As one of my first Fujfilm lenses I had ever owned and the second I reviewed, the Fujifilm 16-80 is repeatedly a lens that I would like to retest. I continuously read that this is a great lens (which I previously disagreed with), and decided to put it up to the test again in late 2023. At this time, I had standardized my lens reviews for both composition brevity and consistency. Finally, I felt like perhaps sample variation had played a role in my copy.
So, here it is. Updated for the 2020s. Tested with two different samples.
Quick Facts about the Fujifilm XF 16-80 F4
- Weight: 15.52 oz/440 Grams
- Weather Sealed: Yes
- Filter Size: 72mm
- Angle of View: 83.2 to 20 Degrees
- Focusing Distance: 1.15 ft/35 cm
- Max Magnification: .25x
- Max Aperture: F4
- Minimum Aperture: F4
- Image Stabilization: Yes
- Mount System: Fujifilm X
- Price: $799
Table of Contents
Who is the 16-80mm F4 for?
Whenever you purchase a new Fujifilm camera, there are two options for “kit” lenses. The first is a classic within the Fuji ecosystem, the 18-55mm f2.8-4.0 zoom lens, and the second option is the Fuji 16-80mm f4 R OIS WR. As a [former] travel blogger, I elected to purchase the Fujifilm 16-80.
With a full-frame equivalent of 24-120, this lens is not a specialty for anything. But it is good enough for most things. (Well, maybe not low-light photography…) So, I used it for five months, sold it, and retested it a few years later. My use cases involved mostly day-to-day photography.
When I learned about this lens, I thought it would be a great vlogging and photo lens. It is semi-wide at twenty-four millimeters and has optical image stabilization.
When purchasing this lens lenses, there are a few things I understood:
#1: The larger the zoom range, the lower the image quality.
#2: Zoom lenses have a worse image quality than primes.
And you might be wondering how much time I have spent with this lens, which has led to this review. For about five months, I used this lens in a variety of ways: portraits, video, landscape, and as a daily, walk-around lens. This review was updated by testing this lens in a shorter-time frame in late 2023. In a later article, I will test it against both the 18-55 and the 16-55, but let’s just cover this lens.
What other Fujifilm lenses cover the 16-80 (APS-C)/24-120mm (Full-Frame Equivalent?)
Since there is such a wide focal length change, there are plenty of Fujifilm lenses that cover this focal length. It also helps that Fujifilm has been refreshing their lens selections for modern-day sensors. So, there is something reasonable costs to expensive.
Tamron XF 17-70mm F2.8
For the most part, I think people will be happy with the performance from the 17-70mm F2.8. However, I believe that video shooters will want to look elsewhere. I felt like the IBIS of the X-Series lenses and the OIS of the 17-70 fought against each other. The build quality is worse than the 16-55.
It’s heavy. It’s large. It’s the red badge equivalent. This is the standard lens for all Fuji lenses. It’s also the sharpest zoom lens that Fujifilm makes. Might not be as sharp as the prime lenses, but it does have a consistent sharpness from center to corner from F4 to F8.
- Fujifilm XF 18-55 F2.8-F4.0
The “other” kit lens. A used copy can be purchased for around $300.
I had high hopes for the 18-120, but perhaps too much. It was a fun lens but not one I could use for video.
Another direct competitor of the 18-120, this 18-135 is Fujifilm’s other one-stop lens. This lens does have OIS! However, it struggles in low light with an aperture of F5.6.
An instant classic. The XF 23mm f1.4 is sharp, has beautiful sun stars, and it’s bokeh is magical.
Everything I said about the 23mm, but at the 33mm f1.4 ‘s focal length. The 33mm F1.4 does suffer from cat’s eye wide-open, though.
One of the few F1 lenses in the world that also has autofocus. However, with that 75mm FF focal length, you are going to have a very shallow depth of field. Purple and Green Fringing is horrific.
A refresh of the original 56mm f1.2. This lens is now weather-resistant and has a closer focusing distance. (50cm)
Dials, Switches, Buttons, and More
There are not any dials, switches, or buttons on the 16-80mm F4. Much to the dismay of Fujifilm photographers who appreciate a fully manual experience, the IBIS/OIS must be turned off in the camera body. Additionally, you cannot turn one off without the other.
The aperture ring is marked from F4 until F22, however. The rubber ring which controls the focal length is good.
Interestingly, the tension of each of the rings varies. The aperture ring is the hardest to turn out of all three, which may not be ideal for some people if they need to quickly change their aperture. Now, the zoom ring is good, and I think it is one of my favorite zoom rings that Fujifilm has made. It just seems to be a bit more rubberized than other Fujifilm lenses. Finally, there is the manual focus ring which is just good. It can be a bit hard to reach, as it is the furthest away from the camera body.
In regard to the paint Fujifilm used for the 16-80mm F4, it does show fingerprints. However, this is much more cosmetic than functional.
