The Gatlin – Fujinon GF100-200mm f/5.6 first look review

I actually promised myself. I promised myself that I wouldn’t be writing my thoughts on this lens. My life has been very very hectic during the course of the last couple of months, so I don’t really think I have given this lens the amount of attention it deserves for a proper review. And up until a couple of hours ago I still stood by that thought. But seeing how few people have actually handled this lens, and actually had some playtime with it, I thought I would do a little bit of public service anyway.

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GFX50R – GF100-200 @ 100mm f/5.6 ISO200

As is to be expected as to not trigger any of the lurking trolls of ze internet here are some disclaimers before we proceed.

Disclaimer: The lens used in this review is a pre-production prototype lens. Image quality might therefore not be final.
Disclaimer II: All productshots of the camera are shot by me for Fujifilm Corp.
Disclaimer III: I’m an official X-photographer. That’s spelled brand-ambassador. My views are most likely as biased as they come. This being said, I’m an open and honest guy and I speak my opinions. I have used, and still use to this day, all other imaginable camera systems, be they analogues, digital or pinhole. Whether you believe my views regarding this camera or not, is up to you 🙂

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GFX50R – GF100-200 @200mm f/5.6 1/60s ISO400

Alright, so, f/5.6 huh? – Thats probably the first thing that comes to mind when people see the specs of this lens. “A measly, lousy f/5.6 maximum aperture – what the..?”
Yes, it’s 5.6 maximum, no it will not give you narrow DOF like a 110mm f/2. – Now that we have that out of the way let’s try to focus on the real photography aspects of a lens like this.
The GFX lens lineup is growing nicely, and has so far consisted mostly of prime lenses. We have the 32-64 zoom, but no zoom lenses in the medium-long tele range. Well, that all changes now. With the GF100-200 a lot of photographers now have the longer focal lengths handy in a relatively compact option.
When I say relatively small package, I mean that based on the fact that designing good quality lenses for a medium format sensor mean that they grow in size compared to the compact APSC/Full-frame options. It’s just physics, no use whining about it. Just go to the gym, get fit and enjoy a good quality lens.
So who will benefit most from this lens? Well,to me it’s quite clear that this lens is for nature, and landscape photography. It’s a diverse lens when you want to do detailed landscapes with good clean compression of field.
It’s actually also quite well-fit for portraiture photographers, especially is studio settings where you use artificial lighting as a light source hence negating the relatively weak light gathering capabilities of the f/5.6 aperture.

Specifications

No use for me to rewrite all the specs of this lens, so here they are from the Fujifilm.com specifications.

Type FUJINON LENS GF100-200mmF5.6 R LM OIS WR
Lens configuration 20 elements in 13 groups
(including one aspherical lens element and two Super ED lens elements)
Focal length f=100-200mm (equivalent to 79-158mm in the 35mm film format)
Angle of view 30.6° – 15.6°
Max. aperture F5.6
Min. aperture F32
Aperture control
Number of blades
Step size
9 (rounded diaphragm opening)
1/3EV (16 steps)
Focus range (from the sensor surface) 0.6m~∞ (Wide-angle end)
1.6m~∞ (Telephoto end)
Max. magnification 0.2x (Wide-angle end)
External dimensions :Diameter x Length (approx.)
(Distance from camera lens mount flange)
Φ89.5mm x 183mm
Weight (approx.)
(excluding the lens cap, lens hood and tripod collar foot)
1,050g
Filter size φ67mm
Accessories included Lens cap FLCP-67II
Lens rear cap RLCP-002
Lens hood
Tripod collar foot
Lens pouch

A thing to note is that the weight is relatively modest given the physical size. This lens weighs just above a kilogram. That is indeed quite light and portable for what it is.

The lens is built with space at the back to fit the GF 1.4X teleconverter. I did not test out the combination, but it will obviously give you a focal length range of 140-280mm. All on account of 1 full stop in light gathering ability.

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GFX50R – GF100-200 @189mm – f/5.6 – 1/8s – ISO3200

Build and feel

Well I’m not going to spend too much time describing this. It is an extremely well built lens. Just like the rest of the GF series it has a very nice build quality. It bears a definite resemblance to the GF250mm f/4, which is definitely not a bad thing.

The focus is smooth and dampened, the aperture clicks are perfect. It is really really well built.
I used it on a GFX50R, and I found it to balance quite alright because of the low weight. It will however balance much better on a 50S maybe even with a battery grip.
The LM and OIS does make a little hissing noise that you can hear when you’re lying there waiting for them birds to show up. It’s no worse than all other Fujinon OIS lenses on the market.
The zoom is internal, as well as the focus, so the barrel will not elongate while zooming. Obviously this lens is weather resistant.

