55-200 much better than expected

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Ray Sachs, Aug 26, 2013.

  1. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs FujiXspot Veteran

    485
    Feb 1, 2013
    Near Philadephila
    I'm not much of a telephoto shooter, but I always like to have a long lens available for the occasional even that calls for it. I've pretty much limited my longer lenses to m43 to this point and mostly limit my m43 gear to longer lenses also - it seems a perfect use for that format because of the smaller lens sizes, the excellent AF and stabilization that can be found in the m43 world. I was somewhat skeptical of using my Fuji gear for telephoto shooting, mostly because, for all of their strengths, Fuji cameras have tended to be fairly slow and plodding, particularly with the original three prime lenses (18mm excepted) and telephoto is an area where fast AF seems to be an absolute must. I don't mind slow AF at wider focal lengths - either I'm shooting stuff that doesn't require fast AF or I'm using zone focus. But for long lenses, it seems that fast AF and accurate AF are pretty closely related. The less stabilized the lens is, the more this holds true. I have an OMD with Olympus's 75mm f1.8 lens and 75-300mm lens for a LOT of reach and have been very happy with this setup. While I've moved away from m43 for a number of uses, for telephoto its remained my system of choice.

    I had a chance to spend some time with a loaner copy of the 55-200 recently and to say I'm pleasantly surprised with it would be an understatement. It's one downside is its big, but probably only relative to similar reach m43 lenses. On the upside, its much more sure-footed than I'd have expected in terms of AF speed and stabilization. Its not the fastest lens in the world in terms of aperture, but isn't bad at all, with a max aperture of f3.5 at 55mm and f4.8 at its full 200mm extension. And its image quality is excellent, pretty much throughout the range. Plenty sharp even at the longest reach. It's not a budget lens at $700 (the Olympus 40-150 gets you the same range for about $200 and often much less as part of package deals), but its a very nice lens and seems appropriately priced for its quality.

    The stabilization really surprised me. The OMD was the first camera i was really comfortable focussing VERY long lenses with because in addition to stabilizing the lens at the moment of exposure, the OMD 5-axis IBIS also stabilizes the EVF during a half-press of the shutter, so even at a 600mm equivalent reach, its easy to hold the lens steady on a subject a long distance away. Before the half press, even the smallest movements are amplified to the point that its nearly impossible to hold the subject in the focus box long enough to nail focus. I had this problem quite a bit with earlier m43 bodies and lenses, even stabilized Panasonic lenses. To my surprise, the 55-200 with the OIS turned on is every bit as still as the Olympus setup. And doesn't require a half press to stabilize the scene - if the OIS is turned on, anytime you look through the EVF, the scene is perfectly still, even at the lens's longest reach. With that level of stabilization, the AF speed is probably less important than with an less stabilized view, but its plenty fast, as fast as any Fuji lens I've used with the possible exception of the new 27mm pancake. I'm not sure how much this has to do with the new firmware in the XE1 body - I didn't try this lens (or the 27mm) until the new FW had been installed. And I haven't shot the original primes with the new firmware. The only lens I've used with both old and new firmware is the 14mm and its notably quicker with the new firmware, so I may be reacting more to the firmware than the lenses, but the point is the 55-200 is now as fast as I'd ever need from a telephoto lens...

    First, as to size, the 55-200 on an XE1 is slightly larger but pretty close to the same size as an Olympus 75-300 on an OMD, a setup that will give you twice the reach with a 600mm equivalence. I don't have an Olympus 40-150 to compare it to (at a very similar range and the same long reach), but I do have a 14-150 super-zoom which is almost identical size to the 40-150 and it's FAR smaller than the 55-200.

    Here it is relative to the Olympus 75-300:
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/9583947468/" title="Fuji 55-200-1 by ramboorider1, on Flickr"> View attachment 15483 "1024" height="576" alt="Fuji 55-200-1"></a>

    And here relative to the Olympus 14-150, about the same size as the 40-150:
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/9581159575/" title="Fuji 55-200-5 by ramboorider1, on Flickr"> View attachment 15484 "1024" height="819" alt="Fuji 55-200-5"></a>

    As far as image quality, I'm not one to do formal testing or even attempt to provide any sort of quantifiable results. I just shoot as much as I can and I start to form impressions through use. And I like the output from this lens quite a lot throughout the range. Sharp as I'd want and pretty nice bokeh - not too busy, at least with any of the shots I took. With my m43 telephotos (admittedly, much longer focal lengths) I could get very angular and ugly bokeh if the subject was the right distance away and the background much further behind. I never ran into that with the 55-200. Perhaps with a 600mm equivalent I would, but at 300mm equivalent, I never found that.

