XF 16-55mm F2.8 VS XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 Midrange Zoom

A full review of the two Fujifilm Best Midrange Lens from the Fujifilm XF 16-55mm F2.8 compared to the XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 kit lens. Today we’ll review the sharpness, rendition, contrast and overall usability of these two lenses. Therefore, we’ll determine what suits your photography requirements from a price vs image quality perspective.

Fujinon Lens XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR

The XF 16-55mm, my current and go-to mid-range zoom lens for landscape photography. As a full-time landscape photographer, I love the idea of having a tri lens setup (Learn about Tri Lenses here), and the XF 16-55mm fits my photography needs due to size, weight and image quality.

I have recently done a blog regarding this lens which you can read here, or watch the full review here.

Fujinon XF 16-55mm essential facts:

  • 16-55mm Focal Length (Equiv 24-84mm in 35mm format)
  • F2.8 Maximum Aperture & F/22 Minimum Aperture
  • 83.3 mm diameter x 106.0 (129.5 mm fully extended at 55mm)
  • Weight 655g (23.1 oz)
  • Weather-Sealed
  • 77mm filter thread
  • 17 elements in 12 group
  • 9 rounded blades
  • Autofocus
  • Price €1099.00

Image Stabilisation

The one and possibly only downfall regarding this lens, the lack of image stabiliser! Additionally, paired with the X-H1 and its superb IBIS, plus the additional weight of the XF 16-55mm makes an acceptable reduction of shake from the non-stabilized lens.

Finally, paired with the X-T3 handheld images are reduced to daytime scenes or bumping up that ISO to combat the lack of stabilisation.

Fujinon XF Autofocus & Sharpness

Autofocus in both video and photography is merely perfect. Besides, this testing was in bright outdoor and dark indoor conditions, finding it reliable, accurate and silent through the entire focal range.

Lastly, sharpness is supreme from 16mm to 55mm, from max f2.8 aperture to f11. In the photo comparison below the XF 16-55mm wins in sharpness, especially from 35-55mm, where the XF 18-55mm kit lens suffers. But for Landscape photography, the 18-55mm fight back which we’ll discuss later.

Build Quality

The top of the range Red Badge mid-range zoom from Fujifilm offers superb build quality. In comparison, I often refer this lens to my “bag of primes” referring to the excellent build and image quality. Additionally, the Fujifilm XF 16-55mm f2.8 made from anodised aluminium, not cheesy plastic. In comparison, it feels much better to the build quality in comparison manufacturers from Nikon and Canon.

In conclusion, this lens offers an excellent balance of price to quality standpoint. A glass that doesn’t provide OIS is a little hiccup for me personally. Finally, the pin-sharp image quality, build quality and constant F2.8 aimed towards the professional photographer.

Fujifilm X-T3 & Fujinon XF 16-55mm @ F2.8 - x3 Stitch Panorama Northern Lights

Fujinon XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS

The Fujifilm XF 18-55mm a budget kit lens from Fujifilm that offers excellent versatility from photography and videography. Although it may not have that “pro” quality optically, it’s the OIS, sharpness and versatile focal range at an affordable price. The outer casing of the lens is lightweight, made mostly from metal but most importantly the glass is glass – on paper it seems fantastic.

Fujinon XF 18-55mm essential facts:

  • 18-55mm Focal Length (Equiv 27-84mm in 35mm format)
  • F/2.8-4 Maximum Aperture & F/22 Minimum Aperture
  • 65 mm diameter x 70.4mm
  • Weight 310g (10.9 oz)
  • “Up to” 3 stops of Image Stabilisation
  • 58mm filter thread
  • 14 element in 10 groups
  • 7 rounded blades
  • Autofocus & Image Stabilised
  • Price €599.00 (or €299.00 used)
Image Stabilisation

Firstly, the image stabilisation from the XF 18-55mm is excellent offering three stops. Secondly, handheld images from the kit lens paired with non-stabilised X-T3 can shot at 1/40 through the entire focal range to produce sharp images. Therefore, pairing it with the XH-1 for video purpose seemed to yield pleasing results.

Fuji Kit Lens Autofocus & Sharpness

Autofocus on this particular kit lens is superb, measured in both visible daylight and low contrast areas. In both video and photography, the lens performed exceptionally well. Additionally, for the manual focus users out there, this lens has a tiny focus ring, struggling for those with large hand or manual videographers user especially. 

In conclusion, sharpness is passable from 18mm to 35mm. Measure from max aperture to min apertures, zooming to the 35+mm range is where this show significant flaws. Finally, f/4 at 55mm shows server deterioration to the image and heavy vignetting, better when stopped up but not compared to the pro lenses.

Build Quality

A tiny, lightweight and affordable kit lens made almost entirely from metal with engraved markings. Surprisingly, it feels excellent in hand and excels past any other kit lens from other manufacturers. As a result, this allows the lens to perform optically in both photo and video formats in one of Fujifilm’s most inexpensive lenses. The downfall from this lens is the inner barrel moving a little when extended out to 55mm and the variable aperture, let me remind you that this is being extremely critical. 

XF 16-55mm VS XF 18-55mm Comparison

XF Red Badge VS XF Kit lens Comparison: 

  • Price (XF 16-55 €1099.00 VS XF 18-55 €599.00)
  • Metal VS Metal build quality
  • XF 16-55 F/2.8 VS XF 18-55 F/2.8-4
  • 16-55mm VS 18-55mm Focal Range
  • No OIS external switch VS OIS external switch
  • Aperture Markings VS None
  • Aperture Ring VS Button Control on Camera
  • 17/12 VS 13/10 (Elements/Groups)

YouTube Review:

Image Quality Comparison

Below is a comparison of both lens at the most extensive focal length 16mm, 18mm, 35mm and 55mm. Therefore, we will get a complete contrast at the max aperturesf2.8, f4, f/8 and f/16 through the entire range of these lenses. You can download the JPEG & RAW images below for FREE!

Bokeh Comparison

No lens achieves that ultra buttery clean look here like we expect from the 56mm F1.2 from Fujifilm. As a result, the constant F2.8 aperture from the XF 16-55mm we expect this to excel at 35mm and 55mm.

Fujifilm Best Midrange Zoom Lens?

In conclusion, comparing Fujifilm Best Midrange Lens directly, it’s obvious the XF 16-55mm F2.8 is a winner. But, saying this, it’s a clear winner for my needs and what suit my requirements. Therefore, answer this question:

“Is image quality a top priority to you?”

If often, yes I 100% agree the Red Badge XF 16-55 is best for you, but the kit lens is an adequate lens for those who travel adventurously, dabble in hybrid shooting, or on a budget.

Therefore, the conclusion to Fujifilm Best Midrange Lens is: The XF 18-55mm is a perfect kit lens for anyone on a budget, The XF 16-55mm is ideal for those after top-notch image quality and get paid for there photography. 

Finally, the XF 16-80mm F/4 walks in and say hello! Constant F/4, broader focal range, OIS at six stops – is this the perfect Fujifilm ravel lens? More to come regarding this lens…