16-55 vs 16-80: at an impasse

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Lens_Goat Contributing Member • Posts: 638
16-55 vs 16-80: at an impasse
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Back when I shot Sony, the allure of Fujifilm's dials and retro-styling was dogged. I had to convert. I told myself I would do so once the 16-80 was released. Needless to say, I caved 11-months before the 16-80 would find its way into my hands.

Last December, I bought my XT-3 with the 16-55 and I have taken many cherished pictures with it. It's a bit hefty for my liking but I have gotten by hiking in the mountains with it. All the while, the specter of the 16-80 has (to a small extent) tempered my enjoyment of the 16-55. Will this marvelous lens prevail in the end or give way to the 16-80?

Once I got the shipping receipt for my 16-80, I figured I would at last get closure. Unfortunately that hasn't exactly been the case. Comparing the 16-80 to the 16-55 has exposed both the strengths and weaknesses of the 16-55.

Contrary to what one YouTuber said, who now has no credibility in my book, the 16-80 is not sharper than the 16-55. At 1:1, the difference in sharpness is salient. Particularly at the wider end of the zoom range. Here are two pictures, taken on a tripod, to prove my point:

16-55:

16-80:

Even stopping down to f/8, the 16-80 fails to catch up. But, do the smeary details at 1:1 really matter in the end? I do like to crop but I don't think anyone will notice most of the time. The images of the 16-80 look clear and detailed at normal viewing angles.

In spite of its inferior sharpness, the 16-80 has many things going for it. It feels perfect on the XT-3. It reveals how bulbous and front-heavy a lens the 16-55 is. The 16-80 also exhibits less barrel distortion than the 16-55. Perhaps the camera is programmed to more aggressively correct the 16-80's distortions. Focus is snappy and OIS seems to work very well.

So, I'm at a loss. Unfortunately -- owning both is not an option I wish to consider. In nearly a year since I've taken to shooting Fuji, these are the only two lenses I've purchased. I rather expend what little discretionary income I have on something different than a 2nd mid-range zoom. Perhaps the 10-24? Perhaps one of the revered primes?

Any advice would be welcome but ultimately I need to make the decision for myself. In a way, I wish the 16-80 were my first Fujifilm lens. It's a damn fine lens and I would not have the frame of reference to see where it is deficient.

 Lens_Goat's gear list:Lens_Goat's gear list
Fujifilm X-T3 Fujifilm 16-55mm F2.8R LM WR
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