Fujifilm X-T2 W/XF16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR
This long-term review is well overdue...I started it months ago then suddenly got contracted to work on a handful of projects. I'm slowly catching up on my writing and now that my Summer weddings are done my time is a bit more free.
The XF16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR is the first of my two-lens working kit. It's matched with the XF50-140mm telephoto zoom and get's the lions share of use in my daily work because it covers just about everything. Pretty much all my photog buddies have a similar kit regardless of what brand they use. Always the same... 24-70 and 70-200mm or whatever the equivalents are in 35mm terms.
The basics that I like are as follows:
It's not inexpensive, but professional level lenses rarely are. The premium you pay ensures that it will stand up to daily use without being too careful. This lens also sports an array of very fancy glass and coatings to correct, minimize and/or eliminate issues that might effect image quality. My copy has been in steady use for well over 2 years without any significant problems. I've replaced the lens hood twice because of various mishaps. They absorbed whatever impact I subjected them to and saved the front element. Far less expensive than damage to the lens itself if I hadn't attached them it.
For My Travel Photography
ISO 200 16mm F/5.6 1/1700
It's a good all-in-one lens and hasn't let me down. It's not as light compared to the XF18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS lens w
hich is also weather resistant but the constant F/2.8 aperture and superior sharpness wins it for me. The focusing motor is also noticeably faster. When I'm in a location for the first and possibly last time, I don't want to miss a shot because my lens is taking it's sweet time to focus accurately.
ISO 200 18mm F8 1/400
Klein Curacao is a small uninhabited island off the coast of Curacao. What was supposed to be a short, calm sail turned into an hour of getting beaten up by rogue waves due to high winds. I had my camera bag behind me to shield it from direct hits from the water...still got drenched. I was terrified to open it up and pretty much gave them up for dead. I started calculating the cost of replacing them minus the insurance amount. When we got to shore my worst fears were confirmed. Both camera bodies and all the lenses were very wet and crusted with salt. However, when I turned them on everything fired up just fine. After a half hour of cleaning I went for a walk around the island. Those same high winds converted the sand into tiny missiles which ended up in my eyes, ears, hair but not the camera. Score two for the weather resistance. I can definitely confirm that the feature isn't a gimmick. 7 months later everything is still working without a hint of what I put them through on that trip.
ISO 200 26mm F8 1/550
I don't have the luxury of always shooting in the best light and the extra light gathering ability is very helpful. If you don't need it, you may find the XF18-55mm with Optical Image Stabilisation...and lower cost somewhat more attractive. I own both and I'll use the little brother lens whenever it makes practical sense to do so.
For My Weddings
ISO 200 49mm F2.8 1/400
Stellar...sharp, fast focusing and great color and contrast. Just your basic Swiss Army knife. I always shoot with it for much of the wedding, only breaking out the telephoto zoom if I can't get close enough to the action. I especially like it when the ceremony is over and everybody is taking a breather and just hanging out. I'll plant myself right in the middle of the space and rotate from the hips like a turret, capturing all the candid moments. During the ceremony I'll use the electronic shutter and turn off the auto-focus confirmation beep. Combine that with the smooth and very quiet focusing system and the entire capture from start to finish is as quiet as you can get it. Definitely quiet enough so that nobody notices at normal voice levels.
ISO 200 49mm F5.6 1/200
It also allows me to get close enough to shoot "detail" shots. Not quite MACRO distances but decently close, filling the frame. The micro-contrast is very good and cropping in for composition still yields a very nicely defined image right at the point of focus (wide-open).
ISO 200 44mm F2.8 1/450
For Everything Else
ISO 200 55mm F8 1/125
I've found it to be a very good studio lens. It performs well with static and moving subjects alike and it doesn't flare easily when I inadvertently get one of my strobes in the frame. Depending on your style of portraiture that may not be a positive thing. For close portraits I prefer 85mm or longer but group or environmental shots are well covered.
4-Image Panorama Stitch | ISO 200 16mm F5.6 1/850
I usually screw on the XF10-24mm F4 R OIS for landscapes because it gives me more framing options but 16mm (24mm) is no slouch. You can capture a lot of real estate with this lens. In fact you can still get a hint of that exaggerated perspective if you are close enough to the subject like the wrecked yacht below.
ISO 200 16mm F8 1/850
Much has been made about the lack of image stabilisation on this lens. Frankly...I don't mind it. At F2.8 I can handhold it right down to about 1/20 seconds with fairly good results.
ISO 200 35mm F2.8 1/125
I've been very happy with the lens and it's been a true workhorse. In case your not familiar with that term, for me it means a piece of gear that you flog daily, rain or shine. You don't always treat it well because you just don't have the luxury of that sometimes but despite the mistreatment is happily does it's job and gets out of your way every single time it's attached to the camera.
I'm just shy of 10K clicks with this lens...that's everything, weddings, portraits, products, food, travel, video, timelapse etc. Along the way it's been bumped, dropped, forgotten out in the cold overnight...left in the rain on another occasion for over an hour before I recalled it being out on the deck. Not even a single hiccup from the lens. I guess you could say I gave it a real stress test.
Speaking of video, it's become my go-to general purpose video lens. The F2.8 is just perfect for talking head segments and even product reviews where I want the background out of focus. The linear motors are very silent and easily falls below voice or music audio. Back in my X-Pro1 days I complained about the "Fuji Shuffle" that their first gen lenses would do. You could clearly hear it happening on video and it's hard to edit out. Most of the time I used manual focus but these days the continuous focusing is good enough that I want to use it. It really helps that this lens is near silent.
This lens stays in my gear bag until Fujifilm comes out with a version 2 that's even better.