Est. 2020

Fujifilm XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS Lens Review

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Quick Facts about the Fujifilm XF 55-200mm F/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS Lens

  • Weight: 20.46 oz/580 Grams
  • Weather Sealed: NO
  • Filter Size: 62mm 
  • Angle of View: 29 to 8.1 Degrees
  • Focusing Distance: 3.61’/1.1m
  • Max Aperture: F3.5-4.8
  • Minimum Aperture: F22
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Mount System: Fuji X
  • Price: $699
  • Zoom: Extension

Introduction to this lens

Since purchasing my X-T4, the one XF telephoto lens most people have been recommending is the Fujifilm 55-200. (Especially with orders of the Fujifilm 70-300 constantly facing major delays due to the chip shortage.)

Now that I have owned, tested, and ran around the world with this lens, I feel more than qualified to give the Fujifilm 55-200mm f3.5-4.8 an adequate (and quite thorough review.)

Who is the Fujifilm 55-200 for?

The Fujifilm 55-200 is for the travel, landscape, and occasional animal photographer (not any videographer as the autofocus speed is poor) concerned about weight AND is willing to deal with a decreasing image quality after extending the zoom past 140mm. (Plus, this lens has a slowly minimizing aperture.)

Now, when it comes to travel photography, it’s important to note that this lens is NOT weather-sealed. (However, it can handle SOME water as evidenced by me accidentally getting the 55-200 and the X-T20 soaked at Skogafoss in Iceland.) 

The 55-200mm paired with a wide-angle zoom such as the 10-24, or a prime that provides low-light opportunities aka the 16mm f1.4, is a great two-lens combination that covers almost everything.

(If you wanted to focus on portraits, you could also use the 33mm f1.4 and stitch a panorama together.) 

What other Fujifilm lenses cover the 55-200 (APS-C)/84-305(FF) equivalent?

Of course, there are a couple other lenses within the Fujifilm X ecosystem that cover this important telephoto focal lens. Some argue that the 70-300 is the perfect replacement for this lens. You don’t even lose 1 entire stop of light AND you gain 100mm on the extreme telephoto lens. And other event photographers will say the only alternative is everyone’s favorite red badge, the 50-140 F2.8, due to it’s low-light performance and great OIS. 


And even other users argue that the there is no replacement for both the 90mm f2 or the 56mm f1.2… especially as these relatively light lenses balance well on both the larger and smaller bodies within the Fuji-X Mount system. 

Outside of third-party options, here are the lenses I am aware of that could provide as worthy alternatives to the 55-200. 

  • Fujifilm XF 50-140mm F2.8
  • Fujifilm XF 70-300mm F4-5.6 
  • Fujifilm XC 50-230mm F4.5-6.7 
  • Fujifilm XF 56mm F1.2
  • Fujifilm XF 80mm F2.8
  • Fujifilm XF 90mm F2
 

Image Quality and Sharpness Test

After reviewing this lens, here are a few things I noticed regarding the image quality and sharpness test. 

  • This lens performs its best throughout the entire middle-portion of the zoom range. (From about 70mm-140mm)
  • Performance begins to decline at 140mm, and you can start to see the image degradation beginning at 170mm. 
  • The variable aperture presents a problem, especially when testing the lens for sharpness.  
  • For some odd reason, the lens performed rather poorly at 50mm. 
 

Please Note: The pictures below are zoomed in 80% to the extreme top-left third of the frame. The photos below are straight-out-of-camera JPEG with some minor exposure tweaks to maintain similar exposures.
Also, these photos can now be enlarged by clicking on them! So, let me know what you think of the Fujfilm 55-200’s Image Sharpness on Twitter!

Fujifilm 55-200 Sample Images

Now, despite the image loss at 200mm, I wanted to provide some additional photos that show the sharpness DESPITE the images being compressed for the website server! The changing of the guard was at 1/500th of a second, while the Acropolis was shot at 1/200. 

To me, this reveals that is image sharpness concerns more of your medium. For example, a 24″x36″ poster might have struggled, but this did not because of its display. 

This still doesn’t take away my hatred for the 16-80 (which covers some of this lens’s focal length), but I have less of a need for clinical sharpness than others.

Is the Bokeh Good Enough with the 55-200?

Fujifilm 55-200 AUTOFocus Test
148mm @F4.5

To be honest, this lens is not made for any type of portraiture. It’s not that you have to avoid it, but you will not blur out the background as much as you will with a 90mmf2 or the 56mm f1.2. 

If this photo is enough bokeh for you, go ahead. 

How to add Bokeh to your Photo: 

Side note: If you aren’t getting enough bokeh from this lens, you could import to lightroom and use a brush to create a mask over the subject. Then, blur out the background in another layer. Or you could just upload to software such as Luminar AI, and they will fix it for you.

Bokeh Balls Test

Now, when it comes to Bokeh Balls, the 55-200 performs rather poorly. It’s also really hard to get Bokeh balls, as the lens already starts at a somewhat small aperture for a telephoto zoom. Here is a video to show what I mean. 

And here are some photos of the Bokeh Balls at a variety of apertures. 

