Sports photography can be a tricky subject to shoot.
If indoors, you need to freeze the action by selecting a fast shutter speed, but you’re often limited by the low amount of light available. Most lenses don’t have apertures big enough to let in more light so you’re left with raising the ISO speed and this doesn’t always look good on every camera.
For outside sports, it’s a lot easier since the sun provides plenty of light. Shooting with shutter speeds over 1/250 is not a challenge, even if the lens you use has an aperture of f/5.6.
Best Fujifilm Zoom Sport Lenses:
Best Fujifilm Prime Sport Lenses:
We discuss all of these cameras below, but first let’s go through what matters when buying a lens for sports.
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What’s Important for Sports/Action Photography?
Here are the 5 most important factors that make a good sports lens. We focused on these points when selecting the lenses for this guide.
Auto Focus – The lens needs to have fast and reliable auto focus. While this also depends on the camera you use, Fujifilm’s latest mirrorless models have AF systems that can handle action very well. Fuji’s lenses with LM (Linear Motor) offer the best possible focusing performance, making it not only quick but also silent. This doesn’t mean non-LM lenses are bad, it’s just that by paying more, you get even better performance. Using a lens with no LM will still allow you to capture fast moving subjects.
Focal Length – Most of the time, sports photography means long telephoto lenses. While this is true in the majority of cases, don’t forget that there are plenty of sports where you as the photographer can be very close to the subject. In such cases, having a 35mm – 135mm lens is the best. For bigger sports, or where you know you won’t be a few feet away from the action, stick to 150mm and higher.
Aperture – This is where it gets tricky. If you’re going to shoot indoors most of the time, you will really want at least f/2.8, or even bigger (f/2, or f/1.4). Why? Because to you it may seem like there’s plenty of light, but it’s not the same for your camera. Raising the ISO is a possibility, but this would often have to be above 3,200 and your shots might be too noisy. Outdoors, all Fujifilm’s lenses are big enough, but for indoors you’ll either have to buy a more expensive zoom, raise the ISO, or invest in prime lenses.
Weight & Size – We recommend you to bring a monopod or a tripod. Mirrorless or not, holding a lens for hours will get you tired and result in blurred shots. You can check out our guide on best monopods.
Image Stabilization – OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) is nice to have, but useless in 99% of sports situations. OIS only helps when your subject is still! It just so happens that all of our Fuji’s picks have OIS, but don’t ignore a lens you may find just because it doesn’t have stabilization added.
Best Fujifilm Zoom Sport Lenses
Only 3 choices, but they’re all perfect in what they were designed for.
Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR
The Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR is quite pricey but well worth the expense. The barrel is weatherized in 20 places to provide constant protection from dust and water splashes. The lens will operate normally even in conditions as cold as 14F (-10C).
Due to its big f/2.8 aperture across the entire focal range, it’s a perfect choice for outdoors and indoors sports. f/2.8 allows you to get nice sharp subjects and blurred backgrounds for excellent shots of people even at a distance. The seven rounded aperture blades help create beautiful bokeh when using the maximum aperture.
At long focal lengths shooting without a tripod can cause loss of sharpness. Fortunately, the 50-140mm f/2.8 is stabilized via an Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) system that negates motion blur in images. The body also has a tripod mount on the barrel for even more image stabilization as needed as well as an aperture ring for precision aperture control.
Using the APS-C sized sensor of Fujifilm’s X-series cameras, the lens has a full-frame equivalent focal length of 76-214mm. This makes it a solid zoom lens meant to bring far-off subjects into crisp focus and isolate them from the background. Portrait, street, and wildlife lovers will get a lot of use out of this focal range.
Notably the 55-200 f/3.5-4.8 which we talk about below, has an even better focal range for half the cost. However, you do lose out on the constant f/2.8 aperture across the range and the barrel tripod mount. The Fuji 50-140mm is weather sealed as well, making it more appropriate for photographing in difficult weather conditions. If range is all you want the f/3.5-4.8 will serve just as well, but the f/2.8 is well worth the additional money, especially if you know you will photograph in difficult light situations.
