I posted a preview recent on this lens and this review is to complete it. I do mainly portraits and as such my review will look at how this lens perform in it. In the past 2 months, I used it extensively for about 7 portrait shoots in various conditions. In summary, this is the portrait extravagant lens: A no compromise, near optical perfection, bokeh monster for all condition from day to night with a price to match. Still interested? Read below.
Firstly this functions closer to a 300mm F2.8 (or f3.0 if you want to be more exact) and its a really long lens. I won’t discuss on the purpose why one will use 300 mm for portrait, but most importantly the effect you obtain from this lens is probably close to indistinguishable from any FF with similar setup and maybe better. I mean in all aspect, from sharpness, to contrast and Bokeh. I highlighted the last word since one of the biggest purpose of this lens is to pop the subject out of the frame and compress the background as much as possible.
It looks like a sticker on a colored backdrop. The bokeh is near perfect, with minimal Longitude Chromatic Abberations (LOCA), making clean circles of everything. However on some busy background, especially if things have thin long sparkling shape like grass and its not so far away, the bokeh may at times be a little rough. Else its pretty much as good as it gets, on a APS-C camera.
Optically, the XF200mm is fantastic. CA is very well controlled but can be spotted in the form of yellow/orange outline at the edges of frame. I will estimate it to be only visible if you zoom around 200-300% and only on the most adverse condition. The auto CA correction in LR can remove them if needed to near perfection.
Sharpness is top notch. It is sharp to the very corner, usable to 200% zoom if the lens is totally in focus. This is the catch, with such shallow Depth of Field, getting critical focus is more essential then the sharpness of the lens itself. Thankfully Fuji latest XT30 and its Eye-AF does it perfectly. The moment it detects the eye, 9/10 shots will be on the iris itself unless there are obstruction.
Contrast affects perceived contrast and I am glad to report it is great on the XF200mm. At F2, its probably as contrasty as it gets and stopping down to F2.8 only improve it a little. The lens is quite resistance to flare, however shooting into bright light does haze it a little, losing contrast. Depends on your preference, that adds a nice touch of softness, great for portrait. Else use the hood and try not to shoot directly into a bright source of light.
Now for the non optical aspect, the built is great, I can’t fault it anywhere. The buttons on the lens can be used to preset focus or AF-on. It would have been better if they can be set to anything like those on the Sony. The hood is large and well built, however do note you must align and check if its tighten properly. I had a few case the hood suddenly dislodge. It is probably ok if the hood drops from the lens, but some people may just pick the lens by the hood accidentally and the lens will dislodge.
The weight is great and on an APS-C, the overall package is really light. I will digress a little here and talk about using it with my XT-30. It is literally mounting a camera on the lens, not the other way around. But the combination other then supporting the full weight on hand holding the lens, is pretty usable. The total weight is around 2.9kg with hood and XT30, lighter then every configuration out in the market by a good margin. Without the hood, the setup is closer to 2.7kg. To put into perspective, the next lightest 200mm f2 is the canon at 2.54kg just the lens alone. The weight saving lens wise is about 300g and the light weight XT30 will add another 100-300g of saving compare to most other cameras with similar capabilities. This may seem little but 400g can be translated to multiple F2 Fuji lens such as the 23mm or 50mm, like the picture above, all fitted into a thinktank spectral 14 bag.
The two other aspect that is great is the Autofocus (AF) and Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS). The AF is extremely snappy, especially if set to 5m and beyond for portrait. You can also track moving subject quite confidently with the XT30. AF though is more of a function of the camera and believe the XF200mm can still be faster and more accurate as future firmware and camera comes out. The OIS is the next great thing on this lens. I tested and 1/25s sharp photos are quite repeatable. That is an impressive feat at 300mm.
In Summary: this lens is Portrait Extravagant, fantastically and probably even excessively for the purpose of shooting portrait. It is probably one of the best there is, regardless of format and form.