Highly Recommended awardFor over a decade, the Fujifilm XF 18-55 f2.8-4 has proven to be one of the classiest kit zooms around, delivering excellent quality with a brighter than average aperture. As such its successor, the XF 16-50 f2.8-4.8 has big boots to fill, but succeeds to become the desirable kit zoom for the next generation of X-series cameras. It may not reach quite as far as its predecessor, but most will find the wider start at 24mm equivalent more useful, and while it doesn’t have the optical stabilisation, Fujifilm is now equipping all of its new bodies with IBIS. The aperture may start at the same f2.8 as before, but becomes dimmer sooner in the range, ending at a slightly slower f4.8, but the new lens enjoys weather-sealing that was absent on the old model, along with internal zooming that keeps the barrel compact. It’s a little lighter too. When bought in a kit it becomes particularly good value, costing as little as half of its standalone price. But as a standalone purchase, it looks expensive compared to Sigma’s 18-50 f2.8 DC DN, which may not zoom quite as wide, but boasts a constant f2.8 aperture throughout the range and costs roughly two thirds the price. So I’d say the Sigma makes more sense for anyone buying a separate general-purpose zoom for an X-series body, but again when subsidised in a kit, the XF 16-50 is a tough act to beat.

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Fujifilm XF 16-50mm f2.8-4.8 review


The Fujifilm XF 16-50mm f2.8-4.8 is a compact, general-purpose zoom for X-series cameras. Announced in May 2024, it’s the official replacement for the 12 year-old XF 18-55mm, and also becomes a new kit zoom option for the X-S20, X-T5 and the new X-T50 which was launched alongside it. 

The old XF 18-55 was an enormously popular lens, so the new 16-50 has a tough act to follow. I tested a final production sample on the new X-T50 to see how it measures-up. Find out in my full review video below, or if you prefer to read the written highlights, keep scrolling!

Bought by itself, the new lens costs around $700 or pounds, which is much the same as the old XF 18-55, but in a kit only adds around $400 or £350 to the body-alone price.

Potential buyers should also consider Sigma’s 18-50mm DC DN from 2021 with its constant f2.8 aperture, available at a lower price of $550 or £479. I have a separate review of that lens for comparison.

Measuring 64mm in diameter and 71mm from the mount, the new XF 16-50 is essentially the same size as the previous XF 18-55, but at 240g, it’s 70g lighter.

Meanwhile Sigma’s 18-50mm, is a little narrower at 60mm, a little longer at 76mm, and 48g heavier.

The WR in the full title stands for Weather Resistant, with the 16-50 sealed against dust and moisture including a rubber grommet at the mount. This is a key upgrade over the older XF 18-55 which wasn’t sealed. Meanwhile Sigma’s 18-50 is only sealed at the mount.

The XF 16-50 looks a lot like the XF 18-55, and also shares three control rings. Closest to the mount is a free-spinning, unlabelled ring with clicked steps. Set the switch alongside it to the diaphragm icon and it’ll control the aperture. Set it to A and the aperture control is performed by the body, with the chance for quieter adjustments. 

Since you can’t repurpose the ring to control anything else, I’d personally have preferred a traditional labeled aperture ring with hard stops instead, but the older XF 18-55 had the same free-spinning ring, while Sigma’s 18-50 lacks any kind of physical aperture control at all. 

Next up is the zoom ring which mechanically adjusts the focal length between 16 and 50mm, although unlike the 18-55 and Sigma’s lens, the zooming takes place internally, so there’s no extension of the lens.

The third ring is a free-spinning manual focus ring which is fairly narrow, but turns smoothly.

At the end of the barrel is the same 58mm filter thread as the 18-55, and like that lens, Fujifilm supplies a petal hood that twists onto the end, or reverses over the barrel for transportation. Sigma’s 18-50 has a smaller 55mm filter thread and also comes with a hood.

Moving onto range, the new XF 16-50 starts wider than either its predecessor or the Sigma, with an equivalent of 24mm vs 27mm. At the long-end it matches the Sigma and while the XF 18-55 reaches a tad further, I personally find the wider starting point more useful.

All three lenses start with a maximum aperture of f2.8, but only the Sigma maintains this throughout the range. Meanwhile both Fujifilm’s have variable apertures, gradually dimming as they zoom further, with the new lens ending at 50mm f4.8 versus 55mm f4 on the old one.

I think it’s useful to see exactly where in the range the aperture dims, so here’s a sequence for you. Starting at the wide-end, the XF 16-50 only offers its maximum aperture of f2.8 for the first half mm, gradually dimming to f3.2 at 16.5mm, f3.5 at 25mm and f4 at 27mm. 

As you continue to zoom, the aperture dims to f4.5 at 43mm, then to f4.8 from 48 to 50mm.

So the older XF 18-55 may start at the same f2.8 and gradually dim as you zoom-in, but stays a tad brighter than the new model, boasting a half stop benefit at the long-end.

Now for my tests which were all performed with the new X-T50, so you’ll see how the lens measures-up with Fujifilm’s most demanding 40 Megapixel sensor.

I’ll start with focusing and you’re looking at the 16-50 at 16mm f2.8 on the X-T50 using a central area, where it’s snapping-into focus quickly and confidently.

And now for the long-end at 50mm f4.8, where again the focusing is quick and confident. Fujifilm’s employing its Linear Motors here which can operate not only quickly but effectively in silence too.

How does this translate to video? Here’s the lens again at 16mm f2.8 where you can see a hesitation as it pulls-focus, something I’ve noticed when testing video AF on many Fujifilm bodies.

There’s more steps visible at 50mm f4.8, with the focus-pull lacking the confidence of the photo focus, at least in this test at close range. This is more an issue of how Fujifilm bodies refocus for video though and I have another example later that’s more successful.

