Autumn is the perfect time of year to photograph areas close to home, and especially here in the Peak District National Park. Over the years, I have visited my favourite woodlands in anticipation, every time with new eyes and ideas.
This year, the colours were especially bold and I was intrigued to head out to capture some wider perspectives with the new FUJINON XF10-24mmF4 R OIS WR.
An ultra-wide zoom lens tends to be a central part of the landscape photographers’ kit bag. The original XF10-24mm, which was released in the early days of the X Series, filled that role admirably. However, once the X Series bodies started to be weather sealed, there was a call for the same outdoor security with a lens covering the common 16-35mm (in 35mm format) range.
Enter the new release of this lens which now has that all important WR marking along with some other practical improvements.
Unboxing the lens, my initial thoughts were that it seemed to have shrunk from the lens I remembered owning before. It has been a few years since I owned the original 10-24mm, having instead opted for the XF14mmF2.8 R prime for its smaller size and weight. Yet in the hand, the new arrival felt much lighter than I remembered. Considering the optics remain the same and weather sealing has been added, it was a welcome surprise to save a few grams. Attached to my X-E3 which is one of the smaller bodies available, the lens felt perfectly balanced.
I loved the versatility of the lens, it allowed me to take several very different approaches to my surroundings as I walked through the misty woodlands. While the obvious instinct with having such a wide field of view is to fit more into a frame, I tried also to get closer to the trees and leaves and find their details. I love to incorporate textures and patterns alongside wider views and usually, I do that using the 35/60mm lenses to isolate small elements of the environment.
The optical image stabilisation has also been improved by 1.0 stop to 3.5 stops. OIS is one of the key benefits I see in this lens when shooting on a non-stabilised body like the X-E3. Of course, paired with the X-T4, the stabilisation jumps up to 6.5 stops, but on my trusty X-E3 I would be pushing those 3.5 stops as far as possible in my attempts not to have to manoeuvre a tripod around rocks and roots in the dense woodlands. I found shooting down to 1/40sec hand-held produced great results and I sometimes ventured as slow as 1/20 successfully with extra care.
The focal length, constant F4 aperture and filter thread diameter remains exactly the same as the original version. There is no extension on the lens as you move through the focal lengths meaning it works well with different types of filter attachments. Overall, users familiar with the previous incarnation will find themselves in familiar territory when they are out in the field and looking through the viewfinder.
Other upgrades are notable on the lens barrel itself, particularly to the aperture ring. Finally, in the same style as the recently released XF16-80mmF4 R OIS WR lens, there is no longer an OIS on/off switch, or a dedicated aperture auto switch.
Working with an ultra-wide angle allows you to get close in a different way, to show those details with more context in the same image. I enjoyed making images of the same tree in collections, with a wide view of the surroundings, a wide yet intimate view and then utilising the 24mm focal length a more abstract detail.
As you might be able to tell I enjoyed using this lens out in the field, but how about the final image quality?
The colours are particularly vibrant straight out of camera and the images have a natural contrast, both of which give a great starting point for processing the raw files.
Sharpness peaks when shooting focal lengths longer than 12mm and apertures between f/5.6 to f/8.0. Even fully extended to 24mm the images were impressively sharp. Having the ability to shoot at 10mm was refreshing and stimulating but there is a need to use it wisely and in the right conditions, otherwise zooming in a little will reward you in terms of image quality.
For those moving into or expanding their XF lens setup the 10-24mm would make a great pairing with the 16-80mm F4 lens as a simple travel setup. I think back to several recent trips including Japan and Nepal where I would have benefitted from the wider perspective available, but also having the OIS while being on the move.
It’s a lens that’s versatility can set you free to experiment with your surroundings, getting up close and shifting the perspective.