At some point Fuji is going to disappoint me. They'll have to let me down, I just know they will. Everything follows this basic, unforgiving law of averages right? But at the risk of coming off as some sort of fanboi, that day hasn't come and I’m again forced to swoon over an upcoming X-series product: the Fujinon XF 55–200mm F3.5–4.8 R LM OIS.

This lens isn’t out yet but Fujifilm Canada sent me a pre-production unit to test — with all the caveats this involves. A telephoto is the one thing I’ve been missing most on this system so I was eager to try it out. I had to install a new firmware version in order for the camera to recognize it but everything went without a hitch. I was warned by Billy (Luong, of the Fuji Guys) that there were still improvements being made (the zoom itself is way too stiff but this won’t be in the final version), and Tokyo has put an embargo on any full size images until everything has been ironed out. But I’ll tell you this: if this is the level of image quality in the pre-production unit… Man, we’re in for a serious treat. The contrast, sharpness and highlight rendition is right up there with the 35mm f/1.4. My initial feeling is that it even surpasses it. The OIS feels like a Steady-Cam; Manual focussing follows in the footsteps of the 14mm and 18–55mm and keeps me eating my own words about fly by wire. And when mounted on my X-Pro1 the entire kit feels like it’s at least half the weight of my old Nikon 70–200 2.8 on its own.

I can’t wait to shoot portraits with this lens but for now, a few images from my backyard (moments after the lens got here and a few after dinner) just to give you an idea of what it looks like wide open — which of course will vary based on focal length. Make sure you hover over the lightbox images to get the exif data.

One more detail: minimum focussing distance seems to be a little over 3 feet, a bit more on the long end. Enabling macro mode on the camera doesn’t seem to do anything.

First steps — More to come.