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Sapphire73

18-135 mm or 55-200 mm lens?

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I want to purchase a lens to expand the reach of my Fuji kit without adding a lot of weight to what I carry when traveling. I am looking at the 18-135 mm lens or 55-200 mm lens. Or I may put this off and wait for some new lens from Fuji.

 

I currently have the Fuji X-T2 camera body and these lenses:

 

18-55 mm f/2.8-4 kit lens

35 mm f/2 lens

10-24 mm f/4 wide angle lens

 

I have read mixed reviews of the 18-135 mm lens, especially when paired with the X-T2. The advantage of getting the 18-135 lens would be the freedom to take this lens with either the wide angle or 35 mm for a lighter travel kit. If I buy the 55-200mm, I might end up carrying the 18-55, 55-200 and the wide angle lens (since I like to shoot landscapes).

 

I am used to using a Canon camera with a variety of lenses. I have the Canon 70D and 4ti camera bodies with an array of lenses. The lenses I tend to use most often are:

 

18-135 mm STM

10-18 mm  or 10-22 mm

28 mm

 

But when I want to photograph wildlife or BIF - or isolate elements of a landscape - I like using my 70-300mm lens or the newer Tamron 18-270 mm lens.

 

I am going to be traveling in Europe for several weeks and part of that time will be on a river cruise where I need to carry whatever photography gear I want to use in port. My current solution has been to take the Fuji and one of the Canon cameras, keeping a lens with longer reach on the Canon.

Any suggestions from people who have used the 18-135 mm and/or 55-200 mm lens?

Thank you in advance!

 

(I should perhaps add that I shoot RAW and jpg, so I am willing to do some post processing on the Fuji images but haven't felt the need to do much with the jpg files yet.)

Edited by Sapphire73

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I have the 18-135 as a travel zoom on my X-T1. It is convenient, but not really good. Not terribly bad either.

For my next trip I only take two primes with me. For a "once in a lifetime" trip I would definitely not use the 18-135.

 

The photos from Stockholm were made with the 18-135:

 

34130488150_7ab435b8ef_c.jpg

Pictures of Stockholm by Johan Thole

 

 

 

34130480870_b36a7f3200_c.jpg

Pictures of Stockholm by Johan Thole

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I have the 18-135 as a travel zoom on my X-T1. It is convenient, but not really good. Not terribly bad either.

For my next trip I only take two primes with me. For a "once in a lifetime" trip I would definitely not use the 18-135.

 

Thank you for taking the time to respond and sharing two photos taken with this lens. Which 2 primes did you take with you on your next trip? 

 

It sounds like the 18-135 mm lens might work well for casual photography (outings with grandchildren, etc.) but not necessarily a river cruise in France? This is helpful as I may go with the 2 camera bodies solution, knowing what I can expect from my Canon camera and lenses but greatly enjoying what I can capture with the (lighter weight) Fuji camera. At least, I can choose which camera to carry each day.

 

As an indication of the kinds of photos I like to take on a trip, these are from a river cruise along the Rhine and Mosel rivers  in 2015, with Canon gear. (Note: The shots in low light were hand-held so they are not very sharp.)

Edited by Sapphire73

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I had the 18-135mm and sold it. It's not a bad lens, but it's not a great one either. Whenever I was shooting something where I specifically wanted a longer focal length, the 135mm was rarely enough. Also, the 55-200mm has exceptional image quality. I shoot 90% of my photos with primes, but the 55-200 never disappoints me in sharpness or overall image quality. It doubles as a decent portrait lens too if you open up the aperture, zoom it, and step back a bit.

 

I would also say that if you enjoy landscapes, the 55-200mm is something I never go without for landscapes. It seems counter-intuitive at first, but a moderate telephoto zoom can get you great landscape photos in specific environments. I've shot the Swiss Alps with the 10-24 and the Cascade Mountains with the 55-200 and got great images in both cases. Excellent and underrated landscape tool.

