Hands-on with the brand new Fujifilm XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS

XF55-200mmReview-13

In my own shooting style, I personally find myself shooting most of the time either at very wide angle or racked out on a long telephoto zoom, so, as much as I appreciate the technical quality of the 18-55mm Fuji kit lens that stands well above over equivalent kit lenses, I cannot wait to see Fuji’s offer of lenses expand in both shorter and longer focal length. With that in mind, it is with a whole of excitement that I received the brand new XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS (!) Fujinon lens, the latest addition to the growing line-up of lenses compatible with the Fuji mirrorless cameras (X-PRO1, X-E1). Only a few more months to wait for the ultra-wide angle zoom and I will have my ideal setup with the wide and long zooms complemented with the fast 35mm prime (i know some people take incredible pictures shooting uniquely with a 24-70mm all day long, but at that point as far as i am concerned the kit lens will go for sale).

Note: apart from the opening shot taken with an iPhone, all the pictures included in this article have been taken with a production model of the XF55-200mm attached on a Fuji X-E1. These are real life shots, not lab shots. In my day-to-day life I don’t shoot tiny charts, so I don’t care about how the lens can shoot stupid test charts in a lab. In my day-to-day life I don’t put the most important part of a photograph completely in the corner, so I don’t care about edge to edge sharpness or vignetting. All the pictures below were quickly processed in Lightroom and I applied some post-processing vignette on each of them, just for your guide in case that is the kind of things you look at first in a photograph…

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The first impression when you look at the XF55-200mm attached to a small mirrorless camera (as you can see on the iPhone shot at the beginning of this article with the new lens attached to the X-E1) is that it looks like a beast compared to the camera itself. For sure, it looks big (and even bigger when you zoom in at 200mm) and I would only handhold the combo with the right hand on the camera and the left hand below the barrel of the lens to avoid applying too much pressure on the attach ring. However, the weight remains very light, which I think is the #1 thing that people are looking for in a mirrorless system. As far as this question is concerned, mission accomplished, no problem to carry the combo on your shoulder all day long.

XF55-200mmReview-3

One of the first question that comes up whenever a new XF lens comes out is “What about the autofocus performance?”. It is only a fair question, as even Fuji itself seems to acknowledge the progresses it has to make in this area, looking at all the firmware upgrades dedicated to AF issues it has released since it got involved in mirrorless cameras. Well, personally it was one of my main worries before testing the lens, and I am very relieved to announce that the AF performed perfectly during my first day of shooting with it! It is fast (normally fast, I am not talking here about lighting speed, but it is not slow either) and reliable (it locked where asked every time instead of the fruitless hunting I have experienced with other lenses and former versions of the firmware). For sure, this new lens benefit from the experience all the previous camera/lens firmware upgrades that Fuji has already done, but whatever the reason it is a great relief to get a product that delivers from the get-go without having to wait for a patch. Great news!

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As far as the build quality is concerned, the lens looks solid and feels robust in the hand, though there are some plastic elements along with the metal ones. The lens extends when you zoom in, but it does not suffer of any lens creep when you carry it collapsed. One small regret I have is that the diameter of the lens thread is larger than for the other lenses, so you will have to buy adaptor rings or a dedicated set of filters. I understand such a lens needed a larger diameter, but I would have preferred to see Fuji plan this in advance so that the XF18-55mm kit lens would have shared the same size to be able to share the same filters. I do hope that the upcoming ultra-wide zoom will match the diameter of the XF55-200mm, then it will not be a problem for me anymore.

XF55-200mmReview-8

In terms of handling, people who already shoot with the XF18-55mm will be in known territory, with the aperture ring without any specific mark to cope with the variable maximum aperture as you change focal length. The manual focus is again well implemented with just the right amount of turn to be made to adjust the focus. In summary, no surprise there, which is the sign of a consistent flawless design across all Fuji XF lenses. Fuji claims that the OIS can help you stabilize handheld shots for up to 4 stops, but I don’t have yet a strong opinion on that as i did not tested the lens in lower light situation(and i am not going to complain we had such a nice weather this week-end! 🙂 ). The only thing that annoyed me had to do with the X-E1 and not with the lens: to move the autofocus area you first need to press the AF button at the bottom left of the rear of the camera, which is more than cumbersome when you already use your left-hand to hold the lens below the barrel, which in my opinion is the best way to handhold such a combo…

XF55-200mmReview-6

Racked out at 200mm and wide open, the XF55-200mm produces a pleasant bokeh, with uniformed and perfectly round circles of light, and very smooth blurred areas. Definitely a top contender for “good” bokeh compared to similar lenses for mirrorless cameras and DSLR with a cropped sensor, though obviously the blur area is not as creamy as with the much heavier and pricier Nikon or Canon 70-200 F2.8 lenses for full frame camera, that are boxing in a completely different league.

XF55-200mmReview-10

All in all, this new lens is a great addition to the XF lens lineup and I cannot wait for the ultra-wide zoom to come out in a few months. After that, I will have a complete set up to take with me whenever on travel, and my DSLR will definitely stay at home (my back already loves that idea). I was very pleased to see the autofocus not being an issue, which shows the consistent improvements done by Fuji as they learn how to master this technology and bodes well for the future. The big size could put off some people who are interested in mirrorless cameras for the smaller form factor, but the weight remains very light which will please most of the X-PRO1/X-E1 owners. As expected from Fuji, the image quality meets high standards, and the lens produces a nice bokeh. Very happy with this new lens!

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Let me know what you personally think of that lens In the comments section below. Are you going to buy it? What XF lens from the roadmap are you awaiting the most?

