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Fujifilm 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR For Wedding Photography | Just Take My Money Already

By Hanssie on March 20th 2015

Now that Anthony has defected to the dark side (aka switched from Fuji to Sony), I get to test out all the new Fuji lenses. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing – a good thing, because I get to do my own ‘try before I buy’ and a bad thing, because the quality that Fuji has been putting forth in their new lens offerings means that when I try, I want to buy. In fact, I’ll spoil the ending of this for you before you read much more; I’ve already placed a request to our B&H rep to keep this review lens. Hooray for more credit card debt.

When Anthony handed me the Fujifilm 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR at WPPI a few weeks ago, I think I may have squealed in delight. He hadn’t made his switch to Sony yet, but he happened to have an extra review copy of the lens and since he’s a nice guy (and I begged – i.e. threatened him within an inch of his life), he let me have one of them to play with.

Fuji-Dave-kai-piper

Fuji 18-55mm next to the 16-55mm Photo Credit: Dave Kai Piper

Size Matters

The first thing I noticed about the XF16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR was the size. It is quite a bit larger than its predecessor, the Fuji 18-55mm “kit” lens. I had just photographed my first wedding with my new Fuji gear and borrowed the 18-55mm because the 16-55 hadn’t shipped yet. The results from the 18-55 were underwhelming. Granted, it was a difficult wedding – stressful, way behind schedule and very little light and the 18-55 did not handle the low light well at all. The image quality was muddy and dull. It’s also half the price of the new 16-55mm, so it’s not even fair to compare the two lenses.

The newXF16-55mm F2.8  is roughly the same size as my old Canon 24-105mm lens. I loved my 24-105, and despite its limitations, it was on my camera 90% of the time. To totally complete my new Fuji kit, I needed something similar – or rather, something like the Canon 24-70mm, a lens that I had always wanted, but never had the chance to get.

The size of the 16-55mm is both a good and a bad thing. Like many DSLR refugees, one reason I made the switch was because my shoulders were tired of lugging the weight of a DSLR kit. The XF16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR is solid and seems a bit large on my little X-T1 body, but not so much that it’s awkward. The lens is almost a pound and a half and uses large 77mm front filters, but the weight still was a non-issue with the X-T1 being so tiny. One might consider purchasing the battery grip though to balance things out.

Fuji-16-55-wedding-review-6

Image Quality & Performance

When Fuji announced this lens, I was hoping that it would be a good replacement for my beloved Canon 24-105mm and it is. Using it for my second X-T1 wedding, I immediately noticed how fast it was and the photographer I was second shooting for commented how quiet the lens was, and indeed, it was virtually silent. (Note, he is a Canon user and totally thought I was crazy for switching to Fuji).

The focal length of the 16-55mm is equivalent to about 24-84mm on a full frame sensor and it has a constant 2.8 aperture. It has 14 points of weather sealing which isn’t really a big selling point here in sunny Southern California (and yes, I’m totally bragging to you East Coast readers), but for the handful of rainy days we have, it’s nice to know my camera is safe. One thing that might cause someone to pause, is that this lens does not have image stabilization. Unless you’re shooting a lot of video, in which case you probably don’t own the X-T1 anyway, the lack of image stabilization is practically a non issue.

The images were sharp from edge to edge and beautifully so; it wasn’t just because this second wedding was outside, on a gorgeous day with perfect lighting and a beautiful couple either. The 16-55mm locked in on my subjects quickly and seamlessly, the images produced were crisp and clean. No distortion to be seen anywhere.

The lens just felt right. It was the easiest wedding I’d ever photographed.

Sadly, I am not able to show you many images from this wedding, as we are under an NDA, but I was able to get permission to post a few images from the day.

Fuji-16-55-wedding-review-3

Wedding-Fuji-16-55

Fuji-16-55-wedding-photography3 Wedding-Fuji-16-55-1

Conclusion

This lens is the one I’ve been waiting for. Along with the Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Lens and the Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2 R Lens, I have the complete kit I need for my wedding photography. In fact, for this wedding, I took the 16-55 off my camera only one time. I was able to use that one lens for almost the entire 6 hour wedding.

