The all-weather construction, internal zoom design, and top-notch image quality of the Fujifilm XF 150-600mm F5.6-8 R LM OIS WR should satisfy the needs of X System photographers who specialize in sports and wildlife photography.
FUJIFILM FUJINON XF 150-600MM F5.6-8 R LM OIS WR SPECS
|Dimensions||12.4 by 3.9 inches|
|Filter Thread||82 mm|
|Focal Length (Wide)||150 mm|
|Focal Length (Telephoto)||600 mm|
|Full-Frame Equivalent (Wide)||225 mm|
|Full-Frame Equivalent (Telephoto)||900 mm|
|Zoom Ratio||4 x|
The Fujifilm Fujinon XF 150-600mm F5.6-8 R LM OIS WR ($1,999) is an intriguing lens for Fujifilm X system photographers who have an eye for sports, wildlife, and other typical telephoto subjects. Strong qualities include a compact field of view, a lightweight and portable design, and a construction that is resistant to the elements. Additionally, it includes sports-oriented features such as a preset focus button, an internal zoom mechanism, and an Arca-Swiss tripod foot, all of which further increase its versatility. When everything is considered, it is simple to understand why we have awarded the XF 150-600mm with our Editor’s Choice award for the X system.
Large, But Not Overly Weighty
When photographing subjects that do not allow you to approach close, a long lens comes in quite handy. You need as much reach as you can get if you want to grab the headline photo for a football game on the level of Friday Night Lights or take a picture of a frightened warbler on a tree nearby. The XF 150-600mm lens covers the area of the APS-C sensor, which is theoretically equivalent to a full-frame camera equipped with a 225-900mm lens.
We don’t expect telezooms to be particularly compact because lengthy focal lengths necessitate larger lens barrels; yet, the XF 150-600mm is more manageable than comparable sized full-frame choices because to its lower carry weight. This is the case despite its rather large size. In contrast to other types of super zooms, this one’s zoom mechanism is housed entirely within. As a result, the focal length of the lens is not subject to change under any circumstances.
In terms of dimensions, the XF 150-600mm is 12.4 by 3.9 inches (HD) when it does not have a hood attached, however it only weighs 3.5 pounds. When compared to the full-frame Sony FE 200-600mm lens, which measures 12.5 inches by 4.4 inches and weighs 4.7 pounds, the weight advantages of an APS-C lens are clear to observe.
If you want a lighter telezoom, don’t forget about the $799.99 XF 70-300mm F4-5.6 (5.2 by 3.0 inches, 1.2 pounds), or if you need a little extra reach, the $1,899 XF 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 may be more appropriate for your needs (8.3 by 3.7 inches, 3.0 pounds). The zooming in closer causes those lenses to lengthen, despite the fact that they are lighter. The 70-300mm is extremely compact for a telezoom lens, but the XF 100-400mm is only a few millimeters longer than the XF 150-600mm when measured at the telephoto end of its range.
Owners of an X system don’t have a lot of options to choose from when it comes to prime lenses in this focal range, but they can use the XF 200mm F2 as a backup for situations with low light. This high-end lens has a stunning price tag of $6,000, but on the bright side, it also comes with a 1.4x converter that can convert it into a 300mm F2.8 lens. The XF 200 F2 cannot be used with either the regular 1.4x XF converter or the 2.0x XF teleconverter that Fuji offers for their cameras. On the other hand, you may use either the 1.4x or 2.0x teleconverters with the XF 70-300mm, 100-400mm, and 150-600mm lenses (both of which cost $449).
The Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 (which costs $1499 and measures 8.3 by 3.7 inches and weighs 4.1 pounds) may also entice thrifty customers who are looking for a lens with a great deal of reach. Tamron had previously only made the zoom available for Sony cameras, but they have just recently revealed that it will also be available for the Fuji X system. We have not yet put it through its paces with a Fuji camera, but when we did so with the 60-megapixel Sony a7R IV, we were very pleased with its performance. Because that full-frame model has the same pixel pitch as those 26MP APS Fuji cameras, we anticipate that it will produce results that are comparable.
Fuji differentiated the XF 150-600mm from other lenses by giving it a magnesium alloy build and a metallic off-white finish. This is in contrast to other lenses, which have a more conventional black barrel. The lighter hue of the barrel has several advantages, one of which is that it absorbs very little sunlight, which helps to keep the lens cooler even during extended shooting sessions. Fuji has made a number of design decisions for the lens that are weather-conscious, and this is only one of them.
