Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8 PRO Lens Review
The Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro is Rugged enough to take heavy use.
Part of the Olympus micro 4/3 PRO series, this Micro Four Thirds lens it’s an 80-300mm full frame equivalent.
It provides a constant bright f/2.8 aperture, weather sealing and excellent metal build quality. For mirrorless cameras only.
- Who is this lens for
- Build quality and handling
- Sharpness and image quality
- Portrait and close distance focus
- Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm F.28 PRO lens for landscape photography
- The MC-14 1.4x Teleconverter
I’ve been wanting to write a review of this lens for a while, finally here it is, a complete review of the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO lens.
If you’ve been following me on this blog or on Instagram you’d know that I’m not a professional photographer. A lot times people ask me why I buy professional gear even though I’m not a pro. My answer is that, photography is my passion and I love to use good tools. As simple as that.
When it comes to buy a new lens, I am very meticulous about my research and go over all the pros and cons of it with great detail.
These are the steps I go through before buying new gear:
- Find as many reputable online reviews, blogs or youtube videos and read/watch them all
- Ask people I trust that already owns it or know about it
- Borrow it from someone or go to the shop and try it for myself if possible
I bought this lens last year before my trip to New Zealand so I had the chance to do several tests and I hope this review can be useful to give you a better idea of its value in case you are looking to buy it.
Who is this lens for?
If you’re reading this review it means you already own a Micro Four Thirds sensor camera, maybe an Olympus body or looking into buy one.
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you to read my review of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II here.
Or if you want to know more about what Micro Four Thirds systems read my article What is a Micro Four Thirds camera?
Otherwise, please go ahead and discover more about the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro telephoto lens.
The 40-150mm is an excellent choice for outdoor photographers.
I mainly shoot landscapes and when I bought my camera I only needed one lens to start my journey in landscape photography.
But it didn’t take long until I decided to challenge myself and look for a telephoto lens to be able to take photos from different angles, try new compositions and explore different styles. Not the newest lens in the Olympus PRO lineup, but definitely what I was looking for, the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro was the right choice for me to cover a wide focal length spectrum, since at that time I owned the M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO.
Be aware, if you are looking for a cheap lens you are not going to find one here.
The Olympus 40-150mm Pro is made for professionals and it has been built with extreme quality in mind.
It’s not heavy, but very solid, versatile and it performs really well in different scenarios.
Let’s discover more.
Build quality and handling
Built completely out of metal, the rugged build quality is exactly what you would expect from an Olympus PRO lens.
PRO in “Olympus-land” is synonym with innovative design, weather sealed, dust, splash and freeze proof and impeccable construction quality.
It’s literally built to withstand just about anything you can throw at it. When you combine it with the Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II you basically have a system that can resist all of the elements.
Weight is under 900g (~880g or 32 ounces)
Length is 160mm (6″) with lens hood retracted.
Not bad for a tele photo lens. By no means a small one, but definitely much smaller than its full frames counter parts.
On a 35mm format an equivalent 300mm reach and constant F/2.8 aperture would be far bigger and at least twice as heavy. Considering the speed and range of the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro, its size becomes almost irrelevant. More on performance later.
The lens comes with a very sleek retractable lens hood, made of high grade solid plastic. With a slight twist of a smart locking ring it can be collapsed and allows it to fit into small camera bags. Very convenient to carry around.
A rotating tripod collar is also included as you would expect and can be removed if you’re going to hand hold the lens (I leave it on almost all the time).
Zoom and focus rings are very smooth and quite sublime to use. The Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro has a L-Fn button which can be programmed if used on Olympus bodies.
Handling the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm F/2.8 PRO is quite comfortable too. A small camera body like the Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II might make it feel a bit unbalanced at first and someone recommends to use it in conjunction with the Olympus battery grip holder to give you more comfort when holding it. I use it without it and honestly I never felt like the camera body was too small for this lens. I’ll write an update when I’ll try it with the Olympus battery holder.
Lastly the filter thread is a big 72mm in diameter.
Sharpness and image quality
From a pro lens like this you’d expect high quality images and excellent sharpness and you’re right. Luckily the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro doesn’t betray expectations. When it comes to sharpness it’s one of the best!
It has been said that the sharpness of the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO is as good as a prime lens!
The constant aperture of f/2.8 is maintained throughout the focal range with a min aperture of f/22. After many photos and tests I can say that the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 is extremely sharp at all focal lengths even at wide open aperture. The amount of detail and contrast is impressive and sharpness is nearly the same from centre to corners.
Vignetting is not a problem at all since it’s very minimal at f/2.8. Close to zero and ignorable from f/4.0.
Sharpest results are obtained at f4/F5.6, where centre to edge clarity is just outstanding. At 150mm best results are obtained between f5/6 and f8.
Again, at f/2.8 images are very sharp too.
In RAW files no chromatic aberration is apparent even at high contrast shooting conditions. Same applies to vignetting and linear distortion, no apparent trace. Other websites are much more equipped to provide graphs and accurate analysis on these aspects so I suggest you do a little research if you’d like to dig deeper into numbers and charts, but all I can say from a naked eye perspective, is that this lens performs great also at its widest aperture.
Also noticeable is the fact that any minimal distortion or chromatic aberration are software corrected in JPEGs, so it’s a bit difficult to talk about these aspects in this case. The software correction doesn’t take out all chromatic aberration in the very corners, but the produced result is good enough that most people would just ignore it.
