I’m finally getting around to selling my old Canon DSLR gear. I’ve been using Olympus Micro Four Thirds photography gear since 2014, and I have been using it for all genres of photography (except deep sky astrophotography) for several years. I think I’m finally getting comfortable with OM Digital Solutions acquiring the Olympus Imaging Division since they’ve now released 2 new camera models.
So, what should I do with the money from selling my old gear? Put it in the bank? Travel more? Buy more gear? Buy the Olympus 150-500mm f/4.5 Pro Lens? I already own the Olympus 300mm f/4 and the Olympus 100-400mm f/5 – 6.3. Hmmm?
Maybe I should have titled this blog, “Should I Upgrade to the Olympus M.Zuiko 150-400mm lens?” Hopefully through my diligence in making this decision, I can also help you decide on whether to purchase this lens as well.
Let’s start by looking at some specifications.
Olympus Long Lens Specifications
|Olympus M.Zuiko 150-400mm f/4.5 w/ 1.25x TC Pro||4.6” x 12.4” / 115.8 x 314.3mm||4.1 lb / 1875 g||Up to 7.5 Stops with Sync IS, 8 Stops when using the 150-400 f/4.25 Pro @ 150mm||$7,499|
|Olympus 300mm f/4 Pro||3.64” x 8.94” / 92.5 x 227mm||3.25 lb / 1475 g||Up to 7.5 Stops with Sync IS.||$2,999|
|Olympus 100-400mm f/5 – 6.3||3.4” x 8.1” / 86.4 x 205.7mm||2.46 lb / 1120 g||Up to 3 Stops. Does not have Sync IS.||$1,499|
|Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro||3.13 x 6.3″ / 79.4 x 160 mm||1.67 lb / 760 g||None in lens, camera body only||$1,499|
*All the above lenses are compatible with both the 1.4x and 2.0x Teleconverters.
The above table takes a look at the specifications for 4 of the Olympus long lens options. I’ll use this table as reference as we walk thru the different decision points on whether to purchase this amazing, but expensive lens.
Decision Points for Deciding to Purchase the Olympus 150-400mm f/4.5 lens with a built in 1.25x Teleconverter
Image Stabilization (IS)
Looking at the above table, the Olympus 150-400mm and 300mm f/4 lead the way with image stabilization. If you are handholding the camera for bird and wildlife photography, Image Stabilization is an important consideration. This is especially important if you photograph in the early morning light, like I do.
Both the 300mm f/4 and 150-400mm have 7.5 stops of Image Stabilization and use Olympus Sync IS technology which combines the stabilization of both the camera and the lens. The 150-400mm lens does add an additional ½ stop of IS but only when it is used at 150mm.
The Olympus 100-400mm f/5.6-6.3 does not have Sync IS and can only use either the stabilization in the lens or camera body.
The 150-400mm Pro Lens weighs in at 4.1 pounds (1875 grams) which is almost a pound (.85 lb / 400 g) heavier than the 300mm f/4 and over 1.5 pounds (1.64 lbs / 755 g) heavier than the 100-400mm f/5.6-6.3.
I almost always use the 1.4x Teleconverter with the Olympus 300mm f/4. When you add the weight of the 1.4x Teleconverter (.23 pounds) to the weight of the 30mmm f/4 (3.25 pounds), it is just a little over a ½ pound lighter than the 150-400mm lens which has a 1.25x Teleconverter built in.
While the Olympus 150-400mm f/4.5 would make my Micro Four Thirds kit a little heavier, I don’t see that being a show stopper in purchasing this lens.
Travelability / Lens Size
I list size as a separate criteria from weight because of air travel. I fly a lot to reach my photography destinations, and even though I travel with my gear in a Pelican Case, I don’t like the idea of checking my photography gear and having it thrown the cargo area of the plane.
With the Pelican Air 1535 Case, I can fit an amazing amount of gear in the case and still be able to fit the case in the overhead storage bins. In fact, I can fit the Olympus 300mm f/4, 100-400 f/5.6 – 6.3, 12-100 f/4, 8-25 f/4, 1.4x Teleconverter, 2.0x Teleconverter, 2 camera bodies and room for accessories in the Pelican Air 1535.
If you do a lot of traveling for your photography, you may want to look into a Pelican Air 1535 Case.
If I did purchase the Olympus 150-400mm f/4.5 Pro lens, I would need to reconfigure my Pelican Case since the 150-400 is too long to fit into the case width wise; it would need to fit in the Pelican Case length wise.
I was quite surprised at the price of additional dividers ($61 for 2 dividers) or an additional TrekPak Divider System ($159) for my Pelican Case. It may be a better option to buy a 2nd Pelican Air 1535 case and configure it for traveling with the Olympus 150-400mm lens.
This additional cost is definitely a down side of purchasing the 150-400mm lens. So, as you consider purchasing the 150-400, make sure you also measure your current backpacks and travel cases to see if this lens will fit.
I do not own the Olympus 150-400mm lens to test the sharpness of the lens. I have watched multiple YouTube video, read a bunch of reviews, and looked at sample images. Many of the reviews and videos compare the sharpness of the 150-400 to the 300mm f/4 lens.
The Olympus 300mm f/4 is the sharpest bird and wildlife lens that I have shot, and that includes the Canon 500mm f/4 lens.
