- Rokinon/Samyang 12mm
- Zeiss 12mm f2.8
- Fuji 16mm f1.4
- Fuji 18mm f2
- Fuji 10-24 f4
- Fuji 10-24 f4 WR
And those are the only wide-angle lenses I can remember at this time.
Needless to say, there are a lot of options when you decide to pick up your first wide-angle lens. Just check to make sure that this wide angle lens fits your style of photography.
Even with all of these choices, do I think the Fuji 16mm f1.4 is in the top 3 above? Yes, I do.
How to use
Like I said earlier, this lens is an interesting combination of wide angle and low aperture.
But what would I use this specific lens for?
Mostly, I use it for landscapes due to its great image quality and its small size.
However, the unique nature of this blog causes me to use it occasionally in different ways.
Whenever you have a travel blog, there is an extreme need for a wide-angle camera lens for landscapes. But I also like doing product reviews, which means I also like doing side-by-side images.
This lens gives me the ability to take a picture of two or three items at one time and blur out the background.
The other area when I would use this lens is for low light videography. However, I just need to make sure I don’t lose the focus on your subject and have to completely re-shoot my project.
The one area I would like to experiment with is food photography. With a close focusing distance of 15cm, shallow depth of field food photos would be great for an image-focused platform like Instagram. (Or maybe even the header images on this website.)
Also, I want to use this lens for street photography. I know it isn’t as discreet as the 35mm f2, but it is an interesting focal length for some environmental portraits.
My Final Notes
- The Fujifilm 16mm f1.4 lens is built better.
- The Rokinon/Samyang is 1/4 the price.
- The Rokinon/Samyang suffers from almost no coma, so it is perfect for astrophotography.
- The Rokinon/Samyang also is manual-focus only.
But am I going to keep the lens? Yes. Here’s why
- Low Light Shooting
- It makes me think about composition
- I want to experiment with food photography
- It’s a wide-angle, weather sealed backup.
A lot of those reasons apply to me, personally. But it also comes back to the conditions I shoot in, and what I specifically need for this blog.
Functional Value: 4.5/5
The Fuji 16mm f1.4 is a great lens, and I think it is the second-best wide-angle lenses you can purchase for a Fuji X-Mount System. But it is it necessary for most people? I don’t think so. Instead, I would invest the money into a more practical lens like the Fuji 10-24 WR. However, if you have a specific niche or want to experiment with some wide-angle, shallow depth of field photography, this is the lens to get. If you don’t need the manual clutch for video, Fuji does offer a 18mm f1.4 too.
Gear mentioned in this review:
Fuji 10-24 f4 WR
Fuji 16mm f1.4 (Full-Frame 24mm)
Fuji 16mm f2.8
Rokinon/Samyang 12 mm f2