Fujifilm made sure to announce lenses at both ends of focal length spectrum today. (You can find my mini-review of the XF8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR here) – And boy have I been blown away by both of these lenses.
I’ve had very limited time with these lenses since I had to send them back immediately after shooting product shot for Fujifilm marketing. 7 days to be exact. Not much time to do a thorough in-depth review, but as with the XF8-16mm, I managed to bring the mighty XF200mm f/2 R LM OIS WR to the Nibe music festival in the north of Jutland where I have been an in house photographer for about 3 years. That means that I’ve used the XF200mm f/2 in a concert photography setting mostly. Whereas the festival/concert setting is a great environment for an ultrawide lens, the long telephoto lens would never be my first choice. But I must say that I was pleasantly surprised at how useful it really was, getting close to the artists on stage.
Now, let’s get the ball rolling and let’s take a look at the big and mighty XF200mm f/2.
Everything about this lens is insane! The size is insane, the lenshood is insane, the white pearl-ish coating is insane, the focusing speed is insane …. and oh my lord, the image quality is IN-SANE.
Having never been a tele-photo kind of guy, 2018 has sure brought a little bit of challenges and excitement to to my photography in this regard. Earlier this year I had a little test run with the GF250mm f/4, and the XF200mm f/2 reminds me a lot about that lens in terms of size. But whereas I expected greatness from the GF lens before even mounting it, I didn’t expect what came from the XF200mm f/2. The image quality from the XF200mm f/2 is actually better in many ways than that of the GF250mm. Now THAT blew my mind.
From the moment the lens arrived, I knew this was the crown-jewel of the XF lens lineup. It comes packaged in a big carrying case, and in the top section of the case you will find enclosed the newly developed TC 1.4x f/2 teleconverter. This converter is bundled with the lens and has the same gorgeous pearl-white coating. And speaking of that coating. It’s not dull grey like e.g. Canons Telephoto offerings, this coating has a subtle, and very beautiful pearl-like finish. It’s hard to explain, let alone convey in photographs, but when you see one in the flesh I promise you will notice. The reason for the white coating is supposedly meant to eliminate defocusing because of heat inside the lens barrel. Makes sense I guess.
Normally I would write all the technical specs clean from release sheets, but this will be the first time that I will copy/paste the techspecs from the official Fujifilm press release. I just don’t see any point in using so much time re-writing that info. And to be honest I’d rather write about how it feels to use the lens.
Below are all the official specs for the XF200mm f/2 and the XF1.4X TC f/2.
XF200mmF2 R LM OIS WR
|Type||FUJINON XF200mmF2 R LM OIS WR Lens|
|Lens configuration||19 elements 14 groups
(includes 2ED elements,1super ED element）
|Focal length (35mm format equivalent)||f=200mm (305mm)|
|Angle of view||8.1°|
Number of blades
|9（rounded diaphragm opening）
1/3EV (22 steps)
|External dimensions: Diameter x Length (approx.)
（distance from camera lens mount flange）
|Φ122mm x 205.5mm|
(including tripod collar foot, excluding caps and hood ）
|Accessories included||Lens cap FLCP-105
Lens rear cap RLCP-001
XF1.4X TC F2 WR
|Type||FUJINON XF1.4X TC F2 WR Teleconverter|
|Lens configuration||7 elements 4 groups
(includes 1 aspherical element）
|Focal length (35mm format equivalent)||1.4x that of original lens|
|Max. aperture||1 additional stop|
|Min. aperture||1 additional stop|
|Focus range||Approx. same as that of original lens|
|Max. magnification||1.4x that of original lens|
|External dimensions: Diameter x Length (approx.)
（distance between lens mount and camera mount）
|Φ58mm x 15mm (excluding protrusion)|
(excluding caps ）
|Accessories included||Lens front cap
Lens rear cap RLCP-001
As you can see from the above specs, the XF200mm f/2 is on paper a mighty lens. And trust me. It is!
The build of the lens is nothing less than gorgeous. It’s an all metal barrel. With the new pearl-white coating. Some will hate that, I LOVE that. The focusring is incredibly smooth and perfectly dampened, and the aperture ring has just the right amount of resistance and clicks. Fujifilm has refined their lens builds a lot since the first XF lenses, and this latest batch is by far the best built of the entire lineage. Just as the XF8-16mm the XF200mm f/2 has amazing build quality. No less. – Let me note that I only spent a week with the lens, so I cannot report back on long term durability. But time will tell.
