Est. 2020

Fujifilm 55-200 vs 100-400 Compared

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Quick Facts about the Fujifilm XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS Lens

  • Weight: 1.27 lbs/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

Quick Facts about the Fujifilm XF 100-400 F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Lens 

 
  • Weight: 3.03 lbs/1375 Grams
  • Weather Sealed: Yes
  • Filter Size: 77mm
  • Angle of View: 16.2 to 4.1 Degrees 
  • Focusing Distance: 5.74’/1.75m
  • Max Aperture: F4.5-F5.6
  • Minimum Aperture: F22
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Mount System: Fuji X
  • Price: $1,899.95
  • Zoom: Extension 
  • Accepts Teleconverters*

Why compare the Fujifilm 55-200 vs the 100-400?/Who are both of these lenses for?

After testing both the 55-200 & the 100-400 individually, I realized something rather quickly. Both lenses are remarkably similar. They have a similar build quality, both lenses were released within a few years of each other, and they cover a some-what valuable focal length for sports and wildlife. (100-200mm FF equivalent is: 150-300)

Despite this being an unpopular search term, I decided “Why not.” So, here’s my comparison of these two lenses. 

What other telephoto lenses exist within the Fuji-X lineup?

 

So, here’s the skinny on each of these lenses. 

The 70-300. The XF 70-300 is the best XF telephoto lens. It wins in price, weight, and has superb performance throughout the zoom range. The only downside is this lens is not designed for low-light photography. Which is why you need the….

50-140 for low-light. It beats out every other lens on this lens for sharpness. I think it’s overpriced. However, only you can answer whether the price tag is worth it. If you are questioning whether you need it or not, the answer is no. 

Finally, that leaves us with the Fujifilm XC 50-230 F4.5-6.7 MK II. It’s going to struggle, but it’s the only lens on this list that is sub-$400. 

 

Prime Lenses

  • Fujifilm XF 200mm F2
 

Expensive, heavy, fast, and sharp. This behemoth retails for almost $6,000 new. 

With the aperture of F2, this lens will allow for numerous styles of photography. (But I would love to see some wildlife photos with this lens!)

I firmly believe this lens is the only Fujifilm XF lens that belongs in the red-badge category. The rest of the red-badge (16-55, 8-16, 50-140, and 100-400) lenses are nice. However, compared to other premium options by Canon or Nikon, the Fujifilm system is lacking. 

At which focal length does the aperture change on the Fujifilm 55-200 & 100-400?

55-200

55mm 

60mm 

70mm

77mm

@F3.5

@F3.6

@3.7

@F3.8 

85mm 

95mm 

104mm

128mm

@F3.9

@F4

@F4.2

@F4.4

148mm

164mm 

172mm

190mm

@F4.5

@F4.6

@F4.7

@F4.8

It’s honestly quite amazing (and annoying) to see how the maximum aperture slowly changes throughout the focal range. 

Certainly, the aperture is much more usable than the 150-600

But if we were to compare it to this 100-400, you only get about one extra stop of light. 

100-400

*I forgot to test this. However, I consulted with numerous sources. And they all suggested the same thing. 

100mm 

200mm 

300mm

400mm

@F4.5

@F5.0

@F5.2

@F5.6 

F5.6 is certainly not horrible. However, you are going to need to remember to use a faster shutter speed to make sure the image is sharp. 

Dials, Switches, Buttons, Tripod foot, and More

On the 55-200, you can find the following… 

Switches

  • OIS – ON/OFF 
  • Aperture Mode Switch
 

Extras 

  • Lens Hood
 
Meanwhile, on the 100-400, we have…
 

Switches

  • OIS – ON/OFF 
  • Focus Range Selector (Focus Range Limiter)
  • Aperture Mode Switch

Extras 

  • Lens Hood
  • Tripod Foot

Build Quality Comparison

As mentioned in the introduction, the two lenses are remarkably similar in regards to build-quality. 

If I had to guess, both lenses are made out of the same plastic compound. (It would make sense, as the 100-400 was released in early 2016, and the 55-200 was released in 2014.)

Both lenses are extension zooms, which means the lenses do extend out. (And inevitably, both lenses suffer from massive lens creep. However, the 100-400 has a zoom-lock.)

If you look at the longevity of these lenses, both are made to last. However, the 100-400 is also weather-sealed.

How far is the FOV? 

