Photographic Tests

We're not able to bring you our usual suite of studio test data for the XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, as DxO Analyser doesn't work with the RAW output from Fujifilm's X-Trans sensor. Instead we're going to analyse the lens's key characteristics by looking at how it behaves in real-world shooting.

In short, we've found the 55-200mm to be an impressive performer, with very good image quality across its entire zoom range and a useful minimum focus distance for close range shooting. Out-of-camera JPEGs are impressively clean and detailed, aided by Fujifilm's thoroughly modern approach of automatically correcting for chromatic aberration, distortion and vignetting. Many RAW converters will apply the same corrections too, although with some (such as Capture One) they can be turned off if desired.

Sharpness

The 55-200mm is undoubtedly an impressively sharp lens. It's perhaps a touch less sharp at the long end, especially wide open, as telephoto zooms are wont to be, but it's not obviously weak at any setting. Overall you're more likely to be impressed by the amount of detail it's captured than worrying about unsharp pictures.

In the examples below, we're looking at a range of real-world shots taken at the extremes and middle of the zoom range, both wide-open and stopped down a bit. The 100% crops are taken from the area of sharpest focus. This isn't supposed to be a scientific investigation into the lens's sharpness, but instead give a flavour of how it performs in normal use.

55mm F3.5, X-Pro1, RAW + ACR 100% crop
55mm F7.1, X-Pro1, RAW + ACR 100% crop
95mm F4, X-Pro1, RAW + ACR 100% crop
110mm F8, X-Pro1, RAW + ACR 100% crop
200mm F4.8, X-Pro1, RAW + ACR 100% crop
200mm F8, X-Pro1, RAW + ACR 100% crop

What's fairly clear here is that the XF55-200mm delivers a decent level of detail at all settings, but equally, the images don't look as strikingly sharp as you can get from Fujifilm's best lenses such as the XF 35mm F1.4 R. There's a reason for this, though: as we'll see later, the camera automatically applies some correction for pincushion distortion at all focal lengths, which effectively 'stretches' the centre of the image slightly. This gives a degree of blurring when examining images at the pixel level, offsetting to some degree any sharpness advantage from Fujifilm's X-Trans CMOS sensor. But it's only really a problem if you're more interested in your pixels than your images.

Minimum Focus / Close-Range Image Quality

Macro - 118 x 79 mm coverage
Measured magnification: 0.2x
Distortion: Negligible

Minimum focus distance*: 104.5cm
Working distance**: 85cm
Focal length: 200mm (300mm equiv)
* Minimum focus is defined as the distance from the camera's sensor to the subject
** Working distance is measured from the front of the lens to the subject

The 55-200mm offers a useful close-focus distance of a shade over 1m, translating to a working distance of about 85cm from the front of the lens to the subject. The 0.2x magnification isn't huge, and obviously won't replace a 'true' macro lens, but is pretty much what you'd expect from an APS-C format telezoom.

Close-up image quality is pretty good - the lens is decently sharp wide open at minimum focus, and impressively even across the frame. It gets a bit sharper on stopping down, and the best results in our chart test come at F11 (by a hair). Distortion is extremely low, and there's just a little blue/yellow fringing from lateral chromatic aberration in the extreme corners.

In practical use the 55-200mm will let you shoot fairly small subjects (such as large insects) from sufficient distance that you won't disturb them too much. The example below was shot in low light (the enclosed butterfly house at London Zoo on a heavily overcast day), relying on a combination of high ISO and image stabilization to get a usable shot. You'd get better results from a 'proper' telephoto macro with more light, but the 55-200mm and X-Pro1 have done an impressive job of getting anything at all under these conditions.

200mm F4.8, 1/90 sec ISO 3200, X-Pro1 100% crop

Chromatic Aberration

In normal use, chromatic aberration is practically nonexistent - none of the real-world images we've shot have shown significant colour fringing around high contrast edges. Two points are at play here - the lens is exceptionally well-corrected for lateral CA in the first place, and Fujifilm's in-camera JPEG processing cleans up any residual fringing. This results in impressively clean and detailed images even in the extreme corners.

If you look really closely at RAW images processed through Capture One, which as far as we can tell doesn't apply CA correction, then you can see a tiny amount of fringing at the long end of the zoom - at most focal lengths there's nothing visible at all. This is shown in the crops below. If you examine closely the Capture One version there's the merest hint of fringing visible, but nothing remotely worth worrying about.

X-Pro1, 200mm F4.8, camera JPEG 100% crop, lower left corner
RAW + Capture One 7.1.1 100% crop