Nature photography with the Fujinon 55-200mm XF

I am currently considering what compromises I have to make to continue photographing my bugs. Birds are a whole different kettle of avian fish altogether.

Fuji does not yet make a proper macro lens. Nor is one on their lens roll out plan. I wondered if I could use the 55-200mm lens for natural history. So I tackled the hill behind the house and shot all kinds of things from spiders to plants.

The results were disappointing. At 55mm (x1.5 for FF equivalent) it is F3.5, which is not bad. And even at 200mm (300mm FF equivalent) it is F4.8. It also has a claim to offer 4.5 stops of image stabilisation. And it weighs only 580g. The problem is its minimum focus is only 1.1m – much too far away for small bugs. So when I reviewed my images I was disappointed. They look sharp on the LCD. Dare I say they may look ok to the average blog viewer. But I blow each frame up to 1:1 and inspect the sharpness across the frame. Fail. Probably a tripod would have been sensible but this was after all an experiment. Out of almost 50 images only ~30 made it to download and 6 made it to processing. Two of those I am still uncertain about. None is remotely close to being a true ‘keeper’.

Here are the results.

I quite like this paper wasp, Parapolybia indica, but it was more luck than judgement.Parapolybia indicaThis next one I am unsure about but it is an abandoned nest of the species above, I believe, so I have included it. Sadly it lacks sharpness / DoF. It is the very front that is out of focus, and I did not see this through the EVF. User error._DSF5375

 The next one was easier by virtue of size. This is a Melastoma and I think it is M. sanguinea.

Melastoma sanguineum

Next up is 毛麝香, or as you probably know it, Adenosma glutinosum.  I stand ready to be corrected on both Chinese and scientific names (MWPG).Adenosma glutinosum

Finally, a gecko shot to cheer us all up._DSF5388

I took what I thought was a spiffing shot of an Oriental Cockroach, Opisthoplatia orientalis. Unlike the house roaches OC is a handsome shiny black and red colour. As I was unhappy with today’s shot, here is my Blue Peter version (made earlier).Oriental-cockroach


They are nocturnal but are easy to find under loose bark, which is where my afternoon chum was hiding. Definitely a case of the bark being worse than the bite.

So what to do? I am going to see if I could use my Canon macro on the Fuji with an adaptor. On good days I will continue to use the 5D3 and the 100mm F2.8 Canon macro and my tripod. This Fuji option does not cut the mustard, or indeed any other herb. Any ideas, folks?



22 thoughts on “Nature photography with the Fujinon 55-200mm XF

  1. Andrew serious considering getting this camera and this lens, so this is a helpful review. I would not use it for macro so much as travel. But I understand that the Fuji 60mm is a macro. Thanks

    • Victor, the 60mm is a macro but not 1:1. It only does 1:2. So it’s a bit of a fudge. I didn’t buy the Fuji for macro or birds, I’m just seeing how far I can push it. For travel I think it’s perfect. It’s going to be my main camera in Venice and Madrid with the X100s as back up. For travel I think IQ is so good the need for full frame has been overtaken.

    • I cheat, Denise. It is a cut and paste. But you can write Chinese characters on an iPhone / iPad. My wife is Chinese and frequently does so.

  2. A true macro lens is on my wish list but it will be somewhere down the line because I’ve already cashed in all my credits with my wife to get what I have at the moment. It will take some time and work on my part to build up enough credit for better lenses. 🙂 I love the paper wasp shot… wasps are very intimidating and interesting insects. Danger and beauty all wrapped up in one. Keep up the great work!

    • If you do a little bit of research neither wasps nor hornets should be intimidating. They key is not to approach too close to a nest. I encountered both hornets and wasps today and none came anywhere near me – too busy. Some species are more aggressive than others and that is where research is useful. My local wasp bible is appropriately called “Potentially Dangerous Bees & Wasps of HK”. Of course if you know you will react badly to a sting then simply stay well away. My wife reacts extremely badly to a simple mosquito bite. I itch for 10 minutes then nothing. I keep her well away from wasps!

      • I should have said looks intimidating because it has been years since I’ve been stung by any kind of wasp or hornet. I’ve also never had any kind of allergic reaction to one but my brother does. One of the biggest nuisances that have crept into my region are fire ants. These guys have stung me many times in the last few years and I do have a slight allergic reaction to them but nothing threatening. You have to be very careful where you decide to stand because fire ants only take a few seconds to go on the offensive and swarm your feet. I’d take wasps and hornets over fire ants any day. 🙂

  3. I am rather fond of paper flowers, but prefer the real thing in wasps. That mooning roach is quite a good looker….at least from this angle.
    At one time I had a Canon zoom….it was years ago and I don’t remember which one…that was supposedly good for macro. It wasn’t. I have only used a few as a macro and found the results to be disappointing. Zooms should be touted as “Closeup capable” rather than macro.

  4. What to do ??? – why, more of the same, you idiot !!!
    I LOVE the cockroach with its head hidden so that it thinks no-one can see it. 🙂

  5. I could hardly comment on your ‘out of focus’ comment. I think you are truly a seeker of perfection and envy your commitment to that. Great shots. I feel I am saving money by not having to subscribe to Geographic mags. I don’t know about all the different lenses and am happy with my little simple Nikon.
    Did I tell you I lost all my photos on my IPhone whose sound would not respond to phone calls. I got another 4G Apple for replacement but lost all my Bali shots. The man claimed he could not tranfer the photos. I get bamboozled by all that science.

  6. I wonder if someone has made extension tubes for Fuji’s new systems or as you have said use your Canon lens on an adapter. I understand what you mean about the sharpness but the images are nice.

    • The Canon adaptor sounds a bit of a dead loss, Ben. I think it is fixed aperture and MF only. I have not seen any extension tubes but someone will develop them if demand exists.

  7. I envy you your energy and willingness to experiment. I’ve put around 15,000 clicks on my newest camera since February and still don’t know all the bells and whistles. I’m hoping to learn how to take a good photograph with it before it wears out.

    Glad I took the time to read up on your blog. Like visiting an old friend. Bird Photography is under new management. Chuq has retired from ownership. Teri and I are still hanging around but only in spurts. Still see some awesome shots among the chaff. I took a shot of a chickadee on my recent 10,000 mile road trip. It won’t be published.

    • Art, it is a real pleasure to have you drop by. I saw Chuq’s resignation post. I miss the old chickadee days.

      I have been too busy to take photos for the last 2 weeks and more work looming but I will get back in the swing as soon as I can. Take care of yourself.

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