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I own the 55-200 and I love it!  It is relatively lightweight compared to say the 50-140, and the 18-135.  It is tack sharp, relatively fast at a max aperture of I believe 4.8. The focus is super fast, but I don't shoot sports so... I've never tried photographing BIFs so I can't speak to that.  The 18-135 is a decent lens but it does get knocked around on sites for not being sharp, blah, blah.  However, for us mere mortals I do believe it would be a fine lens AND it's WR.  To me the WR means nothing as I use ALL  my Fuji lenses in inclement weather but I suppose it does provide some piece of mind.

 

I chose the 55-200 over the 50-140 due to price, weight, and range covered.  The 18-135 to me is too large, sorta like the 16-55.  If I wanted to carry the weight around (again) I'd of kept my Nikons.  

 

Hope that helps, but I will reiterate I LOVE my 55-200. It doesn't go everywhere like my 18-55 and 35 1.4, but it does get used (ALOT)

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I had the 18-135mm and sold it. It's not a bad lens, but it's not a great one either. Whenever I was shooting something where I specifically wanted a longer focal length, the 135mm was rarely enough. Also, the 55-200mm has exceptional image quality. I shoot 90% of my photos with primes, but the 55-200 never disappoints me in sharpness or overall image quality. It doubles as a decent portrait lens too if you open up the aperture, zoom it, and step back a bit.

 

I would also say that if you enjoy landscapes, the 55-200mm is something I never go without for landscapes. It seems counter-intuitive at first, but a moderate telephoto zoom can get you great landscape photos in specific environments. I've shot the Swiss Alps with the 10-24 and the Cascade Mountains with the 55-200 and got great images in both cases. Excellent and underrated landscape tool.

 Thank you for your input on this - especially your take on the overall image quality and sharpness of the 55-200 lens! And like you, I enjoy using a lens with longer reach for some of my landscape shots. 

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I think the 10-24 and the 55-200 would make a good travel kit if you want to take zoom lenses with you.

 

One thing the 18-135 has over the 55-200; it is a WR lens.

Thank you. I agree that this combination would make a good travel kit, but I would probably want to throw in the 18-55 or 35 for a light weight, less conspicuous set up for walking around towns and cities. The bag I am using (Tenba Messenger DNA 8) holds 3 lens but might be a bit snug with those 3. Might soon find out.

 

 

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I called a local camera shop about the 55-200mm lens and they should have one available for me tomorrow. Always nice to be able to get a feel for it before buying - and support a local photography store.

 

Thank you all for your help!

Edited by Sapphire73

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I travel quite a bit and my XT-2 stays mostly paired up with my 18-135mm. While I do have some gripes about it's sharpness and IQ especially when racket out to 135mm. It tends to be a little soft but the lens is infamous for this.

 

Where this lens shines is the wide focal length range and WR. It's a day time lens so I usually have it stopped down to like f/8 and it does fine given the light is enough. It's been everywhere from the rainy muddy hills of Iceland to the Sahara desert. In these conditions the less you have to change lenses the better.

 

In fact the 90% of the times where I do change lenses is to put on my Samyang 12mm because 18mm just doesnt cut it for mosy landscapes. The only other lens that I carry in my travel kit is the 23mm f/1.4 for low light.

 

For what its worth, one of my travel buddies has a XT1 with am 18-55mm which she uses mostly and a 55-200mm which she loves, but doesn't use often as it isn't too versatile as a travel lens and finds herself taking it off just as quickly as she put it on. Could just be different styles.

 

Here is my travel photo blog. http://mikeo0.synology.me

Im unsure if all the EXIF data is intact, but nearly everything was shot with the 18-135mm except the obvious low light photos which were done with the 23mm.

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I travel quite a bit and my XT-2 stays mostly paired up with my 18-135mm. While I do have some gripes about it's sharpness and IQ especially when racket out to 135mm. It tends to be a little soft but the lens is infamous for this.