The human eye, with its excellent depth of field does a poor job creating the bokeh that we all love seeing in photos. One of the most exciting things to try and experiment with, when you get a new lens is to test how much you can blur the background of your photos. Don’t we all do the same?
But remember, we are in the Micro Four Thirds “world” and it could be slightly harder to deliver a very shallow depth of field with this format. It’s very achievable nonetheless and knowing how to use theOlympus 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro you can certainly exploit its strengths and deliver an excellent blurry and creamy background. Yes because the 40-150mm is an outstanding performer in this area both with and without the MC-14 teleconverter.
The aperture diaphragm of the Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8 PRO is loaded with nine aperture blades which predicts nice circular bokeh balls in the out of focus areas. As you can see from the images, results are very good at apertures from f/2.8 to f/4 with creamy smooth backgrounds and the subject popping out, appearing fully separated from the background and in an almost three-dimensional effect. Onion ring issues of the out of focus rings are not noticeable in my opinion.
Want to know more about how to obtain an excellent bokeh? Read my post Bokeh. How to blur the background of a photo?
I don’t like to over celebrate features, but in this case what else can I say if not that the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO has an outstanding autofocus, super quiet and very fast. Superb!
The Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 uses an industry first technology called Dual Voice Coil Motor AF system (Dual VCM). It’s a technology created by Olympus itself and a development of the Olympus original Movie and Still Compatible (MSC) mechanism. The Dual MVC uses two linear motors to move two small, independent groups of lens elements. This makes autofocus on the 40-150mm very fast and extremely quiet. It also allows you to use this lens for a relatively close focus of 70cm (2.3 feet). Yes you could almost use it for macro shots too. Impressive!
In terms of speed, in Single Autofocus (S-AF) the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO does not show any hesitation, it focuses seamlessly and instantaneously in all shots and at various focal lengths producing stunningly sharp detail at an unbelievable accuracy and speed. It’s worth noting that during Auto Focus, the front element does not extend or move, making accessories such as external filters and circular polarizers easy to use with this lens.
I’ve read online some critiques for its performance in C-AF. Historically micro four thirds systems have always had issues with auto focus tracking and fast moving subjects. But I didn’t have any problems at all with the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO combined with the EM-1 Mark II body.
The “issue” that people might have encountered is that it focuses a bit “too fast”. This is not a negative, but sometimes depending on the type of shoot, especially for action, the continuous focus beats you at keeping pace with the subject. It re-focuses so fast that to avoid losing track with the subject all it’s needed is going into the settings menu and tweak the C-AF locks to slow it down a notch. Problem solved. You can try and see what is the best AF lock setting for the type of action you’re shooting. Let me know in the comments below the results.
I don’t shoot a lot of sports, but to get some kind of benchmarks of it’s tracking capability I tested it at different burst speeds with surfers and here’s the results. How do you find it?
To shoot in manual focus you just need to pull the focus ring back towards the camera. This reveals distance marks in feet and metres. These marks are covered when using autofocus mode.
The Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm lens has also a L-Fn button, which allows users to suspend continuous AF when something suddenly comes between the lens and your subject.
Portrait and close distance focus
I rarely shoot portraits, but for this review I made an exception. Bear with me if the portrait results are not as good as a more experienced portrait photographer would achieve.
With a tele photo lens like the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm F/2.8 PRO and the ability to get really close to the subject, once again you can see for yourself the really attractive isolation of the main subject from the background and the creamy smooth effect.
As I said before, despite not being created as a macro lens, there’s actually some value in it for this type of shooting. As the minimal focus distance is 70cm, at 150mm focal length (300mm equivalent) to be at this short distance from the subject and still being able to focus it’s pretty amazing. Check out these images.
Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm F.28 PRO lens for landscape photography
What? A telephoto lens for landscapes? Well here’s how I use it. While wide angle lenses are the obvious choice for a lens when shooting landscapes, the are a lot of times when you really need to have a telephoto lens in your camera bag to get the most out of a scene.
These are some of the main composition techniques you could use on a landscape photo, with this type of lens:
- compress the perspective
- minimal and abstract compositions
- single point of interest
- exclude the sky
Let’s see some examples.
The MC-14 1.4x Teleconverter
The MC-14 teleconverter extends the focal length by a factor of 1.4 times.
It’s tiny, rugged, metal built and weather sealed. It’s made up of six optical elements, including one high refractive (HR) element and it has the same robust look and feel of the Olympus M.Zuiko PRO lenses.
As normal the maximum aperture is reduced from F/2.8 to F/4 but neither the constant maximum aperture nor the minimum focusing distance are affected. With the teleconverter on, the focal length range becomes 56-210mm (112-420mm full frame equivalent). I think that a comparison between the performance of the lens with and without teleconverter on deserves its own space, so I’ll soo write more about it. For now all I can tell you is that even with the MC-14 Teleconverter on, the lens performs at its best and the extra reach it’s definitely worth the extra money.
To conclude, as with all the PRO series lenses, Olympus has pushed the definition of build quality. At a price of $1,499 ($1,545 including teleconverter is a real bargain) The Olympus 40-150mm Pro it’s not a cheap lens, but weather sealing, superior build quality and constant f/2.8 aperture throughout the entire focal range make this telephoto lens a marvel of engineering and owners of OM-D cameras will find great value for money. While the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens could suit the Panasonic GX7, Panasonic owners should consider that this lens works excellently with OM-D systems with in-body stabilisation since it lacks of integrated optical stabilisation.
Let me know what you think about this lens and if you have questions or notice something incorrect in y review, don’t hesitate to write me in the comments below!