Introduction

Since I made the jump from DSLR to mirrorless, I had been waiting for the lens that would fill the void left by my 14-24mm ultra-wide to wide angle zoom. It was on the roadmap, but months away, and Fujifilm didn’t have a prime that that got even close to a 14mm full frame equivalent. 3rd party offerings like Zeiss’s Touit 12mm got us closer, but still not quite to the width I was used to, and its sharpness had been called into question.

Fujifilm’s XF 10-24mm f/4 covers an extraordinary range, from 15mm, all the way to 36mm in 35mm equivalence. That’s 1mm narrower on the wide end than I had on full frame, but a full 12mm more on the opposite end of the focal range. The question is, can the 10-24mm f/4 produce photos of a standard of quality that truly realizes its convenience?

Testing notes:

I did my best to match focal lengths, but getting the 10-24mm f/4 at exactly 14, 18, and 23mm was extremely difficult, if not impossible. I usually ended up with the EXIF data saying I was at 13.8, 18.2, and 22.9mm respectively, and no amount of minor tweaking netted me more exact readings. I tweeted to The Fuji Guys that showing the exact focal length in the viewfinder when using zoom lenses would be handy. They acknowledged, but we’ll just have to wait and see what Japan does. As it turns out, the EXIF data wasn’t the most reliable gauge. For instance, the 10-24mm f/4 at 24mm is closer in field of view to the 23mm f/1.4 than it was when set to 22.9mm.

Also note that my tripod did not move between images. Only my lens changed or, in some cases, the whole camera was swapped out.

Fuji’s 14mm f/2.8, 18mm f/2, 23mm f/1.4, and 10-24mm f/4 zoom

Fuji’s 14mm f/2.8, 18mm f/2, 23mm f/1.4, and 10-24mm f/4 zoom

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Specifications

14mm f/2.8 18mm f/2 23mm f/1.4 10-24mm f/4
Announced June 27, 2012 January 9, 2012 September 5, 2013 December, 18 2013
Released January, 2013 February, 2012 October, 2013 March, 2014
Price
(MSRP)
$899 $599 $899 $999
Lens Construction 10 elements,
7 groups
2 aspherical,
3 extra low dispersion elements
8 elements,
7 groups
2 aspherical elements
11 elements,
8 groups
1 aspherical element
14 elements,
10 groups
4 aspherical,
3 extra low dispersion elements
35mm Equivalent 21mm 27mm 35mm 15 - 36mm
Angle of View 89˚ 76.5˚ 63.4˚ 110° - 61.2°
Aperture Range f/2.8 - f/22 f/2 - f/16 f/1.4 - f/16 f/4 - f/22
Focus Range Approx. 18cm - Infinity Approx. 18cm - Infinity 0.6m (28cm Macro) - Infinity 0.5m (24cm Macro) - Infinity
Maximum Magnification 0.12x 0.14x 0.1x 0.16x
External Dimensions 65mm diameter x 58.4mm long 64.5mm diameter x 40.6mm long 72mm diameter x 63mm long 78mm diameter x 87mm long
Weight (Measured) 234.5g
272g with caps and hood
118g
149g with caps and hood
139g without hood
296g
344g with caps and hood
404g
455g with caps and hood
Filter Size 58mm 52mm 62mm 72mm
Fuji’s FUJINON XF 10-24mm ƒ/4

Fuji’s FUJINON XF 10-24mm ƒ/4

What’s in the box

Not much new to see in the in the unboxing of the 10-24mm f/4. We’ve gone from elegant magnetic enclosure with the 18mm f/2, to a blacked out version of the fast food drink tray with the 14mm f/2.8 all the way to the bottom of the unboxing barrel with the 10-24mm f/4. The pouch is still too large, and will stay in the box for me, but at least Fujifilm are still including the hood which is what really matters.

