Fujinon XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS
Lab Test Results
March, 5, 2014
by William Brawley
The Fujinon XF 16-50mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 OIS lens is a versatile, compact X-mount zoom lens from Fujifilm. Sold either as a standalone lens or as part of the kit for the Fujifilm X-M1 and X-A1 mirrorless cameras, this lightweight lens provides a 35mm equivalent focal length range of 24-76mm, for wide-angle shots to portraits and everything in between. The lens also includes optical image stabilization technology to help reduce blurring from camera shake at slower shutter speeds. With a variable aperture only going as wide as ƒ/3.5, the addition of OIS is certainly nice to have.
A fairly straightforward lens, it does feature 3 aspherical elements and 1 ED element like its more expensive sibling, the XF 18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 lens, as well as Fuji's EBC coatings for reduced flare and ghosting. It's also worth pointing out that this lens, unlike most of Fuji's lenses, does not have a manual aperture ring, and so users of the X-Pro1 and X-E1 cameras should update their cameras' firmware in order to control the aperture via the camera.
As a standalone lens, the Fujinon XF 16-50mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 OIS is available in either a black or silver finish for around $399 -- Adorama, Amazon (black, silver), B&H (silver) -- and includes front and rear lens caps. Note: Our test lens was included as part of an X-A1 kit, which included a petal-shaped, bayonet-mount lens hood. However, in the standalone retail copy of this lens, a hood does not appear to be included, despite the owner's manual indicating otherwise. Check with your retailer of choice to see if a lens hood is included.
Traditionally, kit lenses have gotten a bad rap for underwhelming performance, particularly in sharpness. However, that trend seems to be changing these days, and the new Fujifilm 16-50mm lens is no exception. This lens produces very sharp images, even wide-open, and throughout the entire zoom range. Corner softness is also quite insignificant -- even fully wide at 16mm -- making it a great landscape lens, as well as a general-purpose street and portrait lens at the longer focal lengths. Diffraction limiting softness is equally minimal, with only minor softness appearing around ƒ/22 (ƒ/16 shows just a hint of softness, too). Overall, very impressive results from an inexpensive kit zoom lens!
OK, well, trade-offs have to be made when designing an affordable lens, and in the case of the Fuji 16-50, it comes by way of chromatic aberration. Thankfully, it's a not a huge compromise after all. Wide open at 16mm, the lens is really very low CA on average, but out in the corners we see some fairly strong CA -- notceable blue/purple and light green fringing -- hitting over 900ths of a percent of frame height, but CA is noticeably reduced by stopping down the aperture. Also, the Fuji JPEG processing does a great job at removing this CA in-camera.
However, the story really changes at the longer focal lengths we tested (24mm, 35mm and 50mm) -- very low CA. On average, the CA at 25-35mm is practically nonexistent, and 35mm in particular shows excellent CA across the entire frame. At 50mm, there's a little more CA on average, though it's still quite low, and there is a little uptick in CA when you stop down to the really narrow apertures.
This lens also shows impressive results for controlling vignetting, even at the wide focal lengths. Interestingly, at 16mm, we saw lower vignetting at ƒ/3.5 than at ƒ/5.6, which increased to around a still-very-low 0.25EV of light loss. At the other focal lengths and apertures, vignetting was all-around much lower and never displayed more than 0.25EV of light loss. The longer focal lengths, especially, were well under that level.
The Fuji 16-50mm lens also does very well at controlling distortion. On average, we saw just a slight amount of barrel distortion at the wider end of the focal lengths, which is not unexpected. However, when you zoom to 24mm and longer, distortion becomes practically nonexistent!
Note: It should be noted that the X-E1, our Fuji test camera, does feature in-camera correction of CA, vignetting and distortion, and it's important to note that our results here were taken from RAW files. However, when converted with Adobe Camera Raw, as it our usual procedure, ACR carries over these in-camera corrections. It was only by converting the same RAW images with DCRAW (which does not convert the images with these corrections) that we were able to confirm this.
In our handling of the Fuji 16-50mm, the autofocusing performance was excellent. The lens focused very quickly, taking well under a second to rack from minimum focus distance to infinity thanks to an electrical "high-precision stepper motor." Of course, there is also manual focusing with a focus-by-wire system, and as such, the smoothly rotating focus ring has no stops at either end. There is also no focus distance window on this lens, with the information about focusing displayed via the camera.
The 16-50mm kit lens isn't great for macro photography, offering just 0.15x magnification at 50mm, and the minimum close-focusing distance at 16mm is a fairly long 11.8 inches.
Build Quality and Handling
The Fuji 16-50mm lens saves a lot of weight and cost by being constructed almost entirely of polycarbonate plastic, including the lens mount. However, it feels very well-built and solid with the lightweight design balancing nicely on equally lightweight Fujifilm cameras like the X-E1, for example.
The focus and zoom rings both rotate smoothly and are also made of plastic with a deep-ridged texture for an easy grip. The zoom ring itself rotates less than 90 degrees. The zoom ring is also a little on the firm side to rotate, however, combined with the lightweight and minimally-extending barrel design (adding only 1.5 inches of extra length), this ensures that lens creep should be a non-issue.
The rest of the exterior is fairly simple, with only a set of focal length markings -- no focus distance window or OIS switch, however (that's controlled via the camera). As mentioned above, there is no manual aperture ring like many of Fuji's other lenses, so aperture is completely controlled from the camera itself. Fuji notes that users of the X-Pro1 and X-E1 cameras will need to ensure they have the latest firmware to enable camera-based aperture control on this and other Fuji lenses that lack an aperture ring.
