Over the past few years, the digital camera market has been transformed by the arrival of mirrorless system cameras. Freed from film-era design constraints, these can provide image quality to match SLRs in a much more portable form factor. Entry-level models provide compact-camera like handling and simplicity, while high-end cameras such as the Sony NEX-7, Olympus OM-D E-M5 and Fujifilm X-E1 are able to offer a full set of enthusiast-friendly manual controls in smaller, more discreet systems, and with relatively few compromises. However to persuade buyers to forsake their SLRs, the camera companies also need to offer lens lines that will cover their needs. While most manufacturers have attacked the mirrorless market from the bottom up, Fujifilm's approach has been the opposite, starting with unashamedly top-end X-Pro1 followed up by the more enthusiast-oriented X-E1. The company's lens line reflects this - instead of starting out with entry-level kit zooms, it took the decidedly unusual step of launching with three fixed-focal length primes. The first zoom appeared with the X-E1, but the XF 18-55mm F2.8-4.5 R LM OIS is no ordinary 'kit' lens, offering premium optics and a faster maximum aperture.
The XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS telephoto zoom follows in the same vein - according to Fujifilm the aim is to provide premium optical quality and construction alongside class-leading image stabilization. Like the 18-55mm it features a relatively fast maximum aperture, gathering half a stop more light than most similar zooms for SLRs, and it uses a pair of linear stepper motors for near-silent autofocus. As with the other XF lenses, it also offers all-metal barrel construction and an on-lens aperture control ring. The overall picture is of a decidedly premium lens, that's quite unlike the inexpensive 55-200mm F4-5.6 telezooms for APS-C SLRs.Headline features55-200mm focal length (83-300mm equivalent)Relatively fast F3.5-4.8 maximum apertureOptical image stabilization; 4.5 stops claimed benefitAperture ring on lensX mount for Fujifilm X system mirrorless cameras