Fuji XF 55–200mm F/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS
Dancing to a Different Drummer
Fuji always dances to a different drummer. While any of the major camera makers would introduce one or more zoom lenses along with a new camera system, in Fuji's case, when they launched the X-Pro 1 they did so along with three primes. Not a zoom in sight. If I knew the Japanese translation for chutzpah, that's the word that I'd use for such an unconventional marketing strategy.
And you know what? I worked. Instead of playing the me-too game that the other companies systematically follow, Fuji turned it on its head, introducing several fast primes before their first zoom, the excellent 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R OIS last fall. Now, in the Spring of 2013 they have started shipping a 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 OIS, equivalent to an 80-300mm in terms of angle of coverage. Incidentally, their lens road map shows a third zoom coming, a 10-14mm f/4 OIS.
Turban and Pixels, Chicago, May 2013
Fuji X-Pro 1 with 55-200mm @ ISO 200
If you already own the Fuji 18-55mm you'll be familiar with the feel of the 55-200mm. These lenses share the same design aesthetic, and that's a pretty good one, especially given the lens' reasonable US $700 price. Fit and finish are first rate, and the lens is relatively light weight without feeling flimsy.
As with the 18-55mm there is an aperture ring, but it is displayed on-screen rather than have apertures marks on the lens barrel, the way they do with Fuji primes. There is an "A" position as well as one for manual aperture control. Also, as with the shorter zoom, there is a OIS On-Off (stabilization) switch on the lens barrel.
Zoom control is firm and smooth. Almost perfect. Manual focusing (when enabled) is fly-by-wire, but also has a very smooth feel. The lens is shipped with a lens cap and a metal lens hood.
Don'y Obey, Chicago, May 2013
Fuji X-Pro 1 with 55-200mm @ ISO 1000 @ f/5.6
This shot surprised me. I normally don't think too much about bokeh when it comes to long zooms. I'm not sure why; maybe because I'm often disappointed. But in this case when the lens is focused as close as possible and the background is at infinity, I was very pleased with the shape of the diaphragm blades as well as the smoothness of the OOF areas.
Most camera and lens makers claim very high stabilization factors. In the case of this lens Fuji says 4X. Such claims are usually marketing exaggerations or only valid in controlled conditions, but after just a few days of use I found myself being quite impressed with hand-held image sharpness under a wide variety of conditions.
Late Reflections. Chicago, 2013
Fuji X-Pro 1 with 55-200mm @ ISO 320
More to Come
The 55-200mm arrived for testing just before a trip to Chicago in early May, where we were shooting a Lightroom 5 video tutorial update with Jeff Schewe. The first day there we had a lovely spring afternoon, and because we needed some architectural shots to use with the new Upright feature in LR5 we spent a couple of hours walking and shooting. The 55-200mm saw a lot of use, and some of the images from that shoot appear above.
I am leaving toward the end of May for a two week-long workshop and shoot in Australia. While I'll be using my Alpa with an IQ180 for landscape work – this is, after all a Phase One PODAS workshop, I will be using the Fuji X-Pro 1 along with the 55-200mm for hand-held work.
Though the lens is not yet shipping, Fujifilm Canada was kind enough to lend me a pre-production sample till the end of my trip to Australia, and I'll therefore likely be adding new images and comments here as the trip proceeds. At this point though, I find the lens to be excellent overall. I'll definately be buying one. More to come.