on June 13, 2013
This is a review of the new Fuji 55-200 for my XE1. Let me start out by saying this is a superb piece of glass and if this is a focal length you want or need, then Fuji blows the competition away in almost every area. Below is a review from someone that has owned a Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR I lens since 2005. For my Fuji I also have the 18-55 zoom (slightly better than my old Nikon 17-55 f/2.8 and 16-85 VR). Also, for my XE1 I use the Fuji 14mm f/2.8 (superb glass) a Rokinon 8mm fisheye for Fuji mount, and Tamron 90mm f/2.8 adaptall manual macro.
Optics: Outstanding!!! Both at the short and long end, wide open, and in corners. It gets better when stopped down a bit but there are no week areas, especially at the long end which is common for lenses of this range. I would put this lens as at least as sharp as the Fuji 18-55 f/4, and very definitely sharper at 55mm than the Fuji 18-55 zoom, which is no ordinary kit lens. So at 55mm the long zoom might be better choice and it is also slight faster, f/3.5 vs f/4 which makes it slightly better, but much bigger, for head shots to get more blur in the background. Also, I tested my Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR I, tripod mounted, on my XE1 with an adapter at the sweet spot, f/5.6, against the Fuji 55-200 at the long end. It was a dead tie at f/5.6 for Nikon (2 stops closed) vs. f/7.1 on the Fuji sweet spot (about 1+ stops closed). Sold my Nikon long zoom (and as of this update sold off all my Nikon equipment with no regrets).
Hot Spots: None!!! By hot spots I am referring to using this lens with an infrared filter like a Hoya R72. I have tested this filter and there are No hot spots at any aperture or focal length making this lens great for IR filter work. On the fuji 18-55 zoom, hot spots are an issue at all focal lengths. They manifest as a light colored circle in the center which gets smaller and brighter as you stop down. So the fuji long zoom, and the fuji 35mm prime, are excellent for this type of work.
Bokeh: smooth and beautiful. Nothing harsh here but remember, this is a relatively slow lens so do not expect the same blur of a f/2.8 at f/4.8 - of course the Sony is f/6.3 so even less blur potential. The best blur will be at the long end since the FOV is most narrow and that will smooth out busy backgrounds, especially if the background is not close behing the subject.
OIS: Best I ever used. It is possible to shoot at 200mm and 1/20 second with good breathing technique and get sharp results. This, along with the high ISO of the camera, is a game changer. I can't possibly do that with my Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR but then again the lack of mirror slap vibration, which can cause slight blurring at 1/8 - 1/60 sec, is not a factor for a mirrorless body. Just do not breath heavily, be like a sniper, shoot between breaths and roll your finger over the shutter instead of pressing down. OIS is great but only when combined with good technique.
Build: Same as the 18-55 except the zoom ring is rubber.
Balance: The lens balances surprisingly well and the greater weight of this lens vs the slower competition is not a concern. It is easy to hold for long periods without fatigue and it looks solid, not like a cheap toy. I noticed that the Fuji neck strap is not ideal for long walks with this lens, like an hour or more before it begins to get uncomfortable. So perhaps a wider neck strap will help. I used thick Op/Tec Pro neck straps on my Nikons which are great. The included strap is not bad and perfect for everything else, but if you carry the lens around for long periods a wider or cushioned strap will make life a bit easier.
Focus: Mediocre. This is the weak link of the system, not the lens. I suspect this will improve with future bodies using different focus technology. Anyone that knows the Fuji X-system knows it is a fantastic camera to shoot stills, not action. This lens will perform great when taking your time, not point and shoot quickly. Focus is accurate, but not fast, the opposite of DSLRs which are fast but not always accurate.
Focus Tips: If you are having trouble try these 3 tips. 1) Change the size of the focus box. Generally larger is best for good light, while smaller is better in poor light. 2) Switch focus mode to C on the body. This trick also works on the 18-55. It is for Continuous focusing for moving subjects, but that application works poorly, yet C mode can make the difference between getting focus and hunting. Try it, you might be surprised how well this can work. 3) Set the camera to M mode. Press the AF button on the back which will AF on whatever the focus sensor is on. Then Manually turn the focus ring to fine tune. This is great of your subject makes for a poor AF target and there is a good target close to the subject. Also, when in M mode if you press the thumbwheel down it magnifies the image in the EVF or LCD 3x so you can see what you are doing. This is extremely useful when using Manual lenses.
So aside from slow focus this is an outstanding lens - but if you are looking to shoot action then this is the wrong system for you, period. Fuji is no stranger to making great glass and, along with Canon, are the two major manufacturers of motion picture lenses in the world. Fuji glass it up pretty much up there with Zeiss (the new Zeiss 12 and 32mm lenses compared very well with the Fuji 14 and 35) and a hair below Leica. Their lenses are more expensive than the other non-Leica mirrorless competitors, but less expensive than the top shelf brands of Zeiss and Leica. That makes Fuji lenses some of the best value around and the lens is critical at bringing out the best in a sensor - the rest is up to the photographer.