Fujifilm 55-200 95mm @F4.5
Fujifilm 55-200 95mm @F4.5
Fujifilm 55-200 95mm @F6.4
Fujifilm 55-200 95mm @F6.4
Fujifilm 55-200 95mm @F8
Fujifilm 55-200 95mm @F8

Now, I pushed the manual focus point as close as I could to create an extreme example for this review. (I really do like this lens.)

Starting at F4.5, I notice onion rings. It did clear up (kind of) but also the Bokeh never rounded out in the right-third.

Fujifilm 55-200 Autofocus 

Similar to other older Fujifilm lenses, I had no problem locking the subject’s eye with a still shot. The Fujifilm X-T4 performs amicably in that regard. 

Fujifilm 55-200 AUTOFocus Test
148.5mm @F4.5

However, whenever it comes to continuous tracking.. it’s really poor. 

The settings I use on my Fujifilm X-T4 for video are: 

  • Any Eye
  • Tracking Sensitivity +2
  • Autofocus Speed +3
  

Now, there aren’t a LOT of reasons that you should use this long of a focal length for video. BUT I can think of a three: Wildlife and maybe a couple long-distance Food or Street Scenes. (More on the OIS below.)

With these types of photography in mind, I also wanted to provide some examples of the Fujifilm 55-200’s focus breathing. As seen in the video below, it is very noticeable. It also progressively got worse as I tapped the back of the LCD screen to switch focus points. Just like above, the settings for the following video are:

  • Any Eye
  • Tracking Sensitivity +2
  • Autofocus Speed +3

Macro & Focusing Distance

As mentioned above, the focusing distance is 1.1 meters or 3.6 feet. 
As for the maximum reproduction ratio, it’s .18x. 

 

Color Accuracy

The lens is less of an issue than the sensor when it comes to color science, and Fujifilm offers plenty of film simulations to fit your particular editing style. 

Fujifilm 55-200 OIS Test

According to Fujifilm, the 55-200 provides up to 4.5 stops of image stabilization.

As evidenced in the video above, the OIS does greatly improve the handheld footage. But the 4.5 stops might be a slight exaggeration. 

Also according to Fuji, the 55-200 with the X-T4’s IBIS provides up to 5.5 stops of OIS. And the X-H1 with the 55-200 is up to 5 stops too. 

(Please note: All of this if Fujifilm promotional material. I have not tested the IBIS of the X-T4 or X-H1. Some lenses have better OIS like the 16-80, and others warp the edges… aka the 10-24. In my experience, Fuji’s IBIS is not bad for handheld shots. However, it’s basically unusable for any sort of walk-and-vlog. 

 

 

Sunbursts/Starbursts

F22 Sunbursts

The Sunburst/Starburst effect from stopping down was not the greatest. (Remember, wide-angle lenses usually produce better starburst-like effects.) 

But you (might) be better purchasing a wide-angle lens if you need great stars. 

Flaring & Ghosting

Fujifilm 55-200 @ F22 Starburst
Fujifilm 55-200 @ F22 Starburst
Fujifilm 55-200 Flare
Fujifilm 55-200 Flare

I felt that the flaring was reasonably controlled. But flaring and ghosting is going to happen when you shoot at F22 into the sun. (See above.)

Pros of the Fujifilm 55-200

  • Balances Well 

I feel like the 55-200 will balance on any X-T camera. Most people use the Fujifilm series for it’s light weight or its retro-feel, and this lens just “feels right” for both of these applications. 

  • Reasonably priced

Look, at the MSRP, the 55-200 might be a tad expensive. However, I am regularly able to find used copies for less than $500. So, I think that’s a great trade-off. 

Cons of the Fujifilm 55-200

  • Not able to use it too much for portraits
 
It’s not necessary depending on your photography style. 
 
  • The image quality fall-off at 170mm
 
It’s going to happen. 
 
  • Lack of Weather Sealing
 
More of a notice than an actual con. Could be easily remedied with a rain cover. 

My Final Notes

One thing I noticed, especially after comparing this lens to the 50-140, is just how much I missed the low-light possibility with the 2.8 aperture. I know it’s about two stops, which doesn’t sound like much.. but that’s the difference between using ISO 400 or 1600. 

As for normal, everyday bright-light photography, I don’t foresee a problem. I used this with the 10-24, and I never felt limited because of the image quality. 

Now, I will say again, if you are wanting to use this lens for any portrait work, it’s not worth it.  

BUT here is what I think the Fujifilm 55-200 F3.5-F4.8 should be. Every Fuji X’s first telephoto zoom if you are focusing on landscape imagery. I am happy with my results. 

My Rating

Price: 5/5
I bought my copy in excellent condition of $400. 
 

Reliability: 3/5

This lens struggled only when I attempted to record video in continuous tracking. However, it does take a significant hit because of the loss of image quality. 

Functionality: 4/5

When it comes to the 80-300mm equivalent, this focal length is desirable and has utility. However, the points are lost for a lack of low-light functionality. 

Style: 4.5/5

These are always bonus points. Build quality is good, but -.5 for zoom creep when it’s in my backpack.

Total: 16.5/20 or 82.5%

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