Pro Zoom Cost and Weight

This short article provides some pro zoom cost and weight comparisons for M.Zuiko (OMDS/Olympus), Sony, Canon and Nikon equipment. Some photographers want to reduce the weight of their kit, but still desire pro quality lens performance. Having some relevant cost and weight comparison information can be helpful.

As I’ve often stated in articles on this website, every photographer should buy and use whatever camera format and brand that best meets their needs. The intent of this article is simply to provide some cost and weight comparison information. It is not intended to suggest that anyone change their current camera gear.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge. Photographs have been added to serve as visual breaks.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 @ 7 mm, efov 14 mm, f/4, 5 seconds handheld, ISO-200

Many photographers consider constant aperture f/2.8 zoom lenses to be ‘pro’ glass. The three most common approximate focal lengths of these constant aperture ‘pro’ zoom lenses are 14-24 mm, 24-70 mm and 70-200 mm, in full frame terms. First, let’s have a look at three different full frame set-ups.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 115 mm, efov 230 mm, f/2.8, 1 second handheld, ISO-200

Prices and weights noted are from the B&H website. All prices are suggested list prices in US dollars rounded to the nearest hundred. As regular readers will know, I’m certainly not a ‘gear head’… but I’ve done my best to identify similar ‘pro’ zoom lenses with each manufacturer noted.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-3200

Canon RF Pro Zoom Lenses

  • 15-35 mm f/2.8: $2,300, 840 grams (1.85 lb)
  • 24-70 mm f/2.8, $2,300, 900 grams (1.98 lb)
  • 70-200 mm f/2.8 $2,700, 1070 grams (2.35 lb)
  • Total cost and weight: $7,300, 2810 grams (6.18 lb)
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 2X teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/25, ISO-4000, subject distance 2.4 metres

Nikon Z  Pro Zoom Lenses

  • 14-24mm f/2.8, $2,400, 650 grams (1.4 lb)
  • 24-70 mm f/2.8, $2,300, 805 grams (1.77 lb)
  • 70-200 mm f/2.8, $2,600, 1360 grams (2.99 lb)
  • Total cost and weight: $7,300, 2815 grams (6.16 lb)
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/6.3, 1/60, ISO-200, subject distance 1.1 metres

Sony FE Pro Zoom Lenses

  • 12-24 mm f/2.8 GM, $3,000, 847 grams (1.86 lb)
  • 24-70 mm f/2.8 GM, $2,200, 886 grams (1.95 lb)
  • 70-200 mm f/2.8 GM OSS, $2,600, 1480 grams (3.26 lb)
  • Total cost and weight: $7,800, 3213 grams (7.07 lb)
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 40 mm, efov 80 mm, f/2.8, 1/6, ISO-1250, subject distance 1.1 metres

M.Zuiko (OMDS/Olympus) Pro Zoom Lenses

  • 7-14 mm f/2.8, efov 14-28 mm, $1,400, 534 grams (1.17 lb)
  • 12-40 mm f/2.8, efov 24-80 mm, $1,000, 382 grams (0.84 lb)
  • 40-150 mm f/2.8, efov 80-300 mm, $1,500, 760 grams (1.67 lb) without collar
  • Total cost and weight: $3,900, 1676 grams (3.68 lb)

It should be noted that the M.Zuiko f/2.8 40-150 PRO zoom has an equivalent field-of-view of 80-300 mm. This is considerably longer reach than the full frame lenses noted for other manufacturers. Adding a 300 mm f/2.8 prime lens, or an f/2.8 constant aperture zoom that extends to 300 mm would add significant cost and weight to the full frame set-ups.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/400, ISO-400, Kenko 10 mm and 16 mm extension tubes used

Camera Bodies

There are a wide range of camera bodies that photographers could compare in terms of their cost and weight. From what I could see the weight differences are not significant (i.e. 100 grams or less) when looking at single gripped cameras compared to an OM-D E-M1 Mark III. Obviously prices can vary quite a bit based on specifications. Since camera choice is intensely personal I did not compare a wide range of different bodies.

