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Date: 11/05/2013 | By: Mathieu

Fuji XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS Hands-on … plus more interesting news about the X system


Fuji XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS Hands-on … plus more interesting news about the X system

Update: We had a second opportunity to use the 55-200mm during the Fuji eXperience Tour here in Italy. Click here for part two!

My original plan for this lazy Saturday was to finish my article about the X-Pro 1 which I tested last week, but then I heard about the Fujifilm X Day at the camera store Grande Marvin here in Turin where Fujifilm was showcasing its entire X camera line and lenses. Of course, my priorities took a 360-degree turn!

At the event, I had the chance to talk with a representative of Fujifilm Italia who divulged some very interesting information about possible releases we may see in the future. And of course, I tried different products, including the brand new 55-200mm zoom for the X-Pro 1 and X-E1!

Hands-On with the new XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS

The XF 55-200mm mounted on the X-Pro 1
The XF 55-200mm mounted on the X-Pro 1
XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS
  • Focal Length: 55 – 200mm (84-305mm on 35mm format)
  • Lens Construction: 14 elements in 10 groups (includes 1 aspherical and 2 extra low dispersion elements)
  • Angle of View: 29.0° – 8.1°
  • Closest Focusing Distance: Normal: 1.1m – ∞ (whole zoom position) – Macro: 1.1m – 3m (whole zoom position)
  • Maximum Image Magnification: 0.18x (Telephoto)
  • Number of Blades: 7 (rounded diaphragm opening)
  • Maximum Aperture: F3.5 – F4.8
  • Minimum Aperture: F22
  • Filter Size Diameter: 62mm
  • Dimensions Diameter: 75.0mm x 118mm (Wide) / 177mm (Telephoto)
  • Weight: 580g

I was given a mere ten minutes to try it, as other people were waiting in line to test it as well, and it was the only sample available. Also, the lens was a prototype, very close to the final version.

In that brief time, I used it on an X-Pro 1 and took a couple of pictures around the block. The lens is not too heavy and I find it well balanced with the X-Pro 1 in terms of both weight and ergonomics. The zoom ring wasn’t as smooth as others I’ve tried, but it could be related to the sample I used. Also, the aperture ring, as with other XF lenses, is a little bit too soft and you can inadvertently change the aperture. Since I had such a short window of time, I concentrated on bringing home some interesting shots. I wanted to try the zoom at its fastest apertures but I didn’t realize that I had accidentally changed it to 5.6 the whole time I was out with the lens. Anyway, the blame’s on me!

First seconds with the new lens, and Heather is already snapping picture of me:)
The first few seconds with the new lens, and Heather is already snapping pictures of me. :) By the way, I really need to trim that beard…

This lens is the first telephoto lens for the X system and Fuji seems to have made it right: the quality is there. It is very sharp, with a nice bokeh that seems to be more pleasant to the eye than traditional telephoto zoom lenses without the constant aperture like this one.

X-Pro1, 1/160, f/ 5.6, ISO 200
X-Pro1, 1/160, f/ 5.6, ISO 200
Fujifilm XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS at 156mm

The lens is stabilized and while I didn’t try it much, I took a few shot at less than 1/100s and it responded very well.

X-Pro1, 1/90, f/ 5.6, ISO 320
X-Pro1, 1/90, f/ 5.6, ISO 320
Fujifilm XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS at 122mm

The minimal focus distance is more than acceptable for this type of lens, but don’t expect close macro performance here.

X-Pro1, 1/480, f/ 5.6, ISO 200
X-Pro1, 1/480, f/ 5.6, ISO 200
Fujifilm XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS at 200mm

It is indeed an interesting lens for those interested in chasing animals in the park or for portraits. Its non-constant aperture won’t make it ideal in low-light performance. As for the autofocus, the X-Pro 1 handed to me had the latest firmware on it that support this new lens, and that is suppose to enhance the autofocus on the X-Pro 1 as well. Again, 10 minutes isn’t enough to judge a lens, but it seems that it possesses the normal Fuji autofocus speed found in the X-pro line, so nothing terribly fast.

