07.18.2019 Chris Upton

FUJINON XF16-80mmF4 R OIS WR impressions

Chris Upton

Chris Upton is a travel, landscape and social documentary photographer from Nottinghamshire, UK. He is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and is proud to be an official Fujifilm X Photographer. Chris’s great passions in life are travel and photography. He has travelled widely and finds it an amazing experience to observe and photograph a variety of cultures, people, and landscapes. His hope is that through his photographs he can bring a little of this to the viewer and inspire others to experience the beauty and diversity of the world for themselves.
In 2016, Chris presented a major social documentary project recording the closure of Thoresby Colliery, the last pit in Nottinghamshire, to widespread critical acclaim. He also published a book, Thoresby: The End Of The Mine, to accompany the exhibition.
Chris’s work is sold internationally and has been published in numerous magazines and books. He has held several major solo exhibitions and was invited to exhibit at the prestigious Masters of Vision Exhibition of Photography at Southwell Minster in 2009, 2011 and 2013.
Chris loves to share his knowledge and he lectures around the UK and runs a variety of workshop events.

There is no subject guaranteed to prompt more discussion than the question of “what’s in my bag” and perhaps none more so than in the world of travel photography.
With weight being a critical factor it means that our lens selection comes under rigorous scrutiny. If only there was a small, lightweight, all round FUJINON lens capable of capturing the majority of shots. Well now there is, enter the new XF16-80mmF4.

As a travel photographer I had waited impatiently for this lens and was delighted to be asked to put this lens through its paces.

This super versatile lens covers an excellent focal range from 24mm to 120mm in 35mm format equivalent. Whether you are shooting stills or video this range has you covered. Great for shooting landscapes, architecture, street, portraiture and more.

My first impressions were very positive, impressed by the small size and light weight (440g) of this lens, reassuringly well built and, with its metal body, feeling typically robust. It sits on the X-T3 perfectly.

Comparing the size to other XF lenses the XF16-80mm fits in between the XF18-55mm and XF16-55mm and features a 72mm filter thread. If you use the smaller filter systems they fit very well with this lens though I found there was some vignetting when using the front mounted polarizing filter (on my 2 slot holder) between 16-21mm.

A constant F4 aperture means that whatever focal length you choose the lens will let in lots of light up to its widest aperture of F4. The aperture ring features 1/3 stop clicked increments and the focusing ring rotated very smoothly.

Hugely impressive 6 stops of Optical Image Stabilization means that you can hand hold at lower shutter speeds without needing to resort to a tripod, great for shooting indoors, at twilight or for those many places where tripods are banned. However, when you need to use a tripod, the lens automatically switches the OIS off which saves me having to remember having to do this manually.

The closest focusing distance is only 35cm across the entire zoom range, perfect for achieving those dreamy backgrounds.

You needn’t worry about “rain stopping play” either as the comprehensive weather sealing means you’ll not miss a shot when you’re caught in a shower. When combined with the X-T3 you have the perfect kit for outdoor shooting.

Of course all the benefits of such a lens mean nothing if the Image Quality doesn’t stack up. However you needn’t worry as I found the quality to be similar to the excellent XF18-55mm. On my pre production model, the images were impressively sharp between F5.6 and 16 at most focal lengths. Performance at 80mm was good especially at F5.6 and F8. There was some slight darkening in the corners at 16mm but nothing that concerned me and is easily removed in post processing, though I normally add some slight dark vignette anyway! At F4 the bokeh was smooth and very pleasing especially when zoomed to 80mm where it compared closely to my XF16-55mm at 55mm and F2.8. The lens also displayed impressive distortion control when shooting architecture at wider focal lengths due to its Aspherical design. The Super EBC coating designed to significantly reduce flare and ghosting worked well even when shooting directly into the sun.

The only minor gripe is that the lens is not internal focusing meaning that as you zoom from wide to telephoto the barrel extends. This point isn’t a deal breaker and it’s probably a measure of how good the lens is for me to nitpick this issue.

Of course the XF16-80mm isn’t your only choice for a travel lens. Options would be the superb XF18-55mm, the XF18-135mm which for me both fall short with their more limited wider focal length or the stunning XF16-55mmF2.8 which is larger, heavier and offers no image stabilization.

So what’s my verdict? This lens ticks all the boxes for a great, versatile, travel lens delivering quality images. It certainly means that decision of which lenses to pack is suddenly made a whole lot easier.