New Nature Lens

After placing my order directly with OM Digital Solutions at the end of January, my new nature lens, the M.Zuiko150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS, arrived late this afternoon. Obviously I haven’t had time to put this new nature lens through its paces. I will be doing so during the weeks and months ahead, so you can expect to see numerous articles about my hands-on field testing.

M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS optical configuration with 13 special elements. These include 2 ED, 4 Super ED, 6 HR and 1 HD elements.

Why I Purchased the M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS

The fundamental reason why I decided to purchase the M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS lens was to dramatically increase my nature photography potential.

It is true that I already own the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS, and I have enjoyed using it immensely. The M.Zuiko 150-600 mm has two specific features/attributes that will allow me to create some specific types of images that I am challenged to do now with the M.Zuiko 100-400. These features/attributes are 50% more reach (i.e. 600 mm vs 400 mm) with no loss of light, and Sync-IS.

As regular readers know, I very often use my M.Zuiko 100-400 with the M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter for a lot of my bird/nature photography. This comes with a 1 EV stop penalty in lost light (i.e. f/6.3 to f/9) as well as a loss of 1 stop of in-body image stabilization (IBIS) performance with my E-M1X.

Using the M.Zuiko 150-600 mm will give me more reach than the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm with MC-14 teleconverter (i.e. 600 mm vs 560 mm, efov 1200 mm vs 1120 mm) without any loss of light. This will expand my shooting parameters by 2 EV stops in situations where I now use the MC-14 teleconverter with my M.Zuiko 100-400, and when I need to use a slower shutter speed.

I will not be selling my M.Zuiko 100-400 as this lens is ideal to be paired with the M.Zuiko 12-100 mm f/4 PRO for travel photography.

Sync-IS Image Stabilization

The M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS lens provides 6 EV stops of image stabilization on the wide end, and 5 EV stops of image stabilization on the telephoto end. When used with a compatible Olympus/OM camera the M.Zuiko 150-600 mm provides full Sync-IS. This increases the overall image stabilization to 7 EV stops on the wide end and 6 EV stops of image stabilization on the telephoto end.

The IS of the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom does not provide Sync-IS as it operates independently of a camera body. It is rated for up to 3 EV stops. I found that it tended to slow down focus acquisition. So, I’ve had it turned off for the past few years and relied solely on the IBIS performance of my E-M1X.

Weather sealing.

The M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS is certified to IPX1 standards, when used with an OM/Olympus camera body with IPX1 or IP53 weather sealing certification. This is a significant advantage when compared to lenses of this type from other manufacturers. If you want to learn more about the OM/Olympus dedication to weather sealing this link provides a lot of very interesting details.

More pixels on subject

At the end of the day those of us who enjoy nature and bird photography want to get as many pixels on our subjects as possible. Some folks may ask, “Why not just shoot with a high resolution full frame camera and crop your images?” For many people that would be a prudent decision, especially if other aspects of their photographic work requires the use of a full frame sensor camera.

We should all buy and use the best equipment for our specific needs. And, as often stated on this website, everything photographic comes with trade-offs. What works well for one photographer… may not be the best choice for another.

It is interesting to investigate the relative benefits of different photographic approaches. Let’s consider the Nikon Z9. This full frame camera has garnered significant praise in the photographic community amongst full frame users. Folks wanting a high density full frame sensor camera would be well served to consider the Z9.

Let’s say someone wanted to use the 45.7 MP full frame Z9 in DX-format to maximize their reach through the crop factor. The DX-format crop factor of 1.5X would give a 150-600 mm zoom lens an equivalent field-of-view of 225-900 mm. The Z9 image area in DX-format is 5,408 x 3600 pixels… or 19.5 MP.

By comparison my E-M1X has an image area of 5,184 x 3,888 pixels or 20.2 MP. So, there’s very little difference in the number of pixels on subject, when comparing the E-M1X and the Z9 when shot in DX-format. Due to the difference in crop factor (i.e. 1.5X vs 2X), using the M.Zuiko 150-600 lens on the E-M1X provides 33% more reach (i.e. efov of 900 mm vs. 1200 mm) than a Z9 shot in DX-format when using 150-600 mm zoom lenses,

Obviously there are numerous other factors that would be considered when a photographer is deciding which camera sensor format, brand and model best meets their needs.

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

‘Beast’ descriptor

Some online reviewers have called the M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS a ‘beast’ of a lens. The reality is that it weighs what one would expect a telephoto zoom lens of this type and focal length range to weigh.

Let’s have a look as some similar lenses. The following information was sourced from a few different websites and articles. In some cases it was difficult to establish exactly what was included in the weight, so these are approximate weights.

