Hands-on with the Fujinon XF200mm f/2

Introduction

Back in July, Fujifilm formerly announced their much anticipated 200mm f/2 telephoto lens. I’m very grateful to the lovely people at Fujifilm UK for giving me a chance to use a pre-production model of this lens and present my basic findings and opinions just before it leaves the retailer’s shelves.

In the days after this lens was announced I read a lot of negativity about it being discussed as a wildlife photography lens. I blogged about my thoughts on this criticism which you can read here.

Today (Sunday), I have been running one of my regular Northumberland Birds of Prey photography workshops. I took the 200mm f/2 lens along with me and in between working with our great group of photographers, I managed to get a few shots of my own.

Great Grey Owl

Great Grey Owl in flight, Fujifilm X-H1 and Fujinon 200mm f/2. Note, pre-production model.

Before I continue I need to make it clear that this is a pre-production model of the lens and it may not be exactly the same as those models which will be on the retailer’s shelves very soon. Also, I don’t label my Northumberland Birds of Prey photography workshop as wildlife photography, these are captive born and bred birds and it’s about teaching the techniques and camera settings associated with wildlife photography. Nonetheless, it presented as the ideal opportunity to give this lens a workout, so let’s go!

The Specs

These are available in detail elsewhere on the internet so for this review I’ve only included the key points. For more detailed information, the specifications are available on the Fujifilm website.

Overview:
Full designation Fujifilm XF200mm F2 R LM OIS WR
Format APS-C
Mount Fujifilm X
Stabilisation Yes, Five Stops
Weight 2265g
Diameter 122mm
Length 206mm
Material Magnesium Alloy
Sealing Yes
Filter size 105mm
Tripod Collar Yes, Arca Swiss
Aperture:
Maximum Aperture f/2
Minimum Aperture f/22
Diaphragm 9 Blades
Aperture Ring Yes
Focusing:
Minimum Focus Distance 1.8m
Internal Focus Yes
Limiter Full and 5m to infinity
Optics:
Elements 19 Elements in 14 groups
Coatings 1 Super ED and 2 ED with flourine coating/td>

Image Quality

Now, let’s just cut to the chase… Outstanding!

African Elephant, Masai Mara, Kenya

Long-eared Owl, Fujifilm X-H1 and Fujinon 200mm f/2, Note, pre-production model.

Back in August and September, Fujifilm UK very kindly arranged for me to lend a GFX50s and GF250mm f/4 for one of our wildlife photography safaris in Kenya’s Masai Mara. I’ll be blogging about this in the near future, but the reason I mention this is that the sharpness of this 200mm f/2 lens is right up there with this incredible medium-format combination. That is some claim! It is absolutely amazing, check out the 100% crop of the feather detail of this female Kestrel below the full photograph. The definition and sharpness of each of the individual hairs and the veins and barbs of the feathers within the depth of field is nothing short of incredible…

African Elephant, Masai Mara, Kenya

Kestrel, Fujifilm X-H1 and Fujinon 200mm f/2, Note, pre-production model.

African Elephant, Masai Mara, Kenya

Kestrel, 100% crop feather detail, Fujifilm X-H1 and Fujinon 200mm f/2, Note, pre-production model.

For a wildlife photographer, an important lens quality is how smooth out of focus elements are rendered, we often hear this referred to as ‘bokeh’. When photographing wildlife portraits we often use a shallow depth to put the key focal point on the subject. A lens which produces a harsh or very contrasty ‘bokeh’ may be distracting and it isn’t usually a desirable characteristic. A picture is worth a thousand words and as you can see, the ‘bokeh’ the 200mm f/2 produces is absolutely beautiful and smooth…

African Elephant, Masai Mara, Kenya

Tawny Owl, Fujifilm X-H1 and Fujinon 200mm f/2, Note, pre-production model.

Teleconverter

The Fujinon 200mm f/2 will be sold along with a new teleconverter, the XF1.4X TC F2 WR. Used together, this gives us a lens with an effective focal length on an APS-C sized sensor of 420mm. The original XF1.4X TC WR teleconverter will not work with lenses with a greater aperture than f/2.8.

The combination maintains incredible sharpness while giving us a very useful extended and versatile focal length. I’d have absolutely no hesitation in using the teleconverter for extra reach when the situation called for it. It is the same size and weight of the original telconverter, 130g, 58mm diameter and adds just 15mm when attached between the camera body and lens.

