The Fujifilm 16mm f1.4 can easily be considered as one of Fujifilms best lenses. It’s fast, sharp, with incredible corner to corner detail, has fast autofocus and amazing macro focusing capabilities.
While there are a few other lenses by Fujifilm the share a similar focal length like the 14mm or the 18mm, nothing beats the 16mm in terms of all around performance.
Fujinon 16mm f1.4 Lens Stats
Focal Length: 16mm equivalent to 24mm
Aperture Blade: 9 circular aperture blades
Elements: 13 elements in 11 groups – Two Aspherical and Two ED Elements
Front Filter Threads: ø67
Coatings: Nano-GI internal coatings, HT-EBC external coatings.
Fast Contrast AF Microcomputer: It should. No way of knowing for sure.
Pros: Good DoF and bokeh wide open – good contrast – good color – amazing corner to corner sharpness – good flaring control – shallow depth of field – great macro focus – fast autofocus – good build quality – weather sealed
Cons: Big and heavy for the smaller cameras – not the prettiest bokeh when stopped down – onion ring bokeh – bad longitudinal chromatic aberrations at f1.4
Fujifilm 16mm f1.4 | First Impressions
All around the Fujifilm 16mm f1.4 is a phenomenal lens with very few negative characteristics other than maybe its size and weight. I chalk it up as one of the best Fujifilm lenses in terms of overall design and tuning of characteristics and probably the best ultra wide prime ever made.
Because of the f1.4 aperture, this lens is a lot of fun to use in low light or indoors. While I use wide lenses mostly for landscape photography, I find myself reaching for this lens more and more for general use especially when traveling and find it absolutely essential for event photography, or what I do sometimes, ‘behind the scenes’ photography.
One thing I’m not in love with is the manual focus lock, or clutch, built into the focus ring. Most Fujifilm cameras have focus controls built into the camera and this can create some confusion and redundancy. I don’t like this because I’m often switching between manual and auto focus when shooting landscapes and I’ll think I have autofocus on, but the lens will still be in manual so it won’t focus. If I haven’t been used this lens in a while, this will throw me off.
Fujinon 16mm f1.4 Build Quality
Fujifilm always builds great lenses and the 16mm is no exception. The Fujinon 16mm has a minimum aperture of f1.2 and a max of f16 with a minimum focus distance of just 6 inches.
The lens is built of a full metal construction, is weather sealed and has 13 elements which is higher than average for Fujinon prime lenses (except for the 80mm macro lens that has 16 elements), however, this lens still has some really nice contrast and micro contrast.
There are two aspherical elements which go an amazing job at controlling corner sharpness but the lens also has some onion ring bokeh with some purple fringing along the bokeh edge and a subtle cats eye shape along the edges of the frame.
The aperture ring is fly by wire with 1/3 stop clicks and the focus ring is also fly by wire. Some Fujifilm lenses like the 56mm f1.2 have an issue with these rings being too loose or having almost no resistance. However, the 16mm has some nice resistance and I’m not finding myself accidentally changing aperture too often. Same is true for the focus ring.
I personally have been plagued with lens elements coming out of alignment with Fujifilm’s wide lenses, so I’m somewhat paranoid that could happen with this lens. It seems their wide lenses, especially the 10-24mm and the 23mm f1.4 are very fragile and this lens should probably be babied like their others.
Corner to corner sharpness with this lens is amazing. Very few lenses, especially ultra wide lenses perform this well.
There is only a very subtle drop off of sharpness towards the edges and corners when wide open, then the corners actually improve at around f4 to f5.6 to the point where they are sharper than the edges.
Sharpness at f1.4, at least with my copy, is just decent, but it improves dramatically by f2.
Sharpness chart using concrete wall
The above test I was 3-4 feet from the wall.
Sharpness chart using a fence
This test was about 5-6 feet from the fence for some color.
Fujinon 16mm f1.4 Diffraction & The Sweet Spot
It would seem the sweet spot is between f2.8 and f5.6. Diffraction comes in a bit early with this lens and you’ll notice it’s slightly softer at f5.6 than f4 but still very usable at f8.