  • M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS: 2065 grams (~4.55 lbs.).
  • Canon 200-800 mm f/6.3-9: 2000 grams (~4.41 lbs.)
  • Nikon 180-600 mm f/5.6-6.3 without tripod collar: 1955 grams (~4.31 lbs.)
  • Sigma Sport 150-600 mm f/5-6/3 for Sony: 2100 grams (~4.63 lbs.)
  • Tamron 150-600 mm f/5-6.3: 2010 grams (~4.43 lbs.)

I suppose if a photographer has never used any of these long telephoto lenses, even with APS-C bodies, then the weights of these super telephoto lenses may be ‘beast’ like in relative terms.

Photographers who may be considering making the switch from full frame to OM Systems M4/3 (I’ve met a number of folks who have done so over the past 18 months) would find that the weight of the M.Zuiko 150-600 mm is comparable to other lenses of this type that they’ve used in the past.

On a personal basis I have shot with a Nikon D800/Tamron 150-600 combination in the past. That set-up weighed about 2950 grams (~6.5 lbs.). I could shoot with this combination for about 3 hours or so before I’d notice some arm fatigue. It’s been over 8 years since I shot with that much camera weight.

My new set-up comprised of an E-M1X with M.Zuiko 150-600 mm, weighs about 3062 grams (~6.75 lbs.). So, it will be interesting to see how that weight feels using a Cotton Carrier G3 Harness along with the supportive and comfortable grip of my E-M1X when I’m out in the field for extended periods.

My first impression handholding the M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS mounted on my E-M1X is that it doesn’t feel nearly as heavy as I thought it would. Handling the lens at full extension will take some time to develop my technique.

There’s no doubt in my mind that my default setting for birds-in-flight will be the “S” setting for the zoom ring. It is buttery smooth, extremely quick, and feels very natural to use a push/pull motion to adjust focal length. Even given the size and weight of the M.Zuiko 150-600 mm, I have a feeling that the handling of this lens when shooting handheld will be excellent… and likely better than the M.Zuiko 100-400.

My current set up of the E-M1X with M.Zuiko 100-400 mm with lens collar weighs about 2400 grams (~5.3 lbs.). I have regularly shot with this combination for 6-8 hours without any fatigue. My initial impression is that I don’t think I’ll have any significant issues shooting handheld with the M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3. We’ll be putting that to the test in the very near future!

Assess your needs

What something can do… is far more important than what it is. You may be thinking about the M.Zuiko 150-600 mm for what it is…  a super telephoto zoom lens. It is more productive to assess your needs in terms of what the lens can potentially do for your photography. Remember that some changes to your shooting style may be required.

If you are unable to identify a number of specific and ongoing image opportunities that you’ve missed in the past… where the M.Zuiko 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 IS could have helped you capture those moments… then you likely don’t really need this lens.

Technical Note

This is the 1,362 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

How you can help keep this site advertising free

My intent is to keep this photography blog advertising free. If you enjoyed this article and/or my website and would like to support my work, you can purchase an eBook, or make a donation through PayPal. Both are most appreciated.

Sometimes all we need as photographers is a bit of inspiration. We hope you can find some of that inside Finding Visual Expression II.

Finding Visual Expression II is available for download for an investment of $11.99 CDN. The best viewing experience of this eBook will be at 100% using Adobe Acrobat Reader.

You may be interested in all of the 30 concepts covered in both of these related eBooks. If so, you may want to also consider Finding Visual Expression.

Finding Visual Expression is available for download for an investment of $11.99 Cdn. The best viewing experience of this eBook will be at 100% using Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Our other eBooks include Images of Ireland, New Zealand Tip-to-Tip, Nikon 1: The Little Camera That Could, Desert & Mountain Memories, Images of Greece, Nova Scotia Photography Tour, and a business leadership parable… Balancing Eggs.

If you click on the Donate button below you will find that there are three donation options: $7.50, $10.00 and $20.00. All are in Canadian funds. Plus, you can choose a different amount if you want. You can also increase your donation amount to help offset our costs associated with accepting your donation through PayPal. An ongoing, monthly contribution to support our work can also be done through the PayPal Donate button below.

You can make your donation through your PayPal account, or by using a number of credit card options.

Word of mouth is the best form of endorsement. If you like our website please let your friends and associates know about our work. Linking to this site or to specific articles is allowed with proper acknowledgement. Reproducing articles, or any of the images contained in them, on another website or in any social media posting is a Copyright infringement.

Article is Copyright 2024 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication or adaptation of any kind is allowed without written consent. If you see this article reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use. Posting comments on offending websites and calling out individuals who steal intellectual property is always appreciated!

