I’ve written about the fabulous Fuji 55-200 lens in the past but I have to say it is a truly spectacular piece of glass! FF field of view approximately 84mm to 300mm. Pretty sweet.
I got this lens before the 50-140 2.8 came out; and I considered my options — upgrade? sell the 55-200? what should I do? I’m here to say I’m glad I did nothing. The 50-140 2.8, though a phenomenal lens, is too expensive, too big, and too heavy for me. I switched from Nikon to Fuji to save weight, and my back so I’ll be darn if I’m lugging the 50-140 2.8 around. Heck, I remember lugging my fabulously sharp, and oh so heavy, 70-200 2.8 in the woods. No more.
Honestly I’ve tested both. I cannot tell the difference in sharpness. I read the stories and reviews about how phenomenal the lens is, and the writers are most likely correct. But for me the 55-200 just works. But that’s me. It’s small, lightweight, and has a marvelous range, plus it’s reasonably fast! Can’t ask for anything more than that.
What I will stress here is that if you are planning on purchasing one or the other, test them. Rent them. Use them out in the field. That would be the best way to determine if you can live with one or the other. I remember a year or so ago I purchased the Fuji 56mm 1.2 based on the positive reviews online. I shot three events back to back with it the same day and, after only the first event, wound up switching to my 35 1.4, and the 18-55 to finish the job! The 56 1.2, in a extremely well-light church and I mean well lit — sunny day, large skylights, bright light colored interior, and huge windows letting in the light down both sides, the damn thing refused to lock focus often enough that I switched it out and never looked back. It was returned for a full refund that Monday morning. Maybe it was a bad copy. Maybe it was I read too much into how great the lens was. I don’t know. But I’m to going back to it. Waaaaay too much money for a fixed focal length, that almost cost me some serious dough by not working as I expected it to.
Anyway, I’ll stop here singing the praises of the 55-200. You be the judge.
A couple of images here. My grandson, Jonah. First is the original image (from raw). I shot the entire day with the 35mm F1.4, The X-T2, Acros + G filter. This is the JPEG from the raw file, processed in Classic Chrome.
Now below is the SCREENSHOT of the same image, at 200 PERCENT as viewed on a 46″ display! You can see me, and Jonah’s dad in his eyes!!! Dang…….
I parked in my reserved spot, picked up my bag, slung it over my shoulder and headed to the office. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks! The X-T1 and several lenses are so light I hardly feel it!
In the mornings when I leave home I usually have over my shoulder a Fossil leather bag – In it I keep my Macbook Air, my yogurt for lunch, and some basic file folders. In itself the Fossil bag is rather lightweight. I’ve had it since 2007 and it is still an amazing piece of luggage that I proudly use in my daily life. Every now and then I’ll stick a Jill-E insert in the bag and carry my X-T1 with me.
Today, I packed a small $30.00 bag I found on Amazon. It’s called the Lowepro Exchange Messenger for dSLR kit and essentials. Here’s the link. I bought this wonderful bag in July of 2013 when a very good friend of mine and I took a three day tour around coastal Maine; he carried his two Leica’s and assorted lenses in this bag. After seeing how light it was, and the fact I was able to store it flat pretty much anywhere I decided to purchase one right there and then and so I did.
Today I’ll be away from home for a couple of days but had to go into the office first; Instead of my Fossil leather bag I instead packed my LowePro. In the bag I loaded up my X-T1, the 18-55 lens, the 16mm F1.4 lens, the 23mm 1.4 lens, the Fuji EF-42 Flash with four batteries, and an extra two Fuji batteries for the camera, and my lunch. The bag has very deep pockets, one has a zipper for additional security; normally, that would be where I store my SD wallet but since the X-T1 is packing a 32G card that allows for over 700 jpeg+raws I didn’t bother bringing any more along.
When I arrived at the office and picked up the bag out of my car with the always present Macbook Air I had to do a double-check to make sure I packed what I needed! It was that light. I remember the days pre-Fuji when I carried my Nikon D800 or D700, plus Nikon glass — or better (or worse) yet when I carried my Mamiya 645AFD medium format! Heck, going back a bit further my old RB67. Now that was a beast. I actually smiled as I walked down the Philadelphia streets to my office. It absolutely does makes a huge difference carrying a smaller mirrorless camera. I don’t care if it is a Fuji, Sony, Olympus — whatever floats your boat, just try one! I do not miss my dSLR’s or MF at all! Since I haven’t printed larger thant 24″x 20″ I haven’t needed more megapixels. If I did, I can always work some photoshop magic though I try very hard to stay out of PS. CORRECTED – SEE LAST TWO PARAGRAPHS ADDED AFTER THIS WAS PUBLISHED!
With that being said I am awaiting the arrival of the X-T2. As I am a travel, and stock photographer the 24mp sensor keeps me ahead of the curve and my images relevant when a clients wants a bit extra oomph. Usually we can show them that 16.3mp is more than enough but at times, they are rather adamant about larger files. If it were not for that I wouldn’t be upgrading at all! With regards to the rumors here of a potential Fuji medium format camera my first questions are not resolution or megapixels but how big is it going to be? What is the weight of the system? How about lens weight? I am now totally spoiled by the compactness, and the image quality coming from my Fuji system and I would not go back, ever, to a Nikon or any other brand.
