Editor’s note: Corrected an error with the weight and pricing we mentioned in one of the slides. That has been corrected.
Two weeks ago, Fujifilm announced its new XF 150–600mm F5.6–8 R LM OIS WR lens, a super telephoto zoom that offers the longest focal length to date for Fujifilm X-series cameras. Now, after spending some time with the lens, we’ve rounded up a few hands-on thoughts of the lens and what it has to offer photographers looking for a robust super telephoto zoom in a relatively compact form factor.
Who is this lens for?
Given its focal length range, this lens is clearly designed with wildlife photography in mind. Indoor and low-light sports might be an issue due to its rather slow minimum aperture range, but outdoor sports during the day, such as football (of both varieties), motorsports, winter sports and the like should also be no problem for this lens. Wildlife of all kind is an especially good match for this lens, considering its long equivalent focal lengths when used with Fujifilm’s crop-sensor X-series cameras.
Fujifilm has also added new subject-specific autofocus modes to its new X-H2S camera, which should further improve the performance of this lens when shooting the subjects this lens is best suited for. Specifically, the new Animal, Bird, Automobile, Motorcycle & Bike, Airplane and Train AF modes should all make the most of this lens’s capabilities when compared with Fujifilm’s new flagship camera. It’s probably safe to assume that at least some of these new AF modes will make their way into newer X-series cameras as well (though we’re not sure we’d hold our breath for firmware updates, for what are likely to be quite processor-intensive modes).
The Fujifilm XF 150–600mm F5.6–8 R LM OIS WR is constructed of 24 elements in 17 groups, including three extra-low dispersion (ED) elements and four Super ED elements.
When taking into account Fujifilm’s X-mount system crop factor, the lens offers a full-frame equivalent focal length range of 229–914mm, with the ability to increase the maximum focal length to 1350mm equiv. and 1828mm equiv. with Fujifilm’s XF 1.4X TC WR or XF 2X TC WR teleconverters, respectively. It’s worth noting the minimum apertures at the long end will be F11 and F16 for the 1.4x and 2x teleconverter, respectively.
Given the lens equivalent to a 229-914mm F8.4-12 full-frame lens to start off with, the additional light you’d lose when you add teleconverters is likely to impinge on image quality.
The lens also features an internal zoom and focus design, which is rather unusual for a super telephoto zoom with this much range. In addition to making the lens less susceptible to damage from external forces on extending barrels, it also keeps the lens well-balanced in the hand, even when making drastic focal length changes to zoom in on a subject. It also has a fairly respectable minimum focusing distance of 2.40 m (94.49″) at 150mm, which should offer fairly shallow depth-of-field, even at F5.6.
The color of the lens is usually inconsequential to its performance, but much like Canon and others use lighter paint on the outside of their telephoto lenses (prime or zoom), Fujifilm has opted to use a matte silver paint atop the magnesium alloy barrel to keep the lens’s internal temperatures low during operation.
In theory, this should minimize any shifts in the optical performance of the lens and also keep the internal electronics and motors cool under heavy workloads (such as extensive OIS and AF use). There’s also the possibility Fujifilm has taken this approach because the ‘white lens’ look is something commonly associated with higher-end zoom lenses, thanks to Canon and its off-white telephoto lenses.
Buttons and Switches
As is expected for telephoto lenses with AF and OIS, this lens offers a collection of toggles and buttons on the barrel of the lens to control various autofocus modes and other customizable settings.
On the front of the lens are four customizable buttons, just in front of the focus ring. On the back of the lens, between the focus ring and tripod collar, is a SET button for defining the preset distance of the Focus Preset function, as well as three switches: one for the Focus Limiter (Full and 5m-infinity), one for switching aperture control between the unmarked ring on the lens and the camera, and one for Focus Select, which controls the functions of the four aforementioned buttons on the front of the lens.
The Fujifilm 150-600mm F5.6-8 is weather-sealed in 19 locations around the barrel, front elements and mount. When paired with a sealed X-series camera body, this should create a robust setup more than capable of handling the rough elements this lens is designed to be shot in. According to Fujifilm, the lens and all its AF/OIS functions can operate down to –10ºC (14ºF).
Size and Portability
The terms ‘super telephoto zoom’ and ‘portability’ rarely go hand-on-hand with one another, but Fujifilm has made a 150-600mm lens about as portable as you’re going to get. It’s still unwieldy compared to past zooms we’ve seen for Fujifilm’s X-series cameras, a monopod isn’t strictly necessary to shoot this lens handheld with any number of Fujifilm’s X-series cameras: and that’s not something you can say for nearly any other zoom with this focal length and aperture range.
The 150–600mm F5.6–8 weighs 1605g (3.5lbs) and measures 99mm (3.9”) in diameter by 314.5mm (12.4”) long, but it’s not cumbersome and balances fairly well with a larger Fujifilm X-series camera attached to the lens, such as the X-T4 and Fujifilm’s new X-H2S.
That said, if you are planning on shooting this lens for an extended period of time, we suggest bringing along a monopod for the sake of long-term comfort if nothing else. That is, unless you’re wanting to get an arm workout in at the same time.
In all, Fujifilm’s latest super telephoto zoom is an impressive optic that opens up a whole new realm of shooting possibilities for Fujifilm X-series users. The slow minimum apertures do leave some on the table in terms of what you might be able to shoot in low-light, but the benefit from that trade-off is a much lighter lens that can be handheld for reasonable amounts of time. It balances well on Fujifilm’s larger X-series cameras and overall proved to be an enjoyable lens to shoot with.
The XF 150–600mm F5.6–8 R LM OIS WR is expected to be available in early July 2022 for $1,999 on Fujifilm’s online store and through authorized retailers.