by IR Staff

posted Wednesday, January 4, 2023 at 2:00 PM EST


Here at Imaging Resource, we are big fans of telephoto lenses. They're great for a wide variety of subjects, including the ever-popular wildlife and sports. However, telephoto lenses are also suitable for capturing portraits and photographing landscapes. 2022 brought us some excellent long lenses. While we didn't see quite as many new telephoto lenses as we did in 2021, the lenses that were launched are all very good. The winning lenses are all relatively affordable too, which is amazing. It's always great when wildlife and sports photography is more accessible for a wider audience. 

By the way, in case you're wondering where the new Nikkor Z 400mm F4.5 and Z 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 VR S lenses are, we have them in-hand now, but we didn't receive them in time for consideration in the 2022 Camera of the Year Awards. Will they win awards in next year's edition? Time will tell. 

We wrap up our Camera of the Year Lens awards tomorrow with the "Standard Lens" category, which also includes our overall "Best Lens of the Year" winner. 

Best Telephoto Lens: OM System OM 40-150mm F4 PRO

The OM System 40-150mm F4 PRO M.Zuiko Digital ED delivers a 35mm-equivalent 80-300mm focal length range with a relatively quick constant F4 aperture. While not as fast as the 40-150mm F2.8 PRO zoom, the new 40-150mm F4 PRO is significantly less expensive and weighs just 382g (13.5 oz.) The OM 40-150mm F4 PRO offers a compelling blend of price, size and performance.

OM 40-150mm F4 PRO lens on the OM-1

The OM 40-150mm F4 PRO can't utilize the OM-1's impressive 50 fps continuous shooting with full AF, but it's still an impressively quick lens. It can also focus closely, able to deliver 0.41x max magnification. The 40-150 F4's greatest strength is its overall usability. It's a go-everywhere and do-just-about-everything sort of lens. While it's not wide enough for traditional landscape images, it can tackle nearly any other photographic situation. Since the lens is so compact and lightweight, it's a great all-in-one lens for a nice hike or travel photography. And of course, it includes OM's trademark weather resistance.

Olympus E-M1 Mark III with OM System 40-150mm F4 PRO M.Zuiko lens at 75mm (150mm equiv.), F5.6, 1/100s, ISO 200.

While the OM 40-150mm F4 PRO won't blow you away with any one feature or spec, it is an impressive, compact and rugged telephoto zoom lens that delivers great image quality at a fair price.

More info: Hands-on Review / Gallery

Buy now: Amazon, Adorama and B&H

Try before you buy: Lensrentals


Best Telephoto Lens, Runner-up: Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD

For Sony E-mount photographers looking for a spectacularly versatile telephoto zoom lens, the Tamron 50-400mm F4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD should certainly be a contender. Offering an impressive 8x zoom range, the 50-400mm is a surprisingly compact and lightweight all-in-one solution for many telephoto subjects, such as outdoor sports, wildlife of all sorts, landscapes and more. Paired to a full-frame camera, the 400mm maximum focal length can still be a little short for certain subjects, like tiny songbirds or hummingbirds, but for everything else, the lens excelled. The range proved very useful for a wide range of subjects.


Optically, the Tamron 50-400mm is very sharp, and the VXD AF system, which uses linear motors, proved fast and accurate even on small subjects -- and it works with Sony's focusing tech like Eye AF. What's more, you also get really nice close-focusing capabilities, with 1:2 macro magnification at 50mm (MOD of 0.25m or 9.8 in.) and at 70mm (MOD of 0.27m or 10.6 in). Plus, the built-in optical image stabilization works well to provide nice, stable shooting, especially in lower-light situations. Overall, this portable, all-in-one telephoto zoom is a fantastic option for nature, sports and other telephoto pursuits when a simple, single-lens setup is all you want!

A7R IV: 400mm, F6.3, 1/500s, ISO 400, -0.3EV

More info: Hands-onGallery

Buy now: Amazon, Adorama and B&H

Try before you buy: Lensrentals


Best Super-telephoto Lens: Fujifilm XF 150-600mm F5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

If you're a wildlife photographer and also happen to shoot Fujifilm cameras, your options for a proper wildlife lens were pretty limited, with really only the XF100-400mm or perhaps the XF200mm F2 if you wanted a high-quality long, telephoto lens. The 200mm F2 could use teleconverters for extra reach, fortunately, but 200mm was a bit short for most wildlife pursuits. Fortunately, Fujifilm saw this gap in their lens lineup and debut a very impressive offering with the XF 150-600mm F5.6-8 R LM OIS WR.


Not only does this zoom lens feature an incredible 229-914mm-equivalent focal length range, but it also weighs just 1600g (3.5lbs.) and costs only $2000. The lens is a trifecta of versatility, portability and affordability. Sure, $2000 is still expensive, but in the realm of supertelephoto lenses, it's surprisingly affordable. Although the lens looks big, it's amazingly lightweight and really easy to use handheld if you want or need to be more mobile, which is fantastic.

Fujifilm X-H2S: 274mm, F6.4, 1/2500s, ISO 5000.

It's hard to find serious faults with the XF 150-600mm lens. Optically, the lens is wonderfully sharp, the autofocus speed is good, and the built-in optical image stabilization works great (and is a very welcomed feature if your Fuji camera does not have IBIS). The F8 maximum aperture at 600mm is perhaps the one main drawback, as it's quite dim, forcing you to shoot in good lighting or with a high ISO most of the time. But that's pretty much the only downside. Overall, the XF 150-600mm lens fills a much-needed gap in the X-mount lens lineup and, as we said in our review, makes the Fujifilm X Series ecosystem significantly better for wildlife and sports photographers.

More info: Hands-on Review / Gallery 

Buy now: Amazon, Adorama and B&H

Try before you buy: Lensrentals


• • •

Imaging Resource Camera of the Year 2022:

Best Cameras for Beginners & Enthusiasts

Best Ultra-Wide & Wide-Angle Lenses

Best Pro Cameras & Best Medium-Format Camera

Best Standard Lens & Lens of the Year

Best Overall Camera of the Year 2022