Fuji XC 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 OIS – First Impressions

First, some history:

I started buying Canon lenses because my shooting challenges grew as my kids grew. In particular, they played soccer. I started with an 18-200mm which was ok, but not sharp enough for me. Then went to a 70-300mm which was arguably an improvement over the 18-200mm, but to get the next step in sharpness, I needed to go to an L lens if I stuck with Canon.

I was very happy when I did my first test between the consumer grade 70-300mm and the pro grade 70-200mm f/4L IS.

20150819 125103 IMG_9898 7D 300mm ISO125 f5.6 512th_Crop_DCE 20150819 124924 IMG_9894 7D 200mm ISO100 f5.6 512th_Crop_DCE

Look at that boost in sharpness!

Yes, there was a drop in magnification, but the increase in sharpness was fantastic. (Or so I thought.)

Perceived megapixels

(or how many megapixels of sharpness can your lens+sensor combo do?)

The images you see often show less detail than the sensor is capable of showing. This is a combination of the lens and the sensor. A better lens can often show a sharper image (like above), but often a better sensor will give you better results. DxO does testing in this area. For example:

  • My Canon 7D shoots 18MP, but even with the 70-200 f/4L IS (a very sharp lens), the best the 7D can do is 9MP of perceived megapixels (DxO calls this measurement P-Mpix) (a loss of 50% resolution)
  • But on a Canon 5D Mark III which has a full frame 22MP sensor, the 70-200 would be perceived as 16MP. (a loss of significantly less resolution)

If I wanted the next increase in the Canon ecosystem, I would end up spending thousands on a Canon 5D Mark III, and I would also have to replace my wide zoom, too. Sounds like a good time to get off the Canon/Nikon train.

I ended up getting a Fuji X-T1. I was very impressed with the “kit” XF 18-55mm (it beats the pans off all my non-L Canon lenses), but wasn’t wanting to spend the money for an XF 50-200mm since I don’t shoot long lenses that often, so I though that I would try the consumer model XC 50-230mm.

Take a look at these sample images. Which lens would you choose?

20150819 124924 IMG_9894 7D 200mm ISO100 f5.6 512th_Crop_DCE 20150819 130048 DSCF4315 XT1 230mm ISO250 f6.7 512th_Crop_DCE

Would you choose the $1300 Canon or the $400 Fuji?

The Fuji is also sooo incredibly light weight and tiny. OIS is neck-and-neck as good as on the Canon L lens.*

* I was able to shoot at max zoom (200/230mm) hand-held in low light down to 1/30th. At 1/15, there was a little blurriness in about half the photos for both lenses (and I am pretty steady). Both lenses are rated to give 4 stops stabilization. That would mean that if these lenses give you 4 stops stabilization (and my math is right), they gauged it against 1/500 at 200/230mm.

The Fuji XC is perfect travel telephoto zoom along with an 18-55mm. Both would fit in a small bag with no problem. Pack the unused lens in a padded lens bag and you are golden, but…

If anyone comes out with an adapter for Canon to Fuji that also enables autofocus at a reasonable speed, I would love to test it. From early tests of a manual focus adapter, Canon lenses appear to be sharper on the Fuji body (mostly thanks to not having an anti-aliasing filter, but maybe also thanks to a more precise autofocusing system).

20150807 210355 IMG_9767 7D 15-85 iso1250 sharp-normal_Crop_DCE_DCE 20150807 210552 DSCF3740 XT1 15-85 iso1600 sharp-normal matrix_Crop_DCE_DCE
20150807 201452 IMG_9763 7D 70-200 iso3200_Crop_DCE_DCE 20150807 201653 DSCF3734 XT1 70-200 iso5000_Crop_DCE_DCE

But why would I want this gargantuan lens on a tiny X-T1?

20150820 215732 IMG_9443 G15_DCE

For easier sports/action photography.

The lightweight 50-230 lens is wonderful for travel and for everyday, thoughtful photography, but it doesn’t handle like a Canon L lens for fast changing situations.

  1. The zoom ring on the Fuji XC 50-230 is tight.
    • The XF 18-55mm is also tight
    • On the Canon L lens, you can use a single finger to move from one end of the zoom range to the other.
    • Canon’s consumer 70-300mm is also tighter than the Canon pro L lens
    • *Update* The tightness does make following young soccer players more difficult than with my Canon L lens.
  2. The rubberized grip on the less expensive XC Fuji lens isn’t as easy to grip as the Canon pro L lens or the Fuji’s XF 18-55mm metal ribbed grip.
  3. The Fuji is slow to focus from extreme ends of the focus range.
    • (The XF 55-200 might be faster.)
    • The Canon L lens focuses from near to far in a snap.
    • This is really important for moving from far soccer goal to near soccer goal or moving from someone ziplining far away to spectator close by.
    • This is also really important if you move to a new subject and the Fuji is prefocused on something far way.
  4. The XC Fuji also has no external switches or dials for OIS or aperture.
    • This one is not such a problem for me as I don’t change apertures often when shooting sports.
    • Changing aperture with the thumb dial on the X-F1 was very easy.
    • OIS can be disabled in the menu or through the Q button (if you have the Q menu programmed with OIS)
  5. Plus the Canon L lens is weather, dust sealed and zooms internally. The Fuji extends out quite far.
  6. There are plenty of other differences (the plastic mount wiggles a little) — look for other reviews if you want more info on differences.

Kids soccer games start soon. I will post how it (and the X-T1) performs when I can.


Will I look less professional with the tiny Fuji lens that extends out like a cheap zoom vs the giant Canon lens?

  • Probably to some. It is up to you if this is important to you.

Will I miss the 1.5 stop better performance of the Canon f/4L?

  • I doubt it. Fuji’s 3+ stops better performance at higher ISOs should take care of that nicely.

Will I miss the shallower depth of field of the Canon f/4L?

  • Not really for what I shoot, but for those of you who want shallow depth of field, don’t expect this lens to perform like Fuji’s XF lenses which is geared toward wider apertures. This lens is not made for that.

And why did you get the silver model?

  • Cost. I could get the silver model cheaper on eBay. I would have preferred the black model if money was not an issue, but I don’t make my living on photography so don’t have to look professional.

Versions

There are now 2 versions of this lens. The XC 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 OIS II is being bundled with new low range X series cameras and is so far not being sold separately in the US. This new model is supposed to have one more stop in OIS performance.

I did notice that there are no firmware updates for this lens despite being out several years. It is possible that the firmware for the new version includes improvements not in the firmware for the older lens. Without updated firmware available, we may never know.

Final note

And if you use lens caps, buy yourself a generic lens cap off eBay, BHPhotoVideo, etc. The Fuji lens cap comes off too easily.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s