HHHR Flower Photography with 150-600

Recently I did some HHHR flower photography with the M.Zuiko 150-600 mm IS zoom, during a visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens.

I concentrated my test efforts on close-up photography as the M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom has a minimum focusing distance of 560 mm (~ 22 inches) on the wide end. The maximum magnification of the lens is 0.35 X on the wide end and 0.20 X on the telephoto end. Using teleconverters obviously extends the magnification further.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 20 mm, efov 40 mm, 1/40, f/2.8, ISO-2000

This super telephoto lens isn’t a piece of gear that we would typically select for flower photography, given its size and weight. However, the relatively short minimum focusing distance of the M.Zuiko 150-600 zoom does make it extremely flexible when in the field. I’m looking forward to testing this lens further with insects and other small critters as we get warmer weather in Southern Ontario.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-2000, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 560 mm

I began by locking the focal length of the M.Zuiko 150-600 at 150 mm. I then moved in physically to get as close to the blossoms/foliage as I could. Depending on their position in the planting areas I wasn’t able to shoot at a subject distance of 560 mm as often as I would have liked… but I still managed to capture a reasonable selection of images at this minimum subject distance.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-2000, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 560 mm, 100% crop

I decided to increase the challenge of this test by photographing everything using HHHR (Handheld Hi Res) technology. As regular readers know, I’m not a pixel peeper. I do appreciate that some  folks like to view this amount of detail… so I’ve included a wide selection of 100% crops.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-5000, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 560 mm

There are some practical considerations when using HHHR technology for flower photography. Often individual blossoms can be in lower light which may require the use of higher ISO values. Using HHHR increases the available dynamic range and colour depth, while helping to minimum image noise.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-5000, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 560 mm, 100% crop

Using Handheld Hi Res also creates a significantly larger RAW file as the standard resolution increases from 5184 x 3888 to 8160 x 6120. This provides some additional cropping potential when needed.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-800, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 560 mm

For some of the photographs I stopped my lens down to create additional depth-of-field. I used Auto-ISO and a single, small AF point for all of the photographs featured in this article.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-800, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 560 mm, 100% crop

Being able to dramatically crop photographs, while still getting a significant level of detail helps create macro-type photographs with the M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom lens.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-2500, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 560 mm

It is always beneficial to push our camera gear to help establish our own personal shooting parameters when out in the field.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-2500, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 560 mm, 100% crop

This helps us maximize the potential of our kit by uncovering some creative options that we may have otherwise overlooked.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-6400, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 560 mm

It is reasonable to think that many photographers who have purchased the M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom would not have bought this lens specifically for close-up flower photography.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-6400, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 560 mm, 100% crop

Their primary objective… like mine… would have been photographing birds and nature. Being able to capture ISO-6400 images of flower blossoms with a good amount of detail… as we can see in the above 100% crop of a test image… is not something that many of us would have top-of-mind when buying this zoom lens.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-2000, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 590 mm

As discussed in a previous article, the Sync-IS performance of the M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS is superb.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-2000, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 590 mm, 100% crop

This makes using HHHR technology with this lens a very practical approach… one which further opens up our creative options when out in the field.

Let’s have a look at some additional HHHR flower photography with 150-600 test images, taken at various subject distances. Each is followed by a 100% crop.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/6.3, 1/160, ISO-800, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 880 mm
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/6.3, 1/160, ISO-800, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 880 mm, 100% crop
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-6400, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 875 mm
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-6400, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 875 mm, 100% crop
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/60, ISO-1250, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 560 mm
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/60, ISO-1250, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 560 mm, 100% crop
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO-1000, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 560 mm
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO-1000, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 560 mm, 100% crop
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-6400, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 560 mm
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-6400, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 560 mm, 100% crop
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-1250, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 595 mm
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-1250, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 595 mm, 100% crop
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-1600, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 730 mm
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-1600, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 730 mm, 100% crop
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-6400, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 570 mm
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-6400, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 570 mm, 100% crop
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/160, ISO-5000, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 580 mm
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, 1/160, ISO-5000, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 580 mm, 100% crop

I also took a few HHHR flower photography with 150-600 test images using the M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/11, -0.7 EV, 1/200, ISO-1250, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 1 metre

The Sync-IS still worked quite well when the M.Zuiko MC-20 was affixed to the 150-600 mm zoom… even though it comes with a loss of 2 stops of stabilization.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/11, -0.7 EV, 1/200, ISO-1250, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 1 metre, 100% crop

I was pleasantly surprized with the amount of image detail that this combination produced. Using the MC-20 extends the magnification of the M.Zuiko 150-600 mm to 0.7 X at a 150 mm focal length, and 0.4 X at 600 mm.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS with MC-20 teleconverter @ 749 mm, efov 1498 mm, f/12, 1/200, ISO-3200, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 2.5 metres

When we factor in the increase in resolution when using HHHR technology, the resulting images can be in macro photography territory depending on the focal length used.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS with MC-20 teleconverter @ 749 mm, efov 1498 mm, f/12, 1/200, ISO-3200, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 2.5 metres, 100% crop

Using the M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom with the MC-20 teleconverter and HHHR technology, can also be useful when subjects are a bit more distant.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS with MC-20 teleconverter @ 948 mm, efov 1896 mm, f/13, 1/160, ISO-2000, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 2.7 metres

