Fujinon Super EBC XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS Lens


    Photo Review 8.8
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    Fujinon Super EBC XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS Lens

      In summary

      Most buyers will acquire this lens with either the X-M1 or the soon-to-be-released X-A1 camera body and, as such, it represents good value for money, compared with the AU$799 RRP for the faster XF 18-55mm f/2.8 zoom. For photographers who want to buy into Fujifilm's X camera system, the XC 16-50mm provides a good starting point, when purchased as part of a camera kit and its f/3.5-5.6 maximum aperture range is typical for a starter zoom lens.

      Covering a wide enough focal length range for everyday picture-taking and as a single lens for travellers, this lens is better suited to landscape and portrait photography than shooting sports action or wildlife. Optical image stabilisation promises up to four f-stops of shutter speed compensation.

      Extensive use of plastic means the build quality has been slightly compromised to keep its weight down (see full review). However, this makes it a travel friendly combination with the X-M1 body we used for our tests.

       

      Full review

      The XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS lens supplied with Fujifilm's X-M1 and X-A1 cameras in Australia provides a slightly wider angle of view than the standard 18-55mm kit zooms, covering angles of view equivalent to 24-76mm on a 35mm camera. Australian readers should note that this lens is not sold separately as it is in the USA, which is why only the US price is provided in the listed specifications. 

      Fujfilm's new XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS kit lens. (Source: Fujifilm.)

      This is Fujifilm's first lens to carry the 'XC' designation, which suggests it's in a different category from the 'XF' lenses released thus far. Like the X-M1 the new lens has a lightweight plastic body but it includes optical image stabilisation and its AF drive motor is fast and nearly silent, making it well suited to movie recording.

      Unlike the XF lenses, this lens lacks an aperture ring. Owners of Fujifilm's X-Pro1 and X-E1 cameras who want to use this lens will need to update the camera body's firmware to enable aperture adjustment via the camera's command dial.
       

      The optical diagram above shows the location of the exotic elements in this lens. (Source: Fujifilm.)

      The optical design consists of 12 elements in 10 groups and includes three aspherical lens elements and one ED element to minimise common aberrations (shown above) and keep the lens physically compact and light. No mention is made of special coatings in Fujifilm's published materials.

      As supplied with the X-M1 camera, this lens comes with front and rear end caps plus a shallow, petal-shaped lens hood, which reverses over the front of the lens for storage.

      Who's it For?
       Most buyers will acquire this lens with either the X-M1 or the soon-to-be-released X-A1 camera body and, as such, it represents good value for money, compared with the AU$799 RRP for the faster XF 18-55mm f/2.8 zoom. For photographers who want to buy into Fujifilm's X camera system, the XC 16-50mm provides a good starting point, when purchased as part of a camera kit and its f/3.5-5.6 maximum aperture range is typical for a starter zoom lens.

      Covering a wide enough focal length range for everyday picture-taking and as a single lens for travellers, this lens is better suited to landscape and portrait photography than shooting sports action or wildlife. Optical image stabilisation promises up to four f-stops of shutter speed compensation.

      Extensive use of plastic means the build quality has been slightly compromised to keep its weight down (see below). However, this makes it a travel friendly combination with the X-M1 body we used for our tests.

      Build and Ergonomics
       Despite its mostly plastic construction (including the mounting plate), the general build quality of the XC 16-50mm is above average for a kit lens and the front element doesn't rotate allowing easy use of angle-critical attachments. As noted above, this lens lacks an aperture ring, which means aperture settings must be controlled from the camera. There are no other external controls.

      The focusing ring is located at the leading edge of the outer barrel. It's roughly 9 mm wide and has a deeply-ridged surface that provides a secure grip. This ring rotates through a full 360 degrees and, although not as well damped as the focusing rings on Fujifilm's XF lenses, it nevertheless provides reasonably good manual focusing precision, aided by the focus peaking provided in the X-M1 camera.

      The zoom ring is 25 mm wide and situated just behind the focusing ring. The front 18 mm of this ring is ridged in a similar way to the focusing ring. The training edge of the zoom ring is stamped with the following focal length settings: 16, 23, 35 and 50 mm. These line up against a white bar on the fixed section of the barrel behind.