Focal Length Range
The focal length range is one of the biggest reasons to consider purchasing the Olympus 150-400mm lens. A lens with a range of 300mm – 1,000mm without adding an external teleconverter and is as sharp as the Olympus 300mm f/4 makes purchasing this lens very tempting.
Below is a comparison of the focal length range for the different Olympus Long Lenses.
Olympus Long Lens Focal Length Comparison (Full Frame Equivalent)
|Lens||Full Frame Focal Length Equivalent||With 1.4x Teleconverter||With 2.0x Teleconverter|
|Olympus M.Zuiko 150-400mm w/ 1.25x TC Pro||300-800mm, 375-1000mm with the built-in 1.25x Teleconverter||420-1120mm, 525-1,400mm with 1.4x & 1.25x Teleconverter||600-1600mm, 750-2,000mm with 2.0x & 1.25x Teleconverter|
|Olympus 300mm f/4 Pro||600mm||840mm||1,200mm|
|Olympus 100-400mm f/5 – 6.3||200-800mm||280-1,120mm||400-1,600mm|
|Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro||80-300mm||112-420mm||160-600mm|
On several occasions I have used two bodies for bird and wildlife photography by using a Dual Black Rapid Camera Strap. On one side I would have the Olympus 300mm f/4 with the 1.4x Teleconverter and on the other side either the Olympus 100-400mm f/5.6-6.3 or the Olympus 40-150mm with the 1.4x Teleconverter. This gives me a good focal length range in case birds / animals would move closer to me.
The Dual Black Rapid Camera Strap worked well if I was relatively stationary. But it was a lot more challenging if I was hiking or photographing marine birds and mammals on a boat in wavy conditions. Having one lens with a range of 300-1,000mm would be a lot easier in those conditions.
As you add teleconverters the widest aperture for your lens will be reduced which will result in a reduction of the light captured by the camera. This means you will need to raise your ISO or shoot at slower shutter speeds in darker lighting conditions which is not ideal for bird and wildlife photography.
Below are the widest apertures for the Olympus 150-400mm f/4.5 with the different teleconverter combinations.
Widest Aperture with Teleconverters for the Olympus 150-400mm f/4.5 Lens
|Teleconverter||Widest Aperture||Focal Length Range (Full Frame Equivalent)|
|1.25x Internal TC||f/5.6||187.5-500mm (375-1,000mm)|
|1.4x TC||f/6.3||210-560mm (420-1,120mm)|
|1.25x internal TC + 1.4x TC||f/8||262.5-700mm (525-1,400mm)|
|2.0x TC||f/9||300-800mm (600-1,600mm)|
|1.25x internal TC + 2.0x TC||f/11||375-1,000mm (750-2,000mm)|
For comparison purposes, below are the widest apertures for the 300mm f/4 and 100-400 f/5.6-6.3 lenses.
Widest Aperture with Teleconverters for the Olympus 300mm f/4 Lens
|Teleconverter||Widest Aperture||Focal Length Range (Full Frame Equivalent)|
|1.4x TC||f/5.6||420mm (840mm)|
|2.0x TC||f/8||600mm (1,200mm)|
Widest Aperture with Teleconverters for the Olympus 100-400mm f/5.6-6.3 Lens
|Teleconverter||Widest Aperture @100mm||Widest Aperture @400mm||Focal Length Range (Full Frame Equivalent)|
|1.4x TC||f/7.1||f/9||140-560mm (280-1,120mm)|
|2.0x TC||f/10||f/13||200-800mm (400-1,600mm)|
The Olympus 150-400mm lens has a big advantage over the 100-400mm f5.6-6.3 with the constant f/4.5 aperture when using teleconverters. The 100-400mm lens can shoot at 1,600mm with the 2.0x Teleconverter but its widest aperture is f/13 when zoomed out to 400mm. This means you need a lot of light to shoot at that focal length.
The 150-400mm lens can shoot at 1,600mm with the 2.0x teleconverter with a widest aperture of f/9 and at 1,400mm with the 1.4x Teleconverter and 1.25 Teleconverter with a widest aperture of f/8.
With the 1.25x teleconverter in the 150-400mm lens, you can stack an external teleconverter to gain extra length. This is not something that can be done with 2 external teleconverters.
The Olympus 150-400mm lens is expensive at $7,499. It is more than double the price of the 300mm f/4 at $2,999.
So, is it worth the price? That’s a decision that everyone needs to make for themselves. The Olympus 150-400mm is a terrific lens. But you have to decide whether it’s worth it for you. Some of questions that I’m asking myself are:
- How much will I use it? I do a lot of bird and wildlife photography.
- Would the Olympus 300mm f/4 and / or the Olympus 100-400 f/5.6 – 6.3 suffice for the photography that I’m doing?
- How else can I use the money from trading in my Canon photography gear? I can go on a few nice photography vacations for $7,499.
Did I Reserved the Olympus 150-400mm f/4.5 Pro Lens?
I carefully weighed the purchase using the above criteria and decided to reserve the lens. I plan on doing a lot of travel for bird and wildlife photography in the future and traveling and using one sharp lens with a large focal length range is worth it for me.
Also, selling my Canon DSLRs and Lenses will greatly help in funding this expensive lens and makes the decision a lot easier.
Now the wait begins. Researching the wait time online, it appears that it will be at least 10 months before I receive the lens. On the positive side, it will give me plenty of time to sell my Canon gear.
Written by Martin Belan
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