On the inside of the barrel sit 12 elements in 10 groups with 3 aspherical elements and 1 extra low dispersion element. The elements also feature Fuji's EBC coatings to help reduce flare and ghosting. The lens has 7 rounded diaphragm blades for nice out-of-focus backgrounds.
The most obvious alternative is the other Fujifilm wide-to-medium-tele zoom lens, the XF 18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS. This lens features a similar focal length range, although sacrificing a couple millimeters on the wide end for a bit more reach on the tele side. In terms of image sharpness, the 18-55mm shows similarly impressive results, although there's a bit more chromatic aberration and vignetting. The biggest difference is on the physical side with a faster variable aperture range that opens to a very useful ƒ/2.8. It's also constructed out of metal -- both the barrel and lens mount. The big downside is the large jump in price at around $695.
There aren't really many other alternatives for the Fuji X-Mount system apart from Fuji's own offerings and a couple of Carl Zeiss primes. As for an alternative to the 16-50mm zoom lens, one could opt instead for a set of primes: the 14mm or 18mm Fuji prime for the wide-angle, the Fuji 23mm, 27mm or 35mm primes for the middle focal lengths and then either the 56mm ƒ/1.2 or 60mm macro lens for a bit of the medium-tele end. However, this is not only a lot of extra lenses to carry around, it's also some serious money (i.e. the 56mm ƒ/1.2 lens is $1000 by itself).
The Fujinon XF 16-50mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 OIS lens is an impressive optic for an affordable and basic kit lens. With excellent sharpness, low vignetting and distortion and well-controlled CA, there's a lot to love with this kit lens. The image stabilization also worked generally well, matching the Fuji advertised 2-2.5 stops at 50mm, but was a little less impressive at the wider end (however, the wider you shoot, IS becomes less necessary, as you can shoot at slower shutter speeds much easier).
All in all, if you're thinking of buying a Fuji X-M1 or X-A1, you'll get a very solid, versatile and well-performing lens in your kit. And if you're an existing Fuji X-series owner in need of a budget-friendly, lightweight zoom lens and don't need an ƒ/2.8 aperture, the Fujinon XF 16-50mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 OIS is a solid choice.
The VFA target should give you a good idea of sharpness in the center and corners, as well as some idea of the extent of barrel or pincushion distortion and chromatic aberration, while the Still Life subject may help in judging contrast and color. We shoot both images using the default JPEG settings and manual white balance of our test bodies, so the images should be quite consistent from lens to lens.
As appropriate, we shoot these with both full-frame and sub-frame bodies, at a range of focal lengths, and at both maximum aperture and ƒ/8. For the ''VFA'' target (the viewfinder accuracy target from Imaging Resource), we also provide sample crops from the center and upper-left corner of each shot, so you can quickly get a sense of relative sharpness, without having to download and inspect the full-res images. To avoid space limitations with the layout of our review pages, indexes to the test shots launch in separate windows.
Fujinon XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS User Reviews
8 out of 10 points and recommended by chrisjoerg (2 reviews)light, small, sharp, unobstrusive;is not considered to be a pro lens, does not impress, no 2.8 (but we knew that before)
My background is beeing a Canon shooter, who now completed selling all his beloved Canon gear because of a boring cheap Fuji X-A1 with this cheap and boring lens. And that means something. I had very good canon glass like the 70-200 f2.8 IS mk II and so on. Also bad Canon glass like the intolerable 24-105 f4 IS. This lens is in terms of image quality, lightness and price just stellar. Really, I sold my Canon gear because of this, and I loved the Canon gear, but this, over all, is better or on par for a fraction of the weight and price.reviewed January 27th, 2016 (purchased for $120)
Maybe you want to have a look at my articles about this lens mounted on a Fuji X-A1 on my website:
There you can also find a gallery with samples:
I really recommend this lens, see what you can do with it!
8 out of 10 points and recommended by waterfoot (3 reviews)Very light, inexpensive, (mainly) sharp, useful zoom rangePlastic mount a little loose, my copy is soft on right edge of image
This came with a X-M1 for a total price of £270, so it's a bit unfair to be over-critical, but for those who may want to buy this lens separately it's best to be brutally honest.reviewed March 17th, 2015
Firstly the build is generally ok but mine is a bit loose in the mount, allowing movement when zooming (the zoom action is a bit stiff).
Secondly mine appears to be decentered, with a soft right side mostly towards the top right corner which is a bit disappointing.
I bought the X-M1 kit as a lightweight travel camera and despite my criticisms the lens is up to the job, out-performing almost all kit lenses I've used even with the decentring so another copy would probably be even better. But it really doesn't deserve "top marks" in any category other than "value for monyey".
Bottom line: not stellar by any measure but a solid performer at a bargain price when bought with a kit - bud I would be unhappy had I paid the $400 asking price for the retail version.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by arldite1066 (3 reviews)very sharp for price, light weight
For a kit lens it is excellent value for moneyreviewed January 16th, 2015 (purchased for $99)
10 out of 10 points and recommended by Klicko Orange (3 reviews)quick to focus, sharp (edge to edge), light weight and comes as a kit (meaning free with X-m1 and X-a1)non for the price
This is the best entry level kit lens ever made.reviewed April 8th, 2014
Mine is only very slightly soft in the extreme right corner at 16mm wide open. But even then it's nothing to complain about as it is more than acceptable.
Wish it ended at F/4.5 at the long end or F/2.8 in the wide end but then the price would be more expensive.