Back in July, Fujifilm announced a new versatile zoom lens for its X-Series cameras, the XF 16-80mm f/4 R OIS WR. This new, compact, and highly versatile lens ought to be a great addition to many photographers, and we got the chance to shoot with a pre-production version for a few days.
The 16-80mm (FX Equivalent of 24-122) is a perfect all-around lens, with a solid build quality, and image quality to match. The lens features 6-stops of Image Stabilization, the most of any Fujinon lens, making it great for lower light use, despite its f/4 aperture. It also has a minimum focusing distance of just 35cm, allowing photographers to get nice close-up photos when zoomed in to 80mm. With its 9-blade rounded aperture, the bokeh balls are nice and smooth, and the overall bokeh is soft and pleasing without being too distracting.
The OIS is designed to automatically detect when the camera is being used on a tripod, and therefore there is no switch to turn the OIS on/off. In fact, there are no switches on this lens at all. The focus ring is focus by wire, and while some may prefer the push/pull clutch ring like some lenses have, the resistance is nice and manually focusing when shooting videos is a breeze.
Build quality is top notch, like most XF series Fujinon lenses. The zoom ring has a nice amount of resistance to it, and despite being a little hefty, there is no zoom creep when the lens is pointed down, eliminating the need for a zoom lock. The lens is also weather sealed in 10 spots throughout the barrel, making it great for those who shoot in inclement conditions.
Image quality is on par with Fuji's higher end lenses, and images are quite sharp edge to edge. With some zoom lenses that pack in more than 4x optical zoom, the telephoto end of the zoom range can occasionally be a bit soft. On this lens, the sharpness from 40-80mm is top notch, and I found myself using the telephoto range of this lens more so than the wide end. While 16mm is usable for wide angle photos, I would prefer the 10-24 or 8-16 for landscape photos.
Having used this lens for a few days, it's clear that this is one of the best all-around lenses for X-Series cameras. It feels well balanced on a X-H1 and X-T3, and pretty good on the slightly smaller X-T30. Once you put it on an X-A5 or X-T100, it does get front heavy and can be a little awkward to use. The 5x optical zoom makes it perfect single lens solution for portraits and landscapes, along with detailed photos. Being able to go out to a park and photograph landscapes, flowers, and people without having to change lenses or bring a bag was extremely convenient. While it may not be the go-to lens for full time professional photographers, it's not just for hobbyists either.
Autofocus on the 16-80mm is quick and accurate. Even with an f/4 aperture, you can blow out backgrounds when shooting at 80mm. Vignetting is minimal, and practically unnoticeable. There is a bit of distortion on the wide end, but it's on par with other lenses. Once you get to about 24mm, it's a non-issue.
The 16-80 is also a great option for videographers, with a versatile zoom range and fantastic OIS. As with many Fujinon lenses, you do get a bit of exposure/aperture flickering when zooming in and out. Autofocus is silent, and focus breathing is extremely minimal.
If you're looking for a compact and versatile lens without an image quality trade-off, the 16-80 is worth looking at. It's a great upgrade from Fuji's kit lenses, and while it may not be as fast as the 16-55mm f/2.8, the price and versatility may be well worth it for many photographers. The Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4 R OIS WR will be priced at $799.95 and is slowly starting to ship to dealers now. You can pre-order the lens here.
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