African Elephant, Masai Mara, Kenya

Great Grey Owl, Fujifilm X-H1 and Fujinon 200mm f/2 & 1.4x TC F2, Note, pre-production models.

African Elephant, Masai Mara, Kenya

Little Owl, Fujifilm X-H1 and Fujinon 200mm f/2 & 1.4x TC F2, Note, pre-production models.

Build & Handling

The most obvious feature I noticed was the all metal magnesium alloy body. In the absence of a hammer I am sure you could use this lens to bang some nails into something! It feels reassuringly solid yet not excessively heavy. Coupled with the X-H1 and VPB-XH1 Vertical Power Booster Grip which I used for these photographs, it’s a well-balanced and ergonomic pairing.

I’m a big fan of Fujifilm’s resurgence of the lens based aperture ring. System wide it feels so intuitive and on the 200mm f/2 it give us a reassuring level of resistance and confidence when adjusting the aperture. It’s also great to see focus buttons at the front of the lens. These buttons can be customised to activate autofocus as you would by the traditional half-squeeze on the shutter button, or to lock focus while in continuous autofocus, or to recall a stored focus distance preset. I used to use these features a lot with my Nikon equipment and it is something I have missed on my Fujinon 100-400mm lens.

As we would expect with a telephoto lens, we also have a focus limiting switch to provide optimum AF performance. We can limit the distances the AF will work from the full range of 1.8m to infinity, to 5m to infinity.

A very useful feature is the arca-swiss compatible tripod mount attached to the tripod collar. It saves having to carry and attach an adaptor when using a monopod or tripod. When a lens isn’t on my Black Rapid strap, I usually carry it by the tripod mount. The 200mm f/2 mount is a lot more substantial for my hands and therefore easier to carry this way than the smaller tripod mount on the 100-400mm.

Final Words

It’s probably obvious how I’m going to conclude my initial thoughs! This is an incredible lens in every regard. The sharpness is right up there with the very best of lenses I have ever used and the out of focus ‘bokeh’ is so smooth and really compliments wildlife portrait photography. The big wide f/2 aperture is an absolute ‘light-hoover’, not only is it great in low light but it also helps improve AF speed to reach lightning quick responsiveness.

Will I buy one? I would love to, but we’ll have to see how 2019’s photography holidays and workshops sell first! That said, I’d love to have this lens in my kit bag the next time I head to photograph Africa’s wildlife.

Hopefully I’ll be able to get out a little bit more over the next week or so and use the lens as much as I can until Fujifilm ask for it back. I’ll be adding any more thoughts and photographs to this blog. As always, thank you to my friends Andy and Nita for their infinite patience while facilitating our birds of prey photography days and also, thank you to Fujifilm for kindly arranging the loan of the lens for me.

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2021-02-24T13:52:31+00:00October 21st, 2018|Blog, Equipment, FUJIFILM, Review|29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. Steve October 22, 2018 at 4:12 am - Reply

    Hoe did you find it with the X-T2? It looks a big chunk of lens and wonder how it balances.

    • Alan Hewitt October 23, 2018 at 9:04 pm - Reply

      Hi Steve, I haven’t been able to use it on my X-T2 yet. I’ve only had it for a very short time. If it’s any help, I used it with the grip on my X-H1 and found it very ergonomic, no problems with any balance.

  2. John Simpson October 22, 2018 at 9:37 am - Reply

    You’re right ALAN, it looks absolutely tack sharp and that bokeh looks lovely. I just need to find a professional photographer who will lend me one LOL.

    • Alan Hewitt October 23, 2018 at 9:06 pm - Reply

      Good luck John!

  3. Nick October 22, 2018 at 11:34 am - Reply

    You kept that one quiet! How come you didn’t use it in Africa?

    • Alan Hewitt October 23, 2018 at 9:01 pm - Reply

      I only picked it up on Saturday and it’s going back to Fujifilm on Wednesday. I would have loved to use something like this in Kenya and South Africa though.

    • Alan Hewitt October 23, 2018 at 9:08 pm - Reply

      Hi Nick, I only picked it up Saturday!

  4. Andrew Hobson October 22, 2018 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    How come you are using it with captive species? Because it isn’t long enough for wild? It’s a lot of £ for a 200mm lens which is too short for wildlife. It does look very good though and your shots are stunning. The flying owl looks very good and the f/2 really helps put the focus on those eyes.

