Fujifilm 100-200mm

FUJIFILM GF 100-200mm f5.6 Review

Camera & Technology

April 28, 2024 ·

Dan Wells

The Fujifilm GF 100-200mm f5.6

The Fujifilm GF 100-200mm f5.6 

With increasing conviction that Fujifilm GFX is a system that will interest a lot of LuLa readers, we’ve been trying to take a look at more and more GF lenses. Most GFX photographers will likely opt for a basic kit that includes one of the three midrange zooms or a couple of fast midrange prime lenses to cover the normal focal range.

If you don’t have the 23mm f4 lens, the Fuji 20-35mm f4 zoom lens is a clear choice because it seems to have no disadvantages compared to the fixed lens. At the longer focal lengths, you have four older lens options released between 2017 and 2019, ranging from 110mm to 250mm. In almost a separate category is a new 500mm f5.6 lens is expected later this year, which is significantly longer than the others.

The four longer Fujifilm GF lenses include a fast 110mm f2, a 120mm f4 macro, a 100-200mm f5.6 zoom, and a long 250mm f4. There is a long tradition of exceptional medium format macro lenses in the 120mm range, and the Fujifilm macro lens falls right in the heart of that tradition.

Longer lenses are useful for isolating details and graphic elements, Fujifilm 100-200mm f5.6

Today, we have the second member of the long group – the Fujifilm GF 100-200mm zoom. All Fujifilm GF lenses that I have ever used are optically excellent, and this one is no exception. They are pixel-sharp on the demanding 100 MP sensor and they have excellent distortion characteristics for what they are.

This lens is not as sharp as the Fujifilm 120mm f4, but what lens is? 

It’s still a VERY sharp lens that will stand in the ranks of Canon L lenses, S-line Nikkors, Sony G-Masters and Sigma Art lenses. Midrange macro lenses are usually the sharpest in a manufacturer’s lineup, while this short to medium telephoto zoom is very good it’s just not as sharp.

The 100-200mm invites playing with geometry.

Good medium telephoto zoom lenses, like this one, typically have minimal distortion, unlike cheap kit lenses. Similar patterns apply to aberrations and flare in this lens category—both are negligible, as expected. Modest-aperture short telephotos have largely been perfected, and adding zoom doesn’t significantly affect their performance.

Another strong point of the Fujifilm GF 100-200mm f4 is build quality. I have yet to handle a GF lens that doesn’t have superb build quality. The 100-200mm is notable for its buttery-smooth zoom ring.

The Fujifilm GF 100-200mm has a large zoom ring, and turning it reveals two surprises. First, the zoom ring is very smooth and well damped. When I see large zoom rings like those on old Vivitars, I expect them to feel gritty, be too loose or too tight, or have inconsistent resistance as I turn them. This zoom ring defies those expectations; it is perfectly and consistently smooth.

The second surprise is that it’s an internal zoom. When I see a zoom ring taking up most of the barrel, I expect a trombone zoom, and this lens is NOT.

At a wide range of scales

All GF lenses are weather sealed, except for the two tilt/shift models. Fujifilm provides images showing the comprehensive weather sealing on their lenses, and the 100-200mm is thoroughly sealed at all critical points. Although I haven’t tested the sealing extensively, my extensive experience with Fujifilm GFX gear in various weather conditions has always confirmed their reliability.

Sealing diagram of the GF 100-200mm. All three rings (focus, zoom, aperture), the mount and the switches are robustly sealed. 

It’s a useful range of focal lengths, though I wish it extended further on the long end. As a landscape photographer, I use this lens mainly for isolating elements, which it handles well with its current range. However, I would benefit from an extension to 250 or 300mm for enhanced detail capture and distance compression in my shots.

The other use for a medium telephoto in nature is for a certain kind of wildlife photography – groups, large animals, animals in their environment. Also, I would prefer a longer maximum focal length, around 250 or 300mm, to increase versatility in composition and not having to push the cropping limits.

Having more reach would enhance the range of compositions I can achieve.

The shorter end of its range is also a good portrait lens – but there are a lot of portrait lenses in Fujifilm’s lineup. Because it’s the slowest lens in its range at f5.6, the GF 100-200mm wouldn’t be my first choice unless it was the lens I had in my bag.

I’d certainly use it for occasional portraiture, but if portraiture were my specialty, there’s always the luscious Fuji 110mm f2 or the Fuji 80mm f1.7 with a wider aperture for subject isolation from the background.

Most wildlife won’t come close enough to do animal portraits with 200mm lens on medium format – but a juvenile Herring Gull WILL. 

The downside is the lens’s size, which feels to exceed what its specifications would suggest. Although medium format lenses are usually larger and heavier than full-frame lenses, this one seems particularly bulky.

  In the recent review of Fujifilm’s 20-35mm f4, we noticed how similar in size and weight it is to a typical 16-35mm f2.8 lens.

This lens is long and slim, resembling an old-school Vivitar design. Picture a film-era 70-210mm lens enlarged to 125% of its size, but with superior build quality.

It’s seven and a half inches long but it has only a 67mm filter thread.  The technical definition of a telephoto lens isn’t just “a longer than normal lens” – it’s a lens whose physical length is shorter than its focal length. The 100-200mm is just barely a telephoto – it has a maximum focal length of 200mm, and it’s 183mm long.  

This lens has a relatively conservative design with 20 elements in 13 groups, including only 3 exotic elements—2 Super ED and an aspheric. Using more unusual glass could potentially shorten the lens by an inch or two, or extend its reach to 250mm or even 300mm without increasing its physical length, and possibly reduce the size of the hood as well.
A variable aperture is acceptable for this lens, even if it extends to f6.3 at the long end. While a bulkier design is fine, the 67mm filter size is less practical because many GF lenses use 77mm or 82mm filters.

I’m a little surprised that the Fujifilm GF 100-200mm is one of the lenses with a considerable size/weight penalty for medium format, because longer lenses typically have plenty of coverage. It’s at the wide end where increasing format coverage tends to make lenses physically large.  

The Fujifilm 100-200mm f5.6 lens earns a “Recommended” rating for its overall performance and a “Highly Recommended” for its exceptional image quality. However, its larger size relative to its specifications and the inconsistency in filter sizes compared to other GF lenses are notable drawbacks.

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Dan Wells, "Shuttterbug" on the trail, is a landscape photographer, long-distance hiker and student in the Master of Divinity program at Harvard Divinity School. He lives in Cambridge, MA when not in wild places photographing and contemplating our connection to the natural world. Dan's images try to capture the spirit he finds in places where, in the worlds of the Wilderness Act of 1964, "Man himself is but a visitor". He has hiked 230 miles of Vermont's Long Trail and 450 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail with his cameras, as well as photographing in numerous National Parks, Seashores and Forests over the years - often in the offseason when few people think to be there. In the summer of 2020, Dan plans to hike a stretch of hundreds of miles on the Pacific Crest Trail, focusing on his own and others' spiritual connection to these special places, and making images that document these connections. Over years of personal work and teaching photography, Dan has used a variety of equipment (presently Nikon Z7 and Fujifilm APS-C). He is looking for the perfect combination of light weight, ruggedness and superb image quality.

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