The price tag comes in at $1200, which being used to Canon’s sticker shock, is not bad at all. If you’re on a budget and are looking at the $600 18-5mm “kit” lens, I highly recommend that you dig through your couch cushions and sign off on your first born for the 16-55mm instead.  This will be my go to lens from now on and is worth every penny, in my opinion. Get yours here.

**Thanks to Paul at PS Photo Media for allowing me to shoot the two weddings with him so that I could test out the two lenses**

About

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at www.hanssie.com. Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Jesper Ek

    Great article!

    Need need need – want want want!

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  2. Cyril Ng

    You think the Fuji battery grip is ugly? Have you seen the Sony one? It’s a monster in comparison! Haha. I have both the 18-55 & 16-55 & both are excellent lenses. The former is perfect for street photography and when you want to be more discreet and the latter is when you really need that extra stop of light and nothing else matters. It’s really best paired with battery grip for better balance plus the added double battery life.

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  3. Uncle Bob

    Very helpful review. I shoot Canon for my work setup but also have an X-E1 and some lenses which I use mainly for personal stuff and travel. I have used the Fuji for paid stuff occasionally, mainly just to test how it would hold up and I must admit I’ve thought about switching to all Fuji, especially when I see the new lenses they’ve put out and have in the works… but seeing how big the 16-55 is would be a deal breaker for me. At that point I’m really not saving much in terms of size/weight. It’s still a lighter setup but not so much lighter that I could sacrifice the shallow DOF and ISO performance of a full frame. I can certainly understand how/why you and so many others have made the switch but its just not for me at this point. Thanks for the review though, it’s very honest and straightforward about pros and cons of the lens and system.

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  4. Ed Waring

    Thanks for the review! I just wanted to say that although I haven’t tried the 16-55 and it does look like an optically fantastic lens I haven’t found the 18-55mm to be lacking in any particular way. It seems at least as good to me as the Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 which I used on my DSLR before switching to Fuji. I do use the Fuji primes the vast majority of the time so the zoom only gets used when I’m doing grip and grin flash shots at events. In that situation I use it stopped down to the kind of apertures where any modern lens would probably look good but I certainly wouldn’t describe it as “underwhelming” or “muddy and dull”! I was actually very pleasantly surprised by how capable it was and if the situation called for it I would use it without thinking in conjunction with the 35mm and 56mm primes. Mine is very sharp indeed imho! And so very small that I actually kind of love it.

    In the photozone review of the 18-55mm (which uses the phrase “amazingly sharp” in the conclusion!) it does state that there seems to be some product variance… It regularly gets such good comments for a “kit lens” that I do wonder if you had a bad copy?

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    • jozef povazan

      Agree 100%, the 18-55f2.8-4 is far from a kit lens. Loved mine when I had it, and images were not just sharp, but also contrast and the colours were simply amazing!

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    • Hanssie

      I know, I was surprised when I read that so many people loved it! Although, I do admit that the wedding I used it on was very low light, very stressful and my first wedding with the X-T1 kit. That being said, the 16-55 was still noticeably sharper, so maybe I did get a defective copy or it needed to be serviced.

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  5. Tomas Ramoska

    Sorry but mirrorless with massive glass makes no sense to me.

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    • Hanssie

      Lol. The lens looks a bit bigger than it actually is in the photo, but it is a large lens. I just do more bicep curls on that side, so I’m good to go :)

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  6. Paul Empson

    I use Nikon.. I love Fuji since my S5 which still gives great skin tones… I am soon to retire the D3 to be my backup camera and it is being replaced by an X-T1.. I have the battery grip already, and will probably pick up the camera on Monday (off to a big trade show in the UK)

    In combo’ with the 16-55 /2.8; just 2.5mm short of the ideal wedding kit: silent electronic shutter, tilt screen and compact.. yes the lens is a little on the large size though it’s still 250g lighter than my 24-70 f/2.8.

