About 2 months ago I purchased the new Fuji 16mm prime to add a true wide angle to my set up. In addition to the street photography you see on this site I occasionally do freelance landscape photography and I needed something wider than the 18mm on my X70. I also have two newer Fuji bodies (XE3 and the XT2) and wanted to take advantage of the increased resolution. Needless to say, it was a timely purchase and is a perfect companion to my 27mm pancake for both street and landscape work.
In this review I’m going to focus on my experiences with using this lens and focal length for street photography. This isn’t a technical review at all, just some impressions on how I use it for my work. It’s not a lens for everyone but if you’re open to adjusting to it, it is an amazing piece of glass.
I guess that I should start out by saying the 16mm (24mm equiv.) is pretty wide for street photography. This should be obvious but as someone who was quite accustomed to using an 18mm (28mm equiv.) I was still a little surprised. It takes a bit of getting used to and took me about a week to start getting results that I was happy with. After that the many benefits of using such a wide lens became really clear. See, the main thing is that you need to get MUCH closer to your subjects to really make it work.
This factor may turn some off but there is a benefit to that. In close proximity, it’s so wide that it’s pretty easy to work without disturbing the scene. And it truly is a “scene”, I tend to make photographs that capture multiple interactions within groups of people as opposed to highlighting individuals so it was a perfect match for my style.
The lens has a solid build and the weight is perfect. It matches both my XE3 and XT2 very nicely. It is also weather resistant but being that I live in Los Angeles that wasn’t really a reason I bought it. I do have to say that the price ($399 USD) is incredibly reasonable for the optical quality. It definitely punches far above its weight in that regard.
So in conclusion, if you are looking for a reasonably priced, wide option for street photography with the Fuji X system, it’s hard to go wrong with the 16mm/2.8. Wide angle street work can be challenging but it is very rewarding once you find your rhythm.