Fuji 16-55 f2.8 vs 16-80 f4 Real Life Comparison

I spent days comparing the Fuji 16-55 f2.8 vs 16-80 f4 quibbling over the remarks that the latter wasn’t sharp. On paper the Fuji XF 16-80mm f4 R OIS WR is the perfect lens for me as an Outdoor Environmental Photographer, but I was worried about getting one.

I shouldn’t have been. Let me caveat this comparison with a clear and simple message – the Fuji 16-80mm f4 is very sharp and produces amazing photographs.

A May Bug in some daisies testing the Fuji 16-80mm f4
Fuji 16-80mm 1/1000 f8 iso 800

This comparison is nothing about image quality or sharpness. For a real working photographer you just don’t need to get bogged down worrying about either lens. That’s very hypocritcal of me to say because it’s exactly what I did but after asking some other Fuji photographers I decided to get one ordered up whilst loaning a 16-55mm from Fuji FPS.

My problem was that the commissions that I get tend to involve me moving quickly over bad terrain in questionable weather. I was using the (very good) 35mm f2 WR, 16mm f2.8 WR and 50-140 f2.8 WR and this meant I was often having to swap lenses for a composition. That exposed my camera a lot and it was always a juggle.

None of the images below are straight out of camera or anything like that. Instead they should show that it doesn’t matter which lens you use unless optics are your only concern. I would happily supply any of these to my clients, regardless of the lens used.

What you should be thinking about whilst comparing a Fuji 16-55 f2.8 vs 16-80 f4 is which is more fit for purpose?

Benefits of the Fuji 16-80mm f4

  • Lighter weight
  • More compact
  • Incredible optical stabilisation – I mean really jaw droppingly good
  • Lower cost
  • Closer minimum focussing distance

Benefits of the 16-55mm f2.8

  • Probably better optical performance at 400% (in other words, irrelevant)
  • Has a nice red badge on it

I’m being flippant here to make a point. If you’re after really good image quality and work in easier conditions then the 16-55mm is a very good lens to use.

16-80mm 1/1000 f5.6 iso 640

Who is the 16-80mm f4 lens for?

As I specialise in outdoor photography, I needed a lens that I could use for 80% of my work and could keep up with me in bad conditions. The 16-80mm is quick, robust, versatile, optically sound with black magic OIS. This means that I very rarely need to change lenses. Obviously I still do and it can’t compare to the way my 23mm f1.4 renders detail or the speed and range of the 50-140mm f2.8, but it ticks enough boxes that I am no longer trying to change lenses in the wind and rain.

If you work outdoors a lot and move around quickly, often with a big load on your back, buy the 16-80mm f4.

Test of the Fuji XF 16-80mm f4 with flashes and long exposure
16-80mm 3.0 f5.6 iso 1250
Landscape photography test with Fuji 16-55mm f2.8 at Battery Point
16-55mm 1/250 f6.4 iso 160