    We get lots of rain over here so I’m sire to put it to a soak test this summer.

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    • Hanssie

      Oh yeah! I love the tilt screen. Never thought I’d use it, but it’s perfect on the dance floor to get some fun shots!

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  7. jozef povazan

    Well, for me Fuji X series is really nice, had mine for 7 months next to my Nikons before I sold it and was playing with the idea to go X completely. Unfortunately, this would be only possible for portrait photography with subjects who do not move too much. AF system is still not par with Nikon/Canon DSLRs IMO. The size of these new f2.8 X lenses simply erases the advantage of small light kit fuji offers, because with body such D750+24-700 Fuji simply does not have the edge anymore. By saying that, I really like Fuji so maybe the Xpro 2 or Xpro 3 will narrow the gap which still exists for PRO wedding shooters who love action candid style of shooting where Fuji is still bitting dust :) Enjoy it, will be back when the time comes :) p.s. I wish Nikon had customer service like Fuji :( they ROCK!

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  8. Jerry Jackson

    I’m glad your initial impressions are so great. These resized images look good but I’ll be curious to see some RAW images (or at least full-size JPEGs) later so I can see how the optics perform in terms of sharpness, contrast and flare. The Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G has a similar price tag to this new Fuji lens, but my experience is that the Sony Alpha 16-50mm f/2.8 is as good or slightly better than the Nikon at only half the cost. The Sony is also weather sealed and is slightly smaller and lighter than the Fuji or the Nikon lenses. I’m glad Fuji is finally offering a 2.8 constant-aperture zoom lens for wedding photographers, but the Fuji 16-55 still looks overpriced.

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    • Hanssie

      Well definitely, Sony makes a great products!

      I just liked the look of the Fuji and it was the one I ended up reviewing – someone had already called the Sony. I loved how the Fuji looked and felt and went with it. I’m one of those women that makes rash decisions, but I’m okay with that :)

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  9. Chris Joo

    heyyyyyyyyyy fuji lady

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  10. Paul Monaghan

    I’ve still never used the Fuji but I still wonder what it offers over the pentax stuff that was out many years ago.

    You can grab a k3 for much less than an X-t1, they both share an aps-c size senor and both will deliver good IQ (16mp xtrans vs 24mp bayer) and not sure about focusing but the k3 can focus down to -3ev and has In body image stabilization.

    Size wise the Fuji is smaller but not by a lot and a lot of that is in thickness (mirrorbox) and along with Pentax’s LTD lens you can get a very small combo with nice IQ, also strap the Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 onto the k3 and you have a great stabilized low light combo (or any fast prime.)

    Don’t get me wrong I think the X-t1 looks great and there are some nice lens on it but with people jumping from Full Frame to Crop for the fuji system I’m left scratching my head as there’s been a smaller system with great IQ and fast 16-50, 50-135 zooms around for years.

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    • adam sanford

      The reason: Size, size, size. People are in love with that mirrorless form factor.

      But you make a fair point: http://j.mp/1xmGCRV to see what he’s talking about.

      Pentax gear is great, but the days of mirrors are apparently numbered. :-P

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    • Paul Monaghan

      Well the body is smaller but the 16-55 f2.8 for fuji is both larger and heavier than the pentax so body + lens they will be similar and unless I’m missing something the Fuji combo isn’t stabilized.

      The same can also be said for the pentax 50-135 vs the fuji 50-140, the pentax is smaller, lighter and cheaper so a combo with the fuji vs the pentax with both of these lens would be similar in size too.

      The pentax k3 with 16-50 and 50-135 can be had for £2340 were as the fuji with 16-55 and 50-140 is £3050

      I would love to see a comparison between both systems and see if the fuji is really worth the premium and while you can say but fuji has small primes, pentax also have the LTD lens which are all pretty small too.