The XF 150-600mm also resists dust and splashes, and its front element bears an anti-smudge fluorine coating. The fluorine coating is capable of effectively warding off grease and water droplets on its own, but if you’d like, you can still install an additional protective filter measuring 82 millimeters. The hood that is provided offers some additional physical protection against knocks and scratches as well. It is important to note that the hood has a cut-out window with a plastic door that slides open and closed. This feature enables the user to modify the orientation of a variable ND or circular polarizer without having to remove the hood.
Managing and Maintaining the Controls
There are more on-lens controls available on the XF 150-600mm than there are on either the XF 100-400mm or the Tamron 150-500mm. In addition to this, it utilizes a zoom mechanism that is housed internally, which is a feature that some photographers may find more appealing. When you set the focal length on a lens that does not extend or retract, there is less mass for you to move than there is in the case of a zoom lens, which means that you do not need to apply as much torque.
Around the perimeter of the front of the barrel are four function buttons. A toggle switch that includes AF-L, Preset, and AF drive settings can be used to adjust them as desired. The AF-L and AF options, respectively, lock focus in place and bring a target into clear vision, but the Preset setting necessitates additional elaboration. By activating it, you will be able to store a focal distance into memory (by using the button that is properly named Set). After that, you can use any one of the four function buttons to quickly return the lens to its previous focus point.
The Preset mode is beneficial for field sports like baseball that have predetermined positions of interest throughout the playing field. You only need one button press to do things like snap the lens back to concentrate on second base, for instance, eliminating the requirement for the camera’s autofocus function to locate the point of focus. It’s something that will only save you a fraction of a second on the field, but it may make or break a sports photo. When photographing hummingbirds at a feeder, for example, I have used a function on other lenses that is very similar to this one.
A tripod collar that may be rotated is built into the design of the lens by Fuji. The collar is not detachable and features a pair of lugs that are designed to handle a carry strap. You are free to remove the foot altogether if that is what you would want. Even though I did most of my testing by handholding the lens, I did not remove the foot since there is a very simple explanation for this: It simplifies the process of transporting the lens and camera from one photo opportunity to the next. The foot may easily be rotated to the top of the collar, where it serves as an excellent handle, thanks to the design of the collar, which allows it to rotate. The one option that is lacking here is one that allows you to click in at angles of 90 degrees; nevertheless, you may use the digital level on your camera to verify that your horizons are straight when you equip a tripod.
The tripod foot has Arca-Swiss dovetail cuts so that it may be attached to compatible tripods without the need for an additional quick-release plate. This allows the foot to be used with tripods. I had no problems using it for several video clips alongside the Peak Design Travel Tripod that I also purchased.
Both autofocus and stabilization are available.
The autofocus speed is relatively fast for the most part, although in low light, particularly when set to f/8, the lens may periodically hunt for focus (the maximum aperture at 600mm). In actuality, this conduct led to my missing the occasional photo opportunity on wooded nature paths, the kind of situation that requires an ISO setting of 12800, an exposure period of 1/500 of a second, and an aperture setting of f/8. It’s annoying when it happens, but out of thousands of frames, I only missed a couple of photos total. When operating in optimal conditions, the linear focus motors are quite quick, allowing the focus to be driven from close-up to distant in a fraction of a second.
Because the lens has an optical stabilization mechanism with five stops of adjustment, you won’t always need to use a tripod when you take pictures. The most of the time, I used this lens with the Fujifilm X-H2S, which has a resolution of 26 megapixels, and I found that the combo was pretty successful. When I wanted to take a picture of a chipmunk eating some food, I had no trouble slowing the shutter speed down to 1/100 of a second, and I was pleased to see that the details were just as crisp as they were at 1/500 of a second. When photographing stationary subjects, I found that exposures as long as 1/30th of a second at 600mm gave me good results. However, I saw some blur when pushing the shutter speed to 1/15th of a second, which is consistent with the 5-stop rating.
However, because subject motion is a problem, you should continue to use a fast shutter speed in order to reliably freeze motion in your photos. It is important to keep in mind that when you use longer shutter speeds, high-speed capture settings that go above 15 frames per second (fps) can help boost the percentage of shots that turn out to be keepers while photographing animals and other subjects that are not cooperative.
Although using a tripod with your Fuji camera would almost certainly help you achieve better results when shooting video, it is not required to use any Fuji camera. For example, the X-T4, X-H2S, and X-H2 all come equipped with an IS Boost mode that may be used for still video photos. When I tested it at 600 millimeters, it did not maintain the same level of stability as a tripod would have, but it was not that far off.
