Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 WR Lens Review: The Professional's Wide Angle

Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 WR Lens Review: The Professional's Wide Angle

The widest. The fastest. The sharpest. The Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 WR is the versatile king of Fuji's prime line up, and it's easy to see why.

 The Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 WR. Image courtesy of  B&H .

The Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 WR. Image courtesy of B&H.

As a longtime photographer, I generally don't bother with expensive lenses. I find it much more gratifying to dig deep in to Ebay's catalogue to see what kind of vintage glass I can glue to the front of my X-Pro2 for pennies on the dollar and similar optics. 

However, there are some cases where I have no choice but to bow down in awe of the image quality and ergonomics of more modern offerings. There is simply no substitute – vintage or otherwise – for the Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 WR, Fuji's fastest wide angle prime lens.

Technical Specs of the Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 WR

  • Type: Prime
  • Focal length: 16mm (35mm equivalent – 24mm)
  • Aperture: f/1.4-f/24
  • Close focus distance: 0.15 metres (0.49 ft)
  • Diaphragm: 9 blades
  • Weather-sealing: Yes
  • Lens-based stabilization: No
  • Weight: 375 grams (0.827 lb)
  • Size: 2.89" diameter x 2.87" long.
  • Filter diameter: 67mm

 

This super fast wide angle lens is a triumph of design and form factor, housing a massive f/1.4 aperture and top-quality glass in a weather sealed metal body with buttery-smooth, tactile focusing and aperture rings.

Take note of the dimensions of this lens: it's a bit of a monster. It doesn't necessarily feel out of place or weighty on an X-Pro2 or X-T2, but if you plan on spending a lot of time hand holding this lens, your arms are likely to be a bit fatigued by the end of your shoot. It does look a bit visually imbalanced on a small mirrorless body – and it's certainly not a stealthy lens, so you'll have to employ special care when nabbing your street photos with this one.

On the plus side, the dust and weather resistant body is a real asset, especially when hiking in Peru!

 Hiking in Ollantaytambo, Peru. Fuji X-pro2, Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4.

Hiking in Ollantaytambo, Peru. Fuji X-pro2, Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4.

The Nano-GI coating on the front element reduces lens flare and ghosting – the achilles heel of most wide angle lenses. You'll generally be able to shoot in broad daylight with the sun in-frame without any problems.

Portrait and Street Photography with the Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 WR

On a Fuji mirrorless body, the Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 WR becomes a 24mm equivalent lens. If your shooting style leans on the wider side (without getting into the crazy focal territory of the Rokinon 12mm f/2, another favorite of ours), you'll feel right at home. It's tailor made for contextual photographs, but you can squeeze 3/4 portraits out of this lens without unflattering distortion on your subject.

 A woman in the 14th street ACE station in Chelsea, Manhattan. Fuji X-pro2, Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 WR.

A woman in the 14th street ACE station in Chelsea, Manhattan. Fuji X-pro2, Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 WR.

As previously mentioned, this lens doesn't top the charts when it comes to stealth. If you're looking for a street-oriented wide angle for your Fuji mirrorless camera, consider one of Rokinon's MF f/2 offerings.

Bokeh on the Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 WR

Shooting this thing wide open is a dream.

Pixel peepers will tell you this lens performs best around f/4, but the sharpness wide open is gorgeous. I've never used a wide angle that offered better background separation – thanks both to the blistering fast aperture and the small minimum focusing distance.

The below photo was taken wide open at f/1.4. Notice rain drops along his hair – the sharpness is incredibly impressive.

Note also the shape of the bokeh in the mid- and background. Nice and round (a few oblong orbs notwithstanding)!

 Fernando sipping coffee in Central Park. Fuji X-pro2, Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 WR.

Fernando sipping coffee in Central Park. Fuji X-pro2, Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 WR.

The f/1.4 aperture is great for low light, but here's something many people don't realize about wide angle lenses...

The smaller your focal length, the lower you can set your shutter speed without noticeable camera shake. On a mirrorless camera, the rule of thumb is a shutter speed of 1/(2*focal length) for shake-free images.

With this lens on an X-Pro2, you can comfortably shoot at 1/30, f/1.4, and 3200 ISO. That's what I would call a low light capable setup.

 Hiking in Ollantaytambo, Peru. Fuji X-pro2, Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 WR.

Hiking in Ollantaytambo, Peru. Fuji X-pro2, Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 WR.

Is the Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 WR Sharp?

As this always the case with high quality wide angles – yes, this lens is sharp. In fact, the sharpness is almost unparalleled in the Fuji lineup. For my tastes, though, it can veer on too sharp. 

When shooting a wide focal length with a busy composition (and lots of contrast – note the tree branches), you don't see much depth of field separation. This isn't a critique of this lens specifically, but moreso the visual aesthetics of shooting wide. If your glass is super sharp, the 'everything in focus' effect can become a bit overwhelming to the eye... in my opinion, anyway. Still, it's a good problem to have!

In the below, you'll also notice the maximum amount of chromatic aberration this lens will output. Tree branches against a bright sky are the ultimate test of CA on any lens, but the results aren't too bad to my eye.

 Riverside park on a summer day in Harlem. Fuji X-pro2, Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 WR.

Riverside park on a summer day in Harlem. Fuji X-pro2, Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 WR.

Is the Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 worth the price?

Ringing in at a hefty $999, the Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 is one of the priciest lenses in the Fuji universe. There's no getting around that.

But this is a serious lens, built for people who take their photography seriously. With the Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 WR, you hold legendary optics with a massive aperture and a versatile focal length housed in solid metal, dust and moisture resistant body. If you were planning on investing in your lens line up, I highly suggest you start with this one.

 A park in Washington Heights, Manhattan. Fuji X-Pro 2, Fuji 16mm f/1.4.

A park in Washington Heights, Manhattan. Fuji X-Pro 2, Fuji 16mm f/1.4.

If the Fuji 16mm f/1.4 WR is squarely out of your budget, you can get a wide angle with similar optical quality – albeit slower and without autofocus – with the cult-favorite Rokinon 12mm f/2

But here's the catch: those extra 4mm in focal length make the Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 WR a dreamy all-around-er: it's far better suited to street, environmental portraiture, landscape photography, cityscapes, and those extra stops of light mean you can hand hold in darker conditions.

 Hiking in Ollantaytambo, Peru. Fuji X-pro2, Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 WR.

Hiking in Ollantaytambo, Peru. Fuji X-pro2, Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 WR.

 A tenement building in Washington Heights, Manhattan. Fuji X-Pro 2, Fuji 16mm f/1.4.

A tenement building in Washington Heights, Manhattan. Fuji X-Pro 2, Fuji 16mm f/1.4.

Fuji Lens Reviews for Your Fujifilm Mirrorless Camera

If you're hunting for the perfect lens to go with your Fuji body, check out a comprehensive list of our Fuji lens reviews below:

Digital strategist, writer, and image maker based in Manhattan working with clients in the tech and entertainment industry.