Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Fuji 10-24mm zoom lens -- a hands on review

There is only one super-wide lens I know of that can remain perfectly sharp into the image corners with a full open aperture, and that is the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8. A super wide angle zoom is a tough optical design to compute and gets extremely expensive when done right, if it can be done at all. With that in mind, Fuji was facing an uphill battle against the odds with its new XF 10-24mm f/4 zoom lens. Admittedly, it is a fixed f/4 and not f/2.8, but even so Fuji has been raising the bar with each new XF lens it produces. Question is: Can they do it again?

The Fuji XF 10-24mm f/4 zoom lens mounted on an X-E2 with an XF 14mm f/2.8 lens next to it.
As you will see from the sample images below, there is no rectilinear distortion with this lens.  This means you get a true focal length. Why? In the digital photography age rectilinear distortion, such as barrel and pincushion, is easily corrected in post processing, but in order to do so you need to crop the image. This may mean that the 14mm lens you bought becomes something like a 16mm lens due to the cropping necessary to correct the distortion. The Nikkon 14-24mm I mentioned earlier suffers from this, for instance.


The other thing I noticed with some of my first test shots was the absence of any vignetting -- very unusual, particularly for such a wide angle lens, and a zoom at that.

The 10-24mm is image stabilized, whereas the 14mm is not. Of course you are going to need at least one stop of image stabilization to make up for the difference between using f/4 and f/2.8 hand held in low light.
The 10-24mm zoom on the left compared  to the 14mm f/2.8 on the right. There is a big difference in size and weight. 
The test image below has no corrections applied. It was taken at 10mm and f/4 with the focus point placed in the center at the very bottom. You can download a high res version of the f/4 and f/5.6 files. At f/4 the lens shows only minimal softening at the bottom corners and is quite acceptable. As the lens zoomed in most of the corners sharpened also.

At f/5.6 there is literally a jump in sharpness that is astounding. I'm used to lenses getting a bit better as the aperture is stopped down one stop at a time. With the Fuji 10-24mm them move from f/4 to f/5.6 produces a jump in sharpness that is absolutely astounding and will probably have all of us putting tape on our apertures to fix them to either f/5.6 or f/8.

I did this test because it is a similar situation to shooting landscapes where the focus is on a sweeping foreground. Here the focus point was placed as low as possible in the center of the frame. Download the high res sample images below.

You can tell from the test photo above that there is virtually no vignetting or rectilinear distortion. Achromatic distorting was almost non-existent also.

How does the 10-24mm zoom compare to a fixed focal length wide angle lens like the Fuji 14mm? In tests I did with the two lenses where the 10-24mm zoom was set to 14mm and f/4 it appears to deliver the same image sharpness right into the corners, as the 14mm lens at f/4, which is to say it is very sharp.

The Flatiron Building in NYC, one of my favorite test subjects for resolution because of the detailed mosaic work over the surface. Shot at f/4 at 15mm, it is tack sharp everywhere.  Click here to download a high res version.
Shot into the bright afternoon sun at 14mm and f/11 with the sun off towards the frame edge to cause maximum flaring.
An intentionally blurred 19mm tunnel shot hand held at 1.2 sec and f/7.1 taken with the X-E2.
Photographed at an ideal aperture of f/8 and 16mm focal length, it really doesn't get much better than this. Click here to download the high res file.
Other side of the Washington Square monument into the sun at 16mm and f/8.
A new art installation listing the names of 392,486 artists is located along the Hudson River. It is part of the Whitney 2014 Bienal, and titled "Artists Monument" by Tony Tasset. 
10mm at f/16. Things don't get any sharper than this. 


Conclusion:

I went into this test expecting many of the typical disappointments associated with super-wide angle zoom lenses -- corner softness, rectilinear distortion, heavy vignetting. Instead I came away with even more respect for the folks at Fujifilm for making such an excellent lens with virtually none of the aberrations that usually plague this breed of zoom. This truly is one of the best super-wide angle zooms I have even used, and well worth its modest price of $999.99.

An aperture of f/4 may not be ideal, but with the added feature of image stabilization allowing you to hand hold it at one shutter speed lower than usual, you pretty much regain the stop anyway. Plus for the type of work a lens like this will usually do it will be often on a tripod and stopped down.

When compared to the Fuji 14mm fixed focal length lens, the 10-24mm seems quite large. It did not seem to feel that way, however, even though I was using it on the smaller X-E2 camera. The package of camera and lens was quite comfortably balanced.

I am not sure I would own both the 10-24mm zoom and the 14mm lens. One or the other should be sufficient to cover the range. Nonetheless, it is nice to have the choice as the Fuji lens lineup continues to expand, and it is also nice to be able to make the choice based on size, price, and comfort rather than upon quality. Both lenses are equally superb, and literally best of breed at what they deliver.