This lens should be great for landscape and works well with filters, 62mm ring. I have step up rings so am using a 67mm CPL filter on this and my other lenses with step-up rings.
Bottom line: Excellent, Best in class glass. Highly recommended!!!
on March 22, 2014
Sure, this lens may not be a 70-200 2.8 like the one from the "big boys", but don't let that fool you.
I used to own a Canon 5D Mark II. I had the Canon 70-200 F4L which is fantastic and then the Canon 70-200 F2.8L IS v1 and to be honest, I don't see the difference in images with the Fuji 55-200. They are every bit as good. Do I wish it was constant aperture? Sure I do. Do I wish it was 2.8 fast? Yup. But, never once have a wished those things when I see the results (paired with an X-T1).
If you're thinking about it, just pull the trigger. I don't see how you would have any regrets.
I'm also impressed with the OIS. I'm able to get clear, sharp images handholding at 200mm and 1/40. That's crazy! Of course at that slow speed you may still get motion blur from the subject moving, but the camera/lens combo takes a steady image.
This medium zoom lens for the X-mount system (Fuji) demonstrates just what's possible when a camera company really puts their mind to it. I had been reading a number of reviews of the Fuji X-mount system for some time, but it was only this past month that I started using the system myself, and I have to say that my own experience has certainly validated what I'd read so many others say: the Fuji X-mount system, in spite of its smaller format, rivals the best of Canon and Nikon's popular models, and some even claim that the Fuji's perform up to Leica and (real) Zeiss levels. I hate to keep repeating myself, but, Wow.
This medium zoom range lens starts at 55mm and goes up to 200mm. It's not a particularly fast lens (it's aperture only opens to F/3.5 at the wide end), but that misses the point entirely. With the insanely good high ISO performance that most Fuji X-mount cameras exhibit, it simply becomes less and less of an issue that you can only work within F/3.5 - 4.5. You can ramp the ISO level up to 1600 and even 3200 and almost not notice it at all, and just read what many others have said about this to see if what I'm saying is repeated elsewhere. For me, its absolutely been the case.
But back to this lens. The image quality produced by this lens across its focal range almost makes you think you're shooting with a prime. That's a tad of an exaggeration, but not much. Images are sharp, colorful, and detailed. The images remind me of my favorite Zeiss lenses, but then, when I shot with those, ISO was a factor even at 800. Coupled with your favorite Fuji X camera (take your pick of model), you'll be able to knock off quality shots that are sometimes simply amazing.
Drawbacks? There is one. The weight and size of this lens is not exactly in line with the diminutive Fuji X cameras, which tend to be light and small. This means that you are in a bit of an off-balanced situation, because at some 560g, the weight will now be to the FRONT of your camera, and you'll have to adjust your shooting grip accordingly. (Most of the Fuji X lenses, including the spectacular 14mm and the 35mm models, are extremely light). So, you have to understand this going into this lens.
But, once you do, and you start looking at your images, you may no longer be as "put off" by the lens' much heavier weight than its lighter brothers. Just adjust your shooting technique.
The optical image stabilization on this lens works very well. (You can also turn it off with a mechanical switch on the lens). And the lens also has dedicated aperture and manual focus rings, so if you like to shoot without auto functionality, you can do it easily. The mechanical build quality of the lens is good to very-good, with a nearly all-metal construction, tight fit and finish. Unfortunately, no case is provided with the lens, which, at this cost, would have been a nice touch. And, like many lens "systems," there is not perfect uniformity of filter size from lens to lens. But taken as a whole, when you consider the image quality, the build quality, and, yes, the price, this is a fantastic lens that most any Fuji owner will enjoy.
It's great to see a camera company moving forward with technology and not rest on old technology barriers until they are completely exhausted. If you have not looked into the Fuji X system yet, start reading the reviews posted on many professional camera review sites, and compare them with the reviews of Fuji owners here on Amazon and other sellers. This lens is an easy five star recommendation, in spite of its weight and somewhat high price.
Update after two months of shooting ...
