AND THE WINNER IS.... by Johann van der Walt

And the Winner is…

I was invited to present a lecture on Street Photography at Hein & Christine Waschefort’s Visual Skills School in Pretoria North.  Going past Johannesburg, I arranged with Fujifilm SA to get the long awaited 16-80mm lens for a couple of days to test its Street- and Travel Photography capabilities. 

F-Stop:F4; ISO:1600; Focal Length:16mm; TV:1/20 second

As a street and travel photographer I have, over time, build up a travel photography kit that is, according to me, the ultimate travel kit. It consists of the Fujifilm X-T3 with the 16mm F2.8, the 35mm F2, the 50mm F2 and the X100F (with its 23mm F2 lens).  I also have the tiny Laowa 9mm F2.8 in my bag for those occasional ultra-wide landscape- or building views I want to photograph. 

F-Stop:F4; ISO:1600; Focal Length:39mm; TV:1/20 second

This new 16-80mm lens could potentially upset the apple-cart by replacing all the above with one lens!

For those who do not know the Visual Skills School, Hein and his wife Christine has created a lounge cum bar area where photographers and students avail some time to build up inspiration for their next shoot.

F-Stop:F4; ISO:800; Focal Length:31mm; TV:1/5 second

The 42-kilometre drive from Fujifilm’s head office in Woodmead, Johannesburg took almost 2 hours through the peak traffic, so this legendary bar looked like an oasis on arrival.

We were admiring the beauty and size of this lens over a good Scotch when Hein pointed out that some of the students arrived for a game of pool.

F-Stop:F4; ISO:1600; Focal Length:29mm; TV:1/13 second

The ideal opportunity to put this lens through its first test!

The ambient light was quite low and I did not bring a tripod along, creating the ideal situation to test the alleged 6-stop optical image stabiliser.

The first shot I took was at ISO 800, F4 with a shutter speed of 1/5 of a second.  It looked sharp! Handheld?! I swapped the viewing card slot to the backup jpegs and zoomed in 100%.  It was sharp!!!

F-Stop:F4; ISO:1600; Focal Length:41mm; TV:1/50 second

I was hooked!

I was now running around the table following the rest of the game, as well as the following one.

F-Stop:F4; ISO:1600; Focal Length:28mm; TV:1/6 second

The only motion blur I witnessed was that of the balls spinning over the table (and the movement of the two players).

F-Stop:F4; ISO:1600; Focal Length:20mm; TV:1/9 second

When the winning player sank the black ball, I had to sat down to take in what I just witnessed through my viewfinder.  After I calmed down, I said to myself, this is only the first test, don’t sell you lenses yet, you have a full week ahead for some more testing. 

F-Stop:F4; ISO:1600; Focal Length:17mm; TV:1/20 second

Looking through the photos afterwards, I made the following conclusions.  

  • I am used to photographing with one focal length at a particular shoot, while in this photoshoot I used a range of focal lengths to get the best composition and creating the impact I wanted.

  • I got away with sharp photos as low as 1/5thof a second shutter speed – this is not possible with my current setup as all my prime lenses are without image stabilisation.

  • The F4 aperture did give reasonable separation, especially with the more close-up photos. 
    (In the back of my head I knew that I have a winner in my hand…)