I’m pretty sure you actually could stow a soft drink in this thing

I’m pretty sure you actually could stow a soft drink in this thing

Handling

This is where things start to get interesting. Outside of size and weight, these lenses, and Fujifilm lenses in general handle quite similarly. The primes handle the way all the primes do, and the 10-24mm f/4 handles almost exactly the way the 18-55mm kit zoom does with the only real difference being the rubber zoom ring. While I don’t mind the rubber zoom ring, I prefer the metal version on the 18-55mm. Ironically, Fuji’s engineers cite improved grip a the key reason for the rubber grip. To my hand, the zoom ring on the kit lens is easier to turn, but one thing the different material of the 10-24mm f/4 offers is immediate tactile feedback that you’ve grasped the right part of the lens. It’s a little bit easier to think you’re zooming when you’re actually spinning the focus ring on 18-55mm.

Speaking of rubber rings, Zeiss features a very different look and feel for their lenses. To be honest, I’m not crazy about it, for whatever that’s worth. The lenses don’t seem to fit with the look of the Fuji X System.

Hoods

The scalloped hood that ships with the 10-24mm f/4 is quite large and splays out pretty wide. It’s nowhere near as obnoxious as the hood that comes with the 23mm f/1.4. It reverses well too. My favourite Fuji X-Mount hoods are still the 35mm f/1.4 and 18mm f/2. They just look cool to me, fiddly cap and all.

The Zeiss has a plastic bayonet-style hood as well. It doesn’t reverse as well as the others, and the lens becomes quite large with it on. With that said, the Zeiss looks much more “incomplete” without the hood attached. It actually appears as though part of the lens construction has been removed. Again, looks shouldn’t matter a great deal, but they do matter.

FUJI’S 14MM f/2.8, 18MM f/2, 23MM f/1.4, AND 10-24MM f/4 ZOOM with hoods

FUJI’S 14MM f/2.8, 18MM f/2, 23MM f/1.4, AND 10-24MM f/4 ZOOM with hoods

Lens Caps

As ever, I’ve purchased a Nikon cap to replace all the caps for the lenses I own. They just work better for me. The Zeiss cap is another level though. It’s terrible. Probably the worst lens cap I’ve used.

Aperture Rings

The aperture ring on the two copies of the 10-24mm f/4 I’ve handled feel exactly the same as the kit zoom. They click great and there is no play in them. One thing I’m a little confused by is why the 10-24mm f/4 has an unmarked aperture ring. The 18-55mm I understand as it’s a variable aperture lens, but the 10-24mm is f/4 throughout so it seems Fujifilm could have saved themselves a switch on the 10-24mm.

The rings on the primes are another matter. I don’t know what it is with the primes, but the inclusion of a marked aperture ring seems to bring sample variation with it. It has improved substantially with the 23mm f/1.4, the most recent release of the primes in this test, but you’ll still want to check the rings carefully while you’re within your return policy or before you leave the store.

The rubberized aperture ring on the copy of the Zeiss I had felt a little bit hollow somehow. It was a dealer sample, so it’s been around the block and then some, but still, it was a little worrisome that after a lot of use, the ring felt the way it did. I should note that I sampled a few copies of the Zeiss 32mm f/1.8 and they all felt much better. I’d have to give Zeiss the nod on out of the box aperture ring consistency.

Focus Rings

Again the 10-24mm f/4 features a similar split ring design as the 18-55mm. In this case the ring size increases in diamtetre, making it even easier to know what part of the lens your hand is on without taking your eye from the viewfinder. I’d have loved engraved depth of field markings like we have on the 14mm f/2.8 and 23mm f/1.4. The Zeiss also has no depth of field markings. Pity.

Size & Weight

None of these lenses can touch the FUJINON XF 18mm f/2. This is where the lens shines. It’s ridiculously small and light. It can be tossed in your bag (or jacket pocket) without you even noticing it. The 14mm f/2.8 is on the light side too, and isn’t terribly large, but it’s not pocketable like the XF 18mm f/2. The Zeiss is quite a bit larger than the 14mm f/2.8, the 23mm f/1.4 is heavier still, but not much larger. The 10-24mm f/4 dwarfs all of them. You won’t be discrete with this lens mounted on your camera.

