This review will be fairly short because quite frankly, I wasn’t impressed with the Fujifilm 8-16mm (except for night photography). I wanted to love this lens, I really did. So much so that I probably came into this review biased that it was going to be amazing. I put it through its paces for a month (B&H sent this lens to me for review) trying all sorts of different subjects related to nature photography.
Is the Fujifilm 8-16mm good for Night Photography?
I’ll start off with the good news. The 8-16 is fantastic for night photography if you plan to do a lot of ultra-wide nightscapes with the Fujifilm system. At f/2.8 there is very little coma in the corners, but there is a fair amount of distortion which accentuates the star trails that are not apparent in the center of the frame.
This lens goes so wide that are not many lenses to compare it to. The only lenses that come close are the Rokinon 12mm f/2 or the Laowa 9mm f/2.8. I have the Rokinon and would not recommend it anymore, it’s impossible to get in focus and I have had this experience with several copies of the lens that I’ve helped clients use, I despise this lens. The Laowa seems like a good option, I have yet to try it, but from the reviews I have read it seems like a solid lens, although it has a lot of distortion.
My advice; if you’re on a budget and want to do a lot of extremely wide-field nightscapes, you may want to give the Laowa a try. If you have the money to spend, go for the Fujifilm 8-16.
Is the Fujifilm 8-16mm good for Landscape Photography?
Short answer: not really. Although I don’t use an ultra-wide all that much anymore since my photographic style has changed, I thought it would be fun to have this insanely wide lens in my bag for times I wanted that exaggerated foreground look. Sadly the distortion and softness on the edge of the frame at 8mm render it unusable for landscape photography. This is really disappointing because the center of the frame is so incredibly sharp.
I was able to achieve relatively sharp edges at 8mm by stopping down to f/22, but of course, this causes diffraction which takes away that incredible sharpness in the center of the frame. Below is an example of this at f/22. At first glance, it looks like a nice clean image, but when you look closer it’s not as impressive. It does produce a nice sunstar though!
Below is the center of the frame at 100% magnification. It’s decent, but the diffraction has taken away a fair amount of sharpness.
On the edge of the frame, you can really start to see the problem. It’s soft and stretched out from the distortion. This was even worse at f/8 and f/11, which is where you ideally want to shoot to get the sharpest image and avoid diffraction.
I thought it might be interesting to use this lens to create some unique small scenes that I’ve been obsessed with lately. So I gave it a try pointing straight down on this interesting shore of river rock. The extreme distortion made it immediately clear that I wouldn’t be attempting this again, it just looks…weird. After you crop out the stretched rocks your back down to 10mm, only with fewer megapixels than if you shot it at 10mm.
- Solid build – it’s a tank
- You won’t find anything wider that’s not a fisheye
- Very sharp edge to edge at 10-16mm
- Good for night photography, little coma
- Very heavy
- A bulbous front element, so you can’t use filters without a special adapter
- At 8mm the edges are soft and it has lots of distortion
- Do you really need to go this wide?
In the end, I decided this lens was just not for me. I’m not an ultra-wide kinda guy anymore, at least, not very often. I find the 10-24 lens to be much more suited to my style of photography as I can still use filters, it is lightweight, small, and still exceptionally sharp. If you’re considering an ultra-wide lens I would go for the 10-24 over the 8-16. This lens has its place, but I think they missed the mark for landscape photography.
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