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A Practical Comparison of the Fujinon 16-55mm vs 16-80mm Lenses

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Here’s a reasonable comparison of the Fujinon 16-55mm vs 16-80mm lenses. We’ll look at the ten-thousand-foot view to find out which one of these lenses is best for you from a practical standpoint.

And both lenses are great. The 16-80mm lens obviously isn’t in the same class as the 16-55mm lens, which is an outstandingred-badge” lens, but the 16-80mm is still a great lens.

I just wanted to get that out of the way now, because you’re not going to see “image comparisons” in this post, though I’ll include some sample images from the 16-80mm lens for the dubious folks. They’re both great choices for those photographers who just want to take pictures (and don’t analyze each pixel at home).

Is this lens the answer to those of us who wished the 18-55mm lens was a little extra wider and was weather resistant? Or those of us who wished the 16-55mm lens was a little smaller and had image stabilization?

Let’s find out!


Fujinon 16-55mm vs 16-80mm Comparison Table

 Fujinon 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WRFujinon 16-80mm F4 R OIS WR
Price (Apr 2020)$1,199$799
Max aperturef/2.8f/4
Min aperturef/22f/22
FocusAuto focus linear motorAuto focus stepping motor
Minimum focus range11.8"13.8"
Size3.28" x 4.17"3.08" x 3.5"
Weight23.1 oz15.5 oz
Filter size77mm72mm
Weather sealingYesYes
Image stabilizationNoneYes (6 stop)

What do R, OIS, LM, and WR mean? Learn how to decode Fujifilm lenses in this post.


The main differences of the Fuji 16-55mm vs 16-80mm

The obvious difference is the focal length. The Fuji 16-55mm f/2.8, Fujifilm’s “flagship zoom,” has an equivalent focal length of 24mm to 84mm. The 16-80mm f/4 has a little extra reach, with an equivalent focal length of 24mm to 120mm.

Size & weight

The Fujinon 16-55mm f/2.8 is a beast of a lens. Its fast (for a zoom) fixed aperture of f/2.8 means it can’t get much smaller than it already is. At nearly a pound and a half, it’s heavier than every camera that it’ll mount to. And when mounted to Fuji X cameras, it certainly stands out. Like a pimple on your forehead that people can’t help but notice.

The Fujinon 16-80mm f/4 lens isn’t significantly smaller than the 16-55mm f/2.8, however, it weighs only 67% of the 16-55mm lens.

But you’ll see in the photo below that when the 16-80mm lens is extended to 80mm, it is quite long (much more than the 16-55mm lens, which has a hardly noticeable extension).

Here’s a comparison of the 16-55mm and 16-80mm lenses on my X-T2, with lens hoods attached:

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fujinon 16-55mm vs 16-80mm
1) 16-55mm, 2) 16-80mm @ 16mm, 3) 16-80mm @ 80mm

Build & Ergonomics

Both of these lenses are constructed of metal and weather-sealed.

And when Fujifilm says their lenses are weather-sealed, believe it! I’ve taken my weather-sealed Fuji lenses into some crazy places full of fine dust and sea spray and have never had any problems. Not a single speck to remove after years of ownership, knock on wood.

Both lenses have a standard aperture ring at the rear of the lens barrel, marked in whole stops.

The zoom control ring on both lenses is wide and textured, easy to grab on to. The zoom ring on the 16-55mm lens is more prominent than the focus ring, while the focus ring on the 16-80mm lens has the same outer diameter as the zoom ring. I personally prefer the way it’s set up on the 16-55mm lens because of the way I’ve gotten used to refining manual focus, but no complaints for either.

Optics

You’re going to get one extra stop of light with the 16-55mm f/2.8 – but again, you’re paying for it with added size and weight (and literally paying for it too).

But if you need a faster aperture because you mostly shoot in low light, versus wanting extra shallow depth of field, the image stabilization of the 16-80mm lens will make up for the slower aperture. It’s rated at an incredible six stops of stabilization, up from the five stops of the 18-135mm zoom.

So don’t worry about the fact that it’s “only” f/4. You’ll still be able to get some good subject isolation when zoomed in at f/4.

The image stabilization on this lens does seem a bit louder than the OIS on both the 18-55mm and 18-135mm lenses. Maybe it’s just my copy. Not annoying, but noticeable.

Both lenses have a nine-blade diaphragm. The 16-80mm lens has one extra-low dispersion element while the 16-55mm lens has three, one of the reasons why the 16-55mm lens is sharp everywhere, all the time! That’s not to say the 16-80mm lens isn’t sharp – it’s still plenty sharp.

Price

The price difference between the Fujinon 16-55mm and 16-80mm lenses is quite substantial, though they’re both not cheap. The 16-55mm f/2.8 is about $400 more than the 16-80mm f/4 (check current prices at B&H Photo).


Some 16-80mm samples

I know that corner softness, diffraction, and aberrations do matter somewhat, especially with the “cheaper” 16-80mm f/4 lens, so here are a few sample images. Hopefully, they put those fears at bay. Standard Lightroom sharpening applied.

Click on the images to view fullscreen.


Which one of these lenses is better for your photography?

Casual photographers

If you’re taking pictures of your pets, your family, and your adventures, you’ll be plenty set up with the 16-80mm f/4.

There’s honestly no reason to pay for that f/2.8 aperture – save your money for another trip! The image stabilization will let you take photos in low light with slower shutter speeds, always a great thing to be able to do.

The smaller size and weight will also feel better if you’re going to be carrying it around for extended periods.

Documentary & travel photographers

I’ve absolutely loved taking my 16-55mm f/2.8 on international documentary trips. It’s incredibly sharp and I love the fast aperture. But…it’s so damn big and heavy!