With the X-E2 in 16:9 crop mode, this photo of the Flatiron Building was taken at 19mm and an exposure of 4.5 seconds in order to create the blurred lights of passing traffic.


If you are planning on purchasing this lens, you can help support this site at no extra cost to you by purchasing from one of our affiliate sellers listed below -- and thanks for your support.

The Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 Lens can be ordered from:  BH-Photo    Amazon
The Fujifilm XF 14mm f/2.8 Lens can be ordered from:  BH-Photo   Amazon

16 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review, but i have a question,

    I thinking about sale my D700 (24-70, 16-35, 80-200 and 50 1.4 G) to get the X-T1 (10-24 and 56 1.2)

    But I´m not sure which one to buy
    10-24 F4 or 23 1.4 + 14 2.8

    Can you give me any advice?

    Regards,

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  2. In terms of optical quality I think you'll be happy either way. It really depends on whether or not you need the faster apertures of the 23 and 14. The 14 is only one stop difference, but the 23 is a three stop difference, which is quite a lot. Since you are now using the 16-35 on your Nikon, it means you are accustomed to f/4 which casts a vote for the Fuji 10-24. I use the 16-35 on my Nikons. I think the Fuji 10-24 delivers better results.

    Later this year Fuji is coming out with f/2.8 zooms that will be similar to your Nikon 24-70 and 80-200. My guess is they will be taking 72mm filters, which would mean all of your filter sizes will be the same if you go with the 10-24.

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    Replies
    1. I realize this is an old thread/article, but I have a question regarding these two lenses.

      I'm in need of a wide angle zoom lens, and I'm considering the 16-35mm for my Nikon D600 or Fuji 10-24 for my X-T1. It is going to be used for landscapes.

      Weight aside - what would you recommend for the best possible image quality?

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    2. I have both of those lenses and can say that the Fuji 10-24 is definitely the better lens. It's optical performance is more up to the standard of Nikon's best wide angle zoom, the 14-24mm, but with out the rectilinear distortion of the Nikon lens.

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    3. Thanks. Exactly what I was hoping for :-) I'm reluctant to buy more big/expensive lenses for my DSLR as I see myself using the smaller camera more :-)

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  3. i have the 14 and 23, both very fast, but sometimes the 14 could be wider. so am contemplating selling both and getting this. but… the f4… hmmm… i have read elsewhere that you can handhold the 10-24 at super slow shutter speeds. other than the tunnel shot, have you tried 1/2 second or longer handheld shots?

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    Replies
    1. I'll give it a try with the slow shutter speeds tomorrow and let you know. - t

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    2. I got around to trying some hand held shots today down to 1/6sec, but mostly around 1/10th sec. I did the tests with and without the stabilizer turned on, and used the motor drive to avoid the camera shake that occurs the first time you press down on the shutter release. Excellent results. I was very surprised and quite pleased, especially because I purposely did not try too hard to steady myself.

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  4. Thanks for the answer Tom, i´m going with the 10-24 + 56 1.2

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  5. I think you'll be happy with both of them. I just did an entire beauty shoot today using only the 56mm f/1.4. It will be the subject of tomorrow's blog post.

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  6. Tom, if you could only have the 14mm or 10-24 which would you get? I'm primarily a portrait shooter.

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    Replies
    1. Honestly, it depends upon how much you need the variety of focal lengths offered by the zoom, and whether or not you are willing to sacrifice one f/stop for them. Both lenses are really sharp and distortion free. So its a toss-up in that regard. Another option, if you want a single focal length but need to go a little wider, is the Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8.

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  7. Hello Tom,
    What kind of sharpening was applied to the first picture (either in camera or in post processing)? The image looks very oversharpened to me, which makes the out of focus area look pretty terrible to me.
    Also, this lens had severe distortion at 15mm but this is ofcourse corrected in camera so you never notice it.

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    Replies
    1. I very, very rarely use sharpening on any of my photos, and didn't use any at all on the photos in this post. - t

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  8. Hey Tom, between the 10-24 and Zeiss Touit 12 2.8, which would you recommend? I'm leaning towards the fuji 10-24 as it gives 15mm on the X-E2 whereas the Zeiss would be 18mm, but the f2.8 and image quality of the Zeiss is very tempting.

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  9. Kevin - This is a really good question, one that I have been asking myself recently. I did an entire blog post on the response. You can read it here:

    https://aboutphotography-tomgrill.blogspot.com/b/post-preview?token=CzSLsEYBAAA.3Et7uyt7uebgBZdJzBN1AA.tAWYx9G3xsZDQ6BjBmiDhQ&postId=5591791993006961548&type=POST

    ReplyDelete