Fuji XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR Fujinon zoom lens Review - With this and X-T1, is Fuji finally 'PRO'?


Well I don't think anyone would deny that the X-T1 / Fuji XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR Fujinon zoom lens combination certainly looks professional enough, but is it a serious alternative, with the 50-140mm f/2.8 of course, to a DSLR? And are there enough features and lack of operating anomalies to make those who make their living from photography switch to Fuji?

I have to say, I'm mightily impressed by the Fuji XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR Fujinon zoom lens. It's well built, has incredibly fast AF and takes great images. It fits hand in glove with the X-T1 and the times I've used this combination, with and without the battery grip, I have been pleasantly surprised at the handling and the way that getting the picture is painless, fast and reliable. This is some way on from those initial faltering steps with the X100 series and the X-Pro 1. The X-T1 has a great viewfinder, the fast AF I've mentioned already and the VERY useful electronic shutter, which is not something DSLR users can ever anticipate using. There are still issues around raw processing and jpg. rendering for certain kinds of photography, but when you see what Canon thinks passes for a decent image file, maybe I'm being over critical. The battery life is also improved with the extra battery in the battery grip and while it's certainly the case that mirrorless interchangeable camera will always consume more power, the Fuji batteries are still underpowered.

And then there is the video. Or rather there isn't the video! It's poor with the X-Trans sensor and better with the X-A1 and it's Bayer CMOS sensor, but then you all know what my feelings on that are. Fuji seem to have missed the point that if a camera has any pretensions to be 'Pro' it HAS to have at least usable video and a decent range of options. And the X-T1, in addition to the other Fuji X-Trans sensor cameras, fails miserably at that. Whatever you think about Nikon and Canon DSLR's and the somewhat clunky way they work with live view, the footage they produce is very usable. And while I was out with the camera this afternoon, I kept thinking this X-T1 / 16-55mm combination is such a pleasure to use and it's nearly there as a real serious pro camera contender, but not quite.

In fact, with my needs and the way I work, it is the real deal. These days I shoot very little commissioned stills and video and if something worth my while did turn up, then I'd probably buy myself something else if video was required. A stills job? Well I would probably choose the Fuji. A few batteries in my pocket, plus a backup camera and I'd manage. However, most pro's need to feel a bit more positive than that. Because the Nikon and Canon DSLR 'workhorse' cameras are tried and tested and have proved themselves over the year. I regularly shot 3000+ images at weddings on one and half batteries, so you can see the difference, last time I used the X-T1 for an event it was closer to 300 shots per battery. 

So much as I personally rate this combination, a lot of my fellow professionals, with their needs, may well not feel the same. And who can blame them? They are in no position to experiment on their clients time and even though their outfits may be heavy and bulky, they get the job done.

I would make the point again that Fuji are nearly there. Certainly, the lenses are in place and a camera like the X-T1 would get a lot of nods for it's handling and with lenses like the 16-55mm speed, but Fuji have to find a way to get more power to the camera, improve the video significantly and yes, raise the pixel count. One of the things I discovered shooting weddings, was you don't get second chances and no matter what lens you have on the camera, there will always be files that need cropping and it's better to have 24MP rather than 16MP to work with.

So I hope we get an X-T2 with those improvements. Not for me particularly, but for the professional photography community. Because then I think that many more would embrace the system and that would mean that Fuji get more kudos, make more money, release more product and everybody benefits. That 5% market share and enthusiast / hobbyist minority would suddenly be enlarged and enhanced and make Fuji a larger player in the market with many advantages for all of us who like the system. They would certainly be taken more seriously and moving to a Fuji system would be less of a risk that I'm sure many professionals think it might be. Because I can certainly testify that they are a pretty conservative bunch when it comes to gear.

This however is all speculation and the decisions aren't mine. In the meantime all I can do is repeat yet again the the Fuji XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR Fujinon zoom is a fine lens, in fact it's a quite superb lens and the X-T1 is an excellent camera. The combination is one that works well for me and I enjoy handling it. But my frustrations as ever with Fuji are that for the sake of what I regard as simple changes, they fail to see some of the things that could be easily fixed. For example how hard is to put a % readout battery meter in a firmware upgrade? Well it's not difficult at all, so why not do it?

And if they don't deal with small but important issues like this they will be bystanders as Sony ride off into the distance taking the bulk of the new breed of 'mirrorless professionals' with them and that would be sad, if not in fact a tragedy, because for lenses and overall photographer sensibility Fuji are much better at getting it right than Sony, as far as I'm concerned. I would much rather use my Fuji gear than my Sony stuff, despite the fact that my A7r has 36MP of image quality and great video. But Fuji do make it hard sometimes for those of us who admire them by concentrating on what I regard as trivia, like these hybrid viewfinders and 'classic chrome'.

Hopefully one day the light bulb will go on above their heads and they can put the finishing touches to one of the best ideas in recent times, regarding photographic gear. Old school values meets modern technology is a great concept and one I'm sure would meet with greater approval if they just thought a little more about what impresses experienced photographers rather than those who chatter on the photographic internet.