Fujifilm XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS
The Fujifilm XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS is a fantastic outdoor spots, race, portrait and wildlife lens with a huge reach.
On the X-series’s APS-C sensor, this lens has a full-frame equivalent focal range of 84-305mm. With a 3.6 ft (1.1 m) minimum focusing distance, you need a bit of distance from the subject to capture the best view possible.
The barrel has an aperture ring for precision aperture control with 1/3 stop increments. The linear motor (LM) auto focus motors allow the lens to focus within 0.28 seconds and ensure the lens remains quiet and stable during focusing.
The Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) system provides up to four and a half stops of stabilization to make shooting handheld easier despite the long focal lengths. The glass also has a High Transmittance Electron Beam Coating (HT-EBC) to reduce ghosting, lens flare, and chromatic aberrations.
The 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 is the toned down version of the 50-140mm f/2.8 lens. While the expanded focal range of the f/3.5 looks tempting the wider aperture of the latter lens is a tremendous advantage. The f/2.8 is also weather sealed for lovers of the outdoors. But for half the price of the f/2.8 the f/3.5 is still an excellent zoom lens. Keep in mind that because of its aperture, this is not a lens for indoors, so get it if you know you will mostly shoot outdoors (from races to sports, too wildlife, zoos and kids running around).
Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
The Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR is the ultimate choice for wildlife, sports and outdoor photographers. While its aperture is not as wide as the 50-140mm f/2.8, this lens is unbeatable when it comes to reach.
With the APS-C sized X-series sensor, it has an equivalent focal range of 152-609mm on a full frame sensor. Fortunately, it has a focus limiter switch to speed auto focus time. You can select between 5.7 ft (1.7 m) or 16.4 ft (5.0 m) out to infinity as the range the auto focus hunts through.
The barrel has both an aperture ring for precision manual aperture control, as well as a barrel tripod mount for additional image stabilization. The lens also has 13 weather seals to prevent dust and water splashes including light rain from penetrating into the barrel. Thanks to this, it can operate in temperatures as low as 14F (-10C).
The Fujifilm 100-400mm also has built in Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) that provides five stops of stabilization, to mitigate even the smallest amounts of motion blur from hand shake. This is extremely useful since hand holding such a big lens is not an easy task. The glass has a fluorine coating to protect against smudges and dirt, a common thing when shooting in the nature.
At 4.2 lbs (1.9 kg), this is the largest lens in Fuji’series. However, the features and sheer reach of the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R put it in a league of it’s own. If you’re looking for the best sports/wildlife choice, this is it.
Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 R
The Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 R is a fantastic prime lens for portrait photographers. The bokeh created with the seven rounded aperture blades are incredibly attractive. And the wide open aperture of f/1.4 is well suited for creating bokeh as well.
The focal length of this lens paired with the APS-C sized sensor of Fujifilm’s X-series is equivalent to 50mm on a 35mm sensor or film. 50mm is a very versatile field of view to work with. Being very close to the field of view of the human eye 50mm works well for portraits, nature, and event photographers, but you can easily use it as your travel/walk-around lens. It’s also useful for close, indoor sports where you very close to your subject. Most people will find the 35mm range too wide, but it’s still a good choice.
The 11-layer Super EBC (Electron Beam Coating) eliminates light flares off of lens surfaces by allowing 99.8% of incoming light to enter the camera. It also improves sharpness and color corrects the transmission spectrum of the glass so that all color wavelengths are transmitted equally.
The 35mm f/1.4 R also has an aperture ring with 1/3 of a stop adjustments for precision aperture control. Weighing in at 6.6 oz (0.41 lbs) the lens is incredibly light.
It competes fairly well with the XF 23mm f/1.4 R, but it’s newer and uses a High Transmittance EBC coating that also provides scratch resistance to the surface of the glass. Being a 35mm equivalent, the field of view is even better suited for the generalist photographer. But the 23mm f/1.4 R costs nearly twice as much, ensuring the 35mm f/1.4 R remains a good choice for the budget minded.