 

Thank you very much for your input on this. I have been wavering for the past month or two about which lens to purchase - or whether to continue to carry two bodies when I really want more reach. But I have a short trip coming up which will be a good time to test a new lens before heading to France with one (Fuji) camera or two camera bodies (Fuji and Canon). But I may take a look at the 55-200 mm in the store and decide to put this off a little longer. 

 

I had actually decided to get the 18-135 mm lens but then found out that it is in short supply at B & H and locally. So I posted here for more input from people using Fuji cameras. And I looked very carefully at the specifications for weight and size of various lenses. With a knee replacement and other issues slowing me down a bit, it is harder to move in closer to my subjects. So a little more reach can be very helpful. We'll see. That said, one of my favorite lenses on my Canon 70D has been the 28 mm.  It is delightful to use a relatively fast, inconspicuous prime!

 

mdotson90, on 31 Jul 2017 - 2:07 PM, said:

Where this lens shines is the wide focal length range and WR. It's a day time lens so I usually have it stopped down to like f/8 and it does fine given the light is enough. It's been everywhere from the rainy muddy hills of Iceland to the Sahara desert. In these conditions the less you have to change lenses the better.

 

I haven't been to Iceland (yet) but have been on safari in Kenya and definitely favor having two camera bodies in situations like that. One has a wide angle lens for landscape shots and times when animals come very close to our vehicle. And the other is ready to zoom in as desired. 

 

I enjoyed looking at the photos in your travel blog! Thank you for sharing the link!

Edited by Sapphire73

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I did a quick test yesterday; to get everything reasonably sharp at the long end, I have to shoot at f/8 or f/11. Wide open the lens has very soft corners.

 

Edit: in the past I have tested the 18-135 against the 35/1.4 and the prime blows away the zoom completely.

Edited by johant

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I did a quick test yesterday; to get everything reasonably sharp at the long end, I have to shoot at f/8 or f/11. Wide open the lens has very soft corners.

 

Edit: in the past I have tested the 18-135 against the 35/1.4 and the prime blows away the zoom completely.

 

Good to know. Thank you! I haven't used the 35/2 very much yet but should get it on the camera soon and see what it can do.

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The 18-135 is more like a swiss army knife. It carries everything, but it's not particularly good at something. If you want to travel easy & light, go for it. It has excellent OIS but it is not a very fast aperture zoom. Its versatility compensates for its deficiencies.

If you have a little more space, I'd take the 55-200 for the extra reach and light gathering capabilities, and it is not too heavy. I like it a lot.

Maybe trade the WA zoom for a 14/2.8?

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I don't know if I'm too late to the conversation, but here goes anyways.  I recently went to Paris, Marseille, and Switzerland on the trip of a lifetime.  It was short trip, but amazing.  I'm so glad that I had the 18-55, 55-200 and Rokinon 12mm.

 

I used the Rokinon 12mm for a lot of landscapes (just like you would with your 10-24)

The 55-200 was great for those times when I wanted the extra reach.  The lens wasn't heavy so I wasn't too concerned about carrying it all day.

The 18-55 was nice all around walking about lens.  It was also great for going indoors as it is relatively bright (2.8-4.0) and is very light.

 

Personally I would buy the 55-200 over the 18-135 again.  The 18-135 is a bit bulky and a little heavier.  It's not as bright for indoor shots and not quite as sharp (based on the reviews I've read) especially at the longest end (which is the whole point of the extra reach right?).  Also the 55-200 has an extra 65mm of reach... or in full frame terms, nearly 100mm.

 

Good luck!  But no matter what you do, you'll end up with great stuff, because fuji don't make no crap!

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Fuji vs Fuji did an excellent write up of this as well. The 18-135mm is shorter and lighter than the 55-200, even though it is a little fatter. To me, it feels perfectly balanced on an XT-2.

 

So you have a little bit of objective advice, here's some shots with both lenses. I wasn't being exactly careful and the shots with the XF 55-200mm ended up being at 128mm. This test is far from perfect but it'll help you get the idea. They were all taken on an XT-2 and had no filters.