Distortion & Vignetting
There is almost no vignetting except a very subtle amount at f1.2 and f2 that is mostly corrected by Fujifilm’s baked in lens profile corrections. There is also only a touch of barrel distortion.
Even when you bring shots into Iridient Developer and remove Fujifilm’s lens profiles there is still very little distortion but some extra vignetting.
There are some issues with chromatic aberrations when wide open at f1.4, mostly with purple and blue fringing. Nothing too serious unless shooting high contrast situations. Stop down to f4 or f5.6 and it’s no longer an issue.
Contrast / Micro Contrast / Rendering
This lens has decent contrast. A better high contrast lens around this same focal length would be the Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 if you don’t mind a lot more vignetting. However, this lens is all around superior to that lens.
The 16mm in terms of contrast and micro contrast is just average for a Fujifilm prime but definitely better than my paper weight, the Fujinon 10-24mm, and it seems to be a touch better than the Fujinon 14mm.
Overall, rendering and color is really nice and this is what makes this lens so impressive.
I don’t usually do this in my lens reviews, but I’ve decided to include some straight out of camera raw photos from the Fujifilm 16mm lens so you can see how incredible colors and rendering is before any post processing.
Fujinon 16mm Straight Out Of Camera Raw Samples
Contrast is good, but overall rendering and color is really nice. The lens is pretty mind-blowing for a 16mm.
Seriously, look at these untouched RAW shots.
No processing with the Adobe Profile in Lightroom, I exported them out to 3000 pixels wide with an 80% lossy compression since CDN bandwidth and server space is expensive and I am not rich. If you want the full res, ask me and I can upload to flickr or something.
Fujinon 16mm Bokeh Samples
Bokeh has a really nice shape when wide open at f1.4 with a slight cats eye effect towards the edges and a somewhat unattractive onion ring pattern. Overall the bokeh could be smoother but for a lens this wide, I’m not sure if that will even be physically possible.
Stopping down to f5.6 gives a slightly harsher look with some geometric patterns and the background will tent to get a little messy and distracting.
If there is one thing I don’t love about this lens, it’s that somewhat busy bokeh. But, to be real, it’s not even remotely busy compared to a real busy bokeh lens. I’m just being somewhat critical because this lens is so close to perfect, that there really isn’t much to talk about or even to criticize. So compared to something like the 56mm f1.2, yeah it’s not buttery smooth, but this lens is a 16mm.
Real World Bokeh Samples
Fujifilm 16mm f1.4 Review | Bottom Line
The Fujinon 16mm f1.4 is an all around great lens. Kind of a unicorn for a 16mm and it’s the best ultra wide prime probably ever made.
It’s wide enough to be a fun landscape, night and travel photography lens, but not too wide so that it’s no longer useful for casual daily use. It will feel a little big and heavy on smaller Fujifilm cameras like the X-E3, but it feels ok on the X-T2 or even the X-Pro2.
I do find it difficult to use with street photography where I often want to get closer more intimate shots without capturing too much of the surrounding scene. This lens is fairly wide, so isolating the subject requires a little more attention to framing and composition.
In terms of overall sharpness, contrast and color, this lens is excellent. There is some aspherical cats eye bokeh with some onion rings to go along with it. The bokeh at f1.4 is a little bit busy and can sometimes be a little distracting, but I wouldn’t consider it bad by and stretch of the imagination.
Should you get this lens?
I would say get this lens if you really need a 16mm lens or even kind of want one. For a wedding photographer, event photographer or even an astrophotographer, this is simply a must have. It’s also leaps and bounds better than the 16mm end of my paper weight 10-24mm lens.
For me personally, I don’t really like shooting this wide unless I’m shooting landscapes. While the Fujinon 14mm f2.8 is inferior with a lot of what it offers, once stopped down, it’s a little harder tell the difference between the two (except for in the corners), so I end up leaning towards the 14mm lens simply because of its size and weight. The 14mm is much more compact than the 16mm but it a touch softer.
However, if I ever shoot behind the scenes or any type of event photography, I always bring the 16mm. So, gun to the head if I had to pick one, the 14mm or the 16mm, I would go with the 16mm just because it’s more us