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Fuji 8mm-16mm f/2.8 lens review


George
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I'm just back from a 2 hour drive and a long hike through Strath Naver, and I'm kinda humbled by this new lens, which only arrived yesterday. It usually takes me a month or two to fall in love with new gear, and sometimes I never fall in love with gear at all. Sometimes it even becomes a hate relationship and I wind up getting rid of stuff. Wasn't sure how it would go today, but I fell in love with my new lens on our first date. That's never happened before.

For the last 10 years or so, every time I would drive between Kinbrace and Syre through the remote moors of Sutherland, I would stop and try to get a photo of Loch Badanloch. It never happened. The reason was I could never get the whole loch into the viewfinder. I did try taking two photos and stitching them, but they never worked. I must have tried to get the shot a dozen times, but it never worked. I'd given up on it really. Thought it would never happen. As I was driving from Kinbrace to Syre today on a broch adventure, I thought I'd stop and try out the new lens, see if it would get the shot. Wow, it did. This really is an ultra wide angle lens, and it's marvellously engineered with fabulous glass. I took the shot hand held, focus was instantaneous and the image is sharp everywhere. I must admit, I was a little emotional heading back to the car. Not only did I fall in love on a first date, I fell in love on my very first press of the shutter.

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So why a new lens? I'm not a gear head and I don't suffer from GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), and I've always been happy with my 16-55mm and my 50-140mm for documenting brochs. I love my 16-55 and my 50-140, have done for years, still do. So why a new lens? Well, I was in Strath Naver last week, and after another 2 hour drive and a long walk, I was on the site of the Dun Viden broch. As soon as I took this photo I knew I needed a wider lens. 16mm is not wide enough to get whole broch interiors into the viewfinder. The image is incomplete, poorly composed.

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Today was another 2 hour drive and another long hike to get to the Inshlampie and the Allt An Duin brochs, also in Strath Naver. Look at the difference having an 8mm lens makes.

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I was going to go all techie in this review, but hey, if you're looking at the 8mm-16mm you probably know more about the techie stuff than I do. All I know is that as soon as I took a photo I fell in love and that's a first. This is Strath Naver from the Skail broch, and a farm I wandered through on the way to the Allt An Duin. If I were to try and find a gripe, it would be that I think it's about time lens covers were somehow attached to cameras. I'm sick of losing the damn things, and putting lens covers in my pocket between shots is awkward when you're dressed for the hills.

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After a few outings, I'm now completely head over heels in love with this lens. I'm so in love with it I've promoted it to the X-Pro 3, and my 200mm has been downgraded to the X-T3. This is Dun Hallin broch in the Isle of Skye. I was standing right on the edge of the broch and just look at the field of view! I've never been a lover of wide angled lenses. Until now. I did have the 10-24mm once, but sold it. Not that it wasn't any good, it was excellent, I just never fell in love with it like I did with this lens. Perhaps I was using it for the wrong work as I suspect it would be perfect for architecture. Fuji are amazing.

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This is the grass covered interior of what's left of Dun Feorlig broch on the Isle of Skye, looking towards the Cuilin Mountains in the distance. It isn't just the field of view that made me fall in love with the lens, it's the images it produces. There are no obvious distortions, the contrasts and colours are out of this world, there is no vignetting that I can see, and the images just have a magical feel about them. The guys who designed and built this lens deserve a chocolate biscuit with their morning coffee. Good job Fuji.

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