After using this lens for the past month in northern and central France, I can report again: WOW. The quality of the images this lens is capable of is truly superb. You have to work around the lens' limitations: it starts at a pretty narrow 55mm, and the physical weight is much greater than many of the Fuji X-mount lenses. But the images the lens can produce are simply stellar. Sharp, sharp, sharp. Beautiful color. The image stabilization on this lens is much better than those I've seen on other lenses. The ability to flip off stabilization with a mechanical switch is a real plus, too, as is the ability to switch to manual aperture with a physical switch and also to manually focus with a dedicated focus ring all are "gravy" on top. But the image quality of images produced with the lens is simply stellar, in my mind arguably putting it in a league with far more expensive lenses (some compare it to Leica professional lenses). Fuji is now (January, 2014) promising at least 10 new X-mount lenses in the near future, but this 55-200mm XF lens is not to be missed while we are waiting for those, and, assuming the lens is in the range (55-200mm) you require, you'll want it regardless of any new lenses that are to be produced in the future. It's performance really make up for any weight and aperture limitations.
on June 10, 2013
Purchased this lens two weeks ago from a retailer in Tokyo during my vacation, two days after it was released. I used it extensively on my trip to Japan, and so far, I have been very pleased, performance-wise. My only criticism is that it is a bit big and bulky, especially when extended when zooming. However, it is only big relative to the small size of the camera systems it is meant to work with, the X-Pro 1 and X-E1 (which I have). Compared to an SLR system, it is still a small lens. I don't find it to be too heavy, as I shoot two handed. It was comfortable to carry mounted on my X-E1, with a shoulder strap.
Operationally, the OIS is outstanding, and I was able to shoot hand-held at maximum zoom with great results (and I don't have super-steady hands). While I haven't had it very long, the results I've seen are very good--bokeh is pleasing and images are well-rendered. Fit and finish is excellent--my only comment there is that the zoom ring is a little too tight when turning, but better than it being too loose.
All in all, I am glad I made the purchase, and it will be a useful addition to my Fuji X set-up.
on September 3, 2013
I bought this lens a couple of months for a two week photography trip to Mongolia. I have a Fuji X-E1 (a most excellent camera!), with the stock 18-55mm zoom, this 55-200mm zoom, and the 35mm F1.4 lens. I bought the latter for low light work, and for when size is a consideration; it works very well and is fast and very sharp. The stock 18-55mm zoom is also very good. Any complaints about "how slow the X series cameras are to focus" should be referred to the Fujifilm.com support section (upgrade your firmware!!).
Now to this lens. It is great. No complaints. From my perspective, it is the big brother to the 18-55mm. It is not heavy, focuses quickly, has excellent auto stabilization, and produces very sharp, crisp images, with very good color. This lens outperformed 300mm Canon and Nikon lens on full-frame cameras in terms of speed and image quality, hands down. At least two people with high-end Nikon full-frame cameras were going to buy Fuji X-E1s when they returned home.
I did not have a problem with this lens' focal range. I generally take pictures of people and things (often animals) within 40 meters, or over 100 meters away. The 18-55mm is good for the former, and this 55-200mm is excellent for the latter. I generally went to this lens when I couldn't get "close enough" by combining the 18-55mm with my "foot zoom." For example, I have some excellent pictures of an Ibex (mountain antelope) from 400 meters. I can see where having a 25-90mm lens would be handy. However, there isn't one available, and I will likely not buy one when they come out; changing the lens is not a problem. A full lens swap takes under a minute, and that includes swapping the back lens caps and putting on/removing the lens shades.
The only drawback the lens has is a minimum focus range of 1.1 meters.
on October 5, 2013
This lens is built quite well, and the mechanics are wonderfully smooth. The image stabilization is AMAZINGLY good! I was able to get a 50% keeper rate with careful technique at 200mm at 1/15th of a second. That's insane. The lens is maybe a bit big/heavy, but I just support it by the lens barrel while shooting, and it's no problem. Images aren't mind bogglingly sharp, but my mind doesn't boggle very easily. My mind would boggle if we were diffraction limited at f/4. But that's never gonna happen. I don't really have anything to compare this too, except a Tokina 90mm macro (Bokina), which is crazy freaking sharp, so that's not really fair. The images with the 55-200 are quite sharp for a zoom though.
Chromatically, this lens is very nice. I never get irritating color casts with harsh contrast transitions. This matters more to me than sharpness.
Close focus is about 1/5th magnification, which is decent. It's pretty sharp at close focus, unlike the 18-55 which get's somewhat soft at min focus.
The bokeh is nice! And you can actually get a fair amount of background blur at 200mm. I've gotten some nice portraits of my lady friend at 200mm with this thing. She saw one I snuck of her while we were apple picking, and yelled out "OH MY GOD THAT PICTURE'S SO GOOD!!" I said it was only because she's so beautiful, then we made out for a while.
The only beef I've got with this thing is autofocus. My only other Fuji lens is the 18-55, which I like a lot. The focus on the 55-200 doesn't compare well to the 18-55, but I think that's expected. At 55mm, they're close, but the 18-55 edges out the 55-200. In the dark, they both suck. But why would I take pictures of the dark? There aren't any photons.