The lens is very big, but it is surprisingly lightweight. According to Fujifilm this is because they used lightweight alloys for the barrel. But even though its light, I still feel that the perfect camera housing for the XF200mm f/2 is the XH1 with its enhanced mount-build. The X-H1 and the XF200mm f/2 was obviously made for each other.
Just like on the GF250mm f/4, the XF200mm f/2 has some pretty cool features built in. Near the front element on the frontmost portion of the barrel you will see 4 buttons. They act as “focus control buttons”. They act as a half-press on your shutter release, and is basically a back button focus placed on the front of the lens.
The behaviour of the AF, and hence the focus control buttons, is set using the AF mode switch on the lens.
1. In AF position, the focus buttons will act as a half-pressed shutter release
2. In AF-L position, the focus buttons will lock the focus while in AF-C mode on the camera
3. In Preset position, the focus buttons will use the preset focus point that you can store in the lens using the “SET” button near the switches.
Just like with the GF250 this kind of autofocus control is so important when shooting high-speed action, wildlife, stage artists or just when you want complete minute control over your focus parameters. It works really well.
The XF200mm f/2 has a 5 stop image stabilisation. It’s intelligent, so the lens recognizes shooting conditions, e.g. panning or on tripod, and automatically applies optimum image stabilization control. And let me tell you right now that this stabilisation works wonders. Doing steady shots at around 1/50s is a complete non-issue.
Los disclaimeros numero uno: I’m a Fujifilm brand ambassador. I get early access to the prototype gear for product-shooting, and I take the liberty to throw the gear in front of my face and test it out a little bit. I don’t do that for money, cause I earn enough of that being a doctor and all. I do it because I want to share all the good things that I find within the Fujifilm ecosystem. If you think that makes this little writeup invaluable, cool beans. There will be 6000+ YouTubers telling you how bad this gear is without ever having handled it. You probably know where to find them.
My advice would be to go to a store once the product is available, and test it out. See if it fits your shooting style, and then decide if you want to spend your hard earned money on it.
Isn’t it cool being a grown-up that can experience, and process different opinions of subject?
Anyways. Enough with the pseudo-apologetic mumbo-jumbo. Let’s resume broadcasting.
This is where it gets really exiting with the XF200mm f/2. The image quality is beyond anything I have ever seen outside the GFX system. Not only sharpness, but also falloff and bokeh is in a league of its own.
Now let me tell you a little bit about how narrow a DOF can get with this kind of lens. 200/2 will give you some crazy narrow DOF at the minimum focusing distance of just 1.8m. you will get sharp iris, and unsharp cornea at this distance. It’s that crazy. But not only the obtainable narrow DOF is crazy, also the compression of field is incredible. It pulls in your subject, and really makes it stand out.
Bokeh quality is gorgeous. Smooth, subtle, clean, close to perfection. It doesn’t matter if the circumstances is harsh midday light, specular highlights from leaves or backlight. The bokeh is silky smooth from edge to edge of the frame. This lens easily has the best bokeh of any XF lens to date. NO contest.
Sharpness from the lens is downright ridiculous. Obviously it has been optimised for long working distances, but it is simply tack sharp along the entire focus range. I was especially impressed with sharpness at around 10-15 meters distance. The amount of details available in a 24mpx X-Trans III file using this lens is incredible. And it’s not just in the centre of the frame. It’s edge to edge. I cannot stress enough how great the IQ is with this lens.
The above image shows a head shot of danish artist Jacob Dinesen. Shot from around 11m. The 1:1 crop clearly show how sharp the lens is.
So, Jonas is there nothing bad about this lens?
Truth? I can only think of one minute thing. Fujifilm is not giving us the possibility of using drop-in filters at the back of the lens. The front filter size is a whopping 105mm, hence filters will cost you a small farm. A backside filter system option would have been nice.
Other than this I can not find one single flaw with this lens. I was seriously blown away in all aspects of image quality with this lens. It will be expensive, but so is the competition. If you need this lens, the cost isn’t a problem.
The tele converter XF1.4X TC f/2 is made since the old teleconverters didn’t work with apertures higher than f/2.8. The new TC is included with the XF200mm f/2. When used you get close to a 420mm full frame equivalent focal length. Now that is some serious pulling power! I only had time to do a couple of shots with the combo, but let me tell you that degradation of image quality when using the TC 1.4x is close to zero. These two parts was definitely crafted for symbiotic usage!
As per usual, samples has been smacked around in an image editor of choice, and will give you an idea of how I use a lens like this. RAW files straight from camera will not be found at this site.