Seeing life with a more wide angle of view is not rare thing but for many it may be a photographic higher challenge compare to the more selective view of a telephoto lens. Yes there is already a lot of landscape (nature or urban) aficionados around the world that are producing striking pictures so, why limit the use of a wide angle lens to that specialized purpose?
I have been a long time an adept of wide angle lens that offer an angle of view of 84 degree or even more. The 84 degree image perspective can be translate in different formats by the 12mm focal length into MFT (Micro Four Third) or by a 16mm in APS-C or by a 24mm lens in 24 X 36mm sensor size. All those optics are usually original (not stretched from the so-call normal ones) design with their own technical specifications. There are less available and usually more expensive compare to other lenses that have a more narrowed angle of view.
In APS-C image sensor format (17 X 24mm approx.), the Fujifilm line-up is well represented by a couple of 16mm models and even an interesting 14mm lens. The latest Fujinon XF16mm F2.8 R WR has captivated my attention by its compactness and its weather resistant characteristic. As for many Fujinon WR F2 lens models (23mm, 35mm, 50mm), the 16mmF2.8 is a natively less intimidating optic because of its small size. Combine with a compact APS-C camera, you can do spontanious photography and you can easely carry the camera-lens combination all day around.
The “spacious” lensTelephoto lenses are renown for their compression effect between the foreground and the background surrounding the main subject. Wide-angle lenses have just the opposite effect by “decompressing” the subject and allowing a virtual increase of the perceived space between all the elements composing the picture that will be register. So this is not really how you actually seing the image with your naked eyes but in term of angle of view it represent more your total pictural perception of the scene.
This is particularly true when you are tempting to embrase “larger than life” subject such as landscapes, urban-scapes or interior-scapes. It is true also for larger subject taken in short distances such as groups of objects or of people. Because of this larger view emphasis, we have to be careful of the impact of all the elements included in the final picture. Working with a wide angle lens require a very special attention of our image composition. It is like doing a painting fresque each time n particular when your subject is rich in several details. Or if the subject is more plain, we have to pay attention of the graphical arrangement that will be choosen.
The Fujinon XF 16mm F2.8 R WR is a prime lens that have got its own signature. It is not a previsible optic that doesn’t need to be really mastered before using it successfully. Many photographers outside their landscape needs will avoid using wider angle lenses. It is a pity because the wide lenses have the virtue of their compactness and the ability of using it much closer to the main subject. But a wide angle lens will be less forgiving if you dont care about your level position for example because tilting the lens is provoking a rapid shift of the horizontal and vertical direction lines. To help us, the Fujifilm X-mount camera models (as for many others maker digital camera models) have incorporated an optional electronic level that will appears into our viewfinder or our viewing back screen.
The deep of field critical elementThe importance of deep of field (DoF) optical effect is a constant subject of debates over the “photo” web. Some are praying to get the optimal good quality DoF in order to realize panoramic photography. Others just want to narrow it for the portrait purpose and be sure to “artistically” blur the foreground and the background (mainly). So what is happening when you are using the Fujinon XF 16mm F2.8 R WR lens. As many wide angle optics you have the sensation of an extended deep of field which in fact it is not really the case. For a specific focus (distance) point and aperture selected, the DoF will work the same way for the distance range whatsoever the lens focal length you have chosen.
So knowing those facts, the wide angle lenses seem to give you more DoF may be because of the illusion of seing smaller many elements composing your picture especially in the background area.
Physical attributes of the Fujinon XF 16mm F2.8 R WRBy definition the Fujinon XF 16mm F2.8 R WR is a short lens. Short in term of focal lenght but also physically short in size and lightweight. The aperture ring is located the standard Fuji X-mount way with click 1/3 stop and an “A” (for automatic diaphragm ajustement) which is located at the end of the f/stop scale but without any security lock button. The thin focusing ring is at the front but still manageable. A plastic dedicated lens hood is furnished with the lens which is always appreciated. Overall built finition follow the higher Fujifilm standards and the lens is proclaimed weather resistant.
Close-up with a 16mm?Will we prevent ourselves to do close-subject photography with a wide angle optic? Many may pretend this is the case considering the particular perspective rendering of this type of lenses. In a sens it is a pity to not experimenting the very particular way of seing that offers the use of a wide angle lens. I wont say that the Fujinon Xf 16mm F2.8 R WR lens is a very intuitive optic to operate in the very short distance from your subject but the results can be surprisedly intriguing and artistic. For example the apparent extended deep of field (DoF) will allow you to include in focus surrounding (graphics) elements that can enhance your main subject.
In BriefThe Fujinon XF 16mm F2.8 R WR lens can be rightly seen as a competent urban optic but that said, that must not prevent ourselves to use it in many other photographic exterior and interior situations. Its compactness will allow you to bring it with discretion and efficiency. More you will experiment the 16mm, more you will appreciate its original perspective by creating less previsible pictures. At this price point and considering its construction and optical quality, you should fully enjoy it.
(First published in November 2019, Revised in July 2021)