We got lucky, for the past seven days we have had the new 16-55mm lens at our disposal (kindly provided for test by the NZ Fujifilm team). With the addition of the 16-55mm lens, the F2.8 lens lineup is now complete and offers an equivalent focal range from 24mm through to 200mm when paired with the already available 50-140mm zoom. The new 16-55mm F2.8 (fixed aperture) weather sealed lens performs on par with the 50-140mm, a match made in heaven for those in search of versatility.
Unfortunately we got the lens at pretty short notice and did not have the time to throw together a proper shoot to test each and every aspect of the the lens. So to make the most of the last few weeks of summer and accompanying stelar weather, we once again left the sky scrapers behind in search of tranquility with camera in hand.
On this particular occasion we were at the Hunua ranges on the east coast of New Zealand (North Island) were we walked the shores, forests and stood by waterfalls. While on our adventure the lens never got in the way, we had only the XT1 and the review lens slung over our shoulder accompanied by a backpack with food and water. For the entire time the lens was swinging by our side and it never felt awkward or too heavy. But don't be fooled, the lens is large and chunky, even when mounted with the XT1 and battery grip. Unfortunately we did not have the foresight to nab a picture of the combo before returning it....
The build quality without question is spot on, in all honesty we have come to expect nothing less from a Fujifilm product, especially as far as their weather sealed range is concerned. Reassuring rubber focus ring, springy metal aperture ring with an absolute start and stop aperture scale (the variable aperture lenses do not have an absolute aperture scale as this changes throughout the zoom range).
The lens is sharp corner to corner, performance comes close to the prime lenses which fall within its focal range. Take some time to examine the included images in this post, they will provide some idea of how much detail is present in the corners. Along with decent contrast and brilliant flare control there are not many optical parameters to get hung up on. We would be happy to throw this lens in the ring with the best offerings from Canon or Nikon and it would be anyones guess which one crawls out of the ring after the final bell.
The only problem we have with the lens is in its sterility. Lenses designed to be perfect, end up lacking character. In an industry where differentiation is key, we consider a little character advantageous. Not everyone will share this opinion.
This lens will proudly serve adventure, travel, wedding and outdoor photographers who want versatility in a neat and tidy package. It packs plenty of punch and definitely delivers in the image quality department. As long as you can get close enough, the 16-55mm will get the job done. If you do not want to carry multiple prime lenses to achieve the same focal length coverage, this new lens addition is a no brainer.