Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 ED PRO Lens
The new Olympus M.Zuiko ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens is the second in Olympus’ PRO line of Micro Four Thirds (m4/3) camera lenses, which is a great thing since it means that m4/3 systems are becoming a viable option for both serious amateur and professional photographers. Its 40-150mm focal length range is equivalent to 80-300mm on a full-frame DSLR, making it a very versatile lens for outdoor photographers.
Like most m4/3 lenses, the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens is fairly compact and lightweight (180 x 79 mm and 880 g) relative to an equivalent full-frame DSLR lens like the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens (199 x 89 mm and 1490 g) and costs about $1,000 less at $1,499.99. The build quality is excellent; it has a rugged metal body and is well sealed against moisture and dust, allowing outdoor photographers to not worry about using it in adverse conditions.
There’s no image stabilization built into the lens; instead it relies on the in-body stabilization found in all Olympus m4/3 camera bodies. Photographers who use it on a Panasonic m4/3 camera body will be a little disappointed with the lack of in-lens image stabilization, but the lens will still give excellent results, especially if one uses a tripod. Speaking of using it on a tripod, it comes with a sturdy, removable tripod collar. It also comes with a uniquely designed, removable lens hood that slides back over the lens for easy storage.
Auto focus and manual focus with the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens is smooth and quick. Both the zoom and manual focus rings are a decent size, allowing for easy use, and the internal focusing and zooming design of the lens means there’s no change in the lens’ overall length. In addition, the front element doesn’t rotate, which makes it much easier to use filters (uses 72mm filters). It has a relatively close focusing distance (70 cm), making this a wonderful lens for doing close-up photography.
Optically it consists of a total of 16 elements in 10 groups. Overall, the optical qualities are very good to excellent over its focal range. Edge-to-edge sharpness is very good at its maximum aperture of ƒ2.8, and when stopped down to ƒ4 through to ƒ11 it’s excellent. At ƒ16 the sharpness is still excellent in the centre, but falls off to very good towards the edges. When stopped down to its minimum aperture of ƒ22 diffraction becomes noticeable and the image sharpness drops down a bit more; I would probably only use ƒ22 when absolutely necessary. Because of the high-quality elements used in this lens, it has an almost lack of chromatic aberration, and has great colour rendition, good contrast and essentially no distortion at any focal length. The nine-blade circular aperture diaphragm produces a pleasing bokeh.
To extend the reach of the 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens, Olympus has also introduced the new M.Zuiko Digital 1.4X Teleconverter MC-14 ($349.99), making the lens a 56-210mm (112-420mm equivalent). Like the lens, the MC-1.4 is rugged and weather sealed against dust and water. Its optical quality is very good, and you only lose one stop of light when using it, making it a great addition to increase the versatility of the 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens.
In my opinion the ruggedly-built Olympus M.Zuiko ED 40-150mm f/2.8 lens is an all-around excellent, fast zoom lens for outdoor photographers who use m4/3 cameras and is definitely worth checking out.
To read more informative columns from Mark Degner please pick up the Spring/Summer 2015 issue, or subscribe to OPC today and never miss an issue!