M.Zuiko 150-600 Decision

Some of us who use M4/3 camera gear may be facing an M.Zuiko 150-600 decision as we ponder whether purchasing this lens makes sense for us… or not.  This article discusses a number of issues that may arise during an M.Zuiko 150-600 decision process.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge. Photographs have been added to provide visual relief.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, 1/1600, f/6.3, ISO-500, cropped to 4031 pixels on the width, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, subject distance 17.1 metres


There’s no sense beating around the bush. The M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS is not an inexpensive lens. The list price of the M.Zuiko 150-600 mm in Canada is $3,600. That puts it at the high end of the price range of the M.Zuiko birding/nature photography lens options. Other high end lenses include the M.Zuiko 150-400 mm f/4.5 TC1.25X IS PRO at $10,000, and the M.Zuiko 300 mm f/4 IS PRO at $3,800.

Other M.Zuiko lenses that folks consider for birding/nature include the 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS ($2,200 CDN), the 40-150 f/2.8 PRO ($2,000 CDN) with MC-20 teleconverter ($569 CDN), and the M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II ($750 CDN).

Some folks would add some birding/nature lens options from other manufacturers to those listed in this article. Given the importance of computational photography technology now… and in the future… I personally would only buy M.Zuiko branded lenses that would have a high likelihood of compatibility with these technologies. As a result, I have only included M.Zuiko branded lenses in this article.

Unless we live in a vacuum, or are independently wealthy, cost is always going to be a factor when purchasing new camera gear, and in this case making an M.Zuiko 150-600 decision.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 285 mm, efov 570 mm, 1/2500, f/6.3, -0.7 EV, ISO-250, cropped to 3400 pixels on the width, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, subject distance 28.1 metres

Size and Weight.

There is no getting around the fact that the M.Zuiko 150-600 zoom is a beast of a lens in M4/3 terms. At 2065 grams (~4.54 lbs.) it is the heaviest M.Zuiko birding/nature lens option currently available.

Here’s how it compares to the other birding/nature lens options previously mentioned (* indicates estimated weight based on home digital scale):

  • M.Zuiko 150-400 f/4.5 TC1.25X IS PRO: 1875 grams (~4.125 lbs.)
  • M.Zuiko 300 mm f/4 PRO IS: 1270 grams (~2.79 lbs.) without tripod adapter, 1475 grams (~3.25 lbs.) with tripod adapter
  • M.Zuiko 100-400 f/5-6.3 IS: 1120 grams (2.464 lbs.) not counting tripod adapter, 1320 grams* (~2.9 lbs.) with tripod adapter
  • M.Zuiko 40-150 f/2.8 PRO: 760 grams (~1.67 lbs.) without tripod adapter, 880 grams (~1.94 lbs.) with tripod adapter. Plus the weight of the MC-20 teleconverter at about 146 grams* (~5.15 ounces)
  • M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II: 423 grams (~0.93 lbs.)
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 227 mm, efov 454 mm, 1/2500, f/6.3, ISO-640, cropped to 4143 pixels on the width, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, subject distance 19.1 metres

The differences in sizes are as follows:

  • M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS: 109.4 x 264.4 mm (~4.3 x 10.4 inches)
  • M.Zuiko 150-400 mm f/4.5 TC1.25X IS PRO: 115.8 x 314.3 mm (~4.56 x 12.37 inches)
  • M.Zuiko 300 mm f/4 PRO IS: 92.5 x 227 mm (~3.64 x 8.94 inches)
  • M.Zuiko 100-400 mm, f/5-6.3 IS: 86.4 x 205.7 mm (~3.4 x 8.1 inches)
  • M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 PRO: 79.4 x 160 mm (~3.13 x 6.3 inches)
  • M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 II: 69 x 116.5 mm (~2.72 x 4.6 inches)

For photographers who prefer to use large telephoto lenses tripod-assisted, the size and weight of the M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS will likely not be an issue. Other folks (like me) who shoot handheld virtually all of the time will need to consider size and weight in their M.Zuiko 150-600 decision.

Back in my full frame days I used a Tamron 150-600 mm with a Nikon D800. That set-up weighed about 2950 grams (~6.5 lbs.) I could shoot non-stop for about three hours with that set-up before arm fatigue would set in. That was almost nine years ago. I left full frame back in July 2015 and shot exclusively with Nikon 1 gear for the next four years, before moving to Olympus (now OM System).

If I was to consider purchasing an M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom  for use with an E-M1X today, my set-up would weigh 3062 grams (~6.74 lbs.). I would definitely need to use a camera carry support to help lessen arm fatigue when not actively shooting. Something like the Cotton Carrier G3 Harness for 2 Cameras would need to be added to my birding kit.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, 1/1600, f/6.3, ISO-800, full frame capture, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, subject distance 9 metres

Thinking past cost, size and weight.

