I was lucky enough to have a trial of the M.Zuiko Digital ED 150-400mm F4.5 TC1.25x IS PRO, that's a mouth full.
This lens is a top of the range pro lens and the reviews I had read suggested I wouldn't be disappointed. Along with being 150-400mm it has the built in teleconverter taking it to 500mm and you can use the MC14 and MC20 with it, so a possible 1000mm, or 2000mm in full frame equivalent.
So my first impressions, it's very white and noticeably bigger than the 300mm I had on my M1X, but it is also really light. When you pick it up you are expecting more weight. The lens hood is reversible for storage but once fitted gives the lens quite a bit of extra length. The controls are pretty standard, IS on/off, Focal range, AF/MF, etc and it has a minimum focus distance of 1.3m, which makes it good for close subjects as well as longer range.
Lens fitted and off for a walk around London Wetlands, I'm using my Black Rapid strap and the combo doesn't feel at all heavy hanging at my side, It's a cloudy day and the light is changeable so it should be a good test for the lens.
325mm, ISO-640, f/4.5, 1/500
The otter enclosure was very shaded so it was difficult to get enough light in. Most of it is under trees and the cloud cover was heavy at the time. Straight away the lens felt very comfortable, although if you're not used to long lenses it might take you a little getting used to.
The teleconverter is placed perfectly at the base of the lens. It has a lock to stop you engaging or disengaging by accident, but can easily be operated without looking by one finger. I found the zoom very smooth and comfortable to use as well.
500mm, ISO-640, f/6.3, 1/500
400mm, ISO-640, f/6.3, 1/500
The image quality is everything you would hope for. It's a beautifully sharp lens and the stabilisation is excellent. I can confidently say I could walk around all day with this lens on my shoulder strap without a problem. Even after using this for 15-20 minutes I feel completely at home using it. I can't get over how light it is. When I was using Canon, I had the Sigma 150-600 C and I couldn't hand carry it for very long without getting a little shaky and the weight being uncomfortable. I ended up with a monopod most of the time to make it usable. I then changed to the Canon 100-400 mk2 and it was a revelation. Still heavy but much better to use hand held. I didn't know how much that would change when I went to Olympus. Both of those lenses are less comfortable to use than the 150-400. Even though the Canon 100-400 is lighter the combo wasn't as good to use. I'm not a big tripod user as I feel I carry enough as it is already and I like to walk around when I'm shooting, I'm not so good at standing or sitting still for too long. I've never really used hides either so I tend to leave my tripod at home, and this is perfect for me to walk round with for 4-5 hours or more.
150mm, ISO-640, f/9, 1/500
460mm, ISO-640, f/11, 1/400
You get great separation and good background blur if there's a bit of distance between subject and background,
400mm, ISO-640, f/11, 1/250
The reason I changed to Olympus from Canon was the freedom I found with the Olympus kit, the weight and ease of use. Now this is a big lens, but it is a wildlife photographers best friend. It gets you closer than anything else in the Olympus range without having to get closer. It focuses really quickly, even in poor light, f/4.5 right through the zoom range is amazing and the image stabilisation is everything you expect from Olympus. This is definitely aimed at wildlife and sports photographers and once you have used it I don't think you would doubt the amazing quality you get. I would really like to buy this lens and if I can find a way to finance it, I will, but I'm not a pro photographer who earns a living from my cameras. It's a hobby, well more than that, it's a passion. The price range is realistically beyond me. I will have to sell some gear, save for quite a while and sell a kidney. But one day I will get there, it is worth it. It is THE lens to have for wildlife.
378mm, ISO-640, f/5.6, 1/250
280mm, ISO-640, f/9, 1/400
500mm, ISO-640, f/13, 1/250
I use my 300mm f/4 nearly all the time for wildlife and I haven't got a bad word to say about it. It's an exceptional lens with amazing image quality, but I do often find myself too close or would like to zoom in that little bit more. The 150-400 does everything I miss and then some, and because you can focus at 1.3m you can use it for macro type shots too.
I only had about an hour and a half with the lens but it was enough to completely convince me of the quality of it and the 'need' to have it. It was hard going back to my 300mm after using it but I live in the real world where I work '9-5' and don't have much spare money at the end of a month, so I will carry on getting the best shots I can from my equipment and look at ways I could get this absolutely amazing lens.
I walked round the Wetland centre again after giving the lens back and took a few with my kit. I don't think they're too bad really :-)
300mm, ISO-640. f/6.3, 1/640
300mm, ISO-640, f/8, 1/1000
300mm, ISO-640, f/7.1, 1/640
300mm, ISO-640, f/8, 1/1000
In conclusion, the 150-400 is the lens I want. It's the lens we all want if we love wildlife photography. It is a lot of money but it's worth every penny in my opinion. I couldn't find enough good things to say about it, and giving it back was difficult. You wouldn't be disappointed for a second if you bought one. You would still feel the freedom of the Olympus system but have an absolutely amazing zoom lens that most camera systems would struggle to compete with, even at twice the price. I'll leave you with a few more shots from the 150-400 and I hope you enjoyed this read.
383mm, ISO-640, f/13, 1/250
400mm, ISO-640, f/14, 1/250
400mm, ISO-640, f/9, 1/250
220mm, ISO-640, f/5, 1/500
263mm, ISO-640, f/9, 1/400
500mm, ISO-640, f/13, 1/250
272mm, ISO-640, f/5.6, 1/250
Thanks for reading and there will be another blog out soon.