FUJI’S 14MM f/2.8 10-24MM f/4 ZOOM, AND THE ZEISS TOUIT 12MM f/2.8 WITH HOODS

FUJI’S 14MM f/2.8 10-24MM f/4 ZOOM, AND THE ZEISS TOUIT 12MM f/2.8 WITH HOODS

FUJI’S 14MM f/2.8 10-24MM f/4 ZOOM, And The Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8 WITH HOODS

FUJI’S 14MM f/2.8 10-24MM f/4 ZOOM, And The Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8 WITH HOODS

With that we sort of loop back to handling. Of all of Fujifilm’s camera offerings, The X-T1 is the current body I would want to use the 10-24mm f/4 on; it balances extremely well on it. Without any extra grip and a simple wrist strap, I can let the camera dangle from my finger tips.

All of the primes are pretty serviceable on the X-E bodies. The 23mm f/1.4 gets a little front-heavy and you can probably forget about one-handed use for long, but otherwise it’s ok. On an X-M1, I don’t think I’d want to go much larger than the 14mm f/2.8. The 18mm f/2 is pretty much made for that body.

Here’s how the weight stacks up in chart form

Includes caps and hood

Things get really interesting when we add a full frame ultra-wide zoom in the mix.

Includes caps and hood

For giggles, here’s how all the Fujifilm lenses compare to just one full frame zoom lens. Yes, you can carry all 4 lenses for about 50g more weight.

Fuji_Fujifilm_14mmf2pt8_18mmf2_23mmf1pt4_10-24mmf4zoom_Nikon_14-24f2pt8_weight.png

What about the X-Pro1?

The 10-24mm f/4 balances pretty well on the X-Pro1, but the problem is the key advantage the X-Pro1 offers—its awesome OVF—is of much less value with lenses this wide. A full 50% of the 10-24mm f/4’s zoom range will leave some of your image out of the frame whilst composing. It isn’t until 18mm that you can actually see all of your photo, but even then, the 10-24mm f/4 is so large, it obstructs too much of the OVF for it to be much good. This leaves you with the EVF, and the X-Pro1—being the elder of the family—has the worst EVF in it. Hopefully Fujifilm will find a way to address this with the X-Pro2.

Below are some images for reference. Rollover for their description. Apologies for the poor quality.

What you see at focal lengths wider than 18mm

What you see at focal lengths wider than 18mm

Amount of frame obstructed by 10-24mm ƒ/4

Amount of frame obstructed by 10-24mm ƒ/4

Zooming the OVF is of little help

Zooming the OVF is of little help

Forget the OVF with the 14mm ƒ/2.8

Forget the OVF with the 14mm ƒ/2.8

Barely an issue with the 18mm ƒ/2

Barely an issue with the 18mm ƒ/2

The 23mm ƒ/1.4 is tolerable

The 23mm ƒ/1.4 is tolerable

Autofocus Performance

Realistically, your camera body will make a bigger difference in AF performance than your lens choice. Autofocus with each of these lenses is pretty swift. I wouldn’t let autofocus pace determine which of these lenses you choose. In good light, I haven’t had any issues with any of these lenses on any body. In poor light, you’ll experience a typical reduction in AF consistency as noted in my X-T1 review:

Sitting in my basement with a single floor lamp on, I did a test, focusing on a speaker across the room. Here’s the success/failure rate:

Camera X-E1 X100S X-E2 X-T1
Success Rate 0/5 4/5 3/5 5/5
Focus Speed Failed to focus Slower Faster Fastest

Sharpness

I bet a lot of you scrolled down to this bit. To preemptively sum up, if you shoot JPEG, you’ll have few, if any issues with the 10-24mm f/4. Fuji’s correction algorithms work some pretty serious magic with this lens, right out to the edges, and all but the most extreme corners. Likewise, the Lens Modulation Optimizer helps at smaller apertures. If you’re a RAF shooter looking for maximum acuity over versatility or the widest angle of view, you may want to stock a prime or two in your bag. Let’s have a look.

