Announced in April, the Fujinon XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS is the first telephoto zoom lens for Fujifilm’s X system cameras and makes a great partner for the Fujinon Super EBC XF18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS lens we reviewed in November, 2012. Key features include image stabilisation with a claimed 4.5-stop shake compensation plus fast autofocusing.

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In summary

The Fujinon XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS lens is a match for the Super EBC XF18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS lens in build quality and exceeds it slightly in performance. Like its sibling, it is decidedly superior to the average kit lens and makes an excellent partner to the shorter zoom with either of Fujifilm’s compact system cameras.

All the common aberrations have been addressed effectively and centre sharpness is excellent, with edge softening low at the widest apertures and almost negligible when the lens is stopped down.

Focusing and zooming are smooth and quiet enough to be used while recording movies and internal focusing enables filters to be used without hassles. The only disincentives are the slightly high price and the fact that only two camera bodies can accept it.

We couldn’t find any kit offers for this lens when this review was published, either within Australia or on overseas websites. However, it’s likely for savings to be available when it is purchased with an X-E1 or X-Pro1 body.

Rating

Build

8.8

Handling

8.5

Image quality  

8.3

Versatility

8.8

OVERALL

8.8

RRP:  AU$899; US$799

SPECS

  • Picture angle: 29 degrees to eight degrees one minute
  • Minimum aperture: f/22
  • Lens construction: 14 elements in 10 groups (including one aspherical and two ELD elements)
  • Lens mounts: Fujifilm XF
  • Diaphragm Blades: 7 (circular aperture)
  • Focus drive: Linear stepper motors (internal focusing)
  • Stabilisation: Yes (4.5 EV claimed)
  • Minimum focus: 1.1 metres
  • Maximum magnification: 0.6x (w) to 0.18x (t)
  • Filter size:   62 mm
  • Dimensions (Diameter x L): 75 x 118 mm (177 mm fully extended)
  • Weight:  Approx. 580 grams

The all-glass lens structure consists of 14 elements in 10 groups and includes one aspherical element and two extra low dispersion elements, including one Super ED lens element that equals the performance of a fluorite lens. Fujinon’s proprietary HT-EBC (High Transmittance Electron Beam Coating) is applied to optical surfaces to control flare and ghosting.

A seven-blade rounded diaphragm closes to a circular aperture. Autofocusing is driven by two linear stepping motors, which claim to be able to adjust the lens within 0.28 seconds. Fujifilm says the new lens is quiet enough for use when shooting video movies.

The lens is supplied with a generous cylindrical hood that can be reversed for transport and storage. A soft carrying pouch is also provided, along with the standard front and end caps.

Build and Ergonomics

Build quality is similar to the XF18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens. The outer barrel is made from metal (presumably a lightweight aluminium alloy of some type), while the inner barrel is high-quality polycarbonate. The lens zooms smoothly with no detectable play or unwanted stiffness at any point in the zoom range.

Despite its size, the lens complemented the X-E1 body we used for our tests very nicely and felt comfortable to use when the camera was handled like an SLR. Single-handed use is not recommended. The outer barrel protrudes a couple of millimetres below the base plate of the camera, which could present problems when the camera is mounted on tripods with large platforms or quick-release plates.

There are three rings on the lens barrel. Close to the front of the lens is the focusing ring, which is about 17 mm wide and has a finely-ridged grip moulding (not rubberised). This ring is well-damped but turns through a full circle with no well-defined stops at either end of the focusing range.

The zoom ring is located just behind it. It’s 52 mm wide, with the front four-fifths covered by a rubberised grip with similar ridging to the focusing ring. The lens lengthens by 59 mm as you move from the wide to the tele position but doesn’t rotate, making it easy to fit angle-critical attachments.

Focal length settings for 55mm, 70mm, 100mm, 135mm and 200mm are stamped on a smooth section on the trailing edge, which slopes slightly in from the grip. These settings line up against a white mark on the lens barrel. We found no zoom creep with this lens.

The third ring is the aperture ring, which is about 8 mm wide and has slightly wider, hard plastic ridges than the other rings.  No aperture markings are shown. To adjust aperture settings, the slider on the lens barrel must be set to the blade icon (see below).

