Est. 2020

Fujifilm XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR Lens Review

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Quick Facts about the Fujifilm XF 8-16mm F2.8 LM WR Lens

  • Weight: 1.77 lb/805 Grams
  • Weather Sealed: Yes
  • Filter Size: N/A Bulbous Front 🙁
  • Angle of View: 121 Degrees to 83.2 Degrees
  • Focusing Distance:  9.84″/.25m
  • Max Aperture: F2.8
  • Minimum Aperture: F22
  • Image Stabilization: No 🙁
  • Mount System: Fuji X
  • Price: $1,999
  • Zoom: Internal

The Fujifilm 8-16mm F2.8 is an absolute beast of a lens. (So much so, despite the 150-600 being much larger, it only weighs a pound less.) Because of the extreme weight and bulbous front, I was extremely concerned about testing this lens out. 

After all, I don’t quite know who this lens is designed for within the ecosystem. Sure, other brands such as Sony have their versions of the 12-24, (8-16mm has a full-frame equivalent of 12-24) but considering this lens is SO wide and niche, I didn’t feel like it felt natural on the XF bodies. 

There is not a single wider zoom for the Fujifilm series, very few prime lenses that are wider, and its direct competitor is the 10-24. (which accepts circular filters.)

All this to say, today, we are going to reviewing this 8-16, determining if it’s worth the $2,000 price tag, and I am going to be complaining a lot. 

Who is the Fujifilm 8-16mm F2.8 for?

As I carried this lens throughout my time in Washington DC, I really wondered this question. 

8mm (12mm FF) has an angle of view of 121 degrees. Yet, in my experience, I have never needed a lens that wide. Some people will argue that this is the perfect lens for architecture photography. 

However, after traveling the world, I quickly realized something. Most buildings are built to the human eye, so something this wide is not important. I seldom need to actually go beyond 24mm (FF). And something beyond F2.8 was almost always more important than “just go wider.”

For landscape photographers, lacking the ability to use circular filters means spending several hundred dollars on something such as the 100mm Lee Filter Set. 

I suppose real-estate photographers would approve, as the FOV introduces so much distortion into the image that it would make the room appear much wider than it actually is. 

So, this all being said, who is this lens for? If you know you need it, it’s for you. If you think it would be nice to have, probably not. 

What other Fujifilm lenses cover the 8-16mm (APS-C)/12-24 (Full-Frame Equivalent?)

Although this amount of lenses is no help whatsoever, I think this just shows you how Fujifilm has prioritized their lens lineup with mid-range primes instead of the wide or telephoto prime category. 

Zoom Lenses

 
The Fujifilm XF 10-24mm is the only alternative to the 8-16mm F2.8. Although it is only 2mm longer on the wide-end, it contains OIS, has an aperture of F4, and it does accept circular filters.
 

This being said, this lens struggles past 20mm, and I do believe that the 8-16mm F2.8 wins out in sharpness at every focal length. 

Prime Lenses
  • Fujifilm 14mm F2.8
I go back and forth on this lens. It’s definitely one that has a cult-like following. 
 

An optical masterpiece that can focus on objects extremely close (5.91 inches), the Fujifilm 16mm F1.4 is in a league of its own. (But if you are starting to go this narrow, you might look at the new 18mm F1.4 WR, too.)

  • Fujifilm 16mm F2.8

A compact version of the 16mm F1.4, the 16mm F2.8 is a perfect companion for those looking for superior image quality in a small body. The perfect pairing would either be the X-E or XTXX Line. 

  • Samyang/Rokinon 12mm F2 (AF & MF)
Probably one of the best XF lenses for night-sky photography, the Samyang/Rokinon lens has recently had a refresh with autofocus. I’ve heard mixed reviews about the autofocus lens, but the manual focus lens can still be found for sub-$200. 

  • Viltrox 13mm F1.4
I have heard good things about this lens. It filled an important gap that Samyang attempted to fill, but they did a better job. For Fujifilm purists, it also has a marked, aperture ring. 

Dials, Switches, Buttons, and more!

Picture of the 8-16mm F2.8. Taken with Fujifilm X-T20 w/10-24mm F 7.1 @24mm
Picture of the 8-16mm F2.8. Taken with Fujifilm X-T20 w/10-24mm F 7.1 @24mm
  • Marked Aperture Ring
 
Fujifilm purists will appreciate that this lens has a marked aperture ring, ranging from the minimum aperture of F2.8 to the maximum aperture of F22. 

 

  • Bulbous Front 

Although this has been stated, just thought I should include it here.

Build Quality 

  • Zoom Ring
 
Going from 8-16mm is not very far, but I was less than impressed with the zoom ring for the 8-16mm F2.8. It was very loose, and if I moved my camera around, possibly bumping into it, or something of that sort, I would be very concerned about accidentally changing focal lengths. 
 
