I’ve decided to compile a short review after I faced with a dilemma which lens to keep. I mostly use them for video as they provide optical image stabilization(OIS). At first glance XF18-55 is the obvious choice, but XC16-50 surprisingly good and taking into account significant price difference I wonder – Is it worth to upgrade?
|On lens switches||No||OIS, Auto Aperture|
|Min. focus distance||15cm||40cm|
|Size||62.6 x 65.2mm||65 x 70.4mm|
Build quality is good for both lenses. The XC lenses are a more affordable alternative to XF lenses and made from cheaper materials. In this case XC16-50 build out of plastic with a plastic mount, therefore the lens is really light. On the other hand XF18-55 is build from metal with a metal mount. It is heavier and feels more premium. I would prefer a lighter lens, but high quality feel is really nice to have as well.
Both of them lack weather sealing which not only means to avoid elements, but also that they can suck up some dust particles. That is happened to my XF18-55 (as well as XF35 f2 which is prime with a weather sealing ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)
The XC16-50 works well. Focus and zoom rings are smooth but feels plastic-ish. The XF18-55 does feel more expensive. Rings are smooth and feel better. No switches like plug and play lens – really simple to use. Added aperture ring is infinite and doesn’t have aperture markers, a bit softer than newer lenses, but still a good to have feature. There are 2 switches on the XF18-55: Aperture switch to toggle auto mode and OIS switch. The OIS switch is important as the lens has a tendency to blur the image if the OIS is switched on and the camera mounted on a tripod. I haven’t noticed such behaviour on the XC16-50. So it is a bit tricky with XF18-55
Minimul focus distance
In this category XC16-50 is the clear winner. It lets you to focus much closer which is a big deal for me shooting product images. Also, the ability to focus close at 16mm lets you to create interesting perspective on the image, so that is a big positive point to the XC16-50. The XF18-55 is not terrible, but I would often find myself trying to focus closer than the lens lets you.
Focal length and apperture
The XF18-55 has a slightly longer focal length with is nice at the long end as it adds compression and background blur. At the wide end I’d love to have 16mm. Having variable aperture f2.8-f4.0 makes this lens really versatile as it lets enough light at 18mm f2.8 which is great for low light + OIS makes it even better. At the 55mm f4 it allows you to take good portraits with noticeable background separation. Overall it lets in 2/3 – 1 stop of light more than XC brother.
If not to pixel peep then I probably won’t notice much difference in image quality between these two, but at closer look XC16-50mm is actually sharper across the frame. That was surprising!
These are full images at different focal lengths. XF lens on the left and XC lens on the right.
And these are images cropped at the center.
Check the video bellow for corner sharpness examples.
Autofocus is quiet for both lenses, but XF18-55 makes audible noises while adjusting aperture and focus which can be heard while recording on the build in microphone. The XC16-50 is quite all the way.
Complitely non-scientific but I think XF18-55 has a bit better stabilization than XC16-50. Feels like XC16-50 underperforming in stabilizing roll axis.
There is no clear winner for me as I like some features of the XC16-50 as well as the superior quality and versatility of the XF18-55. But as I don’t see much reason to keep both of them, I would probably stick with XF18-55 and sacrifice weight, wider field of view and close focusing ability.
The XC16-50 is not as versatile as XF18-55, but if light is not an issue and background blur is not as important, then this lens is still a great lens with superb image quality and the best of the kit lenses I’ve tried within similar aperture range. And as I’ve said 16mm is a good focal length that I like more than 18mm.
*sample images to be added soon
* Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.