For a long time, the APS-C sensor cameras were treated like younger siblings to full-frame cameras. Quite often for your APS-C camera, you had to buy prime lenses that were originally designed for full-frame sensors. So, if you would like to have a 50mm equivalent lens on your body you had to purchase a 35mm full-frame lens. The problem is, that optically they are designed to be 35mm lenses, so as a result, you would not get a “real” 50mm equivalent. The same applies to the zoom lenses. And I won’t even go into the choice of macro lenses!
The options for a standard F2.8 zoom lens, like industry-standard 24-70mm, were few and not of the highest quality, often you would have to work with lenses that do not have a constant aperture. The same applies to the Fujifilm X-line cameras. The first standard zoom lens was the XF18-55 “kit” lens. Though its quality was good, it had an F2.8-4 aperture, thus, making it somewhat limiting in low light situations.
Thankfully, Fujifilm soon released its premium class XF16-55 F2.8 zoom lens to appeal to professional users. And what a lens it is! By no means a small lens, it is built like a tank. Weather-resistant metal housing, with nice smooth zoom ring and a signature, marked aperture ring. When you hold it, it feels similar to Canon EF 24-70mm F4 L lens size and weight-wise. But its optical performance and lightning-fast focusing outweigh (pun intended) its size and weight. For example, Sony released its professional APS-C dedicated 16-55 F2.8 lens only in early 2020, when Fujifilm XF16-55 F2.8 was out for five years already! These guys took the APS-C game seriously, not as a “gateway drug” to more “professional” full-frame systems. Fujifilm X-line pro cameras system are ready-made for professional use. There is no “next step”.
At this point, it is not a secret that this lens is sharp. And by sharp, I mean SHARP! Starting from 16mm and up until the 35mm mark, you will get image quality very close if not the same as with prime lenses. At 55mm the image gets a tiny bit softer but is still very good. Barrell distortion, if there is any, gets fixed in-camera. I’ve used this lens for wedding videography, portraits, street photography and have taken it on a trip or two. Of course, the superb image quality comes at a price, an aforementioned size, and weight. It feels like a full-frame sensor lens.
So, if you are not professional and you are looking for an everyday lens, this might not be the best option for you. There are lighter and smaller lenses for that purpose. But if you are buying this lens, you are a professional or advanced beginner and know exactly why you are getting it and you are ready to carry some extra weight to get the highest quality images possible.