The iPhone 13 photo is actually the human-eye equivalent. (35mm on an APS-C; 50mm on a Full-Frame

  • 100-400mm Angle of View: 16.2 to 4.1 Degrees 
  • 55-200mm Angle of View: 29 to 8.1 Degrees 

 

I think it’s obvious to see that the 100-400 has a much larger field of view than the 55-200. Just by looking at the angle of view and by just seeing the focal lengths of both lenses. 

Meanwhile, I have to make a warning. Examine your style of photography, and see if you are going to miss that field of view between 55 and 100mm. It is quite drastic, about 13 degrees of difference. So, if you are taking a lot of cityscapes and other styles of photography that deal with closer subjects, you are going to need the 55-200.

100-400 vs 55-200 Sharpness Test

55-200

About the 55-200

After reviewing the 55-200 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

100-400

About the 100-400

  • The lens has its best output between 150-300mm. (Typical of zoom lenses)
  • Noticeable fall-off. If I had to guess, the fall-off severely affected the image quality around 370mm. But the degradation actually started taking place around 350mm.

100-400 vs 55-200

It’s honestly amazing that both lenses have fall-off at around 75% of the maximum focal length. 

Again, this is just furthering my opinion that these lenses perform almost identically. 

Bokeh Test

To me, the bokeh  on the 100-400 is kind of unnerving between the two.

Quite frankly, if you are looking for wonderful bokeh for something serious such as wildlife photography, you might consider another ecosystem altogether. 

 

Bokeh Balls Test

I have 3 things I noticed about the 55-200’s bokeh balls. 

  • They never quite rounded-out. 
  • Noticeable onion ring effect. 
  • Easier to get bokeh balls in lower-light because of the F3.5 

When reviewing the bokeh balls of this lens, my first impressions on the back of the LCD screen were mostly positive @F4.5.

However, when examining these pictures in post-production past F4.5, I noticed something… the bokeh balls aren’t round. 

So, don’t count on either lens if you need perfectly round bokeh balls. 

Focusing Distance and Macro Performance 

Fujifilm 100-400 400mm @F5.6 Macro Test

For the 100-400:

The focusing distance is 5.74 feet/1.75 meters. 

The maximum magnification ratio is .19x, 

For the 55-200:

The focusing distance is 3.61 feet/1.1 meter. 

The maximum reproduction ratio is .18x.

For both lenses, the magnification ratio is a “meh” on a scale from bad to good for both lenses. 

However, the 55-200 greatly wins this contest due to the close focusing distance. 

OIS Test

According to Fujifilm, the 55-200 provides up to 4.5 stops of image stabilization on non-stabilized bodies such as the X-T3, X-Pro3, and X-T20 

For the 100-400. 

According to the Fujifilm website, the 100-400 is rated for up to 5 stops of Image Stabilization with the OIS enabled. Although this might be a slight exaggeration, you will be able to achieve some hand-held shots with this lens if you choose. 

 

Starburst/Sunburst 

I wasn’t particularly happy with the sunstars from the 100-400 despite the F22 aperture. And although the 55-200’s starburst effects are not nearly as great as the 50-140, the 55-200 is much better. 

Why should I pick the 55-200 over the 100-400?

  • Price/Quality Ratio
There is no question…. the 55-200 wins the price/quality ratio. I was able to purchase a used-copy of the 55-200 for $400. This is over $1,000 cheaper than the 100-400. Plus, the lenses perform the same in regards to sharpness.  

 

  • Shorter Focal Lengths

This is more of a personal thing; however, I often found the 100-400 to be a bit too long for day-to-day photography. 

Why should I pick the 100-400 over the 55-200?

  • Focal Length

Unless you need that extra focal length, I cannot recommend the 100-400 over the 55-200. 

My Final Ratings 

Fujifilm XF 100-400 F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

Price: 2/5
It’s too expensive, hands down. The 150-600 is built out of plastic as well, and feels more deserving of the red badge name. 
  

Reliability: 3.5/5

It’s mostly reliable as long as you don’t need to take photos of brick walls at 400mm AND birds don’t fly within 6 feet (1.8 meters) of you. 

Functionality: 3.5/5

Yeah, it wins back some points here. The 100-400 is a good focal length. 

Style: 4/5

-1 point for always showing fingerprints. 

Total: 13/20 or 65%.

Fujifilm XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS 

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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