Fujifilm has been hard at work the past two years in fleshing out their new X-series mirrorless system. While the current system only consists of eight Fujinon lenses and two Zeiss lenses, Fuji has done a great job at building a complete system very quickly. One of the latest additions is the company’s second zoom lens, the Fujinon XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS.
The Fuji 55-200mm covers a field of view equivalent to an 83-300mm zoom lens on full frame. It’s about a half stop faster than the typical telephoto zoom, which usually tops out at f/5.6. Fuji has priced the lens somewhat reasonably at $699. Let’s take a look at how this lens performs and what value it brings to the Fuji X System.
If you haven’t read my reviews before, I do not generally perform resolution tests or make charts to track quality measures. I take a real world approach to my reviews and evaluate how a lens or camera handles and works in regular use. A special thanks goes to LensRentals.com for providing the review sample used for this review.
Around the Lens: Build Quality
The first thing that struck me about the 55-200mm when I took it out of the box was just how big it was. Now, first remember that I’ve been shooting with mirrorless cameras full-time for over two years now. For a mirrorless system lens, this thing is big. Very big. Now, to be fair: compared to an SLR telephoto, it’s pretty small, but this isn’t an SLR telephoto.
Look at the image to the right, and you’ll see that it simply dwarfs the only other current Fuji lens in the telephoto range, the 60mm f/2.4 Macro.
On the bright side, the lens is extremely well built. The lens is constructed of very high-grade plastics and metal. The zoom ring is heavy walled plastic with a comfortable rubber grip, while the focus ring and front element ring with hood bayonet are metal. The extending lens tube is also plastic. Despite having more plastic than most of the other Fuji lenses, there is no downgrade in build feel. The lens is extremely solid, with very tight tolerances and no wobbles. The focus ring is nicely damped and feels great, while the zoom ring is relatively stiff. I found the zoom ring to be a little too stiff for my tastes, but you won’t need to worry about zoom creep with this lens.
The aperture ring sits below the zoom ring, and like the aperture ring on the 18-55mm f/2.8-4, the ring is continually spinning with no markings.
The Fuji 55-200mm uses a standard extension type zoom mechanism, growing longer as the focal length increases. WIth the hood mounted and the lens set to 200mm, the lens is quite large indeed. See the image below to compare the lens length at 55mm and 200mm.
Around the lens: Handling, Operation and Autofocus
Due to its relatively large size, the Fuji 55-200mm is best used with one of the added grips available for the X-Pro 1 and X-E1. The lens is quite front heavy when used without the grip, and I much preferred the ergonomics of using the 55-200mm when I added the Fuji grip to my X-E1.
The lens features two switches below the aperture ring. One controls the Optical Image Stabilizer, while the other switches the aperture function between automatic and user selectable modes.
The lens features moderately quick autofocus, though it’s not going to break any records. Still, in general use it was more than adequate. The LM in the full lens name indicates that the 55-200mm uses a linear motor drive system, and this focus motor is extremely quiet.
The lens features an optical stabilizer and Fuji has done a fantastic job with the IS on the 55-200mm. I found it to be one of the very best optical stabilization systems I’ve used in any lens, typically allowing for shutter speeds 3-4 stops slower than typically used hand held. I was able to consistently get sharp shots at 1/20s at 200mm.
Next we’ll take a look at image quality.