Next for focus breathing, starting at 16mm, where I’ll manually focus the lens from infinity to its closest distance and back again. Here you can see the field of view reduce ever so slightly as I focus closer, like I’m zooming-in a tad, but it’s unlikely to be visible on most focus-pulls.

And now at 50mm, again manually focusing from infinity to the closest distance and back again. As before, there’s a minor reduction in the field of view as I focus closer, although again you may not notice in general use.

Next for stabilisation. Unlike the old XF 18-55, the new XF 16-50 does not include optical stabilisation, instead relying on body-based IBIS systems to iron-out any wobbles.

In my tests on the X-T50, I found its IBIS delivered around four stops of compensation for still photos, and allowed the lens to deliver nice stable footage when filming video. See my X-T50 review for more details.

Next let’s check out its performance on a distant subject with my traditional Brighton Pier test, angled as always so that details run into the corners. I’ll start at 16mm f2.8 and taking a closer look in the middle shows nice crisp details out of the gate with little benefit to sharpness by stopping down.

Heading into the corner sees those details soften a little, and I didn’t notice any improvement when focusing in the corner instead. Closing the aperture one stop to f4 brings mild improvements, with peak corner sharpness between f5.6 and f8.

Next for the lens zoomed to 35mm, where the maximum aperture becomes f4. Starting with a close look in the middle, the details are looking pretty good, but there’s mild benefits to closing down a stop further to f5.6, and maybe a tad more at f8.

Returning to the f4 image and heading into the corners shows the details becoming quite soft at the maximum aperture. Closing the aperture one stop to f5.6 greatly improves the sharpness in the extreme corners, with further improvements at f8. So for maximum sharpness across the frame mid-way through the zoom, I’d recommend shooting at f8.

And finally at the longest 50mm focal length, where the maximum aperture is f4.8. Taking a closer look in the middle again shows a good degree of detail, with only minor benefits to closing the aperture any further.

Returning to the f4.8 image and heading into the corners shows those details becoming gradually softer in the extremes, although closing the aperture to f5.6 brings improvements, while closing it further to f8 sharpens the corner details nicely.

So in my distant landscape tests, the 16-50 is capable of delivering decent details in the middle with the aperture wide-open, but benefits from closing-down a stop or two to match that sharpness in the corners.

Next up a portrait test at 50mm f4.8, using face and eye detection on the X-T50. Viewing the full image gives an idea of the background separation that’s possible from this distance.

Zooming-in a little for a closer look shows the details on my face are nice and crisp, with mild blurring in the background behind me. I don’t have a similar portrait taken with the XF 18-55 f4 for direct comparison, but with a slightly longer focal length and slightly brighter aperture, there is potential for a little extra blurring in the background.

I do however have one taken with the Sigma 18-50, so let’s put the new Fujifilm on the left and the Sigma on the right at 50mm f2.8. Now there’s almost three years between these shots, not to mention different framing, but you can get an idea of the shallower depth of field available at f2.8. Not huge, but definitely blurrier. If you want more blurring and less busy bokeh, you’ll need to go for a brighter prime lens, like the 50 f2 or 56 1.2.

Many people will want to use the lens for presenting pieces to camera, so here’s how it looks for video filmed on the X-T50 at 50mm f4.8, where you can again see similar blurring to the previous photo example.

And now at 24mm f2.8 where you’ll see more of the environment around the subject, but still enjoy a little blurring in the background.

If you’re into handheld vlogging though, the lens may be wider than its predecessor and Sigma’s option, but still isn’t quite wide enough to be held at arm’s length as seen here. By the way this was with IBIS alone on the X-T50.

And the situation becomes even less suitable if you apply additional digital stabilisation for potentially steadier results, but with a crop reducing the field of view further. So if you’re into vlogging, I’d go for a wider lens like the Sigma 10-18mm f2.8 DC DN or Fujifilm’s XF 10-24 f4.

Moving onto my ornament test for bokeh and rendering, here’s the XF 16-50 at 50mm f4.8 from its closest focusing distance, where you can see the lens delivering decent reproduction with some good-looking bokeh blobs in the background. Often zooms can exhibit messy bokeh with outlining and onion ring patterns within, but I’d say it’s looking pretty well-behaved here.

As I gradually close the aperture one stop at a time you’ll see the blobs reflecting the geometric shape of the nine-bladed diaphragm system, but it never becomes too obtrusive.

To see how it compares, let’s put the Fujifilm at 50mm f4.8 on the left and the Sigma at 50mm f2.8 on the right, both from their closest respective focusing distances.

Here you can see the Sigma unable to focus as close, and thereby not deliver as large a magnification on the subject, but compensates with its larger aperture delivering similarly sized blobs even though it’s further away.

And just briefly, here’s the Fujifilm zoom at 25mm f2.8, again as close as it can focus to the subject, where the bright aperture is delivering small, but attractive bokeh blobs in the background.

Which brings me to my final test, focusing as close to a ruler as I could, first at 50mm f4.8, where the lens reproduced 66mm across the frame. Sure there’s some pincushion distortion here, but the edges are impressively well-defined given this was at the maximum aperture. It’s also greater reproduction than the Sigma 18-50 which in my tests delivered 85mm across the frame.

And for completeness, here’s the Fujifilm lens at 16mm f2.8, again focused as close as it can to the ruler, where it delivered 167mm across the frame. This time the edges have become soft, and while closing the aperture to f8 improves the sharpness, there’s still softness at the extremes. So for the best macro results, zoom to the long-end of the range.

Check prices on the Fujifilm XF 16-50mm f2.8-4.8 at B&H, Adorama, WEX UK or Calumet.de. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book, an official Cameralabs T-shirt or mug, or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!
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