I’ve always complained that the 16-55mm lens just doesn’t reach enough. The 18-135mm lens is a bit excessive and not quite wide enough. I always wished there was something in between. And the 16-80mm range is perfect.

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Additionally, I’d often find myself indoors under low light, or shooting at dusk, as most travel & documentary photographers do, when that f/2.8 just isn’t fast enough. I’d have to really bump up the ISO to be able to hand-hold images. But this is no longer an issue with the six stops of stabilization that the 16-80mm lens offers.

No, the 16-80mm lens isn’t as sharp from corner to corner at all zoom ranges. But this isn’t as much of a factor for this type of photography where our images are at most viewed on computer screens and magazines. That extra sharpness is unnoticeable on those mediums and thus unnecessary.

For environmental portraits with a shallow depth of field, an aperture of f/4 is just fine. You don’t want to blur your background too much because that takes the environment out of the environmental portrait.

Portrait photographers

If you’re primarily shooting portraits, you’re likely not schlepping gear around all day long. Weight isn’t as critical. And you’re probably also looking for sharp photos with a shallow depth of field. This is why the 16-55mm f/2.8 lens is the better portrait lens.

Landscape photographers

Landscape photographers are obsessed with pixel-peeping on the computer (I used to be like that, I know). And yeah, sharpness is important, because you never know when you’ll want to enlarge one of those gorgeous photos for display.

Landscape photographers also love their tripods, and OIS isn’t an important feature here (in fact, OIS should be OFF when using a tripod; the 16-80mm lens does this automatically).

I’d definitely sacrifice carrying the extra weight of the 16-55mm f/2.8 on backpacking trips (and I have without problem) just to get that little boost of extra image quality that makes landscape photographs stand out.

Street photographers

Why aren’t you using the X100V? Haha, kidding.

Many street photographers use prime lenses, but you may like the versatility of a zoom. If that’s the case, I’d definitely recommend the 16-80mm f/4. The 16-55mm f/2.8 lens just stands out too much, and larger lenses tend to make strangers uncomfortable (one reason why primes are so popular for street photography). The 16-80mm f/4 isn’t that much smaller, but maybe it’ll make your subjects less uncomfortable than that 16-55mm f/2.8. Take advantage of the OIS for some cool slow-shutter shots.


In conclusion, Fujinon 16-55mm vs 16-80mm lenses

Hopefully, this post helped you see the important differences of the Fujinon 16-55mm vs 16-80mm lenses from a practical perspective. I’m sorry/not sorry I didn’t include MTF charts and detailed pixel comparisons.

I think that choosing the right lens for the job is more important than these things, although these things may be the job, as outlined above. All I’m saying is, don’t just go off the charts and numbers! It doesn’t make sense to take a Rolls Royce on a safari. Yeah, it’s nicer, but a dirty Land Cruiser is more practical.

The 16-55mm f/2.8 is the clear choice for serious portrait photographers and landscape photographers.

The 16-80mm f/4 is an amazing alternative for documentary, travel, street, and casual photographers.

Please feel free to leave any questions or comments below.

Eileen

Friday 23rd of September 2022

Hi John, I have the 16-80 it came as the kit lens. I have the zoom 50-140 and love the f2.8 and quality. My frustration is early morn (or low light) at the ocean or wherever. I am too zoomed in with the 50-140 and never use the f4 16-80 for I dont like it in low light. I have primes 14mm, 23mm and a 50mm but lose the moment often when switching. So I am hoping the 16-55 will solve my issue. I am just concerned about the weight. I am off to Ireland and dont want to come back with subpar images. Is it worth having both? I am ready to drop $1,100 but maybe I am not giving the F4 16-80 a chance. What do you say?

John Peltier

Sunday 25th of September 2022

Hi Eileen, the 16-80 certainly does not produce "subpar" images. It can produce stellar images in the right hands and in the right conditions. That being said, the 16-55 2.8 is my absolute favorite lens, and I use it for most of my travel/documentary images. I only notice the weight when comparing it to the 16-80, but otherwise, it doesn't bother me at all.

Building your Fujifilm Photography Kit Part 2: The Lenses - DIY Photography

Monday 28th of February 2022

[…] If 55mm doesn’t offer enough on the telephoto end, the newer 16-80mm f/4lens will give you some extra reach. This lens is also cheaper and smaller than the 16-55mm f/2.8, but the barrel does extend quite a bit when zoomed. This lens also features weather sealing and image stabilization. Article: Fujinon 16-55mm vs 16-80mm. […]

RMG

Tuesday 21st of December 2021

Thank you for your thoughtful review. Question for you. For action sports like soccer or basketball which acquires focus more quickly? I use two cameras when shooting sports one with telephoto and one for near-in action. This could be a choice for the latter.

John Peltier

Tuesday 21st of December 2021

I don't really do that kind of photography and haven't done any kind of in-depth comparisons on focus speed, so I don't want to B.S. you with answers I made up. That said, in theory, the 16-55 should be faster because it uses two linear motors, while the 16-80 uses a single stepping motor, known to be a tad slower than linear motors. But there's a lot of other factors that go into all of this. The 16-55 is built like a tank, it's been around the world a handful of times with me without any problems, and I've already broken one 16-80. So that's my two cents :)

Keith

Wednesday 3rd of November 2021

I'm about to buy the X-t4 and your article has really helped me choose which lens to pair it with, so thank you for your impartial review

Fernando J

Tuesday 2nd of November 2021

¿Será el lente Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 el asesino del 16-55 (por estabilizador) y del 16-80 (por apertura f2.8)?

Will the Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 lens be the killer of the 16-55 (by stabilizer) and 16-80 (by f2.8 aperture)?

John Peltier

Tuesday 2nd of November 2021

Tamron makes good lenses, we will have to see!