Fuji XF 55-200mm 3.5-4.8 lens impressions

55-200-11 (1 of 1)

xpro1 and 55-200

When I bought the x-pro1 I did so with a specific purpose in mind. I wanted a camera that would be fun to shoot, have a lot of easy to access controls, and be small enough to carry everywhere, without being “too” small. The x-pro 1 fit the bill perfectly. Add in the excellent XF 35/1.4 and I was set. I had no intention of turning this into a system, especially one that contained a zoom, a tele-zoom at that.

Then along comes the Fuji XF 55-200 IS tele-zoom lens. I had no plans to buy one being that I already had the wonderful 70-200/4 IS for my Canon 6D. I wasn’t even interested at going to look at one. Low and behold the lens found me. I just happened to be at my local camera shop (props to Imagetech Thunder Bay) when the courier driver pulled up with one in his shipment. Once opened I had to take a peek. Really, who could resist? I didn’t want a consumer grade tele-zoom anyways. So what harm could just looking do……………………….

Apparently looking can be quite expensive.

LOOKS AND FEEL

55-200-12 (1 of 1)

xpro1 and 55-200

compared to the 18-55

compared to the 18-55

The first thing that struck me was how big the lens was. I for some reason expected smaller. The fact that it doesn’t zoom internally only made it bigger when in use. Put the hood on and you have a beast of a lens. I was also somewhat taken aback by its weight initially. It was a far more robust piece of gear than I was expecting. The build quality is definitely top notch. Once attached to the x-pro1 it felt really well balanced and the size and weight seemed a perfect match. It seemed meant to be.

PERFORMANCE

100% crop 200mm at 1/40th iso1600

100% crop 200mm at 1/40th iso1600

The big question with all Fuji lenses is the auto focus system. All the lenses I have used with x-pro1 are uncannily accurate when it comes to auto focus ability, the speed at which they focus does vary a fair bit though. The 55-200 is also spot on in its accuracy. It may even be the most accurate of the Fuji lenses to date. Speed wise it wont set any records, but it wasn’t bad either. I would say it focused a lot better than I was expecting it to. I saw no difference after performing the needed firmware update. I have no complaints in either speed or accuracy. The image stabilization is also brilliant. I was effortlessly able to take tack sharp shots at 1/40 of a second at 200mm. So far so good. But how did the photos look?

IMAGE QUALITY

100% crop at 200mm f5.6

100% crop at 200mm f5.6

I am not a pixel peeper by nature, but when testing a lens I will check at pixel level to ensure a good copy. This beast delivers in spades. This was the most shocking aspect of the lens to me. Having used a lot of different zooms in the past I fully understand their limitations. Convenience always comes at a price. Fuji apparently didn’t get this memo. The IQ was nothing short of amazing. Tack sharp at 200mm, be it stopped down or wide open. Contrast, colour, sharpness, all excellent. No matter the aperture or focal length I could not take a bad shot from a pure IQ perspective. I saw zero purple fringing at 200mm wide open. This is almost always the Achilles heel of the 55-200 zooms.  What I liked best however was the rendering. The way the lens and camera draw the image, especially backlit shots, were breath taking. Here are some examples from my brief time with the lens.

backlit

backlit

f9 200mm

f9 200mm

black and white

black and white

street

street

landscape

landscape

close up

close up

CONCLUSION

In the end I gave in to my better judgement and left with the lens. A lens I didn’t need or even want. A lens that hasn’t left my camera in two days, and wont for the foreseeable future. At $699 its not near as cheap as the 55-200 variations  from Tamron, Sigma and Sony. It is far better built though, and is stabilized. The IQ is also in a different league from the budget zooms. Its closest rival would be the Canon 70-200/4.  The Canon is faster at the long end (barely), has less range,  and costs more, so again the Fuji wins here. Regardless, its all irrelevant considering the fact that the Fuji 55-200 is the only lens of the group that will fit on a Fuji body. Simply put, the lens is a must have.

PROS:

Great build

Fast and accurate Autofocus

Outstanding IQ

No fringing

4 stops of stabilization

CONS:

A bit large and heavy

Doesn’t internally zoom, making it awkward and prone to attracting dust

8 thoughts on “Fuji XF 55-200mm 3.5-4.8 lens impressions

  1. You have almost convinced me. I am looking to make the Fuji my goto body, my D700 is to large and I would probably get some of the shorter primes and the two zooms. With the two zooms, you could actually do a reportage or a general type job or even a wedding day, wheras I would take the primes for my own work. Thanks for the review.

    • Steinar

      I recently shot a wedding the Fuji xpro1 but still dont feel safe having it as my only camera. If only the AF were a hair quicker. For photojournalism, that combo does work well.

  2. Good review and photos. Thanks for posting. It has me wondering, as I am in the same frame of mind as you were. By the way have you lost any of the soft touch buttons. Or do you have a way of keeping them on?

  3. I got mine yesterday, and on my X-E1 the auto focus seemed pretty snappy and very precise. I also believe that the bokeh looks smoother than on some of the test samples I’ve seen. And sharpness certainly won’t be a problem. All in all it looks very promising. Better than expected, actually.

  4. I’m debating a full scale jump to fuji. I bought the X100s and love it, using it along side my D800 for weddings, portraits, and general goto travel camera. I need a decent telephoto zoom and I was thinking about getting the Nikon 70-200 f/4. But then this 55-200 came out. I could wait for the XPro-2 and nab this lens. :) Do you think it could replace the DSLR telephoto for event/wedding or is it just a smidge too slow?

    • My last wedding I used the xpro1 exclusively. I did find it slow a few times, but nothing that couldn’t be solved with a bit of prep. As for the 55-200 i didn’t have it yet, but I do have a feeling it would be a bit too slow for indoor work. For outdoor work I wouldn’t hesitate to use and trust it.

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