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6 minute read

The Best Lenses for Sports, Action, and Wildlife

Picking the right lens can help improve every shot you take. Here are some great options for sports and wildlife in the FUJINON XF range

So, you want to make better action, sports, or wildlife pictures? These kinds of photographs involve lots of challenges, but picking the right lenses will certainly help you out! From wild birds to kids playing in the yard, the most important thing when picking a lens for more distant subjects is focal length. The longer the focal length of the lens, the more you’ll be able to magnify your subject. This is great, because you want to fill the frame with your subject as much as you can to give your pictures the impact you’re looking for. Common focal lengths photographers use for this kind of work are 140mm, 200mm, or 400mm. You’ll naturally find it more pleasing to the eye to use them in making your images.

“From wild birds to kids playing in the yard, the most important thing when picking a lens for more distant subjects is focal length”

What about apertures? You’ll often hear words like ‘fast’ and ‘wide’ in reference to aperture.  All that’s referring to is how large the iris of the lens opens up to. The wider the lens’s opening, or maximum aperture (ie F2.8), the easier you’ll find it to blur areas of the image behind your subject. This usually makes them stand out more clearly from the rest of the frame. Similarly, faster apertures tend to imply that you can also use higher shutter speeds to avoid subject blur.

When photographing in low light and with long focal lengths, camera shake can also become a problem, as it will blur the details in your images. That’s why all of the options in this article use FUJIFILM’s Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), which nicely compensates for inadvertent camera shake that can occur when handholding your camera.

The Everyday Action Option
FUJINON XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS

High quality and portable, the XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 is equally at home photographing your kids’ sports day, pets playing, or garden birds at the feeder, and it’s light enough to be with you at all times. The 200mm end brings all these subjects right up close and, being a zoom, it’s versatile for wider framing, too. So, if you love to frame spur-of-the-moment action and wildlife subjects, it’s a fine choice.

And you don’t need to worry when the light drops either. Say you’re photographing a soccer game under cloudy skies, or birds in the evening twilight, the XF55-200mm’s OIS will keep your images sharper. The lens has a variable maximum aperture, ranging from F3.5 at 55mm to F4.8 at 200mm, but these settings still allow plenty of light-gathering subject separation, making subjects pop from the background.

Learn photography with Fujifilm, The Best Lenses for Sports, Action, and Wildlife

Photo © Nicole Young

The Frame Filler
FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

For those photographing birds or small mammals with their X Series camera, the XF100-400mm is a real gift. Thanks to its 400mm setting, the longest of any FUJIFILM X Series optic , you can be sure of frame-filling animal photos and lots of impact. Even when you’re keeping the subject a long way off and untroubled by your presence, every feather and whisker will be front and center, so it’s a great option for field trips and safaris.

Of course, it’s also right up there for sports and action, picking out sportspeople and vehicles from hundreds of yards away, and the 4x zoom range adds bags of versatility in framing if your subject is approaching you in a hurry.

Photographing wildlife and sports means being out in the elements, with wet, dusty, or freezing conditions trackside or in the wild, but that’s no problem for this lens. The XF100-400mm is weather sealed and will continue to operate even in temperatures down to 14°F. Like the XF55-200mm, it also includes a powerful OIS, but this time gives you up to five stops of compensation for sharper images at even slower shutter speeds and ensures shake-free images, even using the longest zoom settings.

Learn photography with Fujifilm, The Best Lenses for Sports, Action, and Wildlife

Photo © Lee Varis

The Low-Light Master
FUJINON XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR

Whether you’re pitchside or ringside, photographing sports like football and soccer, or boxing and martial arts, the action can be fast moving and chaotic. Vital moments happen in a split second, and you’ve no control over the lighting, the subjects, or the weather. In these situations, reach for the XF50-140mm.

Though it has less reach than the XF100-400mm, its big, bright F2.8 maximum aperture will let you isolate your subject and freeze their movement in dim lighting conditions, for added drama of the big event.

The built-in five-stop OIS keeps shots free from the dreaded camera shake, and the XF50-140mm is weather-resistant, offering protection from moisture, dust, and temperatures down to 14°F. Another benefit of the big F2.8 aperture is faster focusing, which is backed up by linear motors to make it remarkably speedy and accurate even on fast-moving and unpredictable subjects.

Learn photography with Fujifilm, The Best Lenses for Sports, Action, and Wildlife

Photo © Eric Francis

The Pro’s Choice
FUJINON XF200mmF2 R LM OIS WR

Whether it’s for a landmark sporting event, or a once-in-a-lifetime safari, when X Series photographers need the very best in telephoto power, there’s the XF200mmF2 R LM OIS WR.

The F2 aperture – a full stop faster than F2.8 – means you get a razor-thin depth-of-field and even better subject separation, picking out the star quarterback or a leaping lion with ease. It also allows an extra stop of shutter speed, which means you get crystal-clear impact in every image, backed up by five-stop OIS.

As a pro lens, there’s a selection of manual inputs on the barrel to make handling fast and intuitive, including a focus range limiter so you can bypass foreground or background subjects that might otherwise distract the AF, and a Focus Control button that can be set to Focus Preset distance, AF-On, or Focus Lock.

The XF200mmF2 R LM OIS WR also comes complete with an XF1.4X TC F2 WR teleconverter that extends the focal length by 1.4x. Both it and the lens are fully weather sealed. All that quality means the lens is heavy at 4.99lbs, but it comes with a built-in tripod foot, allowing you to easily mount it on a tripod, monopod, or gimbal.

Learn photography with Fujifilm, The Best Lenses for Sports, Action, and Wildlife

Photo © Axel Fassio

Extend Your Lens
FUJIFILM XF Teleconverters

Compatible with the XF50-140mm and XF100-400mm lenses – but not the XF55-200mm – these teleconverters boost the focal length of the lenses to get you even closer to your subjects, without any reduction in image quality.

The XF1.4X TC WR model increases the focal range by 1.4x, while the XF2X TC WR model boosts it by 2x, for more frame-filling power. Both share the same weather-resistant capabilities of the lenses, so you can keep creating in moist, cold, or dusty conditions, and they retain full functionality, including autofocus. Is there a catch? Not really, although you do lose some light when using a teleconverter. The 1.4x converter reduces light by one stop, the 2x converter cuts it down by two stops. The easiest way around this minor issue is to increase the ISO accordingly.

Learn photography with Fujifilm, The Best Lenses for Sports, Action, and Wildlife

Photo © Daniel H Baile

Compare the Lenses

XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS

Construction
14 elements in 10 groups
Image Stabilization
Yes, 4.5 stops
Weather-Resistance
No
Filter Size
62mm
Close Focusing Distance
1.1m
Dimensions (DxL)
75 x 118mm (Wide setting)
Weight
580g

XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR

Construction
23 elements in 16 groups
Image Stabilization
Yes, 5 stops
Weather-Resistance
Yes
Filter Size
72mm
Close Focusing Distance
1m
Dimensions (DxL)
82.9 x 175.9mm (Wide setting)
Weight
995g

XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

Construction
21 elements in 14 groups
Image Stabilization
Yes, 5 stops
Weather-Resistance
Yes
Filter Size
77mm
Close Focusing Distance
1.75m
Dimensions (DxL)
94.8 x 210.5mm (Wide setting)
Weight
1,375g

XF200mmF2 R LM OIS WR

Construction
19 elements in 14 groups
Image Stabilization
Yes, 5 stops
Weather-Resistance
Yes
Filter Size
105mm
Close Focusing Distance
1.8m
Dimensions (DxL)
122 x 205.5mm
Weight
2,265g

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