10 thoughts on “New Nature Lens”

  1. Hi Tom,

    I’ll be curious about your results if you test this lens with the MC-14 teleconverter at 840mm f/9. Looking at test shots, there appears to be some diminishment in micro-contrast with this scenario, and I’m wondering if it offers any advantage over using the lens at 600 f/6.3 and cropping the image.

    I’m thinking of renting the lens and testing it on a distant kestrel that shows up in a nearby park in the evenings.

    1. Hi Steve,

      I have a good selection of test scenarios planned. I only received my copy of the M.Zuiko 150-600 late Wednesday afternoon this week. I was out for a little over 5 hours, in two different locations on Thursday. Today I spent over 5 hours shooting handheld at a local birding spot. I spent about 3 hours in the morning… grabbed lunch… then went back for another couple of hours. So far I’m very impressed with this lens and I’m working on my first field test article this evening. I’m not sure if I will be able to post it today, but it certainly should be finished sometime this weekend.

      In my mind, the biggest advantage of using a lens like this one isn’t to photograph subjects at extreme distances. Atmospheric particulates and heat haze often make those kinds of images unusable. I do have an article planned (and I’ve done some field work on it already) that illustrates the compositional latitude that a lens like the OM 150-600 brings to a photographer. It is quite incredible.


  2. Hi Thomas.
    Considering the equivalent field of view on FF is 300-1200mm, I wonder what lenses are available and what their weight and cost would be? Cheers.

    1. Hi Tony,

      I haven’t kept abreast of full frame equipment for many years so I’m not the best resource for this type of information.

      The website shows a 180-600 mm f/5.6-6.3 zoom which weighs 1955 grams (without tripod collar) and is priced at $2300 CDN. There is also an 800 mm f/5.6 listed at a cost of $20,000 CDN and weighing 4590 grams (~9.9 lbs.). Nikon also has a 600 mm f/4 listed for $16.000 CDN and weighing 3810 grams (~8.4 lbs). website shows a 200-800 f/6.3-9 at $%2,600 CDN and weighing 2050 grams (~4.5 lbs.). When used with an APS-C body this lens would have an efov of 320-1280 mm. also shows an 800 mm f/5.6 prime weighing 3140 grams (~6.9 lbs.). There is also a 1200 mm f/8 prime weighing 3340 grams (~7.4 lbs.). There is no pricing shown on as the lenses are out-of-stock. The B&H website has the 1200 mm listed for $20.000 USD and the 800 mm listed for $17,000 USD. Canon also has an 800 mm f/11 prime costing $1400 CDN and weighing 1260 grams (~2.77 lbs).

      I have no idea what other manufacturers may offer.


  3. Hey Thomas

    Knowing closest focus distance at 150mm is 56cm…
    I’m really interested what are the min.focus distances (and working distances & their respective magnifications) at 200mm, 250mm, 300mm, 350mm…
    Or, how & at what FLs, the min.focus distances change vs magnification…

    1. Hi Pastyrs,

      I will be doing a wide range of in-field testing with the M.Zuiko 150-600. I will be looking at the minimum focusing distances at various focal lengths. During my first session with this lens this morning I discovered that being able to focus at 56 cm on the wide end of the zoom comes in very handy indeed. I wasn’t much bothered by the 2.8 metre minimum focusing distance on the telephoto end. Using the “S” setting for the zoom ring makes the handling of this lens superb in the field.


  4. Congratulations on the new lens! I picked mine up at the end of February and have been out a shooting with it 4 times – 2 short excursions and also some “backyard birding,” I’m quite enjoying the lens. I too had the 100-400 prior to this lens and really liked it, however it was part of the gear I traded in towards the 150-600. I think you will be very pleased with this new lens. I know I am.

    1. Hi Jim,

      Thanks for sharing your initial experiences with the M.Zuiko 150-600. I was out this morning photographing captive birds at Bird Kingdom so I could do a number of tests with the new lens. This lens is simply amazing. I was able to capture hundreds of handheld images this morning that would not have been able to get with the M.Zuiko 100-400. Any fears that I had about the size and weight of this lens were dispelled this morning. I wore my Cotton Carrier G3 but found that using this lens with my E-M1X was so comfortable that I didn’t need to rest my arms during my three hour shoot this morning.

      After I finish lunch, I’ll be heading out to do my first bird-in-flight photography with it.


  5. Congratulations, Thomas! No doubt the lens will meet your expectations.
    Looking forward to your report.

    1. Hi Daniel,

      My wife and I had a lot of discussions about this potential purchase. She encouraged the investment in this lens. I’ll be out in the field with it for the first time tomorrow… should be a lot of fun!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *