Saturday, May 10, 2014

Fujifilm is going WIDE; IN THE FIELD with XF 10-24 mm f/4 Fujinon lens

As a large part of my photography happens on the wider end of the focal lengths,  I was excited when Fujifilm announced the release of their new Fujinon XF 10-24mm f4 lens earlier this year. 























Even though I do have the ultra sharp XF 14mm 2.8 lens, I've been on the lookout for a wider X-series lens for some time now. 

While Fujifilm Middle East was kind enough to borrow me a production model of the 10-24mm lens, I was able to test it over a two week period in places like Amsterdam, New York, Abu Dhabi and of course in and around Dubai. Even though slightly larger than what I expected, mounted on the new battery grip equipped Fujifilm X-T1, the lens felt perfectly balanced.

Amsterdam canal

Who is the lens for?
As all X-series cameras have 1.5 crop sensor, the full frame equivalent of this lens becomes 15-36mm; clearly bread and butter for architectural and landscape photographers. You probably know that I've always been a fan of super wide angle architectural shots of high-rise buildings, so was no surprise that the image below was my very first frame with the new lens! Needless to say that at 10mm (15mm full frame), there is a some perspective distortion, which is 100% expected at these wide focal ranges and contributes even more to the dramatic effect.  

Concrete jungle, Dubai 

What is noticeable, is how sharp the lens remains to the corners of the image. Clearly noticeable in this image of the Meydan bridge in Dubai below.

Meydan bridge

Even though there are better lenses for "Street photography" (23mm or 27mm to name two), the focus and aperture is fast enough to click the occasional street photograph like this one made in NYC.

Time for a banana, New York

How does it compare to the 14mm 2.8 ?
Obviously having a zoom lens can be beneficial when shooting in a limited space like the flight-deck of the Airbus A380 I fly for a living. 

A380 flightdeck

The fact that the 10-24 is "only an f4" lens, is no big deal for me, especially since the OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation) largely compensates for the loss of one stop of light compared to the 14mm 2.8. I was able to shoot handheld at shutter speeds of 1/5s without any camera shake. On the other hand, because we are talking wide angle lenses here, using the larger aperture to throw the background out of focus is close to impossible anyway... So the difference of the aperture between the two wide-angles is a draw!

Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi after sunset

Without going into scientific lens testing, I would say that the overall IQ (image quality) of the 14mm prime is slightly better than the 10-24 at 14mm; especially when shooting at f4. Having said this, this does not mean the IQ on the 10-24 is inferior, only that the 14mm 2.8 is exceptionally good! 

Lastly, as the form factor of the 14mm prime lens is significantly smaller than the new wide-angle zoom, the 14mm definitively has its own place and will probably remain to do so in the future.

Lady walking to the Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Long Exposure
One of my Photographic New Years resolutions was doing more Long Exposure photography work this year and I feel this lens will be the perfect candidate for the job! I picked up a new 10 stop Tiffen ND screw on filter at B&H. For the ones that don't know B&H is the worlds "largest camera store in the world"!

Some of the Architectural long exposure images shot in New York can be found below.

Lehman Brothers building

Something one needs to consider when buying neutral density or polariser filters is obviously the diameter of the lens. Right now there is unfortunately a bit of variety in my Fuji lens arsenal, the XF 18-55mm and 14mm have a 58mm diameter, while the XF 55-200 lens has a 62mm diameter and the new 10-24 has an even larger 72mm!  Even though, I picked up a step-down ring that will take my larger 72mm filters and downsize it to 58 and 62mm, I hope Fujifilm will eventually limit the lens diameters to a maximum of three!

Metropolitan Life building, Madison Park

What are the negatives?
In the past all Fujinon constant aperture lenses had aperture markings on the aperture ring. As I fully understand why this is not possible on a variable aperture zoom like the 18-55 or 55-200, I don't see why this wasn't done here! Maybe I'm missing something. If I am, please let me know!

Second disappointment is the fact that the lens is not "weather sealed". As this lens came out together with the weather sealed X-T1 body and as this is really a typical lens to take out in the elements, I expected this be different. Especially at a 1000USD price point!

Otherwise, I can't really see any negatives. So...

Will I buy the 10-24?
Short answer is YES! I ordered one the day I gave Fujifilm Middle East their test lens back! As I'm especially interested in a wider focal range than 14mm, this is pretty much the only way to go!

Meydan bridge, Spaceship or bridge?


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