Review: Fujifilm GF 100-200mm ƒ/5.6 OIS Telephoto Zoom Lens for GFX

Until the arrival of the 100-200mm ƒ/5.6 lens for Fujifilm GFX, the only long telephoto lens offered was the 250mm ƒ/4. At $3400, it was by no means a bargain. Or portable.

Giving up a stop of light in exchange for 100mm of zoom range, the GF 100-200mm manages to be light and compact. For more range, it’s compatible with the $850 GF 1.4x teleconverter, bringing the maximum focal length to 280mm but at a minimum ƒ/8. Not all is bad news though: you get excellent OIS and weather sealing, a 67mm filter thread for more reasonably priced filters, a removable tripod foot, a slim profile that’s smaller than most 70-200 ƒ/2.8 lenses and a price of just $1999 USD.

Sure, the maximum focal length of 200mm equals just 160mm field of view in 35mm terms, which isn’t very much reach at all, but remember that you’re shooting on a medium format. This alone will allow you to crop down for more “zoom.” Of course, sensor size alone isn’t what makes this a possibility. Sharpness is extremely important if you intend to crop down to minuscule sizes.

So, let me be clear when I say that the GF 100-200mm has sharpness for days, all along its aperture range. It is intensely sharp. If you’re a landscape photographer, your long telephoto lens for GFX has arrived. Other lenses are sharp but with caveats, like needing to shoot at ƒ/8 or only at certain focal lengths. Not this one. This is sharp, corner to corner, throughout its zoom and aperture range. Use it anytime, anywhere and it is razor sharp. This is the sharpest lens I’ve ever used. Ever. That’s not hyperbole.

Comet Falls using the GF 100-200mm ƒ/5.6 at 100mm FOV
Same photo cropped in around 12:1
Same location and position at 160mm FOV

What should be obvious in the above photos is the fact that weather sealing and optical image stabilization are excellent. Regarding the latter, these shots were taken with my GFX 50S, a 1/15s shutter on a Gitzo Series 1 Mountaineer tripod. I left OIS on due to the wind and long shutter speed required for the conditions.

Deception Pass shot at 200mm ƒ/5.6, 1/80s handheld

Cropped in approximately 1/5.

The above photos help to show some of the bokeh rendering. As you can see, the sharpness does affect the bokeh, giving it a bit of a swirl that’s noticeable in the lower left corner. That’s the penalty from an aspherical lens but shouldn’t affect most landscape photographers.

This will never be the favorite for most portrait photographers. The busy, swirled bokeh could be used from an artistic standpoint but most portrait shooters will avoid it for that reason alone. Add to it the extreme sharpness and you have a lens that could be unflattering in the hands of all but the most adept photographers.

Shot at 200mm and cropped in 400%

The biggest benefactors of this lens could be macro shooters but the 1 meter minimum focusing distance at 200mm is an issue. To overcome this, a 48mm or 68mm focusing tube can be used to lower it to the length of the lens itself. If full resolution isn’t required, cropping in is just as easy and with high quality results.

Speaking of focusing, the 100-200mm uses a linear motor and rear focusing element, making for extremely fast and sure focusing. As you may know, this makes for a nearly silent focusing drive. On the GFX 50S, it’s adequately fast due to the contrast only focusing system. On the GFX 100, it’s truly quick and precise. Despite the use of a linear motor, there is no “lens clunking” when powered off. Fujifilm has equipped this lens with a brake, holding the focusing element in place when powered off. The old systems won’t damage a lens but this new system just adds some peace of mind.

To control focusing and aid in its speed, Fujifilm has equipped it with a 2-stage limiter switch on the side, offering full focus and 5m to ∞. Below that is a simple on-off switch for image stabilization. Focusing and zoom are both internal, along with a gasket around the bayonet, helps make this sealed lens more impervious to the elements.

If you are in the market for a digital medium format camera, this lens is Fujifilm’s keystone as it represents the lens range finally being filled out from 23mm to 250mm. Distances up to 600mm can now be achieved and still maintain at least 24MP through the use of this lens, the teleconverter and a 1:2 crop. It truly adds real versatility to the GFX range and gives me yet another reason to leave my X-H1 at home. At $1999, this lens is almost a steal and represents the cheapest zoom lens in the GFX lineup so far. Despite the price, it lacks nothing in features and sharpness.

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