Building at Sunrise

The EXIF data showed 14mm at this point

The EXIF data showed 14mm at this point

This first comparison is a series of JPEGs shot on an X-E1 so the LMO is removed from the equation. I shot all of these as both RAF and JPEG, but the camera does a better job sharpening the RAFs in this case than Lightroom does due in part to the fine detail in the tree branches. Globally sharpening for the buildings makes the tree a sharpening halo-filled mess, and sharpening for the tree leaves the building soft. Selective sharpening is almost a necessity with this kind of image in RAF form. I find applying global sharpening to the JPEG out of camera much more pleasing either way.

There seems to be a little bit of a bug in either the X-E1 or the 10-24mm f/4’s firmware. As I was attempting to nail down the 14mm focal length, the camera’s EXIF data was reporting less than 14mm until I reached the point shown in the photo to the right. What I ended up with is my 10-24mm f/4 images being at 14.5mm. That 0.5mm makes a difference in the field of view, but I think we’re still ok to make our comparisons. This does not happen with the X-T1.

Fuji 10-24mm f/4 vs. Fuji 14mm f/2.8

The XF 14mm f/2.8 is an incredible lens. The detail it resolves is astounding. The XF 10-24mm f/4? It actually keeps pace with the 14mm in this test in the centre of the frame. The 14mm f/2.8 appears to be a little bit sharper, but just barely. Across all the apertures I’m seeing almost equally crisp details in the building, and on the bare tree branches in front of it. Keep in mind there was a bit of a breeze that morning so the tree can’t be used as your only guide. Make your way down to the bottom-left corner image and you’ll see the 14mm f/2.8 holds detail a little better up to f/8. By f/11 things even out in the corners to my eye. Diffraction starts to really set in on both lenses at f/16, and hits the 14mm f/2.8 a little harder by f/22.

Fuji_Fujifilm_X-E1_XF10-24mmF4.jpg
Fuji_Fujifilm_X-E1_XF14mmF2.8.jpg

10-24mm @ ƒ/4

14mm @ ƒ/4

 

10-24mm @ ƒ/5.6

14mm @ƒ5.6

 

10-24mm @ ƒ/8

14mm @ ƒ/8

 

10-24mm @ ƒ/11

14mm @ ƒ/11

 

10-24mm @ ƒ/16

14mm @ ƒ/16

 

10-24mm @ ƒ/22

14mm @ ƒ/22

 

10-24mm – left edge @ ƒ/8

14mm – left edge @ ƒ/8

 

10-24mm – bottom right corner @ ƒ/8

14mm – bottom right corner @ ƒ/8

 

10-24mm – bottom left corner @ ƒ/8

14mm – bottom left corner @ ƒ/8

The extreme corner of the 10-24mm is quite smeared up to and including ƒ/8.

 

10-24mm – bottom left corner @ ƒ/11

14mm – bottom left corner @ ƒ/11

By ƒ/11, the zoom seems to close the gap a little bit.

 

Fuji 10-24mm f/4 vs. Fuji 18mm f/2

When it comes to the FUJINON XF 18mm ƒ/2, the prime outperforms the zoom at its maximum aperture, but the tide shifts from ƒ/5.6 and on. By ƒ/8, the 10-24mm ƒ/4 is much sharper than the 18mm ƒ/2. This doesn’t really surprise me, but I would have liked a better showing from the 18mm ƒ/2. This goes to show that this lens is not optimized for smaller aperture performance.