      The maximum aperture changes with zooming, as shown in the table below. The minimum aperture remains at f/22, throughout the zoom range.

      Focal length

      Maximum aperture

      16mm

      f/3.5

      23mm

      f/4.2

      35mm

      f/5

      50mm

      f/5.6

      The fixed section of the barrel behind the zoom ring is just under 20mm long. The zoom ring turns through approximately 30 degrees as you move between the 16mm and 50mm positions. This extends the inner barrel by 35 mm.

      Performance
      Imatest showed the review lens to be capable of matching expectations for the X-M1's 16-megapixel sensor, with the highest resolution recorded around the middle of the zoom range, as shown in the graph of our Imatest results below. 

       
      Between f/5.6 and f/8, sharpness was excellent in the centre of the frame and very good towards the edges at all focal length settings. Diffraction came into play between f/11 and f/16 and there was a distinct drop between f/16 and f/22.
       
      Lateral chromatic aberration remained entirely within the 'negligible' band for all aperture and focal length settings, as shown in the graph of our Imatest results below, where the red line marks the border between ‘negligible’ and ‘low’ CA. We found no evidence of coloured fringing in test shots.

       
       Rectilinear distortion was almost non-existent, thanks in part to automatic in-camera correction with JPEG files. Slight barrel distortion is present throughout the zoom range with RAF.RAW  files, although this is easily corrected when these files are converted into editable formats.

      Flare was relatively uncommon with this lens and the supplied hood provides a reasonable amount of shading in strong side-lighting as well as allowing scope for backlit shots. A slight loss of contrast was seen occasionally when shooting directly into the light. (An examples is shown below.)

      The 16mm focal length includes quite a lot of the background at its closest focus making it relatively unsuitable for close-up work. However, with the Macro setting on the X-M1, some nice close-up shots are possible and the lens would focus within about 40 cm of the subject.

      Bokeh could be a little choppy at times and we found a slight tendency towards outlining of bright highlights. But potential purchasers in the target market should find little to complain about.

       

      SPECS

       Picture angle: 83.2 degrees to 31.7 degrees
       Minimum aperture: f/22
       Lens construction: 12 elements in 10 groups (including 3 aspherical lens elements and one ED element)
       Lens mount: Fujifilm X
       Diaphragm Blades: 7 (rounded diaphragm)
       Focus drive: Linear stepping motor
       Stabilisation: Yes
       Minimum focus: 60 cm across zoom range (with the camera in macro mode: 30 cm at 16mm; 40 cm at 50mm)
       Maximum magnification: 0.15x (1:6.7)
       Filter size:  58 mm
       Dimensions (Diameter x L): 63 x 65 mm
       Weight: 195 grams
       Hood supplied: Yes

       

      TESTS

       (Based on JPEG files from the Fujifilm X-M1.)

       
       

      SAMPLES

       

       Vignetting at 16mm.
       
       

      Vignetting at 50mm.
       
       

      Rectilinear distortion at 16mm.
       
       

      Rectilinear distortion at 23mm.
       
       

      Rectilinear distortion at 35mm.
       
       

      Rectilinear distortion at 50mm.

       16mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/250 second at f/8.
       
       

      50mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/250 second at f/7.1.
       
       

      16mm focal length, ISO 2100, 1/400 second at f/9.
       

       Crop of the above image enlarged to 100% showing the absence of coloured fringing.
       
       

      50mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/250 second at f/11.
       
       

      Crop of the above image enlarged to 100% showing the absence of coloured fringing.
       
       

      Backlit subject; 50mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/100 second at f/11.
       
       

      Forced flare; 23mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/500 second at f/13.
       
       

      Close-up shot using the normal focusing range; 50mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/1100 second at f/7.1.
       
       

      Close-up shot using the Macro mode on the X-M1; 50mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/200 second at f/5.6.
       
       

      Close-up shot using the Macro mode on the X-M1; 50mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/100 second at f/8.
       
      Additional image samples can be found with our review of the Fujifilm X-M1

       

      Rating

      RRP: US$399.95 (not sold separately in Australia) 

      • Build: 8.5
      • Handling: 8.5
      • Image quality: 9.0
      • Versatility: 8.5

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