New Kit! & Trying out a New Lens
I'm not a gear reviewer and never will be, but It's always an exciting moment when something new arrives, in this case a 16-55mm f2.8 WR XF Zoom lens for my Fuji XT-2. See below for some test images, then read on below for the back story and my conclusions. Was the purchase worth it? and what will it give me?
Why the Change?
If there is one thing that equipment reviewers agree upon, it's that a really good lens is essential for delivering top quality results. But first let me quantify that by saying; in my case I want a lens that will deliver top-quality prints to discerning eyes. That is different from delivering bright-sharp images from my mobile phone to another mobile phone's screen when viewed via Facebook or Flickr or Instagram. If that is all I need, then a mobile phone would certainly have sufficed for the images of the bridge above and even the leaves with a bit of adjustment to settings. In fact on a good day with good light a phone can now deliver printable images up to a decent size. The thing about being a landscaper primarily is that I rarely shoot in good light and in dim light or challenging conditions a phone just does not perform. Detail gets lost and jagged nasty looking noise creeps in. However, I already had a lens that in general delivered high quality results the 18-55mm f2.8-4.0 standard zoom. It is an all-metal, well constructed piece of glass that handles well and is also of compact dimensions. Where it was lacking was at the tele 55mm end where wide-open it was not as sharp. Second, the wide-angle end of 18mm was only equivalent in old-money 35mm terms to 27mm or moderately wide-angle. Third, the maximum aperture reduced at the telephoto end and this variable aperture is inconvenient.
Extra field of view at 16mm - makes a considerable difference, it's like having another lens as 16mm is now equivalent to 24mm on 35mm or Full-Frame.
Sharpness - in my unscientific opinion this lens is visibly sharper all the way through and particularly so at 55mm which is a focal length I use often.
Consistent f2.8 aperture - gives more options to control Depth of Field (DOF) helps with handling and the increased light-gathering should help control noise.
Handling - The aperture ring is click-stopped and has the apertures marked on the barrel and there is a wide, smooth focussing ring. As I frequently focus manually, this makes life easier, especially under challenging conditions.
Weather-Sealed - The WR in the name gives the game away and is reassuring that the lens will not fail under almost any weather conditions short of complete immersion.
Overall quality - Harder to quantify on an informal basis this includes distortion, chromatic aberration and lens fall-off.
Size - It's much bigger and heavier with a larger filter thread size. Fortunately, I use the Lee filter system which overcomes this issue.
No Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) - This means I have to be careful in low light situations as my current camera body does not have In-body stabilisation (IBIS) However as a Landscaper, most of my low-light images are tripod mounted so this does not have an impact on image quality. I am also confident that my camera will deliver low-noise images even at high ISO.
Cost - It's about £1000 or equivalent in dollars/euros which is a fair expense, but still less than Full-Frame (FF) equivalent lenses. Fortunately I got a good deal on a new one with a damaged box, plus I sold some kit I didn't use much to reduce the up-front cost.
Looking at the images above at 100%, I am very happy with the change and at normal viewing size, I feel the images have a just a bit more oomph (non-technical term) There is a lot more getting to know this lens and it is only when I have had some real hands-on experience under a range of circumstances that I will know both it's strengths and weaknesses better. A further report will be forthcoming in due course.