    • Alan Hewitt October 23, 2018 at 9:11 pm - Reply

      Hi Andrew, just by coincidence I had one of my workshops running while I had the lens. It does come wth a new converter as standard which is fantastic quality. I don’t agree it is too short for wildlife, maybe for small birds if you aren’t in a hide but there is a lot more to wildlife around the world than we experience in the UK, I regularly use my 50-140 when I am travelling. Thank youfor you kind words too.

  5. Patrick October 23, 2018 at 2:21 am - Reply

    Canon did it years ago. It’s old news.

    • Alan Hewitt October 23, 2018 at 9:20 pm - Reply

      Thanks for your input!

  6. Marcus Davis October 23, 2018 at 10:59 am - Reply

    It’s not a wildlife lens at 200mm, but it will be great for sports. Especially indoor with f/2.

    • Alan Hewitt October 23, 2018 at 9:16 pm - Reply

      I disagree Marcus. Okay, it will never replace something like a 400mm lens but I’d have one in my bag without hesitation. It would be great for using with larger mammals. I regularly use my 100-400mm below 200mm and my 50-140mm when I am photographing in Africa. Wildlife exists in many forms, sizes and comes a lot closer in other parts of the world.

  7. Colin Hyatring October 23, 2018 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    Fuji are not going to make a lens like this that isn’t anything short of stunning. Interested that you used it on the X-H1 and wonder how it feels on the X-T1,2 or 3 without the in body stabilising. Can you try it?

    • Alan Hewitt October 23, 2018 at 9:13 pm - Reply

      I agree! I only have the lens for a very limited time so sadly I have only been able to use it on my X-H1, sorry!

  8. Hilary Davies October 23, 2018 at 4:33 pm - Reply

    What is the aperture ring? Lovely photographs, lovely subjects too.

    • Alan Hewitt October 23, 2018 at 9:25 pm - Reply

      ‘Old skool’, Hilary. The aperture is controlled by a more traditional ring on the lens. More modern DSLR lenses have dispensed with this in favour of on-body controls only. Personally I think the lens is more ergonomic, especially when using my thumbs and fingers for other bits and bobs like AF settings.

  9. Tony Kurts October 23, 2018 at 7:51 pm - Reply

    Beautiful photographs as always Alan. Love the Little Owl

    • Alan Hewitt October 23, 2018 at 9:21 pm - Reply

      Thank you Tony, hope to catch up soon!

  10. Susan Brown October 23, 2018 at 8:01 pm - Reply

    I’m interested in this lens a lot despite that I can’t afford it. Would you be able to send me a raw file to evaluate? I do equestrian events and I wonder how it work for me.

    • Alan Hewitt October 23, 2018 at 9:27 pm - Reply

      Sorry, I cannot send you a raw file as this was a pre-production lens. That said, I can add that I think it would be a great lens for equestrian. Lovely AF and wider aperture for low light if you were working in indoor arenas.

  11. George Fairmont October 23, 2018 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    The crop on the bird looks incredible, how far were you from it?

    • Alan Hewitt October 23, 2018 at 9:00 pm - Reply

      Not far, maybe a couple of metres, just over the 1.8 minimum focus distance. It is incredibly sharp.

  12. Will October 23, 2018 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    $100 says you have one in your camera bag when you are in Africa

  13. Damien Foster October 23, 2018 at 8:48 pm - Reply

    Did you not haeve their medium format too? Are you a Fuji ambassador now? I have the 250mm f/4 for the GFX and wonder how it compares in weight.

    • Alan Hewitt October 23, 2018 at 9:19 pm - Reply

      No I am not a X-Photographer or brand ambassador. I did have a loan of a GFX50s and 250mm f/4 lens. The 200mm f/2 is around 800g heavier.

  14. […] alanhewittphotography – Hands-on with the Fujinon XF200mmF2 […]

  15. mister blue January 19, 2019 at 4:07 pm - Reply

    awesome detail how did you get one to use and have you got one

    • Alan Hewitt January 21, 2019 at 11:15 am - Reply

      Hi, this was a loan pre-production version I had for a couple of days. Sadly Fujifilm wanted it back! I don’t own one myself but I’d certainly have one tomorrow if I had the budget.

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