 
  • Lens Construction
 
Within the body itself, there are twenty lens elements in thirteen different groups. Of those lens elements, there are six extra-low dispersion elements, including three super extra dispersion elements. Additionally, there are four aspherical elements. 

 

  • Overall Build Quality
To be honest, this build quality is very good. (Outside of the loose zoom ring.) I felt that is was deserving of the red-badge name, just like the 50-140. It certainly is waterproof, the build is metal, and it feels like you are carry a chunk of glass. 

Fuji 8-16mm F2.8 FOV

8mm (12mm Full-Frame) is certainly a wide field-of-view. For me, it was certainly wider than I was used to or prefer. Now, for reference on what the “normal eye” FOV is, I took a photo with my iPhone at 51mm. Then, took the rest of the photos. 

However, with a lens this wide, there are just a few important things I would like to remind you.

  1. Having an interesting foreground and leading lines are integral for a good image.
  2. Your depth of field is going to be much larger at wider focal lengths than narrower ones. (I.e. F2.8 at 12mm has a much larger depth-of-field than F2.8 at 55mm.)
  3. Use the distortion to your advantage. Find something that looks out of place or interesting and get really close. As long as it does not look really weird, this will make the object look bigger than it actually is.
  4. Be careful with your exposure. Exposing a photograph is difficult. But with a lens this wide, having both the foreground, subject, and background all properly exposed is going to be difficult. I think it’s best to underexpose your shadows rather than blow-out your highlights. 

Distortion

Fujifilm automatically applies distortion correction for their JPEG’s, which is great for people who like minimal post-processing. However, I uploaded these RAW files and exported them from Capture One (with and without distortion correction) for this test. 

Full Settings: Capture One Pro 22 (Awesomely Fast) with the 8-16mm F2.8 Lens Correction. 

  • At 8mm

At 8mm, there is certainly a large amount of pincushion distortion within the corners. And it doesn’t help that in order to fix this distortion, you will need to crop out the edges, meaning you never truly get the full, 8mm, 121 Degree FOV. 

  • 16mm

To me, the distortion seems much more managed at this focal length. We did not have the extreme crop that we did with the wide-end of this lens. 

Sharpness Test

I have a growing concern that you are not able to see the sharpness of any lenses with a limited resolution display on laptops. So, I decided to start inputting a video, too. 

I recognize that YouTube will still compress the image, but I do recommend watching the video in 4k for the best results. 

Full-Picture Images

The Same Images are the same as above, but cropped to a 25 inch by 25 inch square focused on the top-left. 

At 8mm

Center

  • From F2.8 to F11, the image quality is good
  • But the peak sharpness starts about F4-F5.6
  • F4 – F11 perform about the same
  • Noticeable drop in image quality at F11 and F16
 

Corner

  • 8mm at F2.8 is mediocre at best
  • We started to see some improvement at F4
  • F5.6 is alright, but true peak sharpness is not until F8 and it goes through F11
  • F11 reveals some loss in image quality, but it becomes noticeable in F16
 

At 10mm 

Center

  • F2.8 at 10mm performs better than F2.8 at 8mm
  • Sharp by F4
  • Still sharp until about F11
  • Image Falls apart at F16
 

Corner

  • A different image. The corners are way better at 10mm over the 8mm.  
  • F4 sees peak sharpness, and it extends through F11
  • Same drop-off. F16
 

At 12mm 

Center

  • Sharp from F2.8 – F11
 

Corner

  • F2.8 is pretty sharp
  • Again, F4-F11 is pretty good
 

At 16mm 

Center 

  • F2.8 is not bad but there is a small improvement at F4-F5.6
  • F16 is pretty bad
 

Corner

  • Not horrible at F2.8
  • We clearly see more detail as we stop down
  • But we start losing more detail starting at F11 (A bit earlier than the middle of the zoom range)
 

Final Takeaways from All Photos

  • The narrower apertures (F11-F22) perform much worse than the wider apertures (F2.8)
  • However, I found the overall image quality worse on the wider end of the lens (8mm) than the narrower end (16mm). This furthers my assumption that if the 8-16 performs that much worse and with the large amount of distortion, does it really make sense to purchase this lens? 
  • This lens does perform its best between F4-F11. 

Bokeh Performance 

I know we are not going to get the best bokeh performance from this lens, but I still found the bokeh a bit bothersome. 

At 8mm, the transitions seemed weird, almost as if somebody had used a fish-eye like effect. 

16mm certainly looked a bit better to me, but you will never get the true subject separation that you want. 