Low light is another story. The 18-55 can pull focus pretty freaking well in very low light. The 55-200, not so much. Especially when there are a lot of specular highlights, it can get confused really fast (well, actually really slowly, but either way you get a blurry picture). I've had a few situations where I could see it just saunter right past a nice high-contrast vertical edge and keep going like nothing happened.
In moderate to daylight situations though, it's fine and reasonably accurate. Just don't buy this thing expecting to nail pics of your little kid playing soccer, or whatever parents do with cameras. But if you wanna shoot that, you wouldn't have a Fuji in the first place. I use it for pictures of things that aren't running toward me, so it's fine. In a pinch, the shutter-mash technique can work, but you're not going to capture the "decisive moment" since this lens can take a second to focus.
Overall, this makes pleasing images in every regard, which is the point, right? No nasty color casts, good sharpness, great stabilization, built really well, what else do I need? The only room for improvement is focus, but Fuji's track record in improving focus via firmware is solid, so this may improve. Or a new x-e1s or something? I don't know. But it doesn't really bother me.
on December 30, 2013
I've owned Canon's 70-200 f/4 IS and f/2.8 IS II lenses and loved them both.
This lens is on par with those two in terms of build and image quality.
Sharp images and some of the best image stabilization I've used.
on June 12, 2013
A great addition to the XF lens lineup.
1. Sharpness. Very sharp, almost think i am shooting with a prime lens.
2.Build. High quality, as usual. The lens is relatively light at 580 grams but it does not feel cheap and has the high quality feel that I have come to expect from Fuji.
3. Autofocus. Faster than I thought with the new firmware update. The accuracy of the autofocus is also great.
The performance of this XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 lens, in my option, equals at least to canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM, if not the F2.8L.
So far, no.
on December 14, 2014
Updated: 5/3/2015 Well, ,so far so darn good! I've used this lens pretty regularly and it has not disappointed. Yes, it does fail to acquire focus at times, but hey, so DID THE 56 1.2 that wound up returning to Amazon. That sucked big time. I've also added a few of the images taken over the holidays; some handheld, some tripod, but you can see the quality, Oh, and three of these are for sale on two different stock sites... If that tells you something. I'm very happy with the lens and feel I made an excellent choice in my decision to select this 55-200 over the 50-140 just for weight alone. The whole purpose of the Fuji system for me was excellent image quality: CHECK. The ability to print to 24 x 18" without photoshop tricks such as image resizing: CHECK. Light weight: CHECK. Mission Accomplished Fuji!
I received this lens today. It was a difficult choice deciding between this, and the new 50-140 F2.8. This lens won out by a long shot mostly because I didn't want to be burdened with the weight and size of the 50-140 even though all the reviews are so very positive.
Since I already have the 18-55, 35 1.4, and the Zeiss 12mm I went with the 55-200 as my choice for telephoto. I opened the box, slapped it on my X-T1, and my first image was a 1/7th at 172mm shot inside the house; All I can say is WOW! The OIS works amazing, couple that with the perfect sharpness -- even at ISO 2500, And I am completely blown away! Now, I can safely sell my Nikon 70-200 F2.8 (in itself an incredible lens). I'm slowly trying to move away from my Nikon gear and this is just another stepping stone on my journey there.
The lens feel super solid! I just love the feel. Hard to describe. The zoom ring is tight, I like it that way. The balance on the X-T1 is also great. On a side note, I have a metal grip for my right hand on the X-T1. But, regardless, it is a beautiful piece of glass.
I do wish it were water resistant but I can live without it. I will say I've taken my 18-55 out in freezing rain, and snow, with no adverse effects so I'm not too worried. The price here on Amazon was solid; I couldn't be happier that I selected this instead of the 50-140 beast.
on February 19, 2014
I am a huge fan of the Fuji X-system and generally shoot prime lenses at the shorter end. I found myself wanting the extra reach that this lens provides, and fully expected it to perform like the stabilized 70-300mm zooms offered by Nikon and Canon; which is to say decently sharp when stopped down, with messy, noisy bokeh. In truth it's much sharper than I expected, even wide open. The bokeh isn't exactly butter, but it doesn't call attention to itself. The colors are Fuji-awesome. Mechanically, the zoom ring is well-dampened and precise-feeling. The lens barrel extends forever on zooming, but it's not very heavy and feels pretty natural on my X-E2. The OIS system works well. 200mm at 1/20 is possible with good technique, but I consider 1/60 as my lowest 100%-hit speed. Autofocus is better than decent. It will hunt a tad in low light, but nothing out of the ordinary. I know Fuji will release an f/2.8 telephoto sometime soon, but I'm no longer certain I will buy that one. I strongly recommend this surprizing lens.