Is the Fujifilm 16-80mm f/4 OIS the right lens for your needs? Who should think about purchasing it? Can it satisfy beginners? Professionals? Everyone in between?
That’s what this article is all about.
For weeks, I’ve been testing the Fujifilm Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4 OIS.
And now I’m ready to share my conclusions.
So if you want to find out how this lens performs…
Fujifilm 16-80mm f/4: Overview
On the surface, the Fujifilm 16-80mm f/4 is an all-purpose lens that can do pretty much everything.
- An excellent focal length range, stretching from wide to standard to (slight) telephoto (24-120mm on a Fujifilm APS-C camera)
- Fujifilm’s image stabilization technology (OIS), promising up to 6 stops of extra sharpness
- A well-built, weather-sealed body with relatively compact dimensions
- A fixed f/4 aperture, which can’t offer the same low-light or bokeh capabilities as an f/2.8 lens, but is still decently wide
- 0.25x (1:4) magnification
- A reasonable $800 USD price tag
Put all this together, and you’ve got a lens that should be able to find its way into the kits of landscape photographers, architectural photographers, street photographers, walkaround photographers, and travel photographers alike (and can even work for the occasional close-up shot!).
But all-purpose lenses like these tend to fail in a couple of ways.
First, they’re often optically mediocre, especially on the extreme ends of their focal length range.
Second, they’re sometimes slow to focus, which immediately takes them off the table for street photographers, and can be a big issue for travel and walkaround photographers, as well.
So does the Fujifilm 16-80mm f/4 suffer from these same issues?
Well, I’m happy to report that it does not. And while I’ll go more into the details later, I’m prepared to argue that the 16-80mm is one of the absolute best all-around lenses out there, and combines impressive value with fantastic photographic capabilities.
It’s not that the lens doesn’t have any drawbacks; pretty much all lenses, especially sub-$1000 lenses, do! But the Fujifilm 16-80mm offers remarkable quality given the price (and will even satisfy both amateurs and professionals).
Let’s take a closer look.
Fujifilm 16-80mm f/4: Build and handling
Right out of the box, the Fujifilm 16-80mm feels solid, but not in an annoyingly heavy tank sort of way. It’s just under a pound (0.97 lb/440 g), which is light enough for long days of shooting even when lots of travel is involved. You have a mix of metal and plastic on the body, and a nice, tactile zoom ring smack-dab in the middle of the barrel:
Below the zoom ring is the aperture ring, which fits nicely with Fujifilm’s old-school style and feels great. Above the zoom ring is the focus ring, which is a bit smaller and fast to focus than I’d like, but still very serviceable.
One of the great things about the 16-80mm f/4 is its size. At 16mm, the lens is under 4 inches (10 cm) long and fits firmly in one hand, so you can store it easily in a camera bag or backpack.
And even when zoomed out to 80mm, it feels relatively unobtrusive, which is nice for street photographers hoping to move through crowds unnoticed.
As I mentioned above, the manual focus ring is smoother than I’d like (there’s no real stiffness, at least not on my copy), which is a shame, given how the lens boasts 1:4 magnification for close-up shots on the fly. But the focus ring isn’t bad, and should be fine for casual macro shots.
And I haven’t even mentioned the weather sealing. Honestly, this feels like icing on the cake, and is especially important for street and landscape photographers, who shoot in all sorts of conditions and need a lens that can withstand a bit of water.
(Of course, you’ll want to make sure that you’re also using a weather-sealed body, such as the all-around awesome Fujifilm X-T4!)
Finally, one of the real bonuses on the 16-80mm is the image stabilization. This is a lifesaver in so many situations, from close-ups to low-light street shooting to handheld landscape photography and more (though the exception is photography of fast-moving subjects, where you’ll probably want to opt for a lens with a wide maximum aperture, instead).
Fujifilm 16-80mm f/4: Autofocus and focal length
I tested the Fujifilm 16-80mm on the Fujifilm X-T4, and focusing speeds were stellar; the lens was snappy in good light and still pretty strong in low light. I’d expect a slight drop in focusing speeds as you work with other cameras in the Fujifilm lineup, but I can say, without a doubt, that I was happy with the 16-80mm’s performance.
If you’re shooting street-style photos, this fast focusing is essential. And you’re also going to appreciate the 16-80mm’s speed if you grab the occasional action shot while doing walkaround or travel shooting.
That said, the Fujilm 16-80mm doesn’t really scream fast-paced action, so if you’re looking for some sort of wide sports lens or fast lens for indoor events, I’d suggest going elsewhere. This is thanks to the f/4 maximum aperture, which really isn’t going to get you the shutter speeds you need when shooting fast-moving subjects in low light.
On the whole, however, the Fujifilm 16-80mm f/4 autofocuses very well, and won’t let you down when it comes to capturing the occasional action shot.
In terms of focal length, I absolutely love the 16-80mm range on a crop-sensor camera. You can shoot landscapes at the wide end, zoom in for portraits, and zoom all the way to 80mm for longer street shots.
In fact, I’d argue that the 24-120mm focal length equivalent is one of the best focal length ranges available, especially compared to the standard 16-55mm kit-lens focal length range, which does well on the wide lens but just doesn’t offer that extra bit reach for travel and street scenarios.
Fujifilm 16-80mm f/4: Image quality
When I buy a lens, image quality is my greatest concern.
Because I don’t care if a lens is lightning-fast and is a dream to handle if it can’t deliver sharp images in key scenarios.
Fortunately, I can confirm that the Fujifilm 16-80mm does extremely well optically. At f/4, sharpness is excellent at the center of the frame at all focal lengths, though it does fall off toward the edges of the frame, especially at the focal length extremes (i.e., 16mm and 80mm).
That said, edge sharpness is still good at f/4 when shooting in the 30mm to 50mm arena, and edge sharpness improves across the board when you stop the lens down to f/5.6 and beyond (which is really where things start to count for landscape and other detail shooters, anyway).
All in all, you’re going to love the resolution that this lens can provide. You get gorgeous results in the center of the frame, and very good results at the edges when stopped down, which will be enough for most photographers, including professionals.
Now, the f/4 maximum aperture isn’t great for low-light shooting. You’re going to want an f/2.8 lens if you plan to shoot indoor events, and you’ll probably also want f/2.8 if you plan to do any astrophotography.
The f/4 maximum aperture is also a problem for portrait photography, where the goal is often to achieve a creamy background blur combined with a sharp subject; at f/4, the blur is nice, but not outstanding (as pictured below).
Who should buy the Fujifilm 16-80mm f/4?
The Fujifilm 16-80mm f/4 is, simply put, an outstanding lens.
It offers the focal length, build quality, autofocus speed, and image quality to be taken seriously by professional landscape and street shooters. It’s also a fantastic walkaround or travel option, given its light weight and compact size, especially when attached to Fujifilm’s smaller camera bodies.
At $800 USD, the lens doesn’t come cheap. But the price is far from unreasonable when you consider everything it offers.
So who should purchase this lens?
Pretty much anyone looking for an all-purpose lens who can afford the price tag. The Fujifilm 16-80mm f/4 also does well at street photography, travel photography, walkaround photography, and handheld landscape shooting, and while I wouldn’t recommend it as a primary portrait or macro lens, you can still get some use out of it in both of these genres.
So I absolutely recommend you check it out; the lens is available for $799 USD here!