Table 87 Pizza, Jets, and Waves with the Fujifilm XF 16-80mm f/4

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Did you just tune in here for the pictures and pizza? If so, I will save you the trouble of reading the rest of the text by telling you that the Fujifilm XF 16-80mm f/4 R OIS WR lens is very good. Compact, sharp, light, beyond silent, and almost perfect; the lens is sure to make a lot of Fujifilm X shooters delighted.

So, what do we have with this new Fujinon lens? Let’s start with the specs:

The Fujifilm XF 16-80mm R OIS WR lens has the 35mm equivalent of a 24-120mm lens on a full-frame camera, making it an extremely versatile mid-range zoom that covers moderate wide angle, normal, portrait, and moderate telephoto focal length needs. The maximum aperture is a constant f/4 which, while it doesn’t have the light-gathering power of an f/2.8 lens, it does knock it a level faster than most standard kit lenses. At f/4, the lens can remain relatively compact and lightweight, especially compared to f/2.8 “pro” zooms. Additionally, the constant aperture allows Fujifilm to put a marked aperture ring on the lens and allows you to maintain the same aperture while zooming in or out—an advantage for filmmakers.

The year is 2019, so of course, the lens is packed with optical features including an extra-low dispersion aspherical element, three other aspherical elements, and Fujinon’s Super EBC (electron beam coating) on each element. The autofocus is, for all intents and purposes, silent. I am sure it makes some sort of noise—I mean, it has to, right?—but I honestly never heard it. I probably should have broken out a stethoscope to verify it was working, but the sharp images show that it was. The 9-bladed aperture diaphragm creates nice 18-point sunstars and rounded out-of-focus highlights. The lens is weather sealed and can operate in as cold as a frigid 14°F. Last, but certainly not least, the lens’s Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) has up to 6 stops of compensation and is smart enough to know when the camera is on a tripod or panning. Very impressive.

Now, let’s talk about the fun stuff: How it performs in the field and what I loved and didn’t love.

The biggest test for the lens was at Brooklyn’s delicious Table 87 Pizza, on Atlantic Avenue. Owner Timothy McDonald was nice enough to let me get in everyone’s way for a few hours of photographing amazing coal-fired pizzas and Italian specialties in the kitchen. A few things stood out to me when reviewing the images. First, the OIS system is fantastic. The inside of Table 87 is not super bright and, generally, when shooting at f/4 and smaller apertures, I would be worried about camera shake in the low-light environment. A review of the images showed that the OIS system was more than up to the challenge. Also, even at f/4, I felt like there was a respectable shallow depth of field rendering that was better than I expected. Oh, and I loved the pizza. It is delicious.

This is how beautiful and tasty pizza is made at Table 87 Pizza in Brooklyn, New York.

Another Internet reviewer noted that this was not a “Red Badge” Fujifilm zoom lens, but I honestly don’t know how the lens could be sharper. This lens is super sharp—so much that I didn’t feel a longing for more sharpness while editing the images. If you are a pixel-peeper (and you know who you are), please feel free to send me your bench-test data on this lens.

Italian delicacies are made in the kitchen at Table 87.

I took this lens across the Hudson to photograph what was supposed to be a flyover of the US Navy Blue Angels, US Air Force Thunderbirds, Royal Air Force Red Arrows, and tactical demo jets, prior to the New York Air Show. Unfortunately, the Blue Angels slept in and the formation(s) were way higher than I thought they would be—I planned on shooting the aircraft with the skyline as the background—but it was still a nice pair of very unique fly-bys. This is where I found my biggest issue with the 16-80mm lens: there is no on/off switch for the OIS. I learned many years ago that image stabilization, at least for me, does not work when photographing aircraft at speed. Even though this wasn’t a high-speed pass, I found a few images that showed evidence of motion blur despite very fast shutter speeds. That points to an OIS system interfering with my images. As much as image stabilization has helped legions of photographers, I will never forgive it for ruining a huge batch of air show images from years ago. I would have loved an on/off switch on this new Fujifilm lens.

Hudson Yards, the RAF Red Arrows, USAF Thunderbirds, and USAF F-35 and F-22 fighters are captured from Hoboken, New Jersey

I also grabbed some shots in the Hurricane Dorian-enhanced surf in Rhode Island before I put the camera away and went bodyboarding. I wandered into the water until I was cargo-shorts-pocket deep and captured a few breaking waves while taking on salt spray on my X-T3 and Fujifilm’s 16-80mm lens. My gear is insured, and I assumed Fujifilm’s was as well, plus; both the camera and lens are supposed to be weather sealed, right? Anyway, reviewing these images showed me how nicely sharp this lens is and, wandering into the ocean with it proved to me that it would make for a fantastic all-weather travel companion.

Where does the new lens fit into the Fujifilm X lineup? That’s a good question that I’ve just asked myself. Fujifilm’s XF “non-kit” kit lens has been the venerable (too soon?) XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS lens. Believe it or not, these two lenses are not much different in size and weight. The new 16-80 is only about 4.5 oz heavier than the older lens, it extends farther (obviously), and has a 72mm front thread instead of a 58mm thread. While the 18-55mm opens up to f/2.8, it is not weather sealed like the 16-80 and the newer lens’s OIS has a 2-stop advantage over the 18-55’s 4-stop stabilization. Speaking of weather sealing: kudos to Fujifilm for keeping this lens compact and light while adding the seals. A few other Fujifilm WR lenses experienced some, um, how should I say this? Well, they filled out nicely.

Unless you are needing the f/2.8 aperture at the wide-angle end of the zoom, the expanded focal length range, still manageable travel-friendly size/weight, exceptional OIS, and weather sealing might make the new Fujifilm XF 16-80mm f/4 lens the new go-to “non-kit” kit lens for the Fujifilm X line. This is a wonderful lens. Period.

2 Comments

It would be nice to know where this new lens is made?

I've heard it is made in China. If so, it's not worth considering!

The FUJIFILM XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS Lens, B&H # FU1855284, is manufactured in Japan.  The FUJIFILM XF 16-80mm f/4 R OIS WR Lens, B&H # FU168054, is manufactured in the Philippines.  All of the lenses are made to Fujifilm’s specifications and tolerances and under Fujifilm’s supervision, and include the same Fujifilm warranty, regardless of the country of manufacture.

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