This is a review of a preproduction copy of Fuji’s FUJINON XF 10-24mm f/4.
I had planned to do reviews of Fuji’s lenses, separate from my “Versus” articles so I thought I’d kick things off with the lenses people are clamouring for the most these days. I’ll start with initial impressions, and get into the nitty gritty from a handling perspective, but I won’t get into peeping at pixels as the lenses are still preproduction units. Let’s start.
When I decided to ditch the DSLR, the lens I knew I was going to miss the most was Nikon’s 14-24 ultra-wide zoom. When my FAS (Fuji Acquisition Syndrome) first began, the 10-24mm f/4 was already on the roadmap so I knew I’d eventually be ok. With an equivalent focal length of 15mm at the wide end, it’s the slightest bit less wide, but it also reaches out to just past 35mm equivalent so it’s more than a reasonable tradeoff. It’s also an f/4 fixed aperture, which of course, is a little slower the the f/2.8 of the 14-24. But then the 10-24mm f/4 has OIS (or VR or IS in Nikon’s and Canon’s parlance, respectively), which gets you extra handheld stability in low light.
In fact, it would be more accurate to describe the 10-24mm f/4 as a 16-35 VR that goes much, much wider. And it’s smaller. And lighter. And the build is better. I would chose this lens any day over any of the ultra wide zoom offerings from the full frame systems if it weren’t for one detail, the lack of weather sealing.
While the 10-24mm f/4 is considerably smaller than a DSLR equivalent, it’s still quite a bit larger than all of the primes covered by the focal range.
The rings on this lens are all very satisfying. Not quite as satisfying as the 56mm f/1.2, but really, nothing is. The inner-most ring which controls the aperture has the exact same feel as the FUJINON XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4. The zoom ring is a little stiffer than the 18-55mm. Whether or not this is better will come down to preference. I should note again that I’m working with a pre-production unit so things could be different with the shipping product.
The focus ring also feels just like the split focus ring on the kit lens. Nice and smooth.
Fuji has chosen a rubberized zoom ring for the 10-24mm f/4, and only the zoom ring. In room temperature, I prefer the metal zoom ring. I find my grip is more sure with the metal knurled rings and I just love the feel of them. They ooze quality. I was hoping the shift to the rubberized ring might be for Fuji’s weather-sealed zoom offerings and they might surprise us with the 10-24mm f/4 being weather-sealed as well. I’m told that’s not the case and it’s a real shame as it really the only niggle I have with the lens. It wants to out in the rain shooting landscapes. As it stands, it looks like the widest we’ll be able to go with weather sealing is 16mm or 24mm equivalent. Not bad, but not quite “ultra-wide” territory.
Again we’re left without depth of field markings. These can be tough to do on zooms, especially when they’re kept as relatively small as the 10-24mm f/4 is.
The two images above show the front element moving internally.
Hopefully the last time I have to type this for a while, I’m working with pre-production units here so I won’t be doing my usual Fuji vs. Fuji style comparison images even though I probably could. The image quality I’m seeing out of this lens is spectacular. Unfortunately I only had a couple hours with it and the 56mm f/1.2 so I’m not sure my sample images will live up to the quality of the lens, but here goes.
My overall impressions are that this lens produces excellent images with very little distortion, and what little distortion there is seems to be easily correctable. First though, here a couple of galleries to demonstrate the focal range you get out of this lens.
Click to enlarge.
The above images were all handheld and focus was on the speaker at the top of the column in the middle. It's not exact as I wasn’t working with a tripod, but it gives you a good idea of the field of view you can get from the same location.
The next gallery I tried to frame each image similarly to demonstrate the difference in perspective. I had to do this quickly so the framing is a little sloppy, but it should give you a good idea.
In this case I tried to set the lens to about 23mm in the first image, but ended up at 21.9mm so there’s the potential for a bigger difference between the first two images. I hit 17.4mm in the second image, 13.2mm in the third and the last is 10mm.
I’d forgotten how difficult it can be to frame shots like this up when you’re at ultra-wide focal lengths. Impressive lack of distortion.
Another fairly impressive showing on the distortion front. Some pincushion distortion is detectable though. Edge to edge sharpness is quite good as well (pre-production).
The depth of field you get out of these wide angles is insane. This is ƒ/4.
The close-focus capabilities of this lens are great, but with this shot, I was inside the limits of even this lens. The front elements was maybe 2 inches from the doorknob, and the camera refused to focus. My solution was to take advantage of the insane depth of field offered when shooting at 10mm by setting my aperture to ƒ/11 and manually focusing the lens to its closest setting. This results in a nice sharp, dynamic image of... uh... a doorknob? Yeah.
One of the great things about this lens is its diversity thanks to the zoom range. At 24mm, it’s a great focal length for street photography. Of course you won’t be anywhere near as discrete as you’d be with something like an X100S, but that’s a fair trade-off for having so much flexibility. (Yes, I know my framing of this image was poor. I hate that her foot is pretty much on the bottom of the frame).
Wait, what? Yep, you can get decently rendered out of focus backgrounds when you rack this lens out to 24mm and shoot it at ƒ/4. Constant apertures are the best.
Another demonstration of street-style capabilities. You can forget this sort of image with comparably wide zooms like Nikon’s 14-24 on full-frame or Tokina’s 11-16 on APS-C. The 16-35 options from Canon and Nikon are the closest thing you’ll get, but the size and weight difference will not be negligible.
I have to admit that despite anticipating an ultra-wide option from Fuji more than anything else, the announcement of the FUJIFILM X-T1 and using the FUJINON XF 56mm f/1.2 pushed the 10-24mm f/4 down on the excitement scale. Now that I’ve had chance to shoot with it though, my eagerness to shoot ultra-wide landscapes has returned.
Disappointment in it not being weather sealed and the move to a rubber zoom ring aside, it’s an incredibly versatile lens that suckers for wide fields of view won’t want to resist. This could easily be the only lens you travel with, depending on how you like to shoot.