    Anyway, here are a few sample shots, some at 200mm, but at least one (the boy with the violin) at 55mm, and one (the plant blades growing out of the bricks) at about 110mm:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/9600634560/" title="Fuji 55-200 samples-16-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr"> View attachment 15485 "1024" height="683" alt="Fuji 55-200 samples-16-Edit"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/9597843023/" title="55-200 Farmer's Mkt-11-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr"> View attachment 15486 "768" height="1024" alt="55-200 Farmer's Mkt-11-Edit"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/9597841493/" title="55-200 Farmer's Mkt-7-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr"> View attachment 15487 "1024" height="1024" alt="55-200 Farmer's Mkt-7-Edit"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/9600633508/" title="Fuji 55-200 samples-7-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr"> View attachment 15488 "1024" height="768" alt="Fuji 55-200 samples-7-Edit"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/9597842829/" title="55-200 Farmer's Mkt-12-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr"> View attachment 15489 "1024" height="1024" alt="55-200 Farmer's Mkt-12-Edit"></a>

    Bottom line, I don't think I'll give up my m43 gear for telephoto use anytime soon, due to a combination of size, reach, and the fact that the Olympus 75mm f1.8 is as nice a lens as I've ever owned (matched only by the Zeiss lens in the Sony RX1). So I don't see myself buying the 55-200. But I'm very impressed with it. If my needs ever change and I decide to eliminate m43 from my system and just go all-in with Fuji, I'd be satisfied with the 55-200 for pretty much any of my longer telephoto needs. If Fuji ever releases a really fast short tele like the Oly 75 in the 100mm neighborhood, I might consider a total switch over. This 55-200 is a really fine lens and increases my respect and hope for what Fuji is doing with this X-system even more. And it's been a system I've been very impressed with since I bought the X-Pro the first day it was available. They seem to be fixing the perceived shortcomings along with improving the range of available products...

    -Ray
     
  2. landshark

    landshark Fujiman

    208
    Feb 1, 2013
    SoCal
    just canceled my Amazon order for one of these because I found one in Toronto this weekend, I am really looking forward to trying it out when I get home later today, thanks for the review
     
  3. OdzBodkinz

    OdzBodkinz FujiXspot Veteran

    202
    Feb 17, 2013
    I picked one up in a local shop last week, and so far I'm pretty happy with it. Very sharp.
     
  4. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs FujiXspot Veteran

    485
    Feb 1, 2013
    Near Philadephila
    Yeah, its very good. If not for the Olympus 75mm, I might scrap m43 altogether and get this lens for my meager telephoto needs. But I love that 75 and its perfect for candid family shots and other times when a short telephoto is the ticket. If Fuji comes out with something similar, I might jump, but that lens is so good I'm not expecting it to be matched anytime soon...

    -Ray
     
  5. landshark

    landshark Fujiman

    208
    Feb 1, 2013
    SoCal
    I agree the Oly 75 is a great lens, but I think I will just as excited to use the new Fuji 56 f1.2 or 1.4, I like the 90 mm length for portraits a lot. And this seems like the perfect lens for those times I just want to reach out a little further. Anyway too late now all of the m 4/3 gear other than the 7-14 is gone.
     
  6. monk3y

    monk3y FujiXspot Rookie

    23
    Aug 9, 2013
    Japan
    Steven
    I did just that. Sold my 75mm f/1.8 to fund this lens and I don't regret it one bit. :D

    Sent from my GT-N7100 using FujiXspot mobile app
     
  7. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs FujiXspot Veteran

    485
    Feb 1, 2013
    Near Philadephila
    I thought that I preferred a 90mm equivalent as a portrait length and had used the Oly 45 for a quite a while before getting the 75. Turns out I like 150 a lot more and pretty much haven't used the 45 since I got the 75. Never found it too long, even in my rather small living room. And the combination of that speed and that length makes it the "telephoto" lens I've used the most of any I've ever had. If I'd never bought it, I might switch over and go with the 56 f1.x and this 55-200, but I'm pretty much in the grips of the 75. So I'm afraid I would regret it one bit, probably more bits. More likely if I was going to replace it with a zoom, it would be something like the Panasonic 35-100 with a constant f2.8. As nice as this Fuji lens is in good light, I like taking candid portrait type stuff indoors and in the evening quite a bit and this Fuji just isn't as fast as I'd want for that. And I do like the smaller form factor, particularly for that type of use. Again, if I thought I'd be satisfied with the length of the 56mm, I might do it, but it seems I prefer longer...

    -Ray
     
  8. bobmielke

    bobmielke FujiXspot Regular

    98
    Aug 25, 2013
    Portland, Oregon USA
    My strongest category of photography is wildlife. I spend a lot of time at our local zoo photographing animals. The 55-200mm was a necessary purchase for me as my previous DSLRs all proved that I was shooting at the far end of any shorter focal length zoom. I kept an eye out online and was fortunate to pick up the lens through Amazon.com. I spotted one lens available from a small camera shop in Idaho and called them to verified that it was still available. I purchased it through Amazon and had it in my hands within a week. The only aspect of the lens that is annoying is lens creep. I had an 18-200mm Nikon lens that was really bad for this. I use cross-body Black Rapid R7 straps that place the camera on my right hip. Invariably the lens will creep out to its full 200mm position as I walk.

    Image quality is the best I've ever seen in this range of telephoto. The great OIS is one of its biggest assets as well. I'm enjoying the lens and my Fuji X-E1 very much.
    Zawadi%205-M.