Lens Sharpness, Contrast and Color Rendition
Designing ultra-wide angle lenses that are sharp throughout their focal length range is not an easy job. As you can see from the below MTF charts, Fuji engineers have done a great job making the XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR pretty sharp at all focal lengths:
While the MTF performance isn’t mind-boggling at 8mm when compared to some of Fuji’s prime lenses, it is still quite good, especially in the center and mid-frame. Unfortunately, the corners don’t look all that great here – you will need to stop down to f/5.6 to get the best results.
Zooming in to 10mm doesn’t do much to increase center and mid-frame sharpness, but the corners definitely start to look better here.
By 12mm, we can see that the center and mid-frame performance stays consistently good, while the corners are continuing to improve.
Lastly, at 16mm, we can see that the lens is indeed very consistent in its performance from 8mm to 16mm – center and mid-frame performance is still excellent, with the corners looking the best at this focal length.
Overall, it looks like the lens has the same level of sharpness in the center and mid-frame at all focal lengths (which is very impressive), but the corners start out somewhat weak at 8mm and improve significantly as you zoom in towards 16mm. It is important to note that the decreased corner performance at short focal lengths happens due to field curvature, especially with subjects at close range. In the field, I noticed that adjusting the focus towards the edges of the frame and stopping down to f/5.6-f/8 range noticeably improved corner performance at 8mm.
I think it is a given that we should not expect to see pretty bokeh from an ultra-wide angle lens. Even if you shoot wide open, zoom in to 16mm and focus at the minimum focusing distance of 0.25m, the blurry area in front of and behind your subject is going to look busy. First of all, this lens was not designed to yield good bokeh, and second, the four aspherical lens elements inside the lens are going to make any background highlights look onion-shaped.
If you are looking for a lens with good bokeh qualities, I recommend checking out the Fuji XF 56mm f/1.2 lens instead.
Being an ultra-wide angle lens, one can expect to see a lot of vignetting on the XF 8-16mm f/2.8, especially at 8mm. As you can see from the below chart that shows vignetting at different focal lengths and focusing distances, the lens has a fair amount of corner shading overall:
Interestingly, the XF 8-16mm f/2.8 produced more vignetting at close distance vs infinity, which is usually the other way around on most lenses. The highest level of vignetting can be seen at 8mm, where it reaches a bit over 2 stops. As you can see, zooming in reduces vignetting a little. The good news is that vignetting correction is applied automatically if you use such post-processing tools as Lightroom and Photoshop, so you should not even see it when going through your images.
Ghosting and Flare
Fuji applied its high-end “Nano-GI” coating to the XF 8-16mm f/2.8 lens for the purpose of significantly reducing ghosting and flare. In this regard, the lens performs admirably at all focal lengths, showing very little ghosting and flare in images, even with the sun right in the frame. Here is an example of its performance at f/8:
Thanks to the Nano-GI coating and the 9-blade rounded diaphragm, the lens is an excellent choice for photographing sun stars. Take a look at the below image that I captured at f/22 to illustrate the type of sun stars you can expect to see at very small apertures:
Although there was a bit of red dot flare visible in the image (which I cloned out in some parts of it), the lens handled the situation admirably, producing beautiful 18-point sun stars. This is going to be a great candidate for such shots, so keep that in mind.
Distortion is typically quite high on ultra-wide angle lenses, and the XF 8-16mm f/2.8 is not an exception. There is a heavy amount of barrel distortion on the wide end, which Imatest measured at 6.64% at 8mm. As you zoom in to 12mm, the distortion disappears and switches over to pincushion distortion at the 16mm mark. Here is a graph that illustrates distortion at different focal lengths:
Once again, if you use post-processing software like Lightroom, distortion corrections are going to be enabled by default, so you won’t even see it. However, with all other post-processing software, correcting distortion might be a painful task, especially at 8mm.
The Fuji XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR handles lateral chromatic aberration very well, averaging around 1-1.4 pixels at short focal lengths, and below 1 pixel at 16mm:
Let’s now take a look at how the lens compares to other Fujifilm zoom lenses. Click the link below to see the next page of the review.
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