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/clktuiiuzfybl4a/comparison.jpg?dl=0

 

As you can see, when racked out, the 18-135mm is incredibly soft at larger aperatures, especially when compared to the 55-200. It doesn't really start getting its act together until f/10-ish. Hopefully this can help the OP or someone else stuck in this dilemma. If low light is causing a problem for you with the 18-135 its probably going to do the same with the 55-200. It really only has at best a one stop advantage in the overlapping zoom range. Telephoto zooms of this size aren't exactly known for their low light performance.

 

If the sharpest photo is of the utmost importance, then get the 55-200. If ultimate versatility and WR are important, go with the 18-135. Sometimes the subject matter is so compelling that noone will notice your photos at 135mm are kind of soft. It's a great thing to have such range in one lens.

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I tend to look at it from a system point of view

If you already have the 10-24mm, 18-55mm then the 55-200mm lens is the best complementary lens to complete your system

These 3 lenses together give you a great travel range

 

I have the 135mm and had the 55-200mm too but sold it for the 50-140mm. I am happy with both lenses and my 135mm seems to be pretty sharp

 

I normally travel with 2 Fuji bodies (XT2 and XPRO2) plus

10-24mm

18-55mm 

50-140mm plus a 1.4X converter and if my trip requires it

100-400mm as well

I just pick the lenses I need for the day and leave the rest in my hotel locked up in my suitcase

 

either way you can't go wrong with Fuji Lenses

All the best and have a good trip

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I have the 18-135, and while it has served me well, I am considering going for the 18-55 and 55-200. The extra reach of the 55-200 would come in handy as would the better light-gathering of the 18-55.

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Thank you all for commenting on this thread! As mentioned earlier, I did buy the 55-200 lens. I didn't use it much on a recent trip to the UK but tested it enough to get a feel for it.

 

If Fuji brings out an updated version of the 18-135 lens in the future - or something comparable - I would be interested in using that for a very lightweight travel kit.

 

Thanks again!

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Also, the 55-200mm has exceptional image quality. I shoot 90% of my photos with primes, but the 55-200 never disappoints me in sharpness or overall image quality. It doubles as a decent portrait lens too if you open up the aperture, zoom it, and step back a bit.

 

Good to read! I prefer primes to Zoom, but I keep reading too much good about this 55-200, I have now ordered one. I am thinking Zoos, boat trips, regatta images from the shoreline, mountain ranges those sort of subjects. So thanks for your recommendation too.

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I don't know if I'm too late to the conversation, but here goes anyways.  I recently went to Paris, Marseille, and Switzerland on the trip of a lifetime.  It was short trip, but amazing.  I'm so glad that I had the 18-55, 55-200 and Rokinon 12mm.

 

I used the Rokinon 12mm for a lot of landscapes (just like you would with your 10-24)

The 55-200 was great for those times when I wanted the extra reach.  The lens wasn't heavy so I wasn't too concerned about carrying it all day.

The 18-55 was nice all around walking about lens.  It was also great for going indoors as it is relatively bright (2.8-4.0) and is very light.

 

Personally I would buy the 55-200 over the 18-135 again.  The 18-135 is a bit bulky and a little heavier.  It's not as bright for indoor shots and not quite as sharp (based on the reviews I've read) especially at the longest end (which is the whole point of the extra reach right?).  Also the 55-200 has an extra 65mm of reach... or in full frame terms, nearly 100mm.

 

Good luck!  But no matter what you do, you'll end up with great stuff, because fuji don't make no crap!

 

AGREE 100%   The 18-55 is my "don't leave home without it lens" that is until my daughter took it together with my X-T1.  The 55-200 goes on the road with me as well and I find it to be an AMAZING lens.  Compact, lightweight (compared to say the 50-140), cheaper, great lens hood to protect lens from water droplets in the rain, and damned sharp.  To me it is an unbeatable combination!  

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My 18-135 is a disappointment for anything away from the center below f/8 or f/11... "Convenience" is the word for my copy, unfortunately, what makes me compose considering cropping away the laterals if for some reason I have to keep the aperture below f/8...  :unsure:

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