Fujinon 55-200mm VS Fujinon 50-230mm

What is the difference??  I have read this same question quite a few times on the internet.  Aside from the obvious price difference, what are the real difference between the 55-200 and the 50-230?

Going back to the price, is the 55-200mm really worth $350 CAD more than the 50-230mm??  (price difference based on current prices on henrys.com.  Taxes not included.)

I own the 50-230, not the 55-200.  However, i have read enough about the 55-200 to be able to make this comparison.  So, let’s get started.

Made in China vs Made in Japan:

The 50-230 is made in China, the 55-200 in Japan.  This factor would be the first reason why the 55-200 is more expensive.

If you don’t want to pay much for labor, but get a quality product at the same time, get it made in China.  In Japan, you will pay more for labor, hence a more expensive product.

But is “Made in Japan” really that much better?  Well, you can ask the owners of some of the new X-T1s that had light leaks.  Or, you could ask D800 owners who had the left focus problem.  Or, you could ask the people who have had to return Fuji XF lenses that have not functioned right out of the box.  Or, you could ask the people who bought the $3500 Canon 5D MKIII that had a light leak.  Or, you could ask….  well, you get the picture.

“Made in Japan” does not mean perfect.

Plastic vs Metal:

The 50-230mm is mostly plastic.  Plastic inner barrel, plastic outer barrel, plastic mount, etc.  The 55-200 is mostly metal (aluminium).

Making a lens mostly out of plastic is certainly going to save you money, hence the more economical price of the 50-230.

But in all seriousness, unless you are going to use your lens as a hammer or a weapon, the plastic lenses do just fine.

Aperture Ring:

Well, the 50-230 does not have one, while the 55-200 does.  By not incorporating one into the 50-230, i am sure Fuji saved a few bucks.

OIS Switch & Aperture Switch:

Again, no switches on the 50-230.  Another cost saving for Fuji.  The 55-200 has the OIS switch on the lens, while the 50-230 OIS is controlled through the camera menu.  Aperture is also controlled through the camera.

Step Size:

The step size in the aperture of both lenses is the same.  Though, the 55-200 has 17 stops, whereas the 50-230 has 15.

Lens Configuration:

Again, the two lenses are almost identical in regards to the lens configuration.  14 elements in 10 groups for the 55-200 and 13 elements in 10 groups for the 50-230.

The difference?  You get one more extra low dispersion lens in the 55-200mm.

The 50-230 is a “slower” lens:

Yes, the 50-230 does have a bigger maximum aperture at the short and long end of the focal range.

The above differences are really the only ones i can think of.  Sure, we can get into MTF charts and bla bla bla, but i think you will find that both lenses are great perfomers and there really is not a significant difference between them when it comes to IQ.

So, is all of the above worth $350 to you?

Thanks for looking.

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8 thoughts on “Fujinon 55-200mm VS Fujinon 50-230mm

  1. Laurent

    I have both zooms, I have just made a comparison with my X-T1 at 200 mm: suprisingly at f:8, the 55-230 is SHARPER than the 50-200!
    I have repeated the test 3 times to be sure.
    Taking a building far away, in the sun.

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    1. I am not surprised at that result. Most telephotos are somewhat soft at their maximum focal length. At 200mm, the 50-230 is not at it’s maximum reach. It really is an awesome lens, despite being in the “budget” category.

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      1. Laurent

        I have contacted Fuji support, because I believe that my 55-200 has a problem.

        I also have the XC 16-50 mm, very good for the price. I purchased a kit X-A1 plus XC 16-50mm plus XC 50-230mm very cheap, minus 70 Euros rebate, then I sold the X-A1 200 Euros, so these 2 zooms cost me only around 200$ each!

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        1. Good, deal. Yes, i remember the good deals Fuji had on the X-A1, nice little camera. I have been looking at the 16-50 for another lens, but it seems to be hard to buy separately.

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  2. Anonymous

    I think the difference is in build quality, larger aperature and contrast and color. In side by side samples I’ve seen, the 55-200 takes a better pic but the 50-230’s can be pp’d to look great too.

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    1. Build quality is subjective. Yes, one is made mostly of metal, while the other is all plastic. Though, both lenses are extremely well built/engineered/put together. I think you are the first person to say that in regards to the photo quality that the 50-230 produces. Keep in mind, most (if not all) lenses will produce slightly different results. You may like what the 55-200 produces, but that is not to say the 50-230 produces bad photos. It is all a matter of taste. Thanks for the comment

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  3. After half a year of constant use of the XC 50-230mm I can say that the lens is a fantastic performer, far over my expectations. Never tried the XF 55-200 but I can definitely not imagine that the results are any better.

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