What was and now is,
Since 2016, the red-badged Fujinon XF100-400mm f4.5 to f5.6 has been my telephoto of choice when I was still photographing birds (not that we had a lot of choices). Without the teleconverters (tc for short), it provided a 150mm to 600mm reach in a relatively compact package for my X-T3 and X-Pro3.
However, despite the autofocus reliability of Fujifilm systems back then, the compactness and the near excellent image quality ensured the XF100-400mm performed admirably and provided the shots that kept me enamored.
But of course, no one can stop progress, and 6 years after its release, Fujifilm has now in 2022 announced the XF150-600mm f5.6-8 R LM WR OIS (R = aperture ring, LM = linear motor focusing, WR and OIS = you should know) and this review today is a hands-on sharing of it on the Fujifilm X-T4.
Fujifilm’s new Fujinon XF150-600mm f5.6-8 R LM WR OIS provides new ‘ground’ for the telephoto photographer, providing a 914mm focal length out of the box and hitting 1828mm if one reaches for the teleconverters. With the X-H2S’s 5th generation stacked sensor, this will be the answer for many wildlife and sports photographers needing the speed, reliability, and reach many other professional systems have provided.
One might balk at the f8 aperture at the telephoto end; however, in practice, it is not likely to be an issue with the 5-stop OIS. Not mentioned often enough is the tripod foot is Arca-swiss compatible, making this easy to work with current tripod setups.
While not a piece of optics for everyone, those in need of one will easily find this a worthy addition to their photography repertoire.
Telephoto users wanted reach beyond 600mm, a fast maximum aperture in a compact and affordable package. Possible?well, frankly we do know the answer to this question.
Announced together with the next-generation Fujifilm X-H2S camera body, the XF150-600mm is a ‘generation 2’ lens like the XF23mm f1.4 WR, XF33 f1.4, and XF18mm f1.4 (my reviews as linked on the names) family, where the lenses have been updated in resolving power (for the 40MP sensor coming end 2022), weather resistance and of course, auto-focusing performance.
A quick specifications list goes by (Full specifications at Fujifilm’s page here if you need them)
- 229-914mm equivalent focal length, expandable to up to 1,828mm via teleconverters
- Weighs 1605 grams (without the lens hood, lens cap, and tripod collar foot)
- 314mm long and 99mm diameter, with an 82mm filter size
- 24 elements in 17 groups (yeap, it’s pretty complex) with four Super ED and three ED elements for reduced chromatic aberrations and increased clarity
- Rounded nine-blade diaphragm for smoother bokeh
- Image stabilization offerings up to five stops of compensation
- Linear motor system for fast and quiet focusing suitable for photos and video
- On-lens controls for major focus settings
- Weather sealed, with fluorine coating for front element protection
- Rotating tripod collar, Arca-swiss compatible.
- Lens hood with ‘window-access’ for easy filter adjustment
- Minimum focusing distance of 2.40m
The XF150-600mm is built from magnesium alloy and very sturdy, exhibiting little flex (basically none), and is a lens I know I can lug around without having to baby it.
In fact, a pair of strap lugs have also been built directly onto the lens itself, simply to reduce stress on the camera mount while moving the set-up around. When using it, I mount my Peak-design anchors directly onto the lugs.
Hands-on: expanding the versatility and portability of the X-system.
Disclaimer: I used the XF150-600mm with the X-T4 (ver 1.40) for this review. There was a debacle with DPreview’s review as they had done their sample shots of the XF150-600mm on an X-T4, despite apparently being advised by Fujifilm not to. I would have loved to test the XF150-600mm on the X-H2S but while kindly loaning me the XF150-600mm for review, my local Fujifilm outfit did not have the X-H2S available.
Please read here for Fujirumour’s round-up on this matter.
A half glass full perspective is reviewing the XF150-600mm on the X-T4 gives the needed perspective to those skipping the X-H2S and holding out for the X-H2R or X-T5 with their X-T4 for a while.
The first key improvement I love about the lens is the internal zooming design; no more extra length protruding when I go to maximum focal length. Users of telephoto lenses will certainly appreciate the compactness of the XF150-600mm compared to other lenses we have used over the years.
With the XF150-600mm’s weight and size, it is no longer an issue of walking/running around with the set-up instead of parking oneself at a designated spot to wait for ‘the moment. This makes a real difference for sports photographers who may be running around point to point.
The on-lens controls are plenty, including AF-ON, AF-L, and a focus range selector, and should be sufficient for users who appreciate the convenience. A SET button can program the lens to stay at a pre-defined focus distance.
There are choices between the 1.4x or 2x TC, at the maximum cost of 2 stops with the 2x TC, giving us f16 at 1828mm.
At focal lengths up to 914mm at f8 (or maxed at 1828mm with the 2x TC), stabilization plays a very important part in managing ISO values for image quality. My upper ISO ceiling for Fujifilm’s APSC-sized sensors is generally ISO3200, and I only go higher when desperate, and in this sense, I am grateful for the 5 stops OIS the XF150-600mm brings to the table.
Fujifilm claims a 5-stop stabilisation at the telephoto end, that means possible sharp images at around 1/15s.
Noticeable is that there is lesser focus breathing compared to the XF100-400mm. With a minimum focus of 2.40m, the XF150-600mm is definitely not designed for your everyday walkaround moments or shots.
The XF150-600mm f5.6-8 R LM OIS WR creates new ground for users of the Fujifilm X-mount system, and Fujifilm is keen to let us know that the X-system with its X-H2S’s Gen 5 X-Trans stacked sensor is now ready to be taken seriously by wildlife and sports photographers, not just focal length wise but also focusing reliability.
The lens itself is as billed, an extremely well-built super-telephoto lens that is well thought through and will serve any photographer well. The price of USD1999, a whisker short of USD2000, is reasonable and on par with its full-frame counterparts.
Some might ask why f8 at the telephoto end and not slightly brighter at, say, f6.4; I will say that this would have added to the cost and size, and Fujifilm probably decided this to be the best balance between performance, size, and cost – their answer to my very first question at the beginning of the article.
Using the 2x converter comes at the cost of 2 full stops, making it f16 at 1828mm, but to be completely honest, how many of us actually go beyond 900mm when using our systems to start with? Of course, I am sure some will argue that if there is 3000mm, they will use it, but there is a line between being practical and not.
This is a piece of Fujinon optics designed for the user who needs the range, with Fujifilm working to balance the factors that matter to us as far as possible. For those in the range of super-telephoto lenses, I will confidently say that the XF150-600mm f5.6-8 R LM OIS WR will be an excellent addition to your kit, making a positive difference.
Thank you for reading.
- The XF150-600mm f5.6-8 R LM OIS WR is a pre-production unit loaned from Fujifilm Asia Pacific and returned at the end of the review.
- The review was done on a Fujifilm X-T4 running firmware ver 1.40. The X-H2S would have been most apt to show the full capabilities of the lens, but I guess in this sense, the review will be useful to those already X-T4 owners keen on the lens.
- I am confident that Fujifilm will be releasing new firmware updates for better performance between the lens OIS and the in-camera IBIS of X-T4.
- All images shared were photographed by me in RAW and post-processed to my preferences in LR Classic CC.
- I take pride in not being a writer who earns through selling affiliate links and can provide a neutral point of view.