So I picked up an odd lens I’ve wanted for quite some time: the Fujifilm 16mm f/1.4 XF WR. I’ll spare you (most of) the technical details. Suffice it to say it’s at the beginning of the wide angle field of view in photography (24mm equivalent view). Wide angle views aren’t something I have much experience with and I’ve been both nervous and excited to shoot with this lens for quite some time. I’m used to shooting at a 50mm field of view – “normal lenses” fall between 35mm and 50mm. Anything less is wide and anything more is “telephoto.”
But I had to have this lens. Why? Because my photography has been a bit stale lately. I haven’t been very excited to get out and shoot much and after much mulling, I decided I needed to try the photography equivalent of a new medium. A new field of view. Telephoto just feels boring to me now – “oh, I zoom in close, make the background blurry, and now I have a capture with little life.” The images come across as exactly what it is: me being a photo-sniper with no skin in the game.
So this lens. It’s very…Intimate. There, I said it. I want to laugh a bit, because it sounds like that’s just my techno-geek side getting off on the specs but no…It’s a very intimate way of shooting because it’s so wide – and as I’ve discovered, it has the effect of making objects seem farther away than they really are. It’s the opposite of compression, something telephoto lenses do – they make far away objects appear closer.
I can’t be assed to look up whatever the term is. Perspective distortion, maybe. But it’s a pretty neat effect. It’s also kind of awkward to work with sometimes. So you have to get way closer than you normally would, which means people are going to notice you 90% of the time. It’s also a very fat lens so again, you’re going to get noticed.
The 16mm f/1.4 also has a depth of field scale, which is a great feature for zone focusing. Essentially, I can set the lens to manually focus instead of auto and set my aperture and focus to a particular zone. That way, I can basically strafe an area while holding in my mind the 24mm field of view. As long as I know how far away my subjects are from the camera and how wide my area in focus is, I don’t even need to autofocus; I can just walk by and snap without even looking through the eyepiece. Zone focusing is great for street photography, especially if you don’t want to be seen snapping. You just keep the lens at your hip or around your neck, set the camera to Silent E-Shutter (SO sneaky!), somewhat stealthily point the camera and just walk by naturally without anyone the wiser.
In short, I’m pretty excited to have this lens. I shot less than usual but liked more of my images than usual so that’s probably a very good thing. I’ve also been working on curing my G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) by selling all except for 3 lenses. I might even try to get down to 2 or even (gasp!) 1 lens…Simplify. If so, my 1 lens will definitely be this 16mm chonk.