Living with the Fujinon 16mm f/1.4 Lens

In the fall of 2022 I added the 16mm f/1.4 lens to my lineup. I had great expectations for this lens, given my experience with the Fujinon 56mm f/1.2. In most areas, I was not disappointed.

The lens is capable of very nice sharp detail, even in a near-macro sort of mode, due to its very short minimum-focus capability. At the same time, it can shoot an excellent 24mm equivalent field of view – a “wider” angle view, somewhat reduced by the crop factor of 1.5. For my taste, 24mm is about as wide as I want to go, anyway. I’m rarely shooting panoramic landscapes, rather I’m much more likely to be shooting family outings and less broad nature scenes.

One area where the 16mm does not keep pace with the 56mm is low light photography. The f/1.4 wide open aperture of the 16mm seems close to the f/1.2 aperture of the 56mm, but in actual usage the difference seems bigger.

The 16mm seems to perform more closely to the Zeiss f/1.8 lens that I have in my current trifecta, at least when doing substantially dim light photography. The impression I have about the two lenses in this comparison does not stem from any technical measurements, but instead comes from my experience while post processing batches of photos from each lens. It seems that the low light shots from the Zeiss are about as labor intensive to color-correct as are the ones from the Fuji, when shooting conditions include very low/dim light.

This may also be a comparison that is affected by the spectrum of light I have had available to me in some of the batch runs. Very narrow spectrum light is a real chore to color correct in post, and relative to that endeavor the 16mm f/1.4 seems closer to the Zeiss f/1.8 than to the 56mm f/1.2. Since I do a fair amount of low light photography, the 56mm remains my favorite for this purpose. Given better lighting conditions, the two beasts become almost equal for me.

From my perspective, in good lighting conditions, the 16mm is somewhat superior to the Zeiss, as the former clearly shows (in my opinion) – a greater resolving power than the latter.  This makes sense, because some of the Fuji crop sensor lenses are actually full frame lenses, which explains why they are so big.  Using a full frame lens in a crop sensor lens mount setup causes the lens to grab the best resolving part of the lens: the center part.  I think the 16mm is in this category, but am not sure.