The blossom above was 2.7 metres (~8.9 feet) away from my shooting position. Using the MC-20 doubled my focal length to 948 mm giving me an equivalent field-of-view of 1896 mm. This image was captured handheld at a shutter speed of 1/160.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS with MC-20 teleconverter @ 948 mm, efov 1896 mm, f/13, 1/160, ISO-2000, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 2.7 metres, 100% crop

The 100% crop above demonstrates that a reasonable amount of detail can be captured when using this approach with HHHR technology.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS with MC-20 teleconverter @ 482 mm, efov 964 mm, f/11, 1/200, ISO-1250, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 940 mm

Most photographers who purchase the M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom lens are likely not going to photograph many flowers with it. This test session could help demonstrate how this lens could be used in conjunction with HHHR technology to photograph small, stationary subjects like beetles, spiders and other critters.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS with MC-20 teleconverter @ 482 mm, efov 964 mm, f/11, 1/200, ISO-1250, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 940 mm, 100% crop

For whatever reason there are M4/3 naysayers, and OM/Olympus haters, out there. Quite predictably the M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom is criticized by online trolls who spread misinformation  and falsehoods about this lens and its capabilities. I suspect that very few of them, if any, have any real, hands-on experience using this camera gear. *rolls eyes and shrugs* That’s life.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/6-6.3 IS with MC-20 teleconverter @ 482 mm, efov 964 mm, f/11, -0,7 EV, 1/100, ISO-500, full frame capture, Handheld Hi Res, subject distance 890 mm

Technical Note

Photographs were captured handheld with the camera equipment and technology noted in the EXIF data. All images were created from RAW files using my standard process in post. This is the 1,382 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

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14 thoughts on “HHHR Flower Photography with 150-600”

  1. Hi Tom,
    That is quite a commentary on the performance of the Olympus PRO lenses.
    The only lenses I was ever confident to be able to use wide open were the Leica, Rodenstock APO HR Digaron and Schneider APO Digitar.
    Thanks,
    Mike

    1. Hi Michael,

      Whether you would feel comfortable using these lenses in the same manner that I do is a matter of personal expectation and choice.

      Tom

      1. Hi Tom,

        I will rent the camera and the 150-400mm lens. I am hoping this lens can work for nature and birding.
        Thanks again for your help,
        Michael

  2. The pictures are wonderful and educational. I’m going to take my 150-600 out tomorrow and try a few. My wife is redoing our “Covid Garden” (see Olympuspassion.com/2021/10/25/the-covid-garden) and wants all new pictures.

  3. Wonderful macro images Thomas!
    How large are you able to print these due to the small sensor size?
    I love the color and I am amazed that you can hand hold the camera.
    I do image stacking of flowers with a motorized stack rail and a Tochigi Nikkor 90mm f4 VF lens. Magnification is .50 to 3X.
    Thank you very much,
    Michael

    1. Hi Michael,

      I haven’t printed anything for a while now as my wife and I closed our poster business a few years ago. Our HP Z3200 could print on 24″ rolls and we never had any issues doing 24×32 prints from our Olympus files. Of course, a lot of this is dependent on the expectations that an individual photographer may have for their work, as well as viewing distances from a print. When we were printing from Nikon 1 files we had no issues with 12″ x 18″ prints using that camera format.

      The Sync-IS of the M.Zuiko 150-600 is excellent… as is the comfort of my E-M1X bodies. I’ve handheld this set-up fully extended to 600 mm (efov 1200 mm) and got consistently good handheld results at 1/20 and even 1/13 of a second. So… a big part of this is the Sync-IS performance of the gear. The Sync-IS is very reliable when using HHHR technology.

      This month marks 5 years since we made the switch to Olympus, and during this time I have not used a tripod or monopod. The IBIS and Sync-IS is such that I have no need to use a tripod or monopod.

      Tom

      1. Tom, Thank you for the technical information.
        I am amazed that you can hand hold at those speeds. I wonder if that would work for me. I am getting sick and tired of missing shots because I am using a tripod!
        Do you know where I could get some RAW files to test on my Canon PRO 4000.
        I would like to see how they look in 12×18 inch size and 24×32 inch size.
        The Olympus lenses seem to have great resolution, micro-detail and color correction. Some of my friends love their microscope objectives.

        Best,
        Mike

        1. Hi Michael,

          If my memory serves you may be able to get some RAW files from Petr Bambousek’s website. Here is a link to Petr’s First Impressions article about the M.Zuiko 150-600. If you scroll down towards the end I think Petr mentions that some RAW files are available for photographers to do some test processing.

          The build and optical quality of M.Zuiko lenses is excellent… especially the PRO series. I have the three f/2.8 PRO zoom lenses as well as the 45 mm f/1.2 PRO and have no hesitation to shoot all of them wide open when needed. I recently purchased the 90 mm f/3.5 PRO IS macro and also find it excellent thus far.

          Here is a link to a recent article about Sync-IS performance that may be of interest.

          Tom

  4. Excellent review and wonderful pictures! This inspires me to look at this lens in a completely new light. Thanks

  5. I think you may have mis-labeled your picture of the lens/camera at the start of the article, unless you are referring to the lens/camera you took the picture of the lens/camera 😀

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