A modern masterpiece.
I’m just gonna come right out and say it. This lens is a modern masterpiece. I adore this lens and would probably go so far as to say it’s my favourite of all the Fujifilm lenses. I won’t go into technical figures and talk about the way the lens is constructed blah blah blah because the only thing I’m ever interested in is the final image there are plenty of sites where you can look at this type of information if that’s what floats your boat. I’ve used this lens primarily for landscape photography but it has also saved my ass a few times when I’ve shot portraits and had very little space and light to work with. All the images featured in this blog were shot using the Fujifilm 16mm 1.4.
This shot in particular was for a local musician who wanted some shots for her album cover. It was literally a case of turn up to a venue and do the best that I could. The first venue let us down and we didn’t even get through the door. I think the person who was supposed to be letting us in got drunk the night before and couldn’t get out of bed. Then we had to make our way across Bristol to the second venue but the girls manager managed to lose his ticket for the car park. That delayed us for an hour until we could get hold of somebody to pay the fine for losing the ticket and lift the barrier. Arriving at the venue it was clear that I had my work cut out and only an hour and 30 minutes until we lost the use of the room. It was tiny and poorly lit so the 16mm 1.4 was my only option. It didn’t let me down and this shot was used for the album cover.
When I shot with a full frame system, I always favoured the 24mm focal length and the lens I always turned to was the Nikon 24mm 1.4. One of my main concerns when changing to the Fujifilm system was being able to replace this lens. When I got my hands on the 16mm 1.4 all those concerns vanished and I quickly fell in love with the sheer perfection of this lens.
What makes this lens great?
It’s super, super sharp, focuses super close and has the least amount of visible distortion of any wide angle lens that I have used. Add to that an aperture of f1.4 that produces super creamy bokeh and allows you to shoot in very low light and it makes for a hard lens to beat at any price. I use it for portraits, street photography and landscape photography and never fail to be impressed with the way in which it performs. It’s weather sealed as well so shooting in wet or dusty conditions isn’t a problem either.
I first used this lens with my X-Pro1 and made this photo. It’s still one of my favourite photos made with this lens and what started my love affair with it. It also cemented my decision to sell my Full Frame gear and move to the X-series cameras. I could even go as far as to say that if Fujifilm didn’t make this lens, I may not have made the switch.
The 16mm 1.4 performs really well in low light. I don’t use flash and prefer to use available light. This means pushing the ISO up so the larger the aperture that I have to work with the better. The shot below was made at the 2017 Bristol Balloon fiesta and was shot wide open at f1.4 at an ISO of 6400. The only available light was that from the balloons and the torch light from a phone behind me that lit up the young boys face.
Portrait photography is traditionally shot using a longer focal length like the 56mm 1.2 or 90mm f2. This isn’t to say you can’t use this lens for portrait photography though. Due to the lack of distortion it can make a great environmental portrait lens as proven above and as you can see in the example below if you get in really close you can get creative as well.
If you have been thinking about buying the 16mm 1.4 I would simply say stop thinking about it and buy it. This lens that will be sure to put a smile on your face when it is attached to your camera and may just be the most versatile lens that you ever buy.