Compactness and size is one of the reasons the 16-55mm does not have image stabilization. It would have added much to the bulk and weight, not to mention the price. There has been a lot of vocal criticism of this missing feature, but both Nikon and Canon have gotten away with a lack of IS in their equivalent zooms for years. Image stabilization, while a welcome asset, is not as necessary on shorter lenses as it is on longer lenses where the longer focal lengths magnify the motion in proportion to their length. As I mentioned in my announcement of this lens, an old photographers rule of thumb is that it takes a shutter speed approximately equal to the focal length to be able to hand-hold a lens. With that dictum in mind, it would only take 1/25 second to safely hand hold a 24mm lens, but about 1/250 second to have the same hand-held control over a 200mm lens. Enough said on that point. This lens doesn't have OIS. If you require it, this lens is not for you.
What this lens does have is quality, both build quality and optical quality. Take a look at the lens kit I put together in the above photo. A truly excellent and still relatively compact outfit doesn't get much better than this and still deliver a fairly fast aperture of f/2.8 -- the 10-24mm excepted. I have been photographing with a similar triumvirate of zooms for decades, but never, until now, has the entire system been so good and so compact. OK, I realize these f/2.8 lenses are bulkier than the variable aperture Fuji zooms we've been using so far. But that is the trade off for a fixed, fast aperture lens. And still, it is still not as big and bulky a system as carting around an equivalent full frame DSLR.
|As a pro-lens the XF 16-55mm has an aperture ring with marked diaphragm stops. This is unlike Fuji's other lenses where the aperture ring is free tuning and selection is made on the viewfinder.|
As a member of Fuji's pro-level cameras, the 16-55mm has a weather resistant design with 14 sealing points. It also has nine rounded aperture blades as opposed to the seven blades on the other two similar zooms, the 18-55mm and 18-135mm lenses. The extra blades mean a rounder shape to the diaphragm as it closes, which in turn results in more pleasing bokeh effects.
The 16-55mm has an introductory price tag of $1199.95, which about double the other two Fuji zooms in this focal range, but still quite reasonable for a pro quality lens in this category.
|The larger X-Pro1 body is a more comfortable balance with a larger lens like the Fuji 16-55mm f/2.8. Looks really nice, too.|
|Autofocus is a quick, .06 seconds and nearly silent making it easier to track fast moving subjects like this air-borne skate-boarder.|
|Test shots such as this jpg taken at f/2.8 and 16mm show the lens to be very sharp extending even into the corners. It exhibits minimal distortion and vignetting at this aperture, and, of course, improves as it stops down towards the sweet spot of f/5.6 and f/8. Performance like this makes the lens a perfect choice for architectural and landscape photography. It is rare to find lenses of this consistent image quality, but Fuji seems to have mastered the knack of creating them. Download a high res sample of this image by clicking here.|
|Nano-GI coating lens elements keeps ghosting and flare to a minimum and maintains good subject detail even when pushing the limits by shooting directly into the sun in a clear, cloudless sky.|
|By extending to 55mm the lens gets us closer to a true portrait length and the constant f/2.8 aperture delivers a pleasing enough out-of-focus area behind the subject.|
|The 16-55mm can focus as close as 30cm at its widest setting of 16mm, and 40cm at 55mm -- not a record breaker, but respectable.|
The Fuji lens lineup has matured substantially by adding a professional 16-55mm f/2.8 mid-range zoom to its lineup. This substantially extends the choices available to photographers. There are now three zooms that cover a similar range, the 18-55mm f/2.8-f/4, and the do-everything lens, the 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 with 5-stop image stabilization. These are all good lenses with the 16-55mm being the best of breed in terms of optical quality, as is fitting a lens aimed at professional use.
The current crop of available lenses plus the new equipment due out over the course of the coming year make the Fuji mirrorless X-system truly an alternative to a pro-level DSLR system. I have already begun incorporating the X-T1 into shooting situations like lifestyle and travel. In fact I now often travel with only the X-T1.
This lens is not for everyone. Each of us will have to decide how it fits into our workflow. I will probably not acquire the 16-55mm f/2.8 for my own kit, but that is because I already have the 18-135mm for travel work, and because I still prefer to use a very high resolution full frame DSLR for landscape work. If I were a wedding photographer depending only upon a Fuji equipment kit, I would add this lens to the mix for its high resolution and fast aperture. Same would be true if I only used a Fuji X camera for lifestyle or landscape photography.
Most importantly, the 16-55mm lens and its longer brother, the 50-140mm f/2.8 extend the Fuji accessory range to cover a broader range of uses and choices. This is the mark of a truly professional system, one that Fuji appears intent on pursuing. Extensive lens support is a pre-requisite of any pro camera system intending to cover the myriad subjects and needs of individual photographers. Hats off to Fuji for realizing that and doing something about it.
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