Fujinon XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS
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Lab Test Results
February 2, 2015
by Andrew Alexander
Released in May of 2014, the Fujinon XF 55-200mm ƒ/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS is a telephoto zoom lens designed for the X-mount system employed by Fuji's X-series of camera.
The X-mount lens will only mount to Fujifilm compact system cameras with sub-frame (APS-C) sensors. Thus, for this particular lens, it will exhibit an effective focal length of 83-300mm.
The 55-200mm isn't a ''constant'' lens, in that as you increase the focal length, the maximum aperture size decreases (the minimum aperture of ƒ/22 stays constant). The following table reflects the change in aperture size with focal length:
|Min. aperture||ƒ/22 at all focal lengths|
The lens is available now, comes with a round lens hood, takes 62mm filters, and retails for around $700.
The lens provides very sharp results, especially when used below 135mm.
Impressively, the lens provides tack-sharp results when used at the widest-angle and widest-aperture settings -- 55mm and ƒ/3.5. Stopping down doesn't provide any further gain in sharpness, and this is true through to 100mm. At 100mm and ƒ/4, it's just a hair's breath away from tack-sharpness when used wide open - for tack-sharp results the lens must be stopped down to ƒ/5.6.
At 135mm, we start to see some slight degradation in sharpness. In particular, our copy exhibits some signs of de-centering, with the bottom of the frame being softer than the top. The base aperture for this focal length is ƒ/4.4, but stopping down to ƒ/5.6 improves things significantly. At ƒ/8, it's tack-sharp again.
At 200mm, the lens never achieves tack-sharpness, but it's decently sharp all over; the images produced are a bit more even at ƒ/5.6, but there's no particular advantage in stopping down.
Diffraction limiting sets in at ƒ/11 for this lens, but you won't notice any serious impact on sharpness until the ƒ/16 mark, if not ƒ/22.
The Fujinon 55-200mm lens performs very well in this category, showing only slight Chromatic Aberration above 135mm. There is some evident CA at the 200mm mark, but even there, it is very well-controlled and is expressed as a loss of detail on areas of high contrast, rather than a color shift.
*** It should be noted that the X-E1 does feature in-camera correction of CA, vignetting and distortion, and it's important to note that our results here were taken from RAW files. However, when converted with Adobe Camera Raw, as it our usual procedure, ACR carries over these in-camera corrections. It was only by converting the same RAW images with DCRAW (which does not convert the images with these corrections) that we were able to confirm this.
Corner shading is extremely well-controlled, and improved by the in-camera correction; there is no combination of aperture and focal length that produces more than a quarter-stop of corner darkening.
Distortion is also remarkably well-controlled, with an impressively flat image (ie., no barrel or pincushion distortion) whether you're shooting at 55mm or 200mm.
The Fujinon 55-200mm uses an electrical autofocus system, which is very fast. The design is fly-by-wire, so there is no direct connection between the focusing ring and the autofocus system: autofocus results are very quick, and near-silent. Also, attached 62mm filters will not rotate.
The lens isn't designed for macro work, so it's no surprise that performance here is not great -- the lens produces just 0.18x magnification (1:5.6) at a minimum close-focusing distance of 1.1 meters (just over three and a half feet).
Build Quality and Handling
The XF 55-200mm ƒ/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS is a well-built lens, with an all-metal barrel construction and textured in a satin black finish. For a telephoto zoom lens, it isn't all that heavy (just over 20 oz.), but mounted on the smaller X-mount bodies it does make for a package that's not quite as svelte as you might have envisioned. The lens features optical image stabilization, which is activated or deactivated with a dedicated ''OIS'' switch.
There are three rings for this lens: a zoom ring, a focusing ring, as well as an aperture ring, which is something of a rarity in modern digital camera lenses -- though it's been a standard feature on Fuji's X-mount glass. The aperture ring sits closer to the lens body, around 3/8'' wide. The lens features a selector, which allows the user to choose between auto-aperture mode, or manual aperture selection (you just have to remember that the "A" stands for Automatic, not aperture).
The zoom ring is a generous 2'' wide, with deep rubber ribs running parallel to the length of the lens. The zoom action is very smooth, going from 55mm to 200mm in a seventy degree turn, with only a minor amount of force required to transition between focal lengths. The lens extends as it is zoomed out, adding just over two inches to its overall length. Zoom creep was not a factor in our testing with this lens.
The focusing ring is about 3/4'' wide, made of polycarbonate with deep grooves that offer excellent tactile feel. The lens uses a fly-by-wire system in its lens focusing operation, so the focusing ring is not actually directly connected to the lens elements in a mechanical way. Rather, turning the focusing ring moves the elements electronically. In practice this means the focusing ring will turn forever in either direction, and you'll have to rely on the on-screen readouts to know if you have reached minimum or maximum focus.
There are no distance scales or depth-of-field information on the lens, but the X-E1 test camera we used offers a distance scale on its LCD or viewfinder readout.
Optical Image Stabilization is claimed by Fuji at 4.5 stops, but our testing showed 3.5 stops at 55mm and 4 stops at 200mm. This is still excellent performance. Be sure to check our IS Test tab for more detailed information.
The round, tube-like lens hood is made of plastic and attaches via standard bayonet mount. The hood is 2 3/4'' long.
