To evaluate the real-life performance of the Fujinon XF 16mm f1.4 lens, I shot this exterior scene at every aperture setting using a Fujifilm XT1 mounted on a tripod. The XT1 was set to 200 ISO and the lens focused on the center of the composition. The corner and center crops shown below were taken from the areas marked with the red rectangles below and presented at 100%.
For my lens tests on other systems I normally shoot in RAW and process the files with corrections disabled to see what’s happening behind the scenes. But the more I shoot with the Fuji X system, the more I appreciate the out-of-camera JPEG performance, especially when using Lens Modulation Optimisation (LMO) with Fujinon lenses. I’ve also found few RAW converters which can do justice to the X-Trans sensor. So in line with my other XF lens tests, I’m going to present crops from unaltered out-of-camera JPEGs here (with LMO enabled as default) as I believe they show the lens in the best light. I did of course also shoot the scene in RAW and if I find a workflow which delivers good results in the future I’ll update this review with RAW comparisons as well.
I believe many X series owners who are interested in the XF 16mm f1.4 will be weighing it up against the XF 10-24mm, either as potential owners or existing ones. So in my first two tables below I’ve compared the sharpness of both lenses on the same view in the corner and centre of the image; I shot with the XF 16mm f1.4 first, then matched the field of view on the XF 10-24mm afterwards.
Since the XF 10-24mm has a maximum aperture of f4, the first three rows on each table show an expanded crop from the XF 16mm f1.4 at f1.4, f2 and f2.8. As you can see in the first table, the XF 16mm f1.4 performs very well in the corners even when wide-open at f1.4. As you close the aperture, you’ll see a lightening in the corners, revealing the inevitable presence of vignetting, although it’s fairly mild and essentially gone by f2.8.
At f4 we can start to compare it against the XF 10-24mm, which looks quite soft in the corners in comparison. The XF 10-24mm only becomes crisp in the corners when closed to around f8, while the XF 16mm f1.4 arguably peaks between f5.6 and f8. Thanks to LMO, both lenses continue to look crisp at f11, although some softness due to diffraction is kicking-in at f16.
Scroll down to see how they compare in the middle of the frame, or skip to my Fujifilm XF 16mm f1.4 sample images or back to my verdict.
Fujifilm XF 16mm f1.4 centre quality
In the table below I’ve once again started with the XF 16mm f1.4 at f1.4, f2 and f2.8. The crops in this table are taken from the exact same images as those for the corner results above, and interestingly the centre looks a little lacking in definition at the larger apertures. It improves by f2.8 though, becomes better still at f4 and arguably peaks between f5.6 and f8.
At f4 we can again compare the performance with the XF 10-24mm which interestingly comes out of the gate looking very strong in the centre. The Sun had come out a little more at this point, so the XF 10-24mm crops are a little brighter, but there’s definitely greater crispness to them at f4 in the middle. Between f5.6 and f8, both lenses essentially deliver the same detail.
So I’d say the XF 16mm delivers more consistent sharpness across the frame at each aperture, whereas the XF 10-24mm may be impressively sharp in the middle, but is soft in the corners when the aperture is wide-open. But by the time both lenses are closed to f8, they’re delivering similar degrees of detail across the frame at the 16mm focal length. So I’d only recommend the XF 16mm over the XF 10-24mm at 16mm – in terms of sharpness at infinity – if you’re likely to shoot at larger apertures. My example here may not have looked amazing in the middle of the frame at large apertures, but I shot other distant subjects which looked very respectable at f1.4.
Next check out my Fujifilm XF 16mm sample images or skip back to my verdict!