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XF55-200mmReview-12

24 thoughts on “Hands-on with the brand new Fujifilm XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS

  1. Great review. Sounds like a great lens. I was a big fan of my old Nikon 18-200. I personally probably will not get this lens just because of the way I shoot and what is shoot. I am waiting for that wide angle promised at the end of the year. However great blog post

  2. Pingback: Hands-on with the brand new Fujifilm XF 55-200m...

  3. rupert wills. kildare. ireland

    thanks for a great review and the great photos. i am hoping to get my 55-200 lens on sat/monday. really looking forward to using it after seeing your results.
    many thanks
    rupert

  4. Pingback: Hands-on the new Fuji XF 55-200 | Fuji Rumors

  5. Pingback: Hands-on with the brand new Fujifilm XF 55-200m...

  6. Mike

    Your shots have definitely reinforced my decision to go for this lens next. Considering I just sold my trusty Nikkor 80-200 (that weighs as much as a lead block) to facilitate this. Image quality looks just as sharp and the weight will be a lot easier on me for sure. Can’t wait. Thanks for the preview!

  7. wyldberi

    My experience with the XF 18-55mm and XF 14mm over the last few months have pleased me in all respects. Particularly the performance of the 14mm wide angle. I’m still eagerly awaiting the arrival of the XF 23mm later this year.

    My hopes for this telephoto lens have not been very high. The previous images I’ve seen to date from pre-release versions of the Fuji tele zoom haven’t impressed me all that much. But I’ve still been planning on buying this lens to give it a try before going in a different direction to come up with a telephoto lens for the X-E1. From the images you’ve posted here, I’m thinking I may have to revise my previous impressions of the XF 55-200mm.

    Thanks for the review and great shots. Perhaps we can have a discussion about the whole XF 18-55mm “kit lens” thing sometime.

      1. wyldberi

        A “camera kit” refers to a collection of camera bodies, interchangeable lenses, filters, perhaps a tripod w/ head, and additional assorted tools that have been assembled by a photographer as the standard set of equipment they routinely use in their craft.

        Camera manufacturers adopted the term “kit” and use it to describe a camera body that is packaged together with a lens and sold at an apparent discount, in order to entice Customers into buying their brand of equipment. In most cases, these so called “kit lenses” are manufactured using lesser quality components and with less attention to detail, and cannot compete with the results achieved by using the same camera body with the other lenses being offered by the manufacturer using the same mounting system. In order to meet the needs of the average consumer interested in taking “snapshots” of family and friends, it is customary for a “kit” lens to zoom between the focal ranges required to produce an angle of view approximately 25 – 75 degrees, hence the Fuji’s new 18-55mm zoom lens.

        The FX 18-55mm zoom lens does not fit into this type of classification. All the FX Lenses currently being produced by Fujinon exhibit the same high manufacturing standards, and there are on-going arguments among experienced and knowledgeable photographers who use the Fuji X Cameras about the relative merits of the zoom and the prime lenses of the series. In practical tests, the XF 18-55mm produces images that are crisp and sharp throughout its entire focal range, and that are virtually identical with images produced using the prime lenses at the respective focal lengths.

        Therefore, my beloved FX 18-55mm zoom lens is definitely NOT a kit “lens.” But she does forgive you.

        And now, you’ll have to excuse me, I have to go take some pictures with my new FX 55-200mm lens before the weather sets in this afternoon.

  8. Stefaan

    Dear great review, what about the difference between Fujinon 60 mm f2,4 macro and this 55-200 lens from sharpness?

  9. Pingback: More samples from the Fujifilm XF 55-200mm telephoto, with a very special guest from France | Gritty Monkey

  10. Steve

    Great review – your images really sell this lens!

    One comment you made about needing to press AF to change focus point – on my X-E1 when I press the down button on the control pad I get the focus point selection – I can do this with my right thumb.

    Hope this helps.

    All the best, Steve

    1. Hi Steve,

      Thank you for the comment 🙂

      You are right about the focus point selection, Fuji just changed it a couple weeks ago in their latest firmware updates. I’m guessing they got the same feedback from the people who tested pre-production samples 😉

      It sure helps a lot! Personally I have assigned the function of enabling the selection of the focus point to the “fn” button on top if the camera. That being said, I still have a little grudge: at the moment you need to press the button, then release it, and only then you can move your focus point. In my opinion it would be much quicker and efficient if you could just start moving the cursor as soon as you have pressed the button (with no need to release it).

  11. Nice review. I use this lens on my X-T1, mostly for landscapes. But now I will have to use it for portraits outdoor with flash so this is a big game changer for me. Any experience shooting with XF 55-200 in such conditions?
    Thanks!

    1. Thanks for the comment Sebi.

      I haven’t used this led for outdoor portrait with flash. I have used it indoor with flash on the other hand, for example here:
      秋元るい
      or here:
      秋元るい

      The lens did its job as expected, and my personal opinion is that when shooting with a flash I’d rather use a good modifier rather than the expensive top-notch new lens if I have to choose.
      For example this image during the same photoshoot was simply shot with the kit lens:
      秋元るい
      I’m sure the 55-200mm will perform great for what you want to do, as you won’t necessarily need the fastest aperture given the limitation of the sync-speed of the Fuji cameras, nor the fastest AF with “triple linear motor” or other fancy name. Have fun and share the results with the rest of us please.

      As a side note, I am very rarely working with (off-camera) flashes outdoor because it usually gets too much attention from the guards patrolling the place (if not the police), who just happen to be everywhere you’d want to shoot here, though granted they are just doing their job…

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