The lens has a focus limiter switch that allows you to set it to cover its full range or to look only for subjects that are more than 5.0 meters (16.4 feet) away (5m). When you’re trying to get a shot in the distance but don’t want passing foreground subjects to throw off your autofocus, the limiter is a useful tool to have at your disposal. When used for macro work, the XF 150-600mm provides very good reproductions at a ratio of 1:4.2. Although it is not quite as high as the 1:3 level that we prefer to see for the most macro-capable zooms, it is still adequate for shooting subjects that are smaller. At the very least, it expands the 150-600mm’s potential applications in the field of nature photography.
There is a slight amount of focus breathing (a shift in angle of view that occurs when you rack focus between subjects) with the XF 150-600mm, but it is not to the extent that it should be cause for concern.
In the Laboratory: XF 150-600mm
I used the Imatest program to conduct resolution tests on the XF 150-600mm in order to evaluate its performance. Throughout the entirety of its zoom range, it maintains amazing resolution figures with the 26-megapixel X-H2S. Around 3,500 lines of resolution are visible when the lens is set to 150 millimeters and f/5.6, and this number does not significantly alter when it is increased to 600 millimeters and f/8 (3,350 lines). Because the lens is sharp all the way to the edges, you have some leeway to frame your photographs in a more creative manner.
Fujifilm claims that has optimized the optics for the high-resolution sensor; the lens definitely extracts as much detail as possible from a 26-megapixel sensor. We have not yet conducted any formal tests with this lens with the 40-megapixel X-H2 but plan to in the near future. In any event, during my testing in the field, I had sharp results with the combo of the X-H2 and the 150-600mm.
In addition, the lens corrects for a variety of additional optical flaws. For instance, there is no visible sign of chromatic aberration in the test photos that we took. It also efficiently eliminates lateral CA, which generally shows up as a false purple color in high-contrast areas of a scene, as well as longitudinal CA (visible as false color in transitions from sharp focus to background blur).
The lack of distortion is also not a problem. The uncorrected Raw files include a very tiny pincushion effect, which is only something you are likely to detect when you compare the uncorrected and corrected versions of the same file side-by-side. Image processors that can handle JPG and Raw files and have support for lens profiles, such as Adobe Lightroom Classic, automatically correct for lens distortion.
In general, the lens does a good job of controlling flare; however, if you point the lens directly towards the sun, you may notice some ghosting in your photographs. On the other hand, this probably won’t be an issue for the photographs you take with a really powerful zoom. I was extremely pleased with the way the lens handled images that had a strong backlight, such as the one of the nuthatch that is shown below.
Additionally, background blur may be accomplished quite easily with the lens. You don’t need to worry about the small aperture because the long focal length more than makes up for it and lets you to take pictures with a shallow depth of field. Highlights that are blurry are often circular in shape and have rounded corners. There are no indications of the hard-edge bokeh that can produce chaotic and distracting backgrounds in this picture.
Our Recommendation for the Best Fujifilm X Telephoto
If you already own a Fuji X system camera and are looking for a telephoto zoom lens with more reach than the XF 100-400mm, then the XF 150-600mm is an excellent choice to consider. It works wonderfully for photographing birds and other animals in the natural environment in which they live, as well as for taking pictures of sporting events. The 100-400mm lens doesn’t have any function buttons, and the 150-600mm lens doesn’t have a preset focus option, but the 150-600mm lens does.
The majority of Fuji’s current lineup features optical performance that is as good as it gets, with results that are outstanding across the whole 150-600mm focal range on a camera body that contains 26 megapixels. Although we have not yet had the opportunity to do proper laboratory tests with that particular pair, our initial thoughts of the 40MP X-H2 are favorable.
If we had to make a criticism about something, it would be about how slow the aperture is. We would have appreciated it if Fujifilm had pushed the envelope a little bit more in terms of light gathering, even if it meant making the design a little bit heavier or producing pictures that were slightly softer at maximum apertures. Even while image stabilization is helpful when working in low light, subject motion is still something you have to take into consideration. In a similar vein, having lenses that are more bright would probably lessen the amount of times the autofocus has trouble working in low-light conditions.
Nevertheless, despite this criticism, we have decided to award the XF 150-600mm F5.6-8 R LM OIS WR with our Editors’ Choice accolade. Because it is compatible with teleconverters, photographers who require an excessive amount of zoom power can use it, and because it is built to withstand adverse weather conditions, it can be used outside. You shouldn’t rule out the Tamron 150-500mm if you’re on a tight budget because it’s significantly more reasonable at $1,499 and also delivers good performance; nevertheless, the Fuji is the more premium alternative because of its internal zoom construction and its smaller weight.