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Gear Reviews

Fuji’s 55-200mm F/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, The Standard for Variable Aperture Zooms

By Anthony Thurston on July 9th 2014

fuji-55-200

I have had the wonderful opportunity to give the Fuji 55-200mm F/3.5-4.8 along with the Fuji X-T1 a try over the last month or so. Today, I am here to share my final thoughts and review on the 55-200mm lens. The original reason that I requested this lens along with the X-T1 was that it was what I considered to be the best Fuji telephoto zoom option (based on specs) available, and given that a lot of what I shoot is sports, I needed something that would allow for that.

03-performance-4-stars

The Fuji 55-200mm F/3.5-4.8 performs very well, and exceeded my expectations for a variable aperture telephoto zoom by miles. That being said, it is still variable aperture, and it is still outperformed by constant aperture zooms from other manufacturers.

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1/250th, ISO 640, F/4.8 @200mm

The 55-200mm F/3.5-4.8 was actually a lens that I enjoyed using very much, and from a sports perspective, I could see this lens being a great option for a parent wanting to take some good shots of their kid during daytime or outdoor sports. I was able to take the lens with me to several professional soccer matches, and I was impressed with its performance. Unfortunately, the X-T1 had continuous AF tracking issues which diluted the pool of useable images.

DSCF2758

1/1000th, F/4.8, ISO 3200 @ 200mm

That being said, the images that were sharp and in focus were great, and surprisingly, even at F/4.8, there was still a decent bit of separation from the players and the background. I would have to say that the lens definitely has a sweet spot in the mid range, around 150mm where the quality is wonderful and there are not many imperfections to speak of.

1/1000th,, F/5, ISO 3200, @ 156mm

1/1000th, F/5 , ISO 3200 @ 156mm

Taking all of that into account, I am confident and happy with giving this lens a 4 out of 5 stars. It will be a joy to use for 95% of the population who don’t need anything more than this for their telephoto needs. But for you sports or wildlife nuts, this lens is simply not quite enough on its own.

1/80th, F/4.8, ISO 100 @ 200mm

1/80th, F/4.8, ISO 100 @ 200mm

100% Crop

100% Crop

08-features-4-stars
The Fuji 55-200mm F/3.5-4.8 offers all of the features that you would want on a telephoto zoom in the Fuji system, with the exception of a constant aperture. The lens comes with image stabilization, which works very well I might add, and all the standard bells and whistles of a modern lens.

One feature that I actually enjoyed was the aperture control on the lens, a feature missing from most modern lenses these days. I like how Fuji has implemented it in a simple fashion, just a switch for auto aperture control or manual aperture control. I wish Canon and Nikon would add this to their new lenses.

1/500th, F/3.5, ISO 4000 @ 55mm

1/500th, F/3.5, ISO 4000 @ 55mm

14-design-5-stars
If there is one thing that I absolutely LOVE about the whole Fuji system, it is the design style, and that is no different with this Fuji 55-200mm F/3.5-4.8 lens. The lens, like the entire Fuji system, takes its design inspiration from old school vintage SLR lenses.

Fujifilm-XF-55-200mm

Beyond just the style of the lens, it is actually laid out well, too. The focus, and zoom rings are in good positions, and the switches are in good positions for access while shooting. Overall, I give the lens a solid 5 out of 5 on its design, which manages to look old, but new at the same time.

18-quality-4-stars
The overall quality of this Fuji 55-200mm F/3.5-4.8 is honestly much better than I was expecting from a variable aperture zoom lens. In both Canon and Nikon’s systems, these lenses are almost always of subpar quality optically and in the build, but that was just not the case with this Fuji lens.

I was never once worried about this lens from a build quality standpoint. It felt as solid as any lens I have ever used. The image quality was also much better that I was expecting from a lens like this. My trip to the zoo with this lens really knocked it out of the park, as I was able to get some stunning shots from behind glass and at a distance without needing to carry a big and heavy DSLR + lenses.

[REWIND: A TRIP TO THE ZOO WITH THE FUJI X-T1]

1/180th, F/6.4, ISO 2000 @ 200mm

1/180th, F/6.4, ISO 2000 @ 200mm

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1/180th, F/4.8, ISO 800 @ 200mm

Taking the build quality and the optical quality, while there is still room for improvement, this lens was great on both fronts. For that reason, I am happy to give the lens a solid 4 out of 5 stars in quality. If you are looking for a telephoto zoom on the Fuji system, this is a lens that you should consider.

22-value-3-stars
The value for this Fuji 55-200mm F/3.5-4.8 is where things get sticky for me. The lens prices in at $699, which is not a terrible price, but when you compare it to the Canon 55-250mm which prices in at only $349, it becomes a dilemma.

On the one hand, the build and optical quality of the Fuji is superior, so you would expect to pay more for that, but at the same time, for $699, it is creeping up on 70-200mm territory. So, I am a bit torn on the value for this lens, and as such, I am giving the lens a 3 out of 5 stars.

32-overall-score-4-stars
Overall, the Fuji 55-200mm F/3.5-4.8 was a joy to use, and definitely exceeded my expectations for it going into the review. If you are looking to get into the Fuji system, and need a telephoto lens, this is a great option until Fuji gets some constant aperture telephoto zooms on the market.

I am happy to give this lens an overall “Highly Recommended” 4 out of 5 stars on the SLR Lounge rating scale.

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

4 Comments

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  1. Herm Tjioe

    I’d also like to see an aperture ring control on newer lens. One thing I hate is fumbling for the f-stop but only to adjust something else altogether.

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  2. Steven Pellegrino

    Thanks for the review. I think I’m sold on this lens now. I’ve been using the 18-55mm that came with my X-E1 and didn’t think I was going to like it because I’ve never been impressed with the kit lenses that came with my old Nikon. But I’m amazed at the quality of the lens. I’m so used to shooting with prime lenses and honestly wasn’t all that excited about the 18-55mm, but now I find myself using it more than I thought. I think this 55-200mm is reasonably priced and will make a welcome addition to my kit.

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  3. Stan Rogers

    You’ve hit upon something in the “Value” section: this lens is bound to see comparison to the Canon, Nikon, etc., “long kit lens” (which is often part of a two-lens kit at a considerable discount over its separate price) because the numbers on the box don’t look *that* different. Well, except for the numbers on the price tag, that is. But while this may cover the same focal length range and only be a little faster at the long end, it really is a very different class of lens from those others (which really feel like they’ll come apart if you look at them with less-than-kind eyes and tend to be rather unfriendly for manual use). One gets the feeling that Fuji is aiming for an audience that knows what sort of compromises they’re willing to make, and that while size and weight might be among them (particularly for travel), reliability and handling aren’t. Sales will tell whether or not they’re making the right assumptions.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      I agree completely. Will be interesting to see how to all pans out for Fuji, especially once they get some constant aperture telephoto options out.

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