The Fujinon XF16-55mm f2.8 R LM WR sits on the top rung of Fujifilm’s X-mount quality ladder. If you’re upgrading from Fujifilm’s 15-45mm kit lens, another appealing option is the mid-priced XF18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS XF, also available as a kit lens. It’s very nicely engineered, features weather-seals and a control ring, while also retaining an optical stabilizer. However, it still has a variable aperture rating and, in our tests, sharpness proved good rather than great. At four times the price of the 15-45mm, the constant-aperture 16-55mm f/2.8 ‘red badge’ zoom is the pick of the crop.
Mount: Fujifilm X
Image stabilisation: No
Lens construction: 17 elements in 12 groups
Angle of view: 83-29 degrees
Diaphragm blades: 9
Minimum aperture: f/22
Minimum focusing distance: 0.3-0.4m
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.16x
Filter size: 77mm
There’s something of a feast of high-tech features packed into this lens. The autofocus system is driven by dual linear stepping motors for super-fast operation in stills, and smooth transitions during movie capture. The fast f/2.8 aperture rating remains constant throughout the zoom range, and narrower apertures come courtesy of a well-rounded 9-blade diaphragm. As with other Fujinon ‘R’ lenses, this one boasts a physical aperture control ring, although it can’t be ‘de-clicked’ for stepless operation when shooting video.
Optical highlights include three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements which help to enhance clarity and minimize chromatic aberrations. Three aspherical elements are also included. Fujifilm’s Nano-GI (Gradient Index) coating is on hand to suppress flare and ghosting, the effectiveness further boosted by HT-EBC (High Transmittance Electron Beam Coating) being applied to every element in the optical path.
The lens lacks an optical image stabilizer, as fitted to various other Fujinon X-mount lenses, but that’s not uncommon with f/2.8 standard zooms. So long as you can keep camera-shake at bay, sharpness is mostly very good indeed, while color fringing is only noticeable at short focal lengths and distortion is a non-issue. There’s also very little vignetting, even when shooting wide-open at f/2.8, throughout the zoom range.
We run a range of lab tests under controlled conditions, using the Imatest Master testing suite. Photos of test charts are taken across the range of apertures and zooms (where available), then analyzed for sharpness, distortion and chromatic aberrations.
We use Imatest SFR (spatial frequency response) charts and analysis software to plot lens resolution at the center of the image frame, corners and mid-point distances, across the range of aperture settings and, with zoom lenses, at four different focal lengths. The tests also measure distortion and color fringing (chromatic aberration).
There’s a dip in wide-open sharpness at mid-zoom settings but overall it’s very good in the central area of the image frame and holds up pretty well at the edges.
Color fringing can be noticeable towards the edges and corners of the image frame at the shortest focal length setting but quickly dies away as you extend through the zoom range.
Helped by automatic firmware corrections, levels of distortion are very negligible throughout the zoom range, generally with minimal barrel distortion switching to minor pincushion at the long end.
This APS-C format standard zoom for Fujifilm X-mount mirrorless cameras isn’t overly big and heavy and build quality, handling and image quality are all pretty epic, as you’d expect from one of Fujifilm’s ‘red badge’ best of breed lenses. Combining an effective zoom range 24-84mm with a fast and constant f/2.8 aperture, it’s highly versatile and takes everything in its stride from landscape photography to portraiture.
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