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    • Hanssie

      Vanity, pure vanity. :)

      Actually, it caught my eye because it looks great and it does what I need it to do and does it beautifully. Its quirks are also endearing to me. Plus it was my first review piece; you always fall in love with your first, haha, just kidding :)

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    • Arnold Ziffel

      While I have no experience with the Fuji, I can attest that the K-3 is an awesome camera and quite small for it’s format. In fact, with exception of AF speed, it still kicks my 7DII’s ass.

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  11. Matthew Kozovski

    I’m curious, what are you using for a flash solution? Are you mainly direct on the hot shoe and bouncing? Or have you played around with OCF? I have the X-T1 along with some nice glass and love it. But when it comes to the reception time, I put it back in the bag and shoot with my Nikon.

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    • Hanssie

      I actually traded in my Canon flash for a Yongnuo… *ducks*

      Reason being I mainly shoot portraits these days and rarely need more than one flash and a reflector. Though I still second shoot quite a bit, and a handful of weddings as a main shooter each year, I’ve never really been an OCF gal (It’s because I’m lazy, actually and I hate carrying stuff around). When I was shooting weddings full time, I found that 95% of the time I used one flash and bounced anyway.

      That said, Fuji definitely needs to work on their flash solutions for the rest of the population :)

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  12. Kim Farrelly

    Well I’m due, to buy, a second body next month and am thinking of running an X-T1 alongside my 5D3 mostly out of interest really. I recently picked up a second hand X-E1 and am loving using my old (and new) lenses on it. The results are so close to the Canon most of the time anyway. Kinda.

    You’re just fuelling the fire now Hanssie.

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    • Hanssie

      I’ve found in a super scientific, eye-balling it sort of, side by side comparison of the X-T1 and the 5D3, that the colors of the X-T1 are richer. Take from that what you will :)

      I recommend renting one before you buy. It’s not for everyone…

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    • Kim Farrelly

      I like the colours that the fuji x-e1 gives, like the sigma art lenses they are just different colours than canon’s ones.

      Yes I plan on ‘renting’ one for a few days from a fellow photographer friend shortly. (Nice guy). Along with a few lenses to see what the other half of the fuji solution is like. Not going to let go of my huge DSLR system just yet…

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    • Hanssie

      Well, just warn your friend that he may not get it back :)

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  13. Anders Madsen

    Aargh! Don’t do that again, pretty please!

    From the moment you mentioned the bad quality of the images made with the 18-55 kit lens I sat here with a huge knot in my stomach, feeling so sorry for the poor couple, and you have no idea how relieved I was when I read your final paragraph and realized that it had been a test only.

    Phew. :)

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    • Hanssie

      Sorry for giving you the heart attack. There’s no way I would’ve shot a wedding as a main shooter on a new system. I’m too much of a worry-wart for that! Actually, most of the images were not too bad, but they took more editing that anyone wants to do to pull some of the others out.

      There *might* be an article forthcoming…

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  14. adam sanford

    The value proposition of a fast standard zoom is hard to beat. These lenses will usually mop the floor with your 18-55 crop kit lenses — color/contrast/focusing are generally much better, and the constant f/2.8 max aperture across the range will help you bring in shots the kit glass just can’t pull off.

    I would argue that bolting something the size/weight of a Canon 24-105 f/4L IS or Nikon 24-120 f/4 VR on to a lighter crop (or mirrorless) body might not make your wrist too happy. I’ve always found that when you get above a pound of lens, you really want a chunky grip or a heavier camera body as a counterweight.

    But kudos to Fuji for giving pros a reason to ditch their mirrors. (Sony: are you listening?!)

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    • Hanssie

      True, I briefly contemplated getting the battery grip, but that sort of defeats the purpose of going smaller…and it’s ugly and I’m vain (haha, just kidding – sorta).

      Sony, on the other hand, is always listening. They’ve done a good job paving the way for mirrorless bodies, I’m sure lens-wise, they aren’t far behind. #teamfuji

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  15. Ben Young

    Nice lens. Just what is needed by mirrorless systems to get to contemplate switching ….

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    • Hanssie

      Agreed! It’s only been 1.5 months and I really don’t miss Canon one bit. Esp. not after this lens…

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