One thing I distinctly remember about the Fujifilm 16-80mm F4 is the zoom creep. It does seem to have a locking mechanism at 16mm or so that keeps the zoom from creeping. However, that locking mechanism diengages around 23mm which is when it becomes a significant problem. This lens has a pretty far extension range, so if you are not careful, this can be broken in transit.
With this large extension, it’s important to note that this lens is weather resistant. However, sand/dust or any microparticle such as ash can easily enter through the lens this way. There are undoubtedly gaskets to prevent water, but the lens is still fragile. You might see scratches if you do not use a blower with the equipment after extreme use cases. Also, cleaning this lens is a pain. Please see my con list below.
It’s sometimes hard to get bokeh with an F4 lens. However, pushing the lens to the most extreme focal length of 80mm with an aperture of F4, it is possible.
I did not find anything particularly wrong or distracting with the bokeh, so that is a win for me!
Note: The following photos were cropped. The center of the photo taken is actually the far left of the image. So from left to right is from center to corner.
All around, I was actually content with the bokeh balls from the center to corner. No, they are not the largest in the world due to the aperture. However, they are round.
If I had to nitpick, they do take on some interesting characteristics where the light seems to bounce off the balls, themselves. However, that is only after you crop in a bit.
It does take a bit to focus with the 16-80mm. And rather than switching up on one clean pull, it seems to do so with multiple steps.
I think this is much more noticeable in the second video, which serves as a minimum to infinity focus test.
In photography, I think this lens will be fast-enough. For videography, I think I prefer the 16-55mm F2.8 over this lens.
Image Quality Tests
Having a few zoom lenses that overlap in various focal lengths, I thought it would be interesting to show you how horrible this lens actually is.
I shot the photos with a tripod, and as close to an identical focal length as I could.
For reference, look at the book on the far right side, Historical Thinking. It is 4 books away from the Eyes on the Prize Primary Source Reader. (Same book as above)
For this test I used
- Fujifilm 16-80mm f4
- Fujifilm 10-24mm f4
- Fujifilm 55-200mm f3.5-4.8
Now, that test was not entirely fair as I tested one lens, the 16-80mm at its extreme, and the 10-24 WR in the middle of the zoom range. So, here is the 16-80 at 24mm and the 10-24 at its longest focal length. (24mm)
As you can see, the 10-24 clearly is sharper than the 16-80, even at its most extreme focal length.
Now, what about the middle of the zoom range for the 16-80?
These next photos were taken at 55mm.
(For reference on these photos, please look at the book on the mid-right: A History of Modern Europe: From the Renaissance to the Present).
As you can see, Wineburg’s book is what I was focused on. It is easily readable.
However, this is probably the best condition in which this lens could be used. (Middle-of-the-zoom range @f8)
In an attempt to create a comparable and fair review, I did not push the Fuji 16-80mm to its extreme, 80mm (120mm in full-frame) focal length.
So, I stopped this comparison at 70mm for both the 16-80 and the 55-200.
As you can clearly see both the Fujifilm 10-24mm and 55-200mm have a better image quality than Fuji’s 16-80mm.
Honestly, it’s almost embarrassing. In order to even use a picture from the 16-80, I have to crop the photo’s corners extensively.
I understand that this is a trade-off for versatility, but what’s the point if the picture is *almost unusable.
Additionally, if I wanted to use only the middle of the zoom range, what’s the point of this when Fuji seems to oversaturate the market with decent, cheap, and small 30-60mm primes?
Distortion is a key compromise with this lens, and the 16-80mm has both pincushion and barrel distortion depending on the focal length.
At 16mm, the barrel distortion is rather apparent.
By 32mm, this lens also is already exhibiting pincushion distortion, too.
Although not bad initially, it does progressively get worse as you zoom throughout.
There is a slight vignetting on wider end with this lens. To me, vignetting on most lenses is a non-issue, as there is corrected software that does a decent-enough job. (For both internal body and external software.)
I was shocked to see color fringing with this lens, to be completely honest.
Color fringing is typically reserved for much wider lenses, and a prime example can be found in the Fujifilm 50mm F1 Review. However, there is that slight hint of purple and green.
Now thankfully, it does disappear beyond F4.
It is just something to note.
The minimum focusing distance is thirty-five centimeters, which converts to about 13.7 inches. (2.54 cm to inch)
This is far from macro-lens results, which usually start at .5x for minimum magnification. (This lens is a .25x lens)
However, you can fill the frame with your subject on the telephoto range of this lens.
To me, this is a sneaky bonus for this lens, which is designed to be an overall “all-purpose” zoom.
Sunstars/Starbursts & Ghosting
The 16-80mm does produce some sunstars, if you need it to.
You can clearly see that the 9 diaphragm blades help out with this.
Is this lens good at what it’s designed for?
It’s an all purpose zoom. As mentioned both above and below, there are concerns I have with this lens. (Especially at MSRP)
To me, I could never get an image straight out of the camera I was happy with..
