The following review is taken from a video review I did for my YouTube channel, which included looking at sample images in Capture One. You can see the video at the bottom of this article
If like me, you love shooting wide angle landscapes then the Fuji XF8-16 f2.8 lens with weather sealing has probably been on your radar since it first appeared on the Fuji roadmap last year. I’ve been happily using the 10-24mm since I switched to Fuji about three and a half years ago, it’s my most used lens by a long way, so I’ve been wanting to have a look at this lens for while now and see if it can replace the 10-24mm as my go-to wide angle zoom.
So what is it that’s so appealing about this lens, Well, first of all 8mm is a really wide focal range, equivalent to 12mm on a full frame sensor, it’s the same kind of focal width that used to only be available with fish eye lenses, but this is a rectilinear lens with no distortion, which I’ll discuss later in the review.
The image above shows the difference between 8mm and 10mm and it’s quite considerable. It really does give you some extra options for wide angle landscapes, although such a wide field of view can also come with a few more complications when it comes to composition as so much more of the scene is included. However, if you love shooting wide angle then you’re probably already used to dealing with that anyway.
Of course, you also get a little less flexibility in terms of focal range; there’s an extra 2mm more at the wide end but lose 8mm at the long end as this lens only goes to 16mm and you lose the capacity to shoot at 24mm, a focal length I do often use - it’s great for stitched panoramas images for example. So if you do often find yourself shooting in that range and don’t already carry a mid range zoom like the 16-55 or 18-55 with you, you might have to add an extra lens to your kit to give you the coverage.
After the ultra wide focal range, the second thing that grabbed my attention about this lens was that it has a maximum aperture of f2.8, as opposed to f4 on the 10-24mm. For the vast majority of landscapes that I do this doesn’t matter at all, but when it comes to shooting stars and astro photography, that extra stop of light can really make a difference as it means you can shoot at a lower ISO, which is going to give you less noise in the image. At the moment I use the Laowa 9mm f2.8 pretty much as a dedicated astro lens, but the 8-16 has the extra bit of width and optically it’s better quality with less vignetting in the corner. Also there’s the fact that the Laowa is manual focus only, while the 8-16 works with the cameras autofocus, though for me that’s not a big deal as most of my focusing in landscape shots is manual anyway with focus peaking.
The final feature that interested me was the fact that, unlike the 10-24mm, this is a weather sealed lens. I’ve used the 10-24 for years in all kinds of conditions and it’s been quite seriously wet on more than one occasion and has yet to show any negative signs, but there’s no doubt that having a lens that’s classed as weather sealed does give you that extra peace of mind
The first thing you’re going to notice is that it’s a big lens…really big, and really quite heavy. It’s a shade over 800g, which is close to double the weight of the 10-24mm at 410grams, and you can see in the image below compared to the 10-24, it’s a considerably larger lens. In terms of size and weight it’s up there with many of the full frame wide angle zooms I’ve used, but there’s a reason for that, because this really is a pretty special lens.
Optically there’s no doubt that this is a really special lens, below is a download link for some full size RAW files to see the quality. Note, one of the images was taken with the 10-24mm to give a comparison with the 8-16mm. With these images you can see that that 8-16mm really starts to significantly outperform the 10-24mm in the borders, note on the right hand side how much sharper the 8-16mm image is.
I also noted that there is a complete lack of any distortion and the straight images of the lens, even right up against the edge of the frames, are completely straight with no curvature whatsoever..…there really does seem to be a little bit of magic to be able to bend the light from such an incredible wide angle onto a flat sensor with such a complete lack of distortion.
For my money it’s probably the best wide angle zoom lens I’ve used, it’s really sharp edge to edge and right into the corners and performs incredibly well, even at f2,8 however at the moment at least using filters is a problem. Since I made the video below I’ve found out that Lee Filters offer a 150mm filter holder that fits the lens, so while it can now take graduated filters, they have to be the larger 150mm ones. I don’t really use grads any more as I find it both easier and better to blend multiple exposures in Lightroom, but I do shoot quite a lot of long exposures with ND filters and it’s impossible to put an ND on to slow down exposures. If you don’t do long exposures then this isn’t an issue, but I regularly do them and having to use the bigger bulkier 150mm filters and filter holder to my kit alongside this bigger lens is a bit of a compromise and definitely something that reduces this lens ability to replace the 10-24mm.
Overall then, if you don’t mind the increased size and weight and the inability to use filters I’d say definitely get this lens. From it’s build construction to it’s incredible optical quality and it’s amazing field of view, this is an absolutely outstanding lens and one that will consistently blow you away pretty much every time you look through the viewfinder, and if you’re a wide angle junkie for landscapes or architecture, you’re really going to love it.