As folks contemplate their M.Zuiko 150-600 decision… if they can accept the realities of cost, size and weight… some other considerations come into play. These include image quality, image stabilization performance, field flexibility, and handling. Let’s look at each one of these issues.

Image quality.

It is difficult to assess image quality on a new lens. What we can do is look at the construction of other lenses in the brand family and the image quality that those lenses produce. Let’s look at the construction of three M.Zuiko birding/nature lenses and compare them to the M.Zuiko 150-600.

  • M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 PRO IS. Being a prime, this lens has the simplest construction consisting of 17 elements in 10 groups. There are 7 special elements in this lens: 3 Super ED, 1 E-HR, and 3 HR.
  • M.Zuiko 100-400mm  f/5-6.3 IS. This is currently my main birding lens. It consists of 21 elements in 15 groups. There are 8 special elements including 4 ED, 2 HR, and 2 Super HR.
  • M.Zuiko ED 150-400mm f/4.5, TC1.25X IS PRO. This lens would be viewed by most people as the highest quality, professional telephoto zoom that OM System has in its line-up. Its construction consists of 28 elements in 18 groups. These include 2 ED, 4 Super ED, 1 Aspherical ED element, and 2 HR elements.
  • M.Zuiko 150-600mm f/5-6.3 IS. This lens has 25 elements in 15 groups, including 2 ED, 4 Super ED, 6 HR and 1 HD element.

If we quickly review the construction details we can see that the M.Zuiko 150-600 is more complex and has more special elements than the M.Zuiko 100-400. (i.e. 13 vs. 8).  This leads me to believe that the optical quality of the M.Zuiko 150-600 should be somewhat better than that of the M.Zuiko 100-400.

In his initial review of the M.Zuiko 150-600 zoom, Andy Rouse a renowned, professional wildlife photographer was very positive about the image quality of the 150-600 and the lens overall. So… I think the image quality from this lens will be of very high quality.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @269 mm, efov 538 mm, 1/1600, f/6.3, ISO-250, cropped to 4556 pixels on the width, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, subject distance 31.4 metres

Sync IS.

The M.Zuiko 150-600mm f/5-6.3 has full Sync-IS. This is a significant improvement over the 100-400 as the IS on that lens doesn’t have 5 axis sync. I’ve found the in-lens stabilization on the 100-400 to be inconsistent to use. As a result I’ve had the IS on that lens turned off for the past couple of years and just rely on the IBIS of my E-M1X.

The M.Zuiko 150-600 is rated for up to 7 EV steps of 5-axis Sync IS on the wide angle end, and up to 6 EV steps of Sync IS on the telephoto end. In theory this means that a photographer shooting at 600 mm (efov 1200 mm) should be able to effectively handhold the lens at around 1/20 of a second.

Field flexibility.

Obviously an individual photographer’s technique comes into play when shooting a long telephoto lens at relatively slow shutter speeds. Having Sync IS provides a lot more in-field flexibility with the M.Zuiko 150-600.

Being able to shoot at 600mm (efov 1200mm) at f/6.3 also broadens the in-field flexibility of this lens. I regularly use my M.Zuiko 100-400mm with the MC-14 teleconverter. This gives me a focal length of 560mm (efov 1120mm) at an aperture of f/9. The new M.Zuiko 150-600 delivers up to 600mm (efov 1200mm) of reach with an extra stop of light (i.e. f/6.3 vs f/9).

For comparison purposes we could consider the M.Zuiko 300mm PRO IS prime lens used with the MC-20 teleconverter. This would provide a focal length of 600mm (efov 1200mm) at f/8. The M.Zuiko 150-600mm f/5-6.3 gives a photographer 600mm (efov 1200mm) at f/6.3 without the need for a teleconverter.

It is also interesting to consider that the M.Zuiko 150-400mm f/4.5 TC1.25X PRO IS when shot using its built-in 1.25 teleconverter delivers a reach of 500 mm (efov 1000mm) at an aperture of f/5.6. The M.Zuiko 150-600mm f/5-6.3 fully extended provides 600 mm of reach (efov 1200mm) at f/6.3. This is 100mm (efov 200mm) longer with only a 1/3 stop loss of light.

Using the MC-14 on the M.Zuiko 150-600mm would increase the focal length to 840mm (efov 1680mm) at f/9. This extends the in-field shooting parameters by 50% compared to my current ‘go to’ birding lens, the 100-400mm with MC-14 attached. There is no doubt in my mind that the additional focal length will dramatically increase the number of opportunities in the field.