DSCF5227–X-E1–XF10-24mmF4 R OIS-18.2 mm-14042718.2 mm.jpg
 

10-24mm @ ƒ/4

18mm @ ƒ/4

 

10-24mm @ ƒ/5.6

18mm @ ƒ/5.6

 

10-24mm @ ƒ/8

18mm @ ƒ/8

 

10-24mm @ ƒ/11

18mm @ ƒ/11

 

10-24mm @ ƒ/16

18mm @ ƒ/16

 

10-24mm – left edge

18mm – left edge

 

10-24mm – bottom-left corner

18mm – bottom-left corner

 

10-24mm – bottom-right corner

18mm – bottom-right corner

 

Fuji 10-24mm f/4 vs. Fuji 23mm f/1.4

Against the FUJINON XF 23mm ƒ/1.4, it’s a fairer fight. In the centre of the frame the two lenses are neck and neck, but stray to close to the edge of the frame, and the primes shows it’s value very quickly. The corners and edges on the 10-24mm ƒ/4 become unacceptably soft for me.

Embarrassingly, I started this series of testng out at the wide end of the primes thinking the whole building would easily still fit within the frame by the time I got to 23mm. Goes to show just how much of a range the 10-24mm ƒ/4 covers. And curiously, with the zoom racked out to 24mm, it looks to be just barely closer than the 23mm while having the zoom set to 22.9mm appears noticeably wider.

 

10-24mm @ ƒ/4

23mm @ ƒ/4

 

10-24mm @ ƒ/8

23mm @ ƒ/8

 

10-24mm @ ƒ/16

23mm @ ƒ/16

 

10-24mm – top-right corner

23mm – top-right corner

Poorly framing this shot worked out in the end as it shows the smearing that occurs on the 10-24mm ƒ/4 towards the edges.

 

10-24mm – bottom-right corner

23mm – bottom-right corner

The prime shows what it’s made of compared the zoom at its maximum reach.

 

10-24mm – bottom-left corner

23mm – bottom-left corner

 

10mm

At 10mm the 10-24mm ƒ/4 simply has no competition. The images below show how much wider the 10-24mm can go compared to Fuji’s next widest offering, the 14mm ƒ/2.8. Again, maximum sharpness is at ƒ/8 with diffraction barely creeping in at ƒ/11. I would want to shoot this lens at ƒ/8 as much as possible and thankfully, there’s heaps of depth of field at 10mm.

DSCF5211–X-E1–XF10-24mmF4 R OIS-10 mm-14042710 mm-2.jpg
DSCF5200–X-E1–XF14mmF2.8 R-14 mm-14042714 mm.jpg

Condos

This is the point during my testing where I got my hands on the Zeiss Touit 12mm ƒ/2.8. The first thing we notice is just how much wider 12mm is compared to 14mm. Once you apply the crop factor, the difference goes up to a hair over 3mm.

Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8 vs. Fuji XF 10-24mm f/4 vs. Fuji XF 14mm f/2.8

Unfortunately, the sharpness isn’t quite there with my copy of the Zeiss. It’s softer than both the 10-24mm ƒ/4 across the entire aperture range. The story stays the same when comparing the Zeiss and the 14mm ƒ/2.8; Fuji’s offering runs away with the sharpness crown.

Getting back to the Fuji comparison, to my eye the 14mm ƒ/2.8 is holding detail ever so slightly better than the 10-24mm ƒ/4 in the centre of the frame, and it’s even sharper at the edges by comparison. These images were captured with Fuji’s Lens Modulation Optimizer turned off, and both lenses seem to top out at ƒ/8—the aperture used for this comparison—but I wouldn’t think twice about using either at ƒ/11. Diffraction becomes visible by ƒ/16, and both lenses are unacceptably soft by ƒ/22 for detailed landscape work when shooting RAW.

Bridge

I did a couple extra comparisons of just the wide angle options. In this one, I captured both RAF and JPEG as usual, but I found this one particularly useful as it demonstrated how much correction can be done in camera, and how much wider 10mm is compared to 12mm and 14mm.

Fuji XF 10-24mm f/4 vs Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, again the Zeiss Touit 12mm ƒ/2.8 appears to be softer, although the difference is a fair bit less pronounced in the RAF files, particularly out towards the edges of the 10-24mm ƒ/4.

Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8 vs. Fuji XF 14mm f/2.8

Comparing the Zeiss Touit 12mm ƒ/2.8 to the FUJINON XF 14mm ƒ/2.8 again, and the difference in angle of view is very pronounced. I have to admit that this is quite a bit more significant than I had anticipated, but it hasn’t changed what my preference is overall between the two. JPEGs from the 14mm ƒ/2.8 are far sharper than those from the Touit 12mm, but moving to the RAF files, the difference is drastically reduced. In fact, the difference is so great, it makes me wonder if Zeiss need to release a firmware update for this lens. I would hope a dealer sample provided by Zeiss would be fully up to date.

Fuji XF 10-24mm f/4 vs. Fuji XF 14mm f/2.8

Moving to the 10-24mm ƒ/4 vs. 14mm ƒ/2.8 comparison, and the images are hardly distinguishable in JPEG form. If I had to pick, I’d give the nod to the 14mm ƒ/2.8, but really, if you are a JPEG shooter, you won’t be missing much from the prime. When it comes to RAFs, the 14mm ƒ/2.8’s quality shows again at the edges and in the corners. The difference isn’t huge though.

In the following crops, the RAF is on the left, JPEG on the right.

Bokeh! (and rendering)

I won’t go nuts with bokeh comparisons between these lenses. If you’re looking for background separation, you want the FUJINON XF 23mm ƒ/1.4 or the FUJINON XF 18mm ƒ/2. The 10-24mm ƒ/4 can provide some nice out of focus backgrounds when shot at ƒ/4 and up close.

Potted Flower

Fuji XF 10-24mm ƒ/4 vs. Fuji XF 23mm ƒ/1.4

It should come as no surprise that the 23mm ƒ/1.4 renders backgrounds with loads more blur at ƒ/1.4 than anything the zoom can achieve. What’s interesting though is the quality of the bokeh from the 10-24mm at ƒ/4. I’d never be able to tell which of these images apart from their bokeh. Click to enlarge.

Fuji XF 10-24mm ƒ/4 vs. Fuji XF 18mm ƒ/2

Once again, no surprise that an ƒ/2 lens can separate a subject from the background better than an ƒ/4. At ƒ/4 though, the bokeh balls from the 18mm ƒ/2 are much nicer. They’re very small, but I can make out a bit of onioning on the zoom. This would certainly be the case for the 23mm ƒ/1.4 if bokeh balls were visible.

I have to note the warmer rendering of the 18mm ƒ/2, it’s extremely noticeable here. The cool shadows on the driveway behind the flowers are actually rendered warm by the 18mm ƒ/2. Click to enlarge.

Fuji XF 10-24mm ƒ/4 vs. Fuji XF 14mm ƒ/2.8

The 14mm ƒ/2.8 only has a stop on the zoom, but it does make a noteworthy difference in background blur. By ƒ/4 I can barely tell these images apart aside from the cooler rendering of the 10-24mm ƒ/4, but given what I know about the 14mm ƒ/2.8’s bokeh ball capabilities, I’d say it has the edge.

Realistically, these are not the lenses and focal lengths you want to use to make your background disappear. Norm, there, is clearly visible, tending to his garden. Click to enlarge.

Zeiss Touit 12mm ƒ/2.8

The extra 2mm compared to the 14mm ƒ/2.8 makes a bit of a difference in background separation, but really if you just get a bit closer, you’ll be able to achieve very similar results.

By 10mm, so much is in focus it’s hardly worth making a comparison. The nice thing is you can shoot wide open with the zoom and still get lots of depth of field provided you focus far enough away. Couple that with the OIS and you can get loads of depth of field handheld in awfully low light. Click to enlarge.

Park Garden

Fuji XF 10-24mm ƒ/4 vs. Fuji XF 18mm ƒ/2

A quick comparison with the FUJINON XF 18mm ƒ/2. Again, my tripod did not move during these tests, and in this case, I changed lenses rather than swap out the camera. The EXIF data shows the 10-24mm ƒ/4 was at 18.2mm, but it certainly appears as though it is more than 0.2mm closer than the 18mm ƒ/2. Even the background at ƒ/4 gets a little extra bit of blur compared to the 18mm ƒ/2 at ƒ/4. Click to enlarge.

