I know Fujifilm hate the use of partial names in articles, like XF23 instead of XF23mmF1.4, but for this article I’m going to be mentioning lots of different lenses repeatedly and therefore risk the anger of Fujifilm to save the repetition of typing out names in full and looking like someone with OCD. So today, I’ll type them out once in full at the beginning and you get the short version after it. Sorry, Fujifilm.
You get prime people and you get zoom people. I’m a little of both, maybe as a result of my gear addiction.
When we often talk about 2 or 3 lens carry kits, I often hear people talk about going one or two ways, primes or zooms, but very few people go with a combination of zoom and primes which is where I sit. If I am going out for a day trip, I almost always take my XF16-55mmF2.8 and XF90mmF2. To me, this is the best combination as a 2 lens kit for the types of photography I do.
Why these two? Here are my reasons:
These two lenses give me a lens pair with high speed autofocus, pretty much on a par with or close to the best of any of Fujifilm’s lenses. I regularly use both the XF90 and the XF16-55 for sports and kids, and they both excel.
Nothing wrong with the XF16-55 for sports, I use it regularly in a waterhousing for sports!
2. Focal Length.
With this combo, you’re covering everything from 16mm (24mm full frame) through to 90mm (135mm full frame), a pretty broad range for every day carry. Yes, there are other lenses that cover the same range with one or two lenses, but not without a lot of compromise.
The XF18-135mm is good but not nearly as sharp, adding the XF50-140mm gives a bigger range but weighs a ton and doesn’t have the shallow DOF, and the XF18-55 adds OIS but loses sharpness between 35mm and 55mm. For me personally, the XF16-55/XF90 combination is the best compromise.
The XF90mm has been long regarded as the sharpest Fujifilm lens prior to the arrival of the XF80mm. It’s very sharp, we all know that, but what about XF16-55mm? The XF16-55 offers prime like sharpness the entire way through the range. It’s not as sharp as the more expensive f/1.4 Fujifilm primes, but it’s close enough that it’s almost indistinguishable to most people. The reality is that the XF16-55 is a pro zoom, and pro sharpness it has.
4. Weather Resistance
As much as I love some of my lenses, the reality is that not all of them are weather resistant. Only the XF16mm offers the WR stamp. In combination with the X-T2/X-H1, the XF16-55 and XF90 offer a fully weather resistant combination. Rain, shine, dust, there isn’t a better combination.
5. Depth of field and Bokeh
Whilst the XF16-55mmF2.8 doesn’t offer the shallowest DOF, it still offers shallow enough DOF for the focal length and acceptable bokeh. The XF90 on the other hand is spectacular from a shallow DOF and bokeh perspective, the god of bokeh in Fuji X land.
Are there occasion where I don’t pick this?
Definitely. If I know I’m going to be shooting primarily indoors. I will almost always take my 16mmF1.4, XF 23mmF1.4 and XF 56mmF1.2 combination. Yes, I could use a speedlight but the option to use a speedlights will always depend on the location.
What about the XF50-140mmF2.8?
It’s a valid question. For me personally the XF50-140 mmF2.8 is a sports lens. It’s not that it’s a bad lens, it’s just not my preferred lens due to the size. I’m happy to compromise on focal length for the more compact size and quality of the XF90mmF2
What about two bodies with two lenses?
Sometime’s, yes, two bodies, and I do carry two bodies on occasion with this combination although it’s not the days I’m trying to carry as light as possible. It’s generally the kinds of days where I need to switch between them quickly or a don’t want to change lenses due to bad weather.
The bag choice does depend a little on what I am doing and where I am going. I will say up front that I’m a sucker for leather. Realistically, there are four potential options I might use:
90% of the time, it’s my ONA Bowery in antique cognac. It’s compact, durable and about the only thing it has going against it is the odd occasion if it rains heavily. The Bowery is a perfect fit for a single body and spare lens.
If I’m taking two bodies, or a speedlight, the ONA Prince is my choice, as the front pockets are a little larger.
If it’s raining heavily and I still feel it’s imp.ortant to head out, I have a ThinkTank Retrospective that will get pulled out. It doesn’t happen often, so my ThinkTank doesn’t get much use since the arrival of my ONA bags.
Finally, if I’m travelling, I’ve started taking my Shimoda backpack. This incorporates a removable inner which can be rigged as a bag. It isn’t pretty but it works as a two lens bag.