The autofocus is fast and precise, and the OIS gives you 5 stops of image stabilisation. This is really important for a maximum f/5.6 aperture lens that requires a lot of light or a very slow shutter speed to avoid having to up the ISO. I didn’t use a tripod for any of my testing, but I’m sure the target landscape audience will use the lens on a tripod. This way you will have no use for the OIS anyway. But for those of us who like to shoot handheld, it is actually possible to get sharp handheld shots at shutter speeds close to 1/16th sec. at 200mm. Quite impressive if you ask me.

The hood features a polariser filter hatch, again, just as expected. It works well. The front filter diameter is relatively modest at 67mm, so it will hold your 100×100 square filters with no issues what so ever.

Image Quality

Obviously the most important aspect of all lenses is….tadaaaaa…… Image Quality. The GF100-200mm f/5.6 of course does not avoid judgement in this area. Luckily for this lens the image quality is actually quite good.
First impression is that is bears a really pleasant sharpness. It’s not macro-lens sharp as the GF120mm f/4 lens, it’s more pleasing sharp like the 110mm f/2. This makes it really good for portraiture at the longer focal lengths. Just be aware that shooting portraits at 200mm tends to compress the ears of your subject closer to the nose, making it look like they gained an extra couple of pounds….

(The zoom range can been seen in the two images above)

Out of focus areas are rendered much better than I expected. Of course you can push the envelope, and under certain conditions I found that very busy backgrounds with foliage did tend to get a little messy. But this is the extreme ends of the spectrum. Under all other circumstances I shot the GF100-200mm the bokeh was very smooth and very pleasing to the eye. Especially the foreground bokeh is good.

I did not notice much difference in quality at either ends of the zoom range. The MTF curves will probably tell you if there is a difference, but I haven’t looked at them yet – and honestly I’d rather be outside shooting the lens and getting to know it.

It is really sharp throughout the aperture range, and nature and landscape photographers will love that at f/32 you have minimal aberrations, so you do get good resolution even at these high apertures.
At f/5.6 this lens is really nice and sharp. The only downside to the f/5.6 moniker is that it requires a lot of light. As a guy living in Denmark, we do not have a lot of light at this time of year, and I can honestly say that it was quite a challenge to get really clear shots without having to up the ISO. – A definite downside of relying on the natural light (and trying to do winter-people-long-tele-low-aperture-steady shots)

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GFX50R – GF100-200mm @200mm f/5.6 1/250s ISO400

Conclusion

So what do I have to conclude after such a short period of time using this lens?

Well, first and foremost, this lens is not for my type of shooting. I enjoyed using it, but come on, I’m a street shooter not a landscape sorcerer. So the whole premise of me giving my thoughts on this lens is a little off to begin with.
Secondly I have no issue with the lens being f/5.6 at its widest aperture when I know the type of work that this lens will be used for requires f stops around f/16-f/32. This is when speaking in terms of depth of field. In terms of light gathering ability, however, this is a different issue. Even though the OIS is very helpful you will need to up your ISO for sharp shots, when shooting handheld in less than ideal lighting situations.

This lens is gorgeously built and has image quality that yet again confirm Fujinon as one of the worlds best optics manufacturers.
And priced at 1999USD this lens is far from expensive.
If you’re a landscape, nature, or even studio photographer – this lens will probably be one of your most priced GF lenses.

Samples

(Rightclick and download to view the 3000px resolution files with metadata)

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13 Thoughts

  1. Thank you for the review. Nice images. If one day, I’m going to invest in the GFX system, this lens is a must buy for tele-landscape shots.

  2. Just as thought! Nice review! It is great that the zoom is internal. A little sad about the 67mm filter size… that’s one more step up ring / adapter to carry

  3. Im just here for the beautiful images as always. Going on a photowalk along with you must be an amazing experience no doubt!

  4. Nice review. I’m just a little sad that this wasn’t around before I set off traveling for four months, I think I’d take this to compliment my 32-64, and leave my 110 at home. I shoot studio portraits as well as travel, so here’s a decision to me made when I return to London!

  5. Just curious… why is it called a 100-200mm lens? Typically, the standard has been to state the focal length in full frame terms. For example, a 16mm lens is actually 24mm in full frame terms (16mm x 1.5 crop = 24mm). In other words, shouldn’t they have called this an 80-160mm lens? Appreciate your thoughts!

    1. Hey Eric, focal length is defined by the lens, not the size of the sensor behind it.

      It is the distance between the (center of the) lens and the image sensor when the subject is in focus (at infinity). Notice the sensor size doesn’t come into play.

      When you hear sayings like, “this lens is an 18mm equivalent on full frame” what people really meant is “this lens will have a field of view of an 18mm lens on a full frame camera”.

      It’s the field of view that’s changed based on the sensor size. Hope this helps.

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