Design

At first glance the 55-200mm looks much like any other telezoom lens, with a broad zoom ring in the centre of the barrel and a manual focus ring towards the front, plus a couple of control switches on the side. However a closer look reveals that there's also an aperture ring towards the back of the barrel, close to the camera body. Like on the XF 18-55mm zoom, but unlike the Fujinon primes, this is unmarked and has no end-stops. Rotating it one click results in a 1/3 stop change in the aperture setting.

What the pictures alone can't convey is the high quality of construction. The exterior of the barrel is all metal, with a ribbed rubber coating on the zoom ring. The extending section is made from high-quality plastic, and there's impressively little play at full telephoto. The overall impression is of a distinctly premium product that feels totally at home on the X-Pro1.

On the camera

The 55-200mm is, as you'd expect, the largest XF lens so far, and starts to look decidedly bulky on the X-Pro1 let alone the smaller X-E1. Despite this is it still handles quite acceptably - you simply support the camera and lens with your left hand. However the rangefinder-style form factor never feels quite as comfortable for telephoto work as an SLR, and we suspect many users will prefer to use this lens with an accessory grip on the camera, especially for extended shooting periods.

The smooth and well-damped zoom ring falls naturally to hand, providing the main support for the camera/lens combination. The aperture ring is situated close behind it, and its not-too-tight click stops mean that it can be adjusted by reaching backward with your ring finger. Likewise the focus ring can be operated by reaching forward with your forefinger, and overall it's possible to operate all three controls without having to substantially change your grip on the lens while shooting.

One minor point is that the lens barrel substantially underhangs the camera body. This could conceivably cause problems with large quick release tripod plates, although a cut-out in the conical portion of the barrel gives about 30mm clearance in front of the centre-point of the tripod socket. (It also means that the camera doesn't sit flat when set down on a table).

Behaviour with the X-Pro1's optical viewfinder

When the 55-200mm is used on the X-Pro1, it's possible to use the optical viewfinder as usual across a very restricted range at the wide end of the zoom. But as soon as you get past 60mm, the frameline in the viewfinder turns red and no longer adjusts in size as you zoom in further. This makes sense to us - at this point the frameline is getting pretty small in the finder, and parallax error becoming progressively less predictable. Overall it's simply more practical to switch to the EVF and be done with it.

Size and design compared to XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS

Here's the 55-200mm alongside the XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS standard zoom, which is the 'kit' lens for the X-E1. It offers essentially identical layout and operation, with all the same controls in all the same places, which should make swapping between the two a breeze. It is, of course, distinctly larger and heavier.

Lens body elements

The lens uses Fujifilm's own X mount, meaning it will work on the company's X-series mirrorless cameras only.

All communication between the camera and lens is electronic, and both focus and aperture are set electronically too. Neither can be adjusted with the lens removed from the camera.
The filter thread is 62mm, which unfortunately isn't shared with any existing XF lenses. Filters don't rotate on focusing.
The manual focus ring has a finely-ridged metal grip that's a relatively generous 15mm wide. It's beautifully-damped and rotates very smoothly, but without any end stops.

As with the other X-system lenses, manual focusing is electronically- rather than mechanically-coupled, and works by driving the lens's built-in focus motors.
The zoom ring has a finely-ribbed 37mm wide grip, and rotates 60 degrees between the 55 and 200mm settings. The barrel extends 58mm (2.3") in the process, with impressively little play at full telephoto.
Two small switches control image stabilization and aperture setting. With the latter in the 'A' position the camera sets the aperture automatically (i.e. either Program or Shutter Priority mode). The switches are slightly differently shaped to aid identification by touch.

The aperture ring itself is unmarked, with click stops at 6° intervals which each give 1/3 stop changes in aperture value.
The lens comes with a 65mm (2.6") deep, bayonet-type cylindrical hood. It's moulded from thick black plastic, with internal ribbing to minimise the reflection of stray light into the lens.
The hood reverses over the lens for storage. This leaves about 9mm of the zoom ring's grip accessible - just about enough to grab for a quick shot.

The hood has index marks for mounting it on the lens (a solid circle for shooting, an open one for reversing). It fits quite tightly on the lens, and we've found it to be oddly difficult to take on and off by feel without lining these marks up first.

Reported aperture vs focal length

The camera reports the following apertures at the focal lengths marked on the zoom ring:

Focal length
55mm
70mm
100mm
135mm
200mm
Max aperture
F3.5
F3.5
F4
F4.5
F4.8
Min aperture
F22
F22
F22
F22
F22