Fujifilm XF 50mm f/2 R WR
The Fujifilm XF 50mm f/2 R WR is a great lens if you want to photograph portraits and don’t want to be concerned with water or dust affecting their lens.
Using the APS-C sized sensors of the X-series cameras, the Fujifilm 50mm is equivalent to a 76mm prime lens using a full-frame field of view. 76mm is squarely in portrait territory. The features of subjects won’t suffer from distortion and enough of the scene shows up without taking away from the main subject.
This lens also has enough reach to be useful for candid street photographers who want to capture a subject without being too obtrusive. Nature photographers will also find this focal length fairly useful, though shy subjects may require a bit more reach.
f/2 is a fast aperture but if you want an even shallower depth of field, you should look at the bigger and heavier XF f/1.2 R, which has a 56mm focal length The 16mm f1.4 R WR is also wonderful if you want weather sealing and don’t mind a wide angle field of view, but you will most likely find it too wide for travel unless you’re mostly interested in landscape.
The 50mm f/2 R WR is almost identical to the 35mm f/2 R WR, but is slightly more expensive as it’s 2 years newer. Instead of a Nano-GI layer, the 50mm f/2 uses a Super Electron Beam coating. Both approaches have the same effect: control over ghosting and flare for improved image quality.
Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2 R
The Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2 R is a portrait lens well suited for bokeh-rich photos from a slight distance. However, it’s also an excellent indoor sports choice.
The focal length of this lens combined with the fast aperture makes it one of the best portrait lenses here. With the APS-C sized sensors of the X-series cameras the focal length is equivalent to 85mm on a full-frame sensor. 85mm creates a great separation between the subject and background of an image. It does also mean that some room to move is needed since this is telephoto territory.
The 56mm f/1.2 R has an 11-layer High Transmission Electron Beam Coating (HT-EBC) applied to both the front surface and a single layer on the opposite side. The HT-EBC helps stop chromatic aberrations and flare from incidental lighting. It also provides strong scratch resistance to the lens.
f/1.2 is very wide and allows for beautiful images and fast auto focus responses even in low light settings. The depth of field will be incredibly shallow as needed for maximum composition options. As an R lens, it also has an aperture ring on the barrel to control the aperture at will. Aperture and bokeh are further enhanced with the seven rounded aperture blades.
Fujifilm cameras with a Lens Modulation Optimizer (LMO) feature can partner with this lens to ensure sharpness and exposure are properly consistent throughout the aperture range. Th XF 56mm /1.2 is one of the more expensive ones on this list, yet is truly incomparably good. The focal length, features, and aperture are all top-notch. The only omission is no weather sealing, but that would make it even more expensive.
Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 R LM WR
The Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2 R LM WR is a telephoto prime lens well suited for portraits and action oriented scenes.
It’s weather sealed in seven places to be resistant to dust and water splashes. The sealing also allows the camera to operate at temperatures as low as 14F (-10C).
Paired with the APS-C sensor of the Fujifilm X-series, the XF 90mm has a 137mm equivalent focal length compared to a full-frame camera. This focal length works nicely at compressing a subject and scene slightly. However, this comes at the cost of needing some room away from the subject for maneuvering and possibly even a tripod as hand shake can create significant amounts of motion blur.
For auto focusing, the XF 90mm uses LM (Linear Motor) to make focusing silent and quick. The linear motor also provides extra stabilization when used with video recording. The auto focus response time is as quick as 0.14 sec.
The 90mm f/2 R LM WR has a Super EBC (Electron Beam Coating) on the front surface to improve image clarity by reducing ghosting and flare in the final photo. This lens is perfect for photographers who want or need a bit of distance between their subject, such as sports, portrait and nature photographers.
Fujifilm Lens Terms:
XF – Highest quality Fujifilm lenses for X-mount (X-T2, X-T1 and so on)
WR – Weather Resistant construction
R – The lens has a dedicated aperture ring
OIS – Optical Image Stabilization
LM – Linear Motor, allows faster and near silent focusing