For folks who want to push things to the extreme 🙂 with the M.Zuiko 150-600 they can use the MC-20 for a focal length of 1200mm (efov 2400mm). To be completely ridiculous a photographer could also engage the Digital Teleconverter for a 2400mm focal length (4800mm efov). I doubt that this would prove practical… but it is possible to do.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, 1/1600, f/6.3, ISO-400, cropped to 4595 pixels on the width, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, subject distance 27.8 metres


Current users of M.Zuiko telephoto lenses like the 100-400mm should find the handling of the new 150-600 to be even better in terms of on-lens switches.

A very interesting feature is the adjustable resistance setting for the zoom ring. L locks the focal length for transport. The T setting provides the normal amount of tension. The S setting is for low resistance which allows a photographer to quickly push/pull the front of the lens to adjust focal length. This should prove excellent to quickly adjust focal length when photographing birds-in-flight. Assuming that the action is very smooth, this could be beneficial when shooting video.

M.Zuiko 150-600 decision.

The new M.Zuiko 150-600mm f/5-6.3 IS is a lens that will appeal to a select number of people with a serious interest in birding and nature photography.  There are many important issues to consider before making an M.Zuiko 150-600 decision. Hopefully some of the information in this article has been helpful. You can also look at an earlier article that has links to some relevant YouTube videos.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 244 mm, efov 488 mm, 1/2500, f/6.3, ISO-640, cropped to 4232 pixels on the width, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, subject distance 29.4 metres

Technical Note

Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW  files using my standard process. A combination of Pro Capture L and Bird Detection AI was used for all of the images featured in this article. This is the 1,354 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

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10 thoughts on “M.Zuiko 150-600 Decision”

  1. Thomas, I speak as a 73 year old amateur who enjoys bird photography but have a few medical issues. Until recently, I used the OM1 with the 300 f4 (I have the 1.4tc but didn’t like the results with my copy). I did used to use a Nikon D750 plus Sigma Sport 150-600 but found a tripod to be essential, even ten years ago when I was fit. Olympus IBIS enabled me to restart my hobby after heart surgery and shake-inducing drugs. I am now in the fortunate position to use a 150-400TC, having had a small windfall from my house sale. The 300 was nothing short of brilliant for humming birds in Ecuador last year. However, I now only use the large zoom. I have severe osteo arthritis in my spine and shoulders and cannot find a comfortable strap. However, the tripod handle is great for an hour or two. Results match the 300 but with the added advantage of being a zoom. For small birds I often switch in the TC and leave it there. DXO means that I don’t worry about ISO – I even got a shot at 50,000+ which was great for ID, but not as a competition winner. Great review, thanks. Bob Owen

    1. Hi Bob,

      Thank you for your comment and sharing part of your photographic journey with us. It is inspirational to read how you have been able to continue your enjoyment of bird photography in spite of the physical challenges you face.


  2. I am glad i read this article , i use the 300mm f4 sometimes with the 1.4 converter.
    I was initially keen on the new lens but the weight is a big turn off for me so i will stick with my current lens set up.
    I also believe and have found in practise that working out ways to get closer to wildlife rather than getting ever longer reach is often the best policy.

    1. Hi Stephen,

      I’m glad that the article was helpful for you. My rationale for comparing the 150-600 to other M.Zuiko lenses was to give readers some points of reference to help them with their decision making. Each of us has our own photographic style and shooting preferences. I’ve found that folks who like to use blinds etc. can often get in a lot closer to birds so they don’t necessarily need as much reach as photographers that focus on birds-in-flight.


  3. Thanks for another thoughtful article, Thomas. This one was particularly insightful because you compare other Zuiko lenses and it is written without the hype seen and heard in the many of the other articles and YouTube videos. Thank you for you careful, considered and non-judgmental style of reporting.

    1. Hi Terry,

      Thank you for your feedback on the article. I’m glad that you found that the information was communicated in a considered and non-judgmental way… that was my intention.


  4. Hi,
    When you mention regarding additional camera carrying support, would not a Peak Design strap which allows the camera+lens to hang besides the body suffice? I use that with my 300 and OM1 setup currently.

    1. Hi Manoj,

      Every photographer has their own preferences when it comes to camera carrying supports. Some folks like to have their camera/lens hanging down one side as you describe. I do not find this comfortable as I find it causes me some shoulder and neck pain. I much prefer to have the weight of my kit centered between my shoulders.

      We also need to consider that your OM-1/300mm f/4 kit weighs much less than an E-M1X/150-600 set-up would weigh. The difference would be between 1076 grams (~2.27 lbs.) and 1281 grams (~2.82 lbs.) depending on whether you had the tripod adapter on your lens.


  5. H MY GOSH Thomas. The completely unknowing out there are right on cue, especially casey from cameraconspiracies … he was talking out his …
    I sent you an email on my replies. All your comments are spot on.
    Now and then I like to stir the pot so to speak, henceforth my comments on the naysayers sites.

    All the best,


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