Fuji XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR Fujinon zoom lens Review - f/2.8 and low light


There is little point to a f/2.8 constant aperture standard zoom unless it produces decent results wide open. And above you can see that the Fuji XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR Fujinon zoom does indeed do that. Using a fixed shutter speed of 1/180th. sec. and f/2.8 which is what I would be often using at something like an indoor wedding in the UK, I let the ISO adjust to the light with some shots around the house. I'm posting 100% blowups fro the OOC jpgs. taken in pretty awful light to show what it can do. Also so you can see what the bokeh is like. (looks fine to me)

These jpgs. are of course pretty heavily noise reduced in the Fuji manner, but even so the images are still very decent, particularly considering the ISO setting. While lenses like the 23mm f/1.4 and 56mm f/1.2 would obviously be the better option with time to spare, the point of these f/2.8 constant aperture standard zooms is to work without changing lenses and to provide the ability to move from a wide-angle to short telephoto focal length without 'missing the moment'. As I indicated in my previous post, these lenses are by necessity a compromise, and no-one would claim anything different. They are what they are but certainly have a considerable advantage over the standard 'kit zooms.'

It is worth remembering that even though I shot static subjects above, the prime reason for using one of these fast standard zooms is to be able to react quickly, capture the action and work within a situation where it's impossible to set things up. So while an IS enabled lens would have worked just as well for the subject matter I've used here, at a wedding or an event, or indeed any indoor location with people moving about, anything below 1/125th. sec. will result in image blur. And at shutter speeds below 1/30th. sec. which IS systems claim to allow, that blur will be somewhat disconcerting to say the least. Try explaining to the bride why lots of the pictures of her wedding look like the result of a bad acid trip and you'll see my point!

Now when the light requires ISO 6400, if I'm not using a Nikon D4, Df or Sony A7s I'd be getting the flash gun out. And again it's worth remembering that social and studio photographers use lenses like this with added light sources. 

Now the above examples are far from great. The only flash I own is the small unit that comes bundled with the X-T1. A more powerful flash gun and bounced flash would have yielded much better results. But they will serve to illustrate my point that lenses such as these are often used in conjunction with flash or other static light sources. At the short telephoto end, this is a 2-stop advantage over the standard 'kit' zoom meaning that lower ISO's can be used to keep the quality up. 

As I indicated in my previous article, it's important to think about whether you actually can get an advantage from lenses like this. For me, working in the UK with it's 'mixed' light, when I'm often on the streets shooting travel type material, the ability to work with one lens without being compromised by having to constantly stop and change what I'm using and to be able to rely on decent results with the lens wide open and also not have to constantly be using slow shutter speeds or high(er) ISO's is obviously an advantage. Those who shoot events, weddings and the like will also see the benefits, as will studio photographers working with additional electronic as well as natural light. 

But if you work mainly outdoors in good light and shoot landscape or architecture for example, are you better served by high quality primes or lenses like the 10-24mm f/4 zoom? Each of us can only answer that ourselves, but it is worth pointing out that these fast fixed aperture zooms have their own particular niche and since you can buy the 18-135mm zoom for less than this lens it's worth bearing that in mind. Particularly since that 'superzoom' is a superb lens with excellent built in IS.

As I indicated yesterday, I really like the 16-55mm and for a lot of what I currently do, it's right on the money for me (literally!) and it will be for many other photographers. But the 23mmm f/1.4, 14mm f/2.8 and 56mm f/1.2, for me the three great Fuji primes, are special lenses too and provide functionality that the 16-55mm doesn't. But where this lens shines is as an all-round high quality versatile work lens that will handle a huge variety of jobs and do them with aplomb. I love it, and to be honest I suspect that most Fuji fans will feel much the same. And ultimately, if you want it and you can afford it, who am I to discourage you?