This ring has soft click-stops at intervals of 1/3 EV and rotates through 360 degrees, although all aperture settings are covered within about 90 degrees of rotation. Because apertures vary as you zoom, there are no aperture marks on the lens barrel, although apertures are displayed on the monitor and in the EVF.

Two sliders are located on the lens barrel behind the aperture ring. The upper one is used for selecting between automatic and manual aperture control and has an ‘A’ marking for the former and a blade icon for the latter.   The lower one switches the built-in image stabilisation on and off.

Zooming is mechanical, allowing users to move instantly from wide to tele positions and anywhere in between. However, the zoom ring is quite stiff, another indication of excellent build quality. This is advantageous for preventing zoom creep when the lens is carried facing downwards. (Some photographers may prefer a little less resistance.)

At the 55mm position, the lens covers an angle of view of 29 degrees, which narrows to 8.1 degrees at the 200mm position. Maximum aperture settings change with focal length as shown in the table below. (The minimum aperture is fixed at f/22.)

Focal length

55mm

70mm

100mm

135mm

200mm

Maximum aperture

f/3.5

f/3.7

f.4.0

f/4.4

f/4.8

 

The minimum focusing distance of 1.1 metres operates at all focal length settings and applies to the Macro mode. The EVF on the X-E1 camera we used for our review worked flawlessly with the 55-200mm lens and displayed changes in apertures that occurred as the focal length was adjusted. On the X-Pro1 the optical viewfinder won’t be able to accommodate the full zoom range so switching to the EVF is advisable.

The supplied lens hood was a very tight fit and quite difficult to put on and take off. The design of the lens cap made it fairly easy to dislodge inadvertently.

Performance

On the X-E1 body the review lens provided fast, quiet and smooth autofocusing. Manual focusing was also smooth and it was relatively easy to focus accurately in manual mode with either the viewfinder or monitor.

Autofocusing speed was similar to the 18-55mm lens’s and reasonably fast in bright conditions and with contrasty subjects. Some hunting occurred in very low light levels and, occasionally, with subjects where the contrast range was relatively small.

Subjective assessments of test shots showed them to be sharp across most of the frame. Image stabilisation was reliable for up to three stops and able to be pushed a further stop (or more) if you’re prepared to tolerate some misses.

Imatest showed the review lens to be capable of exceeding expectations for the X-E1’s 16-megapixel sensor for a high percentage of the available focal length and aperture ranges. The best performance occurred at f/5.6 with the 70mm focal length, although other focal lengths also produced excellent resolution between f/5 and f/8.

Lateral chromatic aberration was negligible throughout the aperture and focal length range.  No coloured fringing was observed in any test shots.  

Distortion was low enough to be negligible throughout the zoom range. Vignetting was also negligible. No in-camera corrections for either aberration are provided by the camera but, it seems, none are necessary.

Close-up shooting is limited by the minimum focusing distance of 110 cm from the sensor plane.  However, although not macro-capable, the lens can be used successfully for shots of moderately large subjects at longer focal length settings.  

The stabilisation system enabled us to use shutter speeds slightly slower than 1/20 second with the 200mm focal length. Roughly half of the shots taken at slow shutter speeds with the lens zoomed in were acceptably sharp.

Bokeh at wide apertures was mostly attractive, as shown in the sample images below, although we noticed some hard-edges circular highlights in the background of a backlit shot taken with the 200mm focal length. This suggests contrasty backgrounds should be avoided where possible.

Conclusion

The Fujinon XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS lens is a match for the Super EBC XF18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS lens in build quality and exceeds it slightly in performance. Like its sibling, it is decidedly superior to the average kit lens and makes an excellent partner to the shorter zoom with either of Fujifilm’s compact system cameras.

All the common aberrations have been addressed effectively and centre sharpness is excellent, with edge softening low at the widest apertures and almost negligible when the lens is stopped down.

Focusing and   zooming are smooth and quiet enough to be used while recording movies and internal focusing enables filters to be used without hassles. The only disincentives are the slightly high price and the fact that only two camera bodies can accept it.

We couldn’t find any kit offers for this lens when this review was published, either within Australia or on overseas websites. However, it’s likely for savings to be available when it is purchased with an X-E1 or X-Pro1 body.

Buy