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Date: 21/06/2013 | By: Mathieu

Re-encountering the Fuji XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8: Second Hands-On Experience

X100S, 1/1000, f/ 28/10, ISO 320

Re-encountering the Fuji XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8: Second Hands-On Experience

Last weekend, as fate would have it, I crossed paths with the Fujinon 55-200mm once again. Since it was the Turin-leg of the Fujifilm eXperience Tour here in Italy, I was able to use it for a longer period than the first time. This second experience with the lens has allowed me to jot down some more detailed impressions, but an hour and ten minutes isn’t sufficient to gather enough material to write a proper review. But it was enough for me to jump to this conclusion: this lens doesn’t really suit the X interchangeable system very well.

Now don’t get me wrong, the XF 55-200mm is an excellent lens. Optically speaking, it is very sharp even at its fastest aperture, it has a pleasant bokeh despite not being an f/2.8 constant aperture zoom. I was happy to see that OIS (stabilization) also works pretty well. Furthermore, it covers a great range of focal length for medium/long telephoto purposes. Last but not least, it is the lens that works best in terms of autofocus with the X-pro 1 in my opinion.

Below, you can check out some of the pictures Heather and I took at the event, hosted by Italian Fuji X photographers Gianluca Colla and Federico Borselli.

X-Pro1, 1/125, f/ 3.5, ISO 6400
X-Pro1, 1/125, f/ 3.5, ISO 6400

So, if it is so great, why I wouldn’t buy it?

Well, it is because I think that the X-System works better with primes. The first reason is the balance of the combo when you hold it in your hand. The 55-200mm adds far more weight to the front and also has a zoom ring that is more difficult to twist than standard zooms, so the camera and the lens paired together become less confortable to work with.

The second reason is that the X-Pro 1 is a great alternative to DSLRs for certain kinds of work or photography genres, but it doesn’t replace a high-end DSLR which will still win in terms of speed, autofocus and versatility. The X system is for me a specialist camera that pushes you to develop a different approach to photography. It is a smaller and more minimalistic kind of gear that is great when used with fast prime lenses for wedding, portraits, street or landscape. You buy it for a specific purpose, so there is no need to emulate DSLR versatility. And here I arrive at my point: emulating DSLR versatility is exactly what the 55-200 lens does. It is the classic telephoto zoom lens you buy at the beginning of your G.A.S. because a 70-200 f/2.8 is too expensive and you can’t afford it yet.

For me, personally, the X Pro 1 is the perfect alternative to Leica. It is a great alternative body for photographers or advanced amateurs who wish to have a smaller body without compromising quality thanks to the X-Trans sensor (which works better than many CMOS DSLR sensors).

In short, the 55-200mm is a very nice lens but I would never buy it. If you, however, feel it is the kind of lens that could meet your needs, you can check out additional photos below and the first article I wrote about his lens.

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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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