Fujifilm Xf16-55 f2.8 LM WR versus Fuji primes / by juan martinez

The Fujifilm xf16-55 f2.8 LM WR zoom lens is meant to be a professional alternative to carrying a bag full of primes. Indeed,  the build, fast AF motors, constant f2.8 aperture through-out the range (16mm-55mm) and weather resistant WR designation all help qualify it as a fantastic pro-level lens. But does it have the IQ to compete with the excellent Fujifilm primes? Could it work to replace these primes in your camera bag? Lets take a look... 

The XF1655 was compared against the following primes: xf16, xf23, xf35, xf56 all at f2.8 except where noted. The xf1655 on the left with the various primes on the right.

xf1655 at 16mm f2.8

xf1655 at 22mm f2.8

xf1655 at 34mm f2.8

xf1655 at 55mm f2.8

xf16 at 16mm f2.8

xf23 at 23mm f2.8

xf35 at 35mm f2.8

xf56 at 56mm f2.8

At first glance the biggest difference to me is the bokeh. The xf1655 creates slightly busier bokeh, with bokeh balls that aren't as solid as the primes. The highlights clearly have "onion ring" silhouettes within then. But overall, when considering the image as a whole, I would say you get 90-95% of the excellent Fujifilm prime lens IQ all rolled into one big-ass lens. Furthermore, if you consider the fact that the xf1655 is competing wide-open while the others are stopped down where all lenses improve (sharper), it did fantastic! Colors seem a tad warmer as well. Additionally, its close focus ability helps make the best of the f2.8 max aperture which works great for food and beer-porn photography!

Below are two shots on the xf1655 and xf56 at f4. One can easily notice the xf1655 keeps its round bokeh ball shape where the excellent xf56 gets very hexagonal (actually in the above crops at f2.8 you can notice the less ideal hexagonal bokeh highlights as well!).

xf1655 at 55mm f4 top right crop. Bokeh balls are still round stopped-down.

xf1655 at 55mm f4 top right crop. Bokeh balls are still round stopped-down.

xf56 at 56mm f4. Top right crop. Notice the hexagonal highlights/bokeh balls.

And just for fun, the xf56 at wide-open f1.2. Definitely a beautiful lens and the better portrait only lens.

xf56 at f1.2...lovely creamy bokeh!

Could the xf1655 serve as the perfect all in one lens? If shot carefully I really think so. You won't be able to get the super shallow DOF or super creamy bokeh like you can with the primes (except the xf27 f2.8 that is) but bokeh isn't everything. Composition and subject matter truly are more important.  If you can agree, then the all in one xf1655 lens solution may be the right lens for you.