Review: Fujifilm XF 55-200mm f3.5-4.8 R LM OIS (X Mount)

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In my nascent tenure as a Fujifilm shooter, I’ve worked primarily in the medium to wide focal spectrum, from 55mm at the longest to 10mm at the widest. I’m primarily a street photographer, so I’ll have to find a balcony for anything longer than 50mm. The 55-200mm f3.5-4.8 was a welcome change that proved to be a valuable piece of glass for the time that I had it.With a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 83mm-300mm, this lens was great with portraits and performance. The zooming is, however, external, so it’ll add considerable heft to any X-series camera in your bag.

Pros and Cons

Pros

– Excellent image quality

– Large rubberized zoom ring makes for smooth operation

– Gorgeous bokeh

– Affordable at $699 considering what this lens is

– Faster aperture than its equivalent zooms across companies which usually come in at f4.5-5.6

Cons

-It is massive for any X-series camera

-It would’ve been great to see with this with a constant aperture, though that would jack up the price considerably

Gear Used

For this review, we tested the Fujifilm 55-200mm f3.5-4.8 with the X-Pro1 and X-E2.

Tech Specs

Courtesy of B&H Photo Video’s listing:

  • Fujifilm X-mount Lens
  • Telephoto Zoom Lens; 84-305mm Equivalent
  • Aperture Range: f/3.5-22
  • Optical Image Stabilization
  • Dual Linear Motors for Fast, Quiet AF
  • Minimum Focus of 3.6′ Throughout Zoom
  • 1/3 Step Click Stop Aperture Ring
  • Super Extra Low Dispersion Lens Element
  • Metal Lens Barrel Construction

Ergonomics

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With three rings, two switches and a large hood, the 55-200mm f3.5-4.8 is muscular–to say the least. The large rubberized zoom ring is bookended by the smaller aperture at the back and the medium-sized focus ring at the front. Behind the aperture ring are the aperture and image stabilization switches. The lens hood adds a considerable amount of length, and the picture above shows the lens at 55mm, the shortest end.

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At 200mm, this lens is huge, especially for the X-E2. This’ll be massive on any X-series body, really. Be mindful of your neck is all. You’d be better off slinging this across your chest, and be sure to reverse the hood or keep it in your bag to cut down on length. Size aside, the lens handles well, and the large zoom ring moves smoothly through focal range. It has just enough resistance that’ll take more than a light touch to move it.

Build Quality

Save for the zoom ring, the 55-200mm f3.5-4.8 is all metal, which both weighs it down and reassures you that you’re dealing with a serious lens. It feels good to use, and everything works seamlessly, from the click of the aperture ring to the flow of the focus ring. Granted, it doesn’t have weather sealing, so all of you X-T1 shooters need to be careful in that rainy weather.

Ease of Use

This is the longest of Fujifilm’s offerings, so while it is as simple setting your aperture, zooming, focusing and shooting, you’ll need to get used to a lens this big on a small body. Of course, that’s if you haven’t really worked with a telephoto lens like this before. It can be a lot to handle on a camera like the X-E2, X-A1 or X-T1. It pairs a bit better with the X-Pro1 because of the camera’s size relative to others in the lineup. At its core, though, it’s as easy as clicking the shutter.

Autofocus

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The autofocus on the 55-200mm f3.5-4.8 was fast and accurate in most situations. The more you light you have, the better it is. That can be said for all lenses, but it’s particularly the case for lenses with smaller maximum apertures. In low light, I almost always switched to manual focusing with focus peaking because I trust the lines more than the autofocus in that case.

Image Quality

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For a telephoto lens with a variable aperture, the 55-200mm produced excellent results throughout the focal range. From portraiture to performance, this lens yielded vibrant colors, sharp lines and some of the smoothest bokeh I’ve seen across Fujifilm’s lineup. Color fringing wasn’t an issue, and while the 35mm f1.4 and 56mm f1.2 have superior color rendition, this lens was no slouch.

Bokeh

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Look at that. This was shot wide open on a very bright day. Granted, it won’t give you what the 56mm f1.2 can give you, but this is very good for a telephoto lens. Considering that it’s $300 cheaper than the 56mm, you’ll get a slew of focal lengths to work with and nice bokeh, to boot.

Sharpness

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Stopping this lens down a bit really brings out the sharpness, but you’ll get sharp images even wide open anywhere throughout the focal range. The only other comparable lens in Fujifilm’s lineup is the 50-230mm f4.5-6.7, and while we haven’t worked with it, we feel confident that this lens yields sharper images.

Color Rendition

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The lens renders colors accurately throughout the spectrum, and if you find you need some extra punch, you have Fujifilm’s highly-versatile RAW files to work with in Lightroom. There’s little to complain about with this lens, save possibly for its bulk, but color rendition is one of this lens’s best traits.

Color Fringing

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Color fringing certainly isn’t an issue, and no amount of strong-arming in Lightroom brought it out. This is one less thing to worry about when editing, though I find that Fujifilm’s X-series naturally lends itself to shorter editing times than most systems I’ve worked with.

Extra Image Samples

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Conclusion

Likes

-It has faster apertures than most comparable telephoto lenses across systems
-Super sharp throughout the focal range
-Vibrant colors

Dislikes

-The lens is huge on any X-series body
-External zooming effectively doubles the length of the lens

four-star-Phoblographer-Star-rating

We rate the Fujifilm 55-200mm f3.5-4.8 four out of five stars. 

The Fujifilm 55-200mm f3.5-4.8 was a wonderful addition to my Fuji kit, which for the past few weeks has been an X-E2, X-Pro1, 35mm f1.4, 27mm f2.8, 18-55mm f2.8-4, 10-24mm f4 and SLR Magic 23mm 1.7.The telephoto option was a welcome to change to the wide to medium options I’ve been mostly working with. Budget portraitists and event photographers will get a lot of mileage out of this lens, more so, we imagine, than the 50-230mm f4.5-6.7.

This lens produced great results, and while it is a little bulky, it’s worth the weight with what it can give you out of the camera. On the street, in the studio or at an event, you’ll find that this lens can give you what you’re looking for. Granted, we can only guess at what this lens would be like with a constant aperture, but we’ll have to wait and see if Fujifilm will engineer that.

Head on over to Adorama or Amazon to pick yours up.

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Fujifilm 56mm f1.2 first impressions product photos (5 of 7)ISO 8001-60 sec at f - 2.8

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