I did compare double gripped, pro camera bodies from Canon, Nikon and OM-D (Olympus). All weights are body only. E-M1X body only weight from manufacturer website.

  • Canon 1 DX Mark III, $6,500, 1,250 grams (2.75 lb)
  • Nikon D6, $6,500, 1,270 grams (2.79 lb)
  • E-M1X, $3,000, 849 grams (1.87 lb)
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600, ISO-2500, cropped to 4923 pixels on the width, subject distance 6 metres, Bird Detection AI

Summary

There are a wide range of factors that need to be considered when choosing camera equipment. For many photographers the cost of lenses, especially when considering ‘pro’ zoom lenses, will surpass the investment made in a camera body. Total system cost and weight, as well as desired photographic performance all need to be taken into consideration.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. This is the 1,027th article published on this website since its original inception.

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8 thoughts on “Pro Zoom Cost and Weight”

  1. Hi Thomas,
    It’s an interesting selection of gear that you’ve made for your comparisons. Whilst I generally agree with your sentiment, particularly where cost is concerned. I think weight of equipment, performance and image quality is another matter.
    I have just semi switched to Canon from Olympus for bird photography because the R6 + RF 100-500mm lens is similar in weight to the EM1X + 300mm f/4. Ok cost is substantially more (If you ignore the Oly 150-400mm) but auto focus and image quality is better. However, there are cheaper lenses in the Canon line-up (not RF) that can be used with the R body cameras with an adapter.
    I still use my EM1 MkIII and will not be getting rid of it any day soon, it’s a great camera but not as good as the R6 or R5 for wildlife photography in my view. Also, I believe all manufactures are trying to make systems lighter these days especially since it’s been a major selling point of MFT systems.

    1. Hi Robert,

      Thanks for sharing your experiences and your decision to switch your birding kit. As I mentioned in the article, the intent was to simply compare cost and weight of f/2.8 pro zoom lenses. I chose lenses that were the latest mirrorless lenses that generally covered the 14 mm to 200 mm full frame focal length range… as these lenses would have the broadest appeal and can be used in a wide variety of photographic applications.

      I think it is great that you have found camera gear that meets your birding needs! Each of us has our specific needs and the key is for photographers to find what works best for them.

      Tom

    2. I suspect the photographer’s skill and understanding of the subject are much more important than the camera being used. I know from experience that buying better cameras and lenses has had only a minor effect on the quality of my images. I have wasted a lot of money buying “better equipment”. In recognition of that depressing and expensive experience, any time someone suggests one camera system is better than another, I feel the need to think about it critically.

      I accept that the image quality produced by the Canon R6 is better than the image quality produced by the Olympus EM1X or EM1 MkIII–when the image is displayed in some ways. But the image quality produced by a Phase One XT camera with the IQ4 back is even better. The Olympus EM1X produces better image quality than the best available cameras a decade or so ago. If you post your images on the internet or print on a printer that costs less than $3000, any recently released camera will probably provide sufficient image quality. I find it difficult to tell what camera and lens were used when looking at or comparing images.

      I also accept that the R6 may have a better AF system than the M1X. When is autofocus speed/accuracy important? Photographing subjects that rapidly move toward or away require fast autofocus speeds. (However, having a bird/animal rear end in perfect focus is of dubious value.) Panning skill is more important than autofocus performance for birds flying or animals running across your field of view. I think Tom’s photos demonstrate that the M1X has sufficient AF performance to capture birds in flight–which is one of the most demanding situations for a camera’s AF system. I suspect he gets a relatively high percentage of his images in focus.

    1. Hi Jerry,

      When I contemplated moving to the Olympus system in 2019 the weight and cost of the f/2.8 PRO zoom lenses was one of my considerations. I have absolutely no regrets with my decision.

      Tom

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