The latest telephoto lens from Fujifilm is their long-awaited pro-grade 50-140mm f/2.8 OIS WR. The lens fills the role of the typical 70-200mm zoom lens in the Fujifilm system. Fuji already has a well-regarded telephoto zoom in a more compact package in the 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 OIS. The 55-200mm is, of course, slower in aperture and notably smaller in size than its constant-aperture sibling. But how do the two lenses compare in the overlapping range? That’s what I wanted to find out.
Construction and Handling
While the two lenses share much of their range, they are certainly not identical lenses. The 55-200mm is about 2/3 the length, features a body made predominantly of high-grade plastics and features a non-weathersealed extending zoom mechanism. The 50-140mm f/2.8 is an internally zooming, weathersealed lens made of metal and plastics that is not only larger but notably heavier than the 55-200mm. In fact, it’s 71% heavier than its slower sibling.
The 50-140mm is by far the largest current lens for the Fuji X System, and it’s one of the largest mirrorless lenses period. However, it’s still roughly the same size as a full frame 70-200mm f/4 lens, so we’re not talking enormous, but it definitely will require a good size bag. Overall, the 50-140mm is the better constructed lens, while the 55-200mm handles much easier and fits better within the ‘small camera system’ mentality. There’s also a rather hefty price difference, with the 55-200mm available right now for only $550 (regularly $700), while the 50-140mm will run you a whopping $1599.
To test sharpness, I took a series of photographs at infinity at 55mm, 90mm and 140mm, from wide open through f/8. Center and edge/corner crops are presented in the images below. All images were taken with the lens and camera on a tripod, with 2 second self timer and OIS set to off. 100% crops are presented below. To see the images at full size, click on the image, and when it loads, click the green arrow at the bottom to enlarge to 100%.
At 55mm, the 50-140mm starts out very strong in the center right from f/2.8 and is even very good in the corner. An outstanding performance here. At f/3.5, which is the widest aperture for the 55-200mm, you can see that the 55-200mm is average at best here. The 50-140mm is clearly superior in both the center and the corner. The corner has sharpened up a bit here on the 50-140mm, yielding quite good resolution. At f/5.6 and f/8, the 55-200mm improves significantly, producing very sharp images in the center and good corners, though both still lag behind the 50-140mm, which is producing outstanding resolution across the frame at smaller apertures.
At 90mm, the 50-140mm is a smidgen softer than it was at 55mm when wide open, but is still producing good results here. At f/4 (the widest aperture for the 55-200mm), both lenses are quite good, though the 50-140mm stays ahead both in the center and on the edge (the corners were not at the same distance for this focal length). Stopping down to f/5.6 and then to f/8 brings both lenses into excellent territory, with the 50-140mm still maintaining a very slight edge, though it’s quite small here.
At 140mm, frankly both lenses are very good right from their maximum apertures, and both are excellent across the frame at f/8, with the 50-140mm again holding a very slim lead.
Overall, it’s clear the 50-140mm is the superior lens when it comes to resolution. It produces excellent resolution at all focal lengths and apertures. While I didn’t have time this evening to pull crops at all distances close up, I can describe that the differences between the lenses are quite similar to the distant test, though the 50-140mm is actually even sharper at closer distances producing outstanding resolution across the frame at any setting. The 55-200mm lags a bit, especially at the wide end, but by a margin similar to what’s shown in these tests.
14 thoughts on “Fuji 50-140mm f/2.8 vs. Fuji 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8”
Nice write up. I was out with the new lens last night, specifically to test the AF speed and the new OIS. I was deeply impressed by both. Was going to do the same kinds of tests you wrote about, but I hate pixel peeping, and I’m no engineer, so I’ll leave that stuff to you. Looking at my images from last night though, I just know the new lens is a winner.
I was deciding between the 50-140 and the 55-200. I went with the 55-200 which is being delivered today only because of the size and weight. My whole purpose of (working on) ridding myself of my Nikon D300, 700, and 800 plus the Nikon glass is to give my back and shoulders a break. Even though this is a really sweet lens, the 55-200 won out. I do love this comparison. I feel I made the right decision for me. I will happily sacrifice some sharpness in order to shave off some weight.
Thanks for the review.
I understand. For my own day to day use, the 55-200 will definitely be in the bag. If I buy the 50-140 for myself, it’ll be for event use and occasions where the size isn’t an issue. It is a great lens, though.
How have you found the IQ and AF speed compared to the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 ?
Thank you for your analysis and thoughts.
Did you try shooting handheld?
I’ve done lots of handheld shooting, and will have full analysis of the OIS in my final review. (Hint…it’s really good). My full review should be done sometime next week.
Sorry, but the sharpness comparisons are typical engineering junk. Nothing useful to see here.
A good lens is always optimised for the typical working distance and since this is a workhorse lens for portrait and event photographers this lens will be used mainly within a distance of several meters. Ergo comparing sharpness at infinity is useless because it in no way represent real world results.
Even 3 out of your 4 example images are shot at close distance. Those are interesting for comparing sharpness!
Great write up Jordan. I have been on the fence over what telephoto to get. Seeing the size and weight difference, not to mention price, I think the 55-200 will be more than adequate for my needs, at least for now.
The results with the 50-140 are not surprising. It is expected to be (and should be) somewhat better. However, I can tell you from experience with my 55-200mm, that on its own merits, it is an excellent lens – very sharp. You cannot go wrong with the 55-200mm. And the best bang for the buck. I’m happy with it and have no plan to get the 50-140. And the fact that I also have the excellent 18-135mm means that I basically have it all covered for my type of photography.
Jordan, man, In glad I found your review and comparison of these two Fujinon lenses! As an XT-1 shooter of landscapes, small products, and macro images, I am debating on one of these two zooms to complement my superb XF 16-55 zoom, however, without too much sacrifice in sharpness or overall image quality. If I planned to use the long zoom as a primary lens, I can see that the 50-140 is the sharper of the two, as well as WR and better-built. However, for the occasional landscape or marathon coverage I plan to use it for, based on your thoroughly professional testing (thank you!), I may now lean towards the more affordable but still quite good 55-200, with the possible addition of the XF 90 as the “sharpness king”. Thanks again sir!