So, when I leave my office later this afternoon and head south for a couple of days I’ll still be grinning like a Cheshire cat!
I was going to end this post here then FedEx came in. I sent out an image to be printed a while back and I just received it! It’s a 30 x 20″ print of an image that was processed from a RAF file into a 95mb TIFF in Lightroom. I thought about processing it in Iridient which I own but decided i would process it in the same app that I use for 99% of all my editing work.
Here, I’ve laid it across our conference room table in order to flatten it somewhat. But I have to say it looks amazing! I can COUNT the grains of sand, and you can as well just from these two iPhone images! This is 30″ x 20″ and I think I can go up to 40″ plus so that will be the next round of tests. I performed this print test to see how far I can push 16.3 megapixels. I have to say, these results are truly amazing. I’ve taken my glasses off and pressed my nose and eyes very close and it’s well, trust me: amazing!
I took an impromptu 3-day trip down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for some R & R. This trip was NOT to photograph, but to just get some rest and get away from the daily grind. On my desktop I left over 6,300 images I’ve yet to review, process, and get out to my various stock agencies. I did not even bother to take my laptop or externals with me. What did I take with me to “not” take photos? I took my X-T1, the 18-55, 55-200, and my 16mm 1.4. I packed a couple of filters, two SD cards and only used one, plus my extra batteries. As far as tripods, I keep one in each vehicle so that was a given they would travel with me.
I’ve been in this area on many occasions to photograph the incredible lighthouses and landscapes in the area. This particular lighthouse had always eluded my attempts at getting a decent image. Either the weather, the tides, the lighting something always conspired against me. Not this time! Using my app Photographers Ephemeris, checking the sundown times, and tide tables I decided to drive out to the area and check it out. I spent two hours photographing the light from the golden hour when the sun was lighting it up orange, until dark. This is only one of my favorites of the evening. While there, a group of photographers who were taking a class lead by an instructor showed up. The instructor asked me about the mirrorless X-T1, and as we started chatting, each and every photographer in the group had to oooh and aaah at the quality of the camera, the viewfinder, and the images I was shooting! It was great to talk about and promote the X-T1 and the incredible array of Fuji lenses ieven though I was only shooting with the 18-55 at the time. I know I missed some images as the light was changing quickly having to give impromptu guidance and lessons on the values of mirrorless-especially the Fuji! All the photogs were hauling bags full of gear with Canon or Nikon gear; one guy had a Sony and he stayed away from me all night! What I found very interesting is that NONE of the photographers carried a tripod! Are you kidding me?! I suspect it was because they were hauling around their dSLR’s and heavy lenses. As the light started to change, and they had already seen a few of my images on the (gorgeous LCD) and handled the camera, many of them tore out back to the parking lot to get their tripods. But, they left their gear sitting on the dock! Hilarious. A bunch of nice guys though — except for the Sony jerk who wouldn’t even acknowledge my presence.
Overall a very productive evening considering I wasn’t even going to photograph much on this three-day, impromptu trip. But, who can give this up? Especially when as I mentioned this particular lighthouse had eluded my attempts to capture it for quite a few years. Now, I GOTCHA!
Well I’m now back from 10+ days down in the Florida Keys, Key West, and the Dry Tortugas. In a previous post I promised to record some stats with regards to what lenses I used and how many images were taken with each one. Here we are:
Grand total images: 5,860
Fuji 18-55: 3,190
Fuji 16mm 1.4: 1,776
Fuji 55-200: 560
Zeiss Touit 12mm 2.8: 240
Fuji 23mm 1.4: 94
Fuji 35mm 1.4: Zero. Nada. Zip
As i expected the 18-55 just rocks! Images are amazing. Solid, clear and sharp. The 18-55 is just so darn versatile! The images below was taken with the 18-55 in case you were wondering. To start, and end each day, the 18-55 was on the X-T1. No questions asked. From there, depending on the situation, I would switch to another lens if warranted. In my opinion it is truly a classic! I love it! In all honesty I was a bit concerned; I even thought about buying or renting the 18-135 which is weather resistant as I wasn’t 100% positive about the 18-55 surviving all the sand, salt water and torrential rains. I’m glad I kept the faith and just used my 18-55. On the other hand I’ve heard from quite a few folks that their copy isn’t sharp. That’s a darn shame because it is an extremely versatile lens no matter what.
Keep in mind, I was in and around sand and salt water 90% of the time I was down there– and for three full days I was on a small island, with four other individuals after the boat dropped us off, and in sand all. day. long. My biggest fear was damaging one of the lenses as the only one that I own that is weather resistant is the 16mm. In future posts (as i just started reviewing images) I will show photos where I’m literally laying at the waters edge, with the camera on the sand. Now of course my hands are coated in wet sand and salt water — but ALL the lenses performed great and are still working! The only slight issue I had was with the X-T1 body. I got some sand stuck under the on/off button and it was a bear to turn on or off. That’s it. Eventually it cleaned itself out because all is well. Each and every lens was used in sand, and salt water. I was at the shoreline, or physically in the water (see two images below) when photographing certain scenes for stock use. I had props that I had to place and organize, and when I was doing that, the camera was sitting on the wet sand. That was my biggest fear – that I would mess up one of the lenses but I feared for no reason whatsoever.