Life Preserver

Fuji XF 10-24mm ƒ/4 vs. Fuji XF 23mm ƒ/1.4

Another quick comparison to illustrate how much (or little) background separation is possible when focusing from a little further away. Also worth nothing is the vignetting that is quite strong on the 23mm ƒ/1.4, and non-existent on the 10-24mm ƒ/4. Click to enlarge.

Distortion

The first thing worth noting is that Fujifilm’s Lens Modulation Optimization is not responsible for correcting distortion. Even my X-E1 applies distortion correction to JPEG files. After correction, all but one lens perform exceptionally well. The lens that doesn’t is the 18mm ƒ/2. Even JPEGs will still show noticeable and potentially objectionable barrel distortion. Instinctively I’d want to avoid this lens when shooting horizons or architecture, but I’ve managed some decent results in street shooting with the humble 18mm ƒ/2. If you need your lines as straight as possible, looks elsewhere, but I think my failure to get square with this structure is far more objectionable than the lens distortion.

With the 18mm ƒ/2 out of the way, I we can move onto the other 4 lenses. Comparisons of their RAF files are below, but really, it’s a difficult thing to judge while cycling through images because the distortion is so minimal. This is about as close to shooting a brick wall as I’m willing to get, but even when I turn on the tight grid in Lightroom, I’m not seeing much curvature in lines meant to be straight.

The bottom line is aside from that little 18mm ƒ/2, distortion shouldn’t be a deciding factor when choosing between these lenses. What little distortion exists is almost corrected out of existence in JPEGs or can be with a decent RAW converter. If you want as close to as distortion-free as possible, the 14mm ƒ/2.8 and 23mm ƒ/1.4 are as close as it gets.

Fuji XF 10-24mm f/4 vs. Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8

Fuji XF 10-24mm f/4 vs. Fuji XF 14mm f/2.8

Fuji XF 10-24mm f/4 vs. Fuji XF 18mm f/2

Fuji XF 10-24mm f/4 vs. Fuji XF 23mm f/1.4

Beach

I had cut this series of images from the comparison because it’s, well, ugly, but it’s a good image to gauge distortion in the horizon, even though it’s very close to the middle of the frame.

Fuji XF 10-24mm f/4 vs. Fuji XF 14mm f/2.8

Before we get to distortion, note the cooler rendering of the 10-24mm ƒ/4 compared to the 14mm ƒ/2.8. The 14mm ƒ/2.8 images were captured a few minutes earlier then the 10-24mm ƒ/4 images so it isn’t a change in light accounting for the difference.

Next, distortion. The horizon line is incredibly straight on both the 10-24mm ƒ/4 and 14mm ƒ/2.8 images. This level of distortion is remarkable for the prime, but it’s astounding for a zoom with this kind of range.

Fuji XF 10-24mm f/4 vs. Fuji XF 18mm f/2

The 18mm ƒ/2 looks even warmer than the 14mm ƒ/2.8 to my eye. The 18mm ƒ/2 also shows some barrel distortion along the horizon. The 10-24mm ƒ/4 on the other hand looks nice and straight.

Fuji XF 10-24mm f/4 vs. Fuji XF 23mm f/1.4

The rendering of the 23mm ƒ/1.4 is quite a bit closer to the 10-24mm ƒ/4, not as warm as it’s prime brethren. Once again distortion is mostly negligible, but the small amount of pincushion distortion of the 10-24mm ƒ/4 is visible.

(Lens) Flare & Ghosting

Unlike the 56mm ƒ/1.2, I had to work pretty hard to get get these lenses to flare. That’s another advantage Fuji’s 10-24mm ƒ/4 has over Nikon’s 14-24 ƒ/2.8. That lens flared like nobody’s business.1 This might be the only test where I preferred the Zeiss over any of the other lenses. Its lens flare at ƒ/8 is awesome.