X-Pro1, 1/125, f/ 5.6, ISO 200
X-Pro1, 1/125, f/ 5.6, ISO 200
Fujifilm XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS at 55mm

Ok, so tell us about the interesting news!

While chatting with the Fuji rep, I asked if he had any news about the release of an updated X Pro-1, and on the other lenses Fujifilm is planning to release that are already showing on the Lens Road Map. According to him:

  • There won’t be an X-Pro 2 anytime soon, probably not before late 2014 or early 2015. He also doesn’t believe in an X-Pro 1S update. The X-Pro 1 is the flagship model and will remain so for another year. Fuji is concentrating on releasing more lenses to offer a wider choice to photographers.
  • Speaking of lenses, he also told me another interesting rumor about a constant f/2.8 zoom that could be announced in early 2014!
  • Finally, he believes that Fujifilm will also make a full frame version of the X Pro1 – not soon, but he believes that the company will start to head in that direction.

Of course, he couldn’t confirm any of this and some of these points are probably more his personal assumptions than fact, but they  are still interesting rumors worth mentioning.

My two cents regarding these rumors are:

  • The X-Pro 1 has an Achilles heel when it comes to autofocus, and despite firmware updates, it doesn’t have phase detection like the X100s. The X100s is currently the most advanced of all Fuji cameras thanks to its updated X-Trans CMOS sensor and new features like digital split imaging and peak highlights. If the X-Pro 1 is the company’s flagship, it would be weird not to see at least an updated model in 2014.
  • Constant f/2.8 aperture zoom(s) would be a nice addition for pros and would make the X line more complete and suitable for professional needs. There is still the autofocus issue. You generally buy a f/2.8 constant zoom for weddings, events or genres where you need to rely on a good autofocus. So, if this is true, it makes more sense to me to release an updated X-pro model along with the new professional lenses.
  • If Fuji goes full-frame, I think there is a higher probability to see a FF X100 version rather than a FF X-Pro. This because Fuji would need to release new lenses suitable for the Full Frame sensor, and they seems more interested in increasing the number of XF lenses for the cameras already out there. Perhaps Fuji has a FF camera in mind with the same concept as the Fuji S5 pro that had a Nikon F mount and could also read Nikkor lens chips. Also, Fuji has already proposed a Leica M mount adapter for the X-Pro 1 – they could do the same for the FF version. Anyway, an X200 with a Full Frame CMOS X-Trans sensor would make a lot of photographers happy (including me)!

Another lens worth mentioning: the XF 14mm f/2.8 R

The XF 14mm f/2.8
The XF 14mm f/2.8 R
XF 14mm f/2.8 R
  • Focal Length: 14mm (21mm on 35mm format)
  • Lens Construction: 10 elements in 7 groups (includes 2 aspherical and 3 extra low dispersion elements)
  • Angle of View: 90.8°
  • Closest Focusing Distance: Normal: 30cm – Macro: 18cm
  • Maximum Image Magnification: 0.12x
  • Number of Blades: 7 (rounded diaphragm opening)
  • Maximum Aperture: F2.8
  • Minimum Aperture: F22
  • Filter Size Diameter: 58mm
  • Dimensions Diameter: 65mm x 58.4mm
  • Weight: 235g

While I was there, I also tried some other Fujinon lenses. The 14mm is definitely a lens I would buy if I had an X-Pro 1 or X-E1. It definitely suits my needs when it comes to wide angle shots – great for landscapes and urbanscapes. It has the classic distortion of any extreme wide angle and I like it a lot. I just did a couple of shots in the short time I had, so I cannot tell you more, but I really like what I have seen!

X-Pro1, 1/800, f/ 5.6, ISO 200
X-Pro1, 1/800, f/ 5.6, ISO 200

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About the author: Mathieu Gasquet

Mathieu Gasquet is a professional photographer with French and Italian origins. Besides running his own video and photography studio 3Dit Lab, he is also the official photographer for the National Cinema Museum in Turin. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter or Facebook!

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