2 weeks with the 8-16mm in NW Scotland

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Snap Happy Contributing Member • Posts: 916
2 weeks with the 8-16mm in NW Scotland
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I just spent 2 weeks with a rented 8-16mm in the North West of Scotland. it started well when I arrived early at my base (expected to arrive after sunset), and managed to grab this shot:

@11mm, RAW conversion in Capture One Pro, 3 images bracketed in-camera (-2,0,+2) merged in Nik HDR Efex, Sharpener Pro, Gitzo 5 series, Arca Z1

Camera (X-T2) and lens got a good soaking during this session - fortunately wind is from behind camera so nothing got on the front element. It was also around -10C with wind chill.

Here's another from a few days later at sunrise, from almost the same spot, but with the camera swung more to the right:

@16mm, RAW conversion in Capture One Pro, 3 images bracketed in-camera (-2,0,+2) merged in Nik HDR Efex, Sharpener Pro, Dfine, Gitzo 5 series, Arca Z1. Cropped to 65:24.

Overall, I thought the 8-16mm was an excellent lens, especially in terms of edge-to-edge sharpness, and it performed faultlessly in less than ideal weather conditions (although I did observe some curious AF behaviour, see here). But it's not for me, here's why:

  • Not being able to use filters is a pain. There were many times when I fell back to the 14mm or Samyang 12mm just so I could use a Big or Little Stopper to smooth out water (it was very windy almost all the time). Yes, I could add a Lee SW150 holder, but it's just another thing to carry, and is not cheap. I did try merging a sequence of several-second-long exposures to simulate one longer exposure, but the results did not seem as good or as predictable as when using a dense ND filter, and you end up shooting at f/22 to get the longest individual exposures so not really getting the best out of the camera/lens.
  • It's obviously big and heavy - you need a good solid head to lock it in place and get the best out of it. Handheld, on an un-gripped X-T2, it's too much IMHO. Kind of goes against why I chose X-series in the first place. But if I had a need to frequently use this focal length range handheld, on a gripped body it would be absolutely fine.
  • I found myself using it mostly at 16mm, which surprised me, as for years my go-to landscape wide angle has been ~20mm equivalent. But in these big landscapes I felt that the slightly narrower angle of view (relative to the 14mm) often worked better.
  • Cost - especially given that I would need to spend at least another £300 to address the filter issue, it doesn't makes sense for me. May be it would if I did not already own a bunch of wide angles.

Given I could put the 14mm and the new 16mm/2.8 in my bag and that would still be less than half the weight of the zoom, I will probably get the 16mm f/2.8. I saw it at the Photography Show in Birmingham UK yesterday and it is tiny.

So, what about the 10-24? Well, I do have a preference for primes (yes, I know that's a bit contradictory, given what I just hired!), and I never felt that my 10-24 (now sold) quite delivered the sharpness out to the corners that the primes can. That's not to say it's a bad lens, not at all, especially given it's flexibility and OIS means it is great for handheld shots in dimly-lit interiors. But, for me, as a landscaper who like's a slow approach, shooting off a solid tripod, using filters etc., there is more to be gained with a prime, I think, for my use-case.

 Snap Happy's gear list:Snap Happy's gear list
Fujifilm X-T2 Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 R Fujifilm XF 14mm F2.8 R Samyang 12mm F2 NCS CS Fujifilm XF 50-140mm F2.8 +3 more
Fujifilm XF 8-16mm F2.8 Fujifilm X-T2
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