I’ve read elsewhere on the web that ghosting isn’t a problem for the 10-24mm ƒ/4. I beg to differ. Get the angle right (or wrong), and you’ll have all sorts of visitors to your image. Perhaps testing wasn’t quite as extensive. Anyhow, tests like these can be pretty subjective, but for my money, I’d say the cleanest image is the one from the FUJINON XF 23mm ƒ/1.4. The nicest flare comes from the Zeiss. Click to enlarge and arrow to cycle through.

Conclusion

Way back in the intro, I said the only void I had yet to fill was the one left by the 14-24mm ƒ/2.8. The 10-24mm ƒ/4 still doesn’t quite get there, but it’s very close, off by just a little over a millimetre. That doesn’t sound like much, but at angles this wide, even a millimetre can make a big difference in angle of view as we saw with the Touit 12mm compared to Fuji’s 14mm ƒ/2.8. The loss of a millimetre in width is well worth the massive savings in size and weight in my opinion. Perhaps the 10-24mm ƒ/4 doesn’t quite match up to the quality found in the hulking 14-24mm—particularly in RAW image sharpness—but it isn’t too far off stopped down. The 14-24mm was also not without its flaws as the corner crops below demonstrate. Then there’s the fact that Fuji’s zoom costs about 50% of what the full frame ultra-wide zoom does. All in all, I have no regrets moving to Fuji and mirrorless from my heavy, bulky, and more expensive DSLR setup.

Even the legendary 14-24mm had some corner smearing at its wide end.

When it comes to comparing the zoom with the primes, the waters get considerably more murky. In one respect, you could choose between convenience and absolute image quality. The primes eke out a little more quality over all, but then you’re left carrying at least two lenses, and you won’t be able to get as wide as you can with the zoom. The zoom is also as heavy as many combinations of two primes so you aren’t necessarily saving much in the way of weight.

Another approach might be what kind of shooting you do. Are you a dedicated tripod-hugging landscaper? If so, the 10-24mm ƒ/4 will provide you with a ton of flexibility. Throw a couple other shooting styles in the mix though and having a prime with a faster maximum aperture suddenly looks much more attractive.

Finally, there are Fuji’s forthcoming offerings to consider. The assumed 16mm ƒ/1.4 just might take the place occupied by my 14mm ƒ/2.8. Likewise the 16-55mm ƒ/2.8 will likely become my go-to when travelling with a single lens. It’s much more of a struggle with Fuji because both the zoom and the primes are excellent.

So which should you get?

Almost impossible to say. Personally, I like having it in my aresenal, but I will almost never take it with me unless I’m specifically going out to shoot. It’s too large for a walk about lens, but it will always be in my bag when I travel as that’s when I kick into wide-angle high gear. Maybe breaking it out into separate focal lengths will help.

23mm

If I was finding myself at 24mm more often than not, I would make a point of using the 23mm ƒ/1.4 more instead as this is probably the weakest portion of a zoom’s range. Then I’d probably end up shooting at ƒ/1.4 a lot more. The zoom is not an ideal option for a 35mm equivalent, but in a pinch, it works great and only pixel-peepers might be able to tell the difference.

18mm

The 18mm ƒ/2 is optically inferior, but blissfully small and lightweight. Street and portrait shooters will want to opt for it, everyone else should stick with the zoom.

14mm

I can’t even call this one. Size and weight might be the only deciding factor. The lenses are optically quite similar.

Wider than 14mm

Easy. Get the 10-24. It’s really not that much larger than the Zeiss, it’s sharper, has less distortion, and it’s wider. Plus it costs about the same. In my opinion, save for that 2-for-1 deal they had a little while ago, there is no reason to by the X-Mount Zeiss 12mm anymore.

The bottom line is no matter what focal length you’re looking to cover, you’re sure to be pleased with what this zoom can do.

  1. I had one guy tell me he couldn’t take a picture when the sun was out without that lens flaring. That’s a severe exaggeration, but compared to the 10-24mm ƒ/4, it almost isn’t.