Fuji's X-mount system is still (at the time of writing) in its relative infancy, and Fuji itself is still just starting to roll out a large set of lenses. More problematic for users looking for alternatives, is that Sigma and Tamron have not yet shown any interest in producing lenses in the X-mount.
Fujinon XC 50-230mm ƒ/4.5-6.7 OIS II ~$400
We haven't yet tested this lens, but it offers slightly longer telephoto performance, at a slightly lower price point.
Fujinon XF 50-140mm ƒ/2.8 R LM OIS WR ~$1,600
On the opposite end of the scale, this lens is much more expensive, but offers a more professional ƒ/2.8 aperture possibility.
The only negative thing I have to say about this lens would be its performance at 200mm; it feels like the lens has been optimized for the wide-angle end (given its extremely impressive performance below 100mm) and that 200mm has been, by necessity, left to be slightly less impressive. Otherwise, everything about this lens is great -- OIS provides great hand-holding stability, and the lens offers a slightly more capable variable aperture than other consumer telephoto zooms (most offer f/5.6 at the long end, while this lens offers 2/3 more stops, at f/4.8 at 200mm). Coupled with an attractive price point, the lens is a no-brainer if you're looking to complement the 18-55mm kit lens.
The VFA target should give you a good idea of sharpness in the center and corners, as well as some idea of the extent of barrel or pincushion distortion and chromatic aberration, while the Still Life subject may help in judging contrast and color. We shoot both images using the default JPEG settings and manual white balance of our test bodies, so the images should be quite consistent from lens to lens.
As appropriate, we shoot these with both full-frame and sub-frame bodies, at a range of focal lengths, and at both maximum aperture and ƒ/8. For the ''VFA'' target (the viewfinder accuracy target from Imaging Resource), we also provide sample crops from the center and upper-left corner of each shot, so you can quickly get a sense of relative sharpness, without having to download and inspect the full-res images. To avoid space limitations with the layout of our review pages, indexes to the test shots launch in separate windows.
Fujinon XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS User Reviews
10 out of 10 points and recommended by Jonas (8 reviews)Very very sharp
I love the sharpness of this lens. After cropping my photo to "real size" I was able to see details on the moon. I couldn't see them before with my other lenses.reviewed May 26th, 2015 (purchased for $499)
I understand people considering it a bit heavy but I only own that kind of lens and I'm getting used to their weight. Hardly any chromatic aberration and it completes perfectly the XF18-55 if you own it because you'll have the full range.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by Gromit (8 reviews)Fabulous IQ - up with the very bestEr...haven't found any yet!
I got this to complete my 3-lens set for my recently bought X-Pro1 and it's just blown me away. It's beautifully made, light, works very smoothly. The zoom ring is still quite stiff but this should loosen off over time I think. Also it does extend a LONG way when thrown out to 200mm - that really is it for downsides, if they really are? The upshot though is the image quality which is staggeringly good - I simply cannot fault it. A 55-200mm zoom, with OIS which is cheaper, and as good as a Canon 70-200 F4L IS? You betcha.reviewed March 23rd, 2014 (purchased for $550)
I'm delighted with it, and whilst it's really the only choice for Fujistas who need a longer f/l they need not be disappointed. This is a cracker of a lens.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by richardanthony (1 reviews)Amazing build quality, IQ, sharpness3.5-4.8 aperture
I had some hesitations purchasing this lens coming from the Nikon camp. My previous 70-200 2.8 was a stellar machine to work with. I wanted to achieve a similar look but had my doubts. I knew the aperture range wasn't the best but looking at several reviews I've seen with some work I could achieve some great looking images using the longer end of the zoom. So far I'm extremely impressed with it's focusing properties, IQ and sharpness. The micro contrast is right up there with the best. I actually attempted to use this for sports and was pretty surprised by its abilities. The biggest short falls lie's within the Fuji focusing speed but to be completely honest it's not that bad. Coming from a D600 my EX-1 with the most recent updates with this lens works very well. Again this isn't a sports lens just can be used if needed with some good technique. I can't recommend this lens enough. I would have loved a fixed 2.8 but it would've been huge and that defeats the purpose of the system. The bokeh is awesome just his the buy now button, you won't regret it.reviewed October 30th, 2013 (purchased for $699)
10 out of 10 points and recommended by abzeal (2 reviews)Excellent at 55mm, OIS works well, Low CA, Vignetting, Distortions, Silent auto focus, Build qualityWeaker performance at 200mm, Autofocus not always the quickest, Barrel extends a lot
If you want a telephoto for your Fuji then you don't have much choice, but don't despair this is a decent piece of kit. Perhaps a little overpriced, but excellently made, its a mostly hit from fuji.reviewed August 11th, 2013 (purchased for $700)
It takes stellar photos at the shorter end of its range, with even some smooth out of focus areas and wonderful colour reproduction. It'd make a decent portrait lens until the 56mm comes next Jan.
I found performance all round a bit weaker at the 200mm end, sometimes it struggles to focus a bit more. Bit disappointing its not a constant F4, but you can work around that limitation at the far end.
It's not going to be great for sports as the auto focus is not super fast but not painfully slow, but then you probably didn't buy you Fuji for that.
All in all, a good lens and something I'm sure you'll enjoy having in your kit bag.
9 out of 10 points and recommended by tonybridge (1 reviews)light, sharp, superb optical qualitynone
Stunning quality in a no-compromise lens.reviewed April 18th, 2013 (purchased for $800)