Pros of the 16-80mm F4
- Weather Sealed and Build Construction
This is where Fuji excels, and I trust Fuji’s build quality. I have no problem taking this lens out in a rainstorm and expecting it to survive.
- Autofocus (Tested with a Fujifilm X-T4)
After updating the firmware, I am happy with it.
It is fast (by my standards), and it is quiet.
Fuji’s autofocus is not nearly to the same level as Sony or Canon, however.
- Image Stabilization
Fuji claims that the 16-80mm has six stops of image stabilization.
I can handhold some photographs up to the 80mm focal length, and I was impressed with it down to 1/30th of a second.
I really did not test this feature as much as others probably have.
Cons of the 16-80mm F4
- It’s a versatile lens range
Versatility is paramount when travel, which is what this lens is designed for.
- Image Quality
I am disappointed.
Now, I’m not a “pixel peeper” or anything of that sort. After all, I can sharpen in post-production. However….
I was on a photo shoot with a friend, and the first thing he noticed was the horrific quality (especially in the corners.) It is very apparent with trees and any form of shrub.
- Cleaning this lens
Alright, maybe it’s just me again, but cleaning the Fujifilm 16-80 is horrible. It doesn’t matter if I use a lens pen or microfiber cloth.
Additionally, this lens is weather sealed, but if you do not dry the lens immediately, it leaves water streaks.
There are only two ways I can suggest using the Fuji 16-80mm f4.
#1 Center your subject within the middle of the frame
Now, I know this may be obvious, but sometimes the surroundings are important. However, with this lens, you probably won’t be able to work around the blurry edges.
Additionally, when you do this, expect to crop a lot of photos.
#2 For Video
I think this is where this lens excels.
Whenever you are shooting video, you do not need the sharpest image quality in the corners. After all, cut scenes are typically only a few seconds long, and this is not long enough for someone to examine the screen unless they pause it.
Additionally, this lens provides somewhat fast and silent autofocus.
I tested it with the Rode VideoMicro, and I did not have any background noise from the lens itself.
As for image stabilization, this is the most impressive feature about this lens.
Now, it can be a bit confusing. You will have to turn OIS off within the camera itself, instead of the side. The only button on the lens is the aperture-lock button.
A Note About Vlogging: For me, the 16-80mm presented an interesting opportunity to test its vlogging capabilities. However, I found the 16mm (24mm on full-frame) too close to my face.
My Final Rating
- Is this lens fairly priced? (-1)
- As part of the kit combination, this lens might* be worth the price. However, for the MSRP of $799, the 16-80mm F4 is disappointing.
- Can this item be found on the used market for at least 20% off MSRP?
- Yes. (+1)
- How does the price of the 16-80mm F4 compare to the bodies in the ecosystem? (For example: It may not make sense to purchase a $4,000 lens for a camera ecosystem in which the most expensive body only costs $2,000.)
- If looking at the XF camera mount, the used pricing is considered fair. The most expensive body retails for around $2500. (+1)
- Overall Pricing Concern
- During rebates and other summer sales, you can find the 16-80mm for less than $500. I don’t feel like that price impedes on most photographer’s budgets. (+1)
- Price/Performance Ratio (-1)
- Color Fringing, Bokeh Balls, Sharpness (including center sharpness and center to corner performance), Distortion, Vignetting, Bokeh Transitions
- -.5 for heavy distortion, sharpness (-1.5) for sharpness in the center and corners, -.5 for bokeh balls, -.5 for color fringing at F4
- Is this a niche lens?
- No. (+1)
- How is the autofocus experience? If it is a manual focus lens, what is this experience like?
- This is not the fastest zoom lens, nor does it have the same motor speed as the red-badge zooms such as the 16-55 and 50-140. The results are useable, though. (Yes; +1)
- Trade Offs
- This lens is an F4 zoom, but it does have a capable OIS system. (Yes; +1)
- Is it able to be used for what it’s designed for?
- Yes +1
- Does this lens look good? (+1)
- How does the overall build quality feel? (-1)
- Half-point lost due to the sticky aperture ring. I also was not a huge fan of the lens hood, but that was more personal than functional. Finally, the paint looked dirty at all times, and I am not sure why that is. The paint is what causes the additional half-point loss
- If it’s designed to be waterproof, is it? (+1)
- Will the lens last over time (-1)
- There are two major concerns I have with the overall longevity of the lens, both deal with the extension zoom.
- Firstly, I just felt like the long extension, if done too fast and near the water, is just going to allow for particles to enter the lens. I am not worried about them entering the lens, but rather scratching the barrel. Finally, I am also concerned about the zoom creep. Just by knocking it over, it’s very easy to see that this lens will extend beyond the 23mm-ish focal length. I would have to be very careful when travelling with this lens.
- Lens Body/Camera Balance (+1)
I might have taken an extreme stance on this lens, at the very least compared to most other reviews. However, I just had high expectations for this lens, and I was pretty much disappointed. If I was to really pick a standard zoom lens for Fujifilm by Fujifilm, the only lens I would purchase is the 16-55mm F2.8.