The Olympus M. Zuiko 40-150mm f2.8 Pro was one of the most anticipated lenses of 2014. For Olympus Micro 4/3 shooters it was a an exciting new piece to their already fantastic system and for DSLR shooters it was the lens that many of them said they needed in order to consider switching to Micro 4/3. Having a medium telephoto lens with a constant 2.8 maximum aperture is a must for most professional shooters and Olympus took aim directly at them with this lens. Well; It's finally here and performs great so there is one less excuse to switch to the lighter side of photography! I was fortunate enough to pick this lens up right at the end of the year and have been shooting with it for the past 2 months. Although the weather around me has been less then desirable for my liking I have been able to shoot some portraits and wildlife with it. This lens has become one of my favorites and I look forward to getting out with it a lot more once spring finally arrives. Lets dig into the details now....
Build Quality and Design
When designing this lens Olympus truly hit a home run! First off they built it to withstand just about anything you can throw at it. This lens is Dust Proof, Splash Proof, and Freeze Proof! When you couple that with the Olympus E-M1 or New E-M5 Mark ll you have a system that can handle all of the elements! It comes in the sleek black design that you would expect form the Olympus Pro Line. The lens itself is made completely of metal and feels very solid. I won't intentionally test this but I'm sure it can handle being banged around a bit. It weighs 1.94 lbs which isn't exactly light when you think of Micro 4/3 gear but when you consider it's' DSLR counterpart a 70-200 2.8 which weighs 3.375 lbs it's considerably lighter. Not to mention that the 40-150 has the 35mm equivalent focal length of 80-300mm so you are not only lighter then the equivalent lens on a Full Frame sensor you are also getting a bit more reach on the long end. It comes with a tripod collar like you would expect which can be rotated for portrait or landscape shooting without removing it from a tripod. It can also be removed if you have the desire to do so. It also comes with a pretty slick lens hood! The hood is made a high grade solid plastic and attaches to the lens with a quick release ring but unlike other lens hoods it is not reversible for storage. Instead Olympus designed it to be collapsible so with the twist of the ring on the hood it simply slides back rather then having to remove it and reverse for storage. To extend it you just pull it out until it locks into position. It too can be removed if you choose to do so. Overall this lens is built to last.
The focus ring has a built in slide clutch so you can switch between auto and manual focus quickly and easily. When the ring is in the forward position the lens will autofocus to whatever auto focus mode you have your camera setup to. When you slide it to the back position it reveals a distance scale and you can instantly use manual focus. This lens also has an internal zoom and internal focus system so the lens never gets any larger then it comes out of the box. Some people will really love that feature since this is the largest lens in the Olympus Micro 4/3 system. I find the auto focusing to be extremely quiet, fast, and accurate. In good light it will focus almost instantaneously even when zooming from front to back. In lower light conditions I found that it is slightly slower and will hunt a bit but it's nothing to worry about. One surprise with this lens was the minimum focusing distance. Unlike most lenses in this focal length range it has a close focusing distance of 27.55 inches which gives it a bit more versatility. It's not quite in the macro class but it can be used to capture very close up shots of flowers and other fun subjects you may come across while out shooting!
When it comes to sharp glass this lens is one of the best! I'm not a lens chart guy at all so I can only speak to real world shooting. Besides what fun is it to take pictures of excel spreadsheets and lines anyway?? I found that shooting wide open the center is razor sharp like one would expect but even as you move out to the edges you aren't loosing much at all! It is exceptionally sharp across all focal lengths as well. The only time I can say that you would need to stop down is to expand your depth of field. This lens is one of the sharpest I've used, I would say it's right up there with the M. Zuiko 75mm f1.8 prime which is a fantastic lens in it's own right! Yes this telezoom lens rates right up there with fast primes in my opinion.
The Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 has beautiful bokeh! It has a 9 rounded blade diaphragm which helps create nice round bokeh balls. When shooting portraits it provides a very creamy soft background that really helps isolate your subject. Bokeh quality can be somewhat subjective so below I have a couple of images for examples.....
For me this lens is a no brainer, I shoot weddings, portraits, and landscapes. I find it to be perfect for weddings/events and portraits. I don't shoot much wildlife but this lens is perfect for that as well. If I am shooting landscapes I prefer to shoot super wide so using the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 and a fisheye lens are what I go to. It's not going to be for everyone, some may find it too big and bulky for a Micro 4/3 system. Others may say it's too expensive. When you consider what it is replacing in the Full Frame DSLR world neither of those factors would apply. For the focal length and fixed aperture it is much smaller then it's counterpart and at a price of $1499.99 it is a much better deal then the $2499.99 that you would pay for on a Full Frame system.
During my time with this lens it has performed very well and I am completely happy with it. The build quality is very solid and it's beautifully designed. It is sharp across all focal lengths and it has a very quick autofocus system. Like I mentioned before it will hunt a bit in low light but it is not a deal breaker at all. If you are a photographer that has a need for a fast medium telephoto lens this is for you! It is also worth mentioning that Olympus offers a digital 1.4x teleconverter for this lens which extends the focal length by 40% which would make it 210mm or 420mm for a 35mm equivalent. You do lose one stop of light making it a max aperture of f4 when using the teleconverter. I have not used it myself but if I do get the chance I will be sure to update this review with the new information.
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Until next time,