At the beginning of the summer Fuji Canada was kind enough to lend me two lenses: The Fujinon 16-55mm f/2.8, and the Fujinon 50-140mm f/2.8.
I was very interested in these two lenses for several reasons:
- I am primarily a portrait / street / landscape & cityscape photographer, who uses prime lenses for 90% of his shooting.
- I switched to Fuji very early in the X series, and have three of the first generation Fujinon zoom lenses (the 10-24mm, the 18-55mm, and the 55-200mm). These lenses are all optically brilliant (I especially love the 10-24mm), but under certain circumstances are occasionally a little slow to focus.
- I started shooting weddings and events this summer, and wondered about the ability to put together a “do everything” event bag that is easily carried and offers no compromises in terms of autofocusing and image quality.
Over the summer I used these lenses on several professional shoots (a wedding, a live band gig, a musician’s portrait shoot, and a cosplay shoot), and also at a day out at a local bird sanctuary with my daughter.
The long and short of this review is that you absolutely can build a no compromise professional bag based around these lenses. One that is small, portable, and offers outstanding image quality.
Here is the kit I put together:
In that photo you can see the:
- Fuji X-T1
- Fuji X-T10
- Fujinon 16-55mm lens
- Fujinon 50-140mm lens
- Fuj MCEX-16 Macro Extension Tube
- Nissin i40 Flash
- Extra batteries and Cards
And here is that kit packed into my well worn Think Tank Photo Retrospective 5 messenger bag:
Selling Point – The Price!
Before we look at some specs and images I think it is important to look at the cost of that bag. Here are the prices from Amazon.com as of September 27th, 2015:
- Fuji X-T1 – body only: $1,199.00
- Fuji X-T10 – body only: $699.00
- Fujinon 16-55mm lens: $1,199.00
- Fujinon 50-140mm lens: $1,598.95
- Fuji MCEX-16 Macro Extension Tube: $99
- Nissin i40 flash: $269.00
- Batteries and cards: approximately $200
- Think Tank Photo Retrospective 5 bag: $144.75
- TOTAL –> $5,408.70 (pre-tax and shipping)
Cheap? Well, price is relative of course:
If you were just getting started today that is a professional 2 body kit (with both bodies sharing the same sensor), that has a constant f/2.8 from 16-140mm (an equivalent focal length of 24-210mm), has a macro option, has extra light and accessories, all for USD $5,408.70 pre-tax.
Price that out against a similarly spec’d DSLR kit and you will see that it is a VERY cost effective kit.
These are already well documented, so I’ll just link to Fuji Canada’s website for those of you who are into the numbers:
IMAGE QUALITY AND USABILITY:
Numbers are one thing, but let’s get to the good stuff. What do images from these lenses look like?
My first opportunity to use them came at a concert I photographed for a well known band here in Vancouver:
Those are just fine for my tastes. I love the depth of field, they are tack sharp, and the colour rendition is spot on.
My next opportunity to use these lenses came on my trip to the local bird sanctuary with my daughter. See that photograph at the top of the post? It is one frame out of a series I shot in continuous high mode:
Every frame in the sequence was tack sharp. The autofocus on the 50-140mm is fast. Very fast.
But, what about the 16-55mm? From my experiences it is just as sharp, and just as beautiful. Here are three frames from a portrait session with a local musician:
And, here is a frame from a cosplay shoot:
That image is shot at f/22 to underexpose the bright summer sky, and the subject is lit with off camera flash to camera left. I am shooting directly into the sun and there is no loss of contrast. Awesome.
Finally, here are a few from a wedding I shot in August so you can see these lenses used for event or wedding photography:
Are there any downsides?
It is funny to think about how life has changed for many photographers since mirrorless technology has come into the mainstream. We are spoiled now with tiny cameras and lenses that deliver the image quality we were used to from our SLR / DSLR days.
When these new lenses came out from Fuji there were people who complained that they were too large. Are they bigger than a 35mm f/1.4 prime lens? Sure, of course they are…. the laws of optics still come into play when you are trying to have f/2.8 throughout the focal length. Having said that, you only need to put them side by side with comparably spec’d DSLR f/2.8 zoom lenses to realize they are much smaller and lighter.
Each individual mirrorless shooter will need to decide what gear they want to pack. Readers of this site will know that I am all about bringing the minimum gear you need to get the job done. If your needs include having constant wide apertures throughout the focal length, fast autofocusing, and weather sealing these lenses are purpose built for you.
The only other thing I noticed during the first dance at the wedding was that the 16-55mm struggled once or twice to lock focus in the dark reception hall. I can’t say this is unique to this lens, however, as this was a common occurrence with my DSLR gear too.
I have written extensively about the gear I use in other parts of this website. The reality is that I am already well set (X100t for street and day to day, 10-24mm for landscapes and cityscapes, 35mm and 56mm for portraiture, and the 55-200mm for those rare trips out where I need something long), but as I move more into the world of event and wedding photography I have to say that these two professional level zooms are very attractive.
They both have outstanding build quality, fast autofocus, offer a constant f/2.8 zoom throughout the range (which is fabulous for low light), and are cost effective compared to their DSLR counterparts.
There was a day not so long ago when people could rightfully say “I’d switch to mirrorless, but lens “X” is not available”, or “I shoot sports and the autofocus isn’t good enough”. In just a few short years I have seen companies like Fuji fill these gaps with new technologies, and even new firmware updates for older existing products. The reality is there are many professional shooters using nothing but mirrorless gear now, and the Fujinon 16-55mm and the Fujinon 50-140mm provide yet another option for mirrorless shooters working in the professional photography world.
That is an awesome thing.