Between the distortion of wide-angles and the poor bokeh, there is not a single reason (that I can think of) in which you should use this lens for any type of portraits. 

Focusing Distance and Macro Performance

  • Focusing Distance:  9.84″/.25m
  • Maximum Magnification is .1x

You are not going to mistake this lens for any macro-style work. (If you need something this wide for macro, I recommend the 16mm F1.4)

The bokeh is mediocre, the maximum magnification is a measly .1x, etc. 

I wouldn’t even take photos of food with this lens. 

Bokeh Balls

Similar to the bokeh tests, the bokeh balls are not very good. 

  • F2.8 
At F2.8, you will have circular bokeh balls in the center, while the corner have a some-what non-circular experience. I would probably call it cat’s eye, but it doesn’t have the definite shape. It’s more crescent-like. 
  • F3.2

The corners are kind-of starting to round out, but it took me some time to decide if this was any noticeable improvement. 

  • F4 and Beyond

By now, the bokeh balls are round. But it’s going to be difficult to get bokeh balls at this aperture. 

Video Autofocus 

I think the Fuji 8-16 performs alright in regards to video autofocus. It tracked me across the frame, and it performs similarly to other Fujifilm zoom lenses, the 16-80 and the 16-55. 

Additionally, there was no audible clicking of the ens elements as the focus changed. 

But I wouldn’t say it was as fast as some of Fuji’ newer primes. (Like the 23mm F1.4 for example.)

Now, it does help that the wider lenses have such a deep FOV (which is why I tested the video above at 16mm with an aperture of F2.8). 

Missing OIS? On a Hunt for the Corner Wobbles. 

One of my bigger concerns with a lens this wide (if using video-mode) are corner wobbles. 

The Fujifilm 10-24mm has this problem from about 10-16mm or so. 

(There is limited sound in the video above, due to the wind just ruining the audio.)

I did find the image to be a bit shaky, and the corners did indeed suffer a little bit. However, I actually found the video quality to be even worse if I went ahead and included the Digital Image Stabilization. (Which crops the image even more.)

This being said, there was a good side-effect of this extreme wide angle. Because the image is so wide, there is plenty of information on the edges, which means that it can be cropped in post and still look somewhat natural. 

Here’s a video of that. 

Sunstars

You can start to see the beginning of the sunstar at F5.6, but it really becomes prevalent around that F8-F9 range. It certainly is not the best, but it is usable. Multiple more examples of sunstars can be found in the sample gallery below. 

*All images above were about 12mm

Fujifilm 8-16mm Sample Images

Honestly, I was less than pleased with my 8-16mm F2.8 sample images. I was ranging the aperture to see what it would take to get sunstars, and certainly was experimenting with the extreme wide photos. 

This is not a knock on this lens itself, but rather my inexperience with something this wide…

Pros of the Fujifilm 8-16mm F2.8

  • Build Quality 
 
There are very few Fujifilm lenses that are constructed better than this lens. Seriously, for both good and bad reasons, this lens feels like a small rock. 

 

  • No OIS
I think the lack of OIS actually helps this lenses’s output, especially in regards to video. If this lens did have OIS, I think the corners would wobble even more. 

Cons of the Fujifilm 8-16mm F2.8

  • Price
 
 The 8-16mm’s price is absurd. $1999 for a new lens is borderline Canon RF level pricing for an APS-C zoom lens, and I don’t feel like this lens is actually worth the price. 

 

  • On the wide end, this lens struggles
 

With a lens this niche and this FOV, you expect premium performance across the zoom range. Unfortunately, it struggles more on the wide-end. This makes me really question if the performance struggles so much, shouldn’t you just purchase the 10-24?

 
  • Bulbous Front
An expensive lens with expensive filters (unless you purchase lens filters that fit in the back of the lens), but I have questions about how to protect this lens element beyond just the filters. 

My Final Notes

It’s tough for me to really recommend this lens (like most Fujifilm zoom lenses.) If you need something this wide, pick up the 10-24 with the Samyang 12mm for low-light. You’ll still save over $500. 

Fujifilm 8-16mm F2.8 Rating

Price: 2/5
 
Sony FE 12-24 F4: $1,800
Sigma EF 12-24 F4: $1,600
Canon RF 14-35 F4: $1,700
Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30 F4: $1,346
 
Yeah…..
 

Reliability: 3.5/5

It certainly regains some points here for the superb build construction. But it does lose a lot of points for corner sharpness not being the best and horrible distortion. (Typical of wide-angle lenses.) It also lost .5 point for not having great sunstars until F9. 

Functionality: 3/5

Look, the FOV of 8-16mm is so niche that most people don’t use it. 

Style :5/5

It looks solid and kind-of cool. 

Total: 13.5/20 or 67.5%

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