XC 16-50 II Review

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Presentation:

I got the XC 16-50 v2 lens as a package with the X-T10 back in summer 2016, I am used to basic zoom lens kit like the 18-55mm and 18-105mm from Nikon, so getting the 16-50 was an even better choice as I am mostly a landscape photographer.

Yes all XC lenses have a plastic mount but all the nikkor lenses I had too, as long as you don’t drop your camera on the floor (don’t give it to your children) so the plastic bayonet won’t break, there is no difference in the picture quality between a plastic and metal mount.

You won’t get an aperture ring on this cheap lens, but you will control it directly on the camera.

At 16mm you will get a max aperture of f3.5, while at 50mm you will be limited to f5.6. Not a bright lens but you get the OIS II aka Optical Image Stabilization that can be handful for low light situations as long as you don’t shoot people.

On a good note physically, the lens is light, certainly lighter than the XF 18-55 that comes also as a kit lens with the X-T10,X-T20 and X-T1.

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The 16-50 compared to the prime 23mm f2


Sharpness:

This basic kit zoom lens from Fujifilm is certainly better than any other kit lenses I had before with a DSLR camera, sharpness and details are superior.

Now you can’t expect a sharpness as good as the one on most Fuji XF prime lenses or the XF 16-55 which is 3x the price, but it can compete with the XF 18-55 and even the XF 18mm f2 given the lenstip charts, and it’s already pretty high for a beginner or an amateur on budget photographer.

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Sharpness is high on all the 16-50mm range as long as you choose between f4.5 to f9, with a sweet spot between f5.6 and f8 preferably between 30 and 50mm. Choosing 16mm to 23mm will also give you a pretty good sharpness but stay away from f3.6 to f4.5 as it will lack a bit of sharpness and above f11 as diffraction will also have an impact on details and sharpness.

In this photo  the mountain is pretty sharp at 16mm.

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Corner to corner sharpness is not great, but unless you intend to publish your photos in A2 and bigger size, you won’t be bothered by it.

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Tip: When you can disable lens distortion correction in Capture One or any other photo Raw editor, do it because it will increase corner to corner sharpness a bit, this lens has a pretty high distortion rate from 16mm to 23mm range and auto-correction can lower details and sharpness in that scenario.


Distortion:

About distortion like we said at 16mm it’s pretty obvious.

Auto-correction in Capture One and other software like Lightroom will correct the photo but you will get cropped photos and taller-slimmer people. Sharpness on the borders also will be lower, so I recommend to set it off in ”lens” tab of Capture One as long as the photo is not too weird due to the distortion, usually landscape photos can survive easily distortion correction. Street due to architectural lines will definitely need it.

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Without distortion correction

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With distortion correction

 


Auto Focus:

This zoom lens has a silent AF, I never heard any mechanism sound even in quiet places.

The AF is fast enough and will focus the wanted area most of the time but you will get some missed ones even in the brightest days, in low light it struggles so it’s better to switch to manual focus.


Low light performance:

As we already mentioned, this basic zoom kit lens is like many others limited to f3.5 in the best scenario at 16mm, but you get Optical Image Stabilization II which gives you about 3 stops of light more, if your hand is steady enough you can get good photos with 1/13 seconds even slower in some rare conditions. But bare in mind that any movement in the photo (car,people,animals…) will be blurred, so it’s useful if you are photographing a Cathedral indoor or a landscape at dusk for example and you can’t use your tripod, but not a portrait.

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16mm ISO 1600 f5.6 and 1/13 shutter speed, no tripod

The very good high ISO performance of Fujifilm X Trans cameras (X-T1/X-T10, X-T2/X-T20,Xpro…) also help, with much less noise and more details than other mirrorless cameras.

Here an example with ISO 1250 and 1/15 speed, no tripod! (photo without any editing)

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Bokeh:

There are several factors that can give bokeh with a lens, it’s either the focal length or the max aperture or both combined. As for the max aperture of f3.5 at 16mm the bokeh is nice only if you get as close as 15cm which is possible with this  ”II” version of this lens,  or you can use the 50mm end with f5.6 for also some bokeh.

You will get bokeh but definitely not as good as with a prime lens and its fast aperture f1.4-f2.0 or a long zoom like +100mm. Also the bokeh with this XC lens is considered as ”harsh”. Bokeh balls (small lights in the out-of focus area) have a good amount of onion rings too which can turn down some professionals of bokeh, personally I don’t mind having some oion rings but not too much. Still though you can get some satisfactory results.

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Bokeh amount is good but harsh

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Bokeh balls onion rings

 


Astrophotography:

This lens is just average for astrophotography, the lack of a fast aperture is a big limitation for good results as you will have to push exposure time to long 20 to 30 seconds on a tripod and ISO 6400 (ETTR method), you will be able to have a barely visible milky way but at the expense of star-trails and lot of noise.

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Conclusion:

This cheap (or free with some cameras) is a very good zoom lens kit, better than competitors zoom kit and nearly as good as Fujifilm’s own XF 18-55. Though it has some limitations that will stop you down in getting beautiful photos in all conditions.

Positives:

-Good sharpness and details

-Fast and silent AF

-16 to 50mm range is great for landscape, street and portrait

-Small and light for a zoom lens

-Price/package with a camera

Negatives:

-Aperture is limited to f3.5

-AF is not that good in low light

-Lack of microcontrast

-Corner to corner sharpness is not on par with central sharpness

-Bokeh is limited

-High distortion between 16 and 23mm

 

Any comment or questions?

 

 

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