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Fuji 200mm f2 review


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My greatest photography love has always been the telephoto world. I enjoy event work, I enjoy landscapes, I enjoy documenting brochs and exploring the Highlands, but the telephoto world is where my heart is. The Fuji 200mm f2 arrived yesterday and it pairs very nicely with my X-T3.

First impressions as I headed out the door was that it was heavy. Perhaps not as heavy as the Canon gear I used to lug around, but it's a lot heavier than any other mirrorless gear I've had. The good news however, is that after two lengthy coastal walks yesterday and today, I've discovered I can hand hold it comfortably and walk with it slung around my neck for hours. It's perfectly balanced on the X-T3 and doesn't feel front heavy in the slightest. My fingers wrap snugly around the Arca Swiss footplate and they never got tired even after hours of walking.

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Here is the very first photo I took with it yesterday, and doesn't Mr Robin look stunning!

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Would you like to see what f2 depth of field looks like from this thing? This was taken at almost ground level using the flip screen on the X-T3. I took this photo looking up a shallow depression in the beach, somewhat like a mini wadi, with the aperture wide open at f2. The depth of field is, well, see for yourself, and the bokeh is simply gorgeous.

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Such a stunningly shallow depth of field makes for expensive glass that is on the heavy side, but is it worth it? If you shoot landscapes, no, this isn't the lens for you. Is it any good for street photography? Hardly, people would notice you pointing this huge white lens at them a mile away. I suppose wildlife is what most would buy it for, but that wasn't the motivating factor for me getting the lens, that's more of a nice bonus feature. For me, shallow depth of field and a nice prime is about seeing into a new world. I walk past thousands and thousands of strands of seaweed on the beach every year, and I never stop to look at them with a wide angled lens, or even with my Fuji 50-140mm. Today I spent a lot of time crouched down shooting strands of seaweed. With a lens like this, it's a whole new world I can see into. The lens transforms the mundane into the magical, and it's why I love the telephoto universe.

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Same with this beach foam. I mean, when do you ever take the time to crouch down with a camera between your feet to admire beach foam? You don't! Not unless you have glass as good as this anyway. It's a whole new world with depth of field this shallow and glass this good.

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An unexpected surprise was the lenses landscape strengths. I cranked the aperture up to f8, f11, and then f22. This image of Brora beach was taken hand held at f22 looking directly into astonishingly bright golden evening winter sunlight and it gave me a keeper with everything tack sharp, corner to corner, from the foreground to the far distance, and with no traces of vignetting around the edges. The stabilisation is out of this world, and the auto focus was so quick it made the X-T3 feel more like a DSLR than a mirrorless camera. I'm in love all over again. Fuji are amazing.

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Thought I'd take the lens along the coast to try it out on wildlife. Nothing exciting really, a black headed gull in winter plumage. One point of note is that both photos are of the same bird and the same wave taken a split second apart. The point of note is that I wasn't in zone focusing and continuous tracking, I was in single point and single shot. The auto focus is so quick I didn't need to track the bird, it was in the centre of both frames and I cropped for composition.

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This photo of an effluent pipe discharging onto the beach is interesting, because this is the kind of photo I'd more usually compose with the 16-55mm or the 50-140mm. It's all a matter of where you place your feet. I guess my 16-55mm is now relegated to my brochs documenting lens, and the 50-140mm may well be redundant. I'll keep it for street and events. Can't very well stick a big white lens into folks faces at weddings or walking around town now, can you?

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This 200mm is amazing me with its landscape prowess. This photo of Brora beach was taken in Aperture Priority at f16, which seems to be its sweet spot for this kind of shot, and I was again looking into bright golden winter evening light. It was taken hand held and the camera selected ISO 320 and a shutter speed of 1/300. I think I may just become a telephoto landscape photographer and forget about going wide altogether.

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Birds in Flight - focus tracking

Today it was time to test the lens with a few flying birds along the shore. These two images are not professional images, nor were they intended to be, and they are not in my stock portfolio. However, they do illustrate how the lens performs tracking birds in flight. The light was terrible, being heavily overcast. I wouldn't usually go after birds in flight in such poor light, but I was interested to see how the lens would perform.

The camera setup was simple. I was in Aperture Priority, with the lens wide open at f2. It took me 2 seconds to thumb the up arrow on the back of the X-T3 and put the camera in zone focusing and then move the front switch from single shot (S) to continuous tracking (C). How simple is that?

I tracked this seagull for a full couple of seconds, took a shot, kept the shutter button half pressed to keep the focus lock and took another shot perhaps another second later. Both images are tack sharp, and the light was awful. Zone focusing and continuous tracking works better with this lens on the X-T3 in poor light than it does with the 50-140mm in good light.

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Here's a 100% crop of a hand held shot of the moon. I was in aperture priority f/2 and the camera selected a shutter speed of 1/2700 and ISO 160. It was early evening, and I'm somewhat surprised at the fast shutter speed of 1/2700. I guess f2 lets in a lot more light than the f2.8 I'm used to.

 

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Here's a part of the coasts I love to wander. This is a 2 photo stitch from two hand held photos taken with the 200mm in aperture priority at f11. The image stabilisation on the lens is out of this world. Didn't even cross my mind it would be such an excellent landscape lens. It's nice to be in love again.

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