Chris Foley Photo
The Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS Lens is at the same time one of my favorite lenses and one of my least-used lenses. A very frequently asked question about this lens is how exactly is it different from Fuji’s 14mm f/2.8 prime lens, and while they’re both in the "ultra wide” category of lenses, I feel that they have far more differences than they have similarities.
Many folks use the Fujifilm 10-24mm lens for landscapes, and in fact I see a fair amount of conversations regarding ND filters for the 10-24mm (it’s a difficult fit due to the very large front diameter). I personally prefer the LEE Seven5 Camera Filter System for my Fuji lenses, though there are some problems with vignetting on the 10-24mm from 10mm until you get to about 14 or 15mm.
WHY I LOVE IT
The Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS Lens is my “creative” lens choice. Make no mistake, from 10mm until about 16mm there is a good amount of perspective distortion that comes into play. I expect that distortion and use it to my advantage.
That distortion goes away around 16mm and it settles down quite a bit. Now, if you don’t want a bunch of perspective distortion and edge warping in your shot, you’d be better off staying between 16mm - 24mm with this lens, but if you were going to do that why not simply reach for Fuji’s 18-55mm f/2.8-4 “kit” zoom? It’s faster, and lighter and sharper. In fact, the Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS Zoom Lens is my go-to landscape lens, but I’ll get into that in another post.
In short, this lens brings the drama in a very pleasing manner, with excellent contrast and color rendering. When I want the drama but don’t want to get into crazy fish-eye territory, this is the one I reach for. It's wide enough that you're almost always in focus at any aperture and the OIS provides enough stabilization to shoot long after the lighting conditions have ceased to be ideal.
HOW I USE IT
Let’s start with how I don’t use it. I do not use this lens for landscapes. I know, I know.. a lot of people love this lens for landscapes. Lots of people use a lens like this to get a wide landscape into frame. Not me. I don’t see the point of that. This is also why I'm unconcerned about ND filter vignetting when pulled wide on this lens.
When I shoot landscapes, I’m either shooting in order to create a fine art print for sale or I’m interested in licensing the image on 500px. Either way, I want my image dripping with resolution. This lens isn’t super great for that. (My landscapes are created with the 18-55mm “kit” lens, or Fuji's 56mm portrait lens and are made from 14 - 28 frame composites.)
Again, the perspective distortion characteristic of this lens (and which I love) doesn’t belong in my landscape photos. I personally feel that ultra-wides are the worst choice for landscape photography. Wide-angle lenses push any background elements into exaggerated miniature. I'm not entirely clear when that is ever a desirable thing.
Generally-speaking, landscapes are all about background. This lens is all about foreground.
I use this lens to get close. VERY close. With this lens, I can get right on top of my subject and still fill the frame with a large amount of contextual information.
I use this lens when I want to exaggerate foreground elements, or when I want to tell a very big story.
A couple of good examples in the gallery below are the giant Moreton Bay fig tree image, and the image of the palm tree on the overpass. Neither of these images would have been possible with other Fuji lenses, based on the surrounding area, how much room there is to back up, etc.
SOME USAGE DATA
There's always how I think I'm using a tool and how I'm actually using a tool, and these things don't always agree. In this case I was close to accurate, but I was surprised at the frequency count on the long end of the range. I pulled this data from Adobe Lightroom. Note that this doesn't reflect my shooting habits, but the focal length frequency counts of my keeper images shot with the 10-24mm. I didn't run this against the thousands of discarded images I've shot with this lens over the past 3 years.
As you can see, I definitely favor this lens at its widest.
- The 10-24mm is not a landscape lens. Lots of folks will say it is, but it’s not. Not for me, anyway.
- I often use this lens on the streets, though it is heavy and is not at all inconspicuous. It tends to live in my bag and only goes onto a body when I see a story that I’d like to tell an in exaggerated way. I’ve used it to get some stuff out of my street photography that wouldn’t have been possible with a “normal” lens.
- Additionally, it’s terrific for interiors. Yes, there will be perspective distortion, but that’s sort of the point when trying to make an entire room fit into a single frame.
- Lastly, the Fujifilm 10-24mm is a must-have travel lens. I spend a fair amount of time traipsing through European cities and there are times when I want to pull a characteristic city feature into a shot. Again, the lens spends most of its time in my bag and not on one of my bodies, but I have it ready for when I want more environment than a “normal" lens can provide.
Some of my favorite and most popular prints have been made with this lens. I’ve bought it sold it twice during a 6-month period when I was trying to figure out if the 10-24mm or the 14mm was right for me. I ended up keeping them both after tiring of the repetitive eBay hassle and after realizing that each one of them belonged in my toolbox.
Enjoy the gallery below, and hit me with any questions you might have about this or any other Fuji lens.
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