- Extremely well-built lens with weathersealing, smooth zoom action and great handling
- Fast and accurate autofocus in good light
- Very sharp throughout the zoom range, right from f/2.8
- Extremely low distortion
- Good control of chromatic aberration and vignetting
- Excellent color and contrast produces rich, natural images at all focal lengths and apertures
- Great close-focus ability
- Included lens hood provides good shading and features a convenient slide out mechanism
- Included tripod collar works smoothly and easily
- While not too large considering the range and aperture, it’s quite substantial compared to other Micro 4/3 lenses
- Autofocus can hunt in low light
- Bokeh can get nervous in some situations
- Terrible against bright light, with massively reduced contrast and bright purple ghosts
The Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO has been a hotly anticipated lens with very high expectations, and for the most part, it meets those expectations. The lens is very sharp right from f/2.8 across the frame, especially in typical portrait focus distances, and it has a very natural color rendition with good contrast at any setting. While bokeh is average at best, the lens also keeps chromatic aberrations in check (except at the wide end) and is surprisingly free of distortion.
The 40-150mm f/2.8 is a big lens for Micro 4/3, and it adds notable weight to your bag in comparison with the majority of the other lenses in the system. If size and weight are a major concern, you may want to give the excellent Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8 a look instead. However, when I normally shoot with a 70-200mm equivalent lens, I sometimes run into situations where I just wish I had that little extra bit of reach, and the 40-150mm fills that need, and I appreciated the extra range many times during my shooting with the lens.
While the lens is predominantly stellar, there are a few things to watch out for. The lens flares badly when the sun is included in the frame or just out of it, and the autofocus can sometimes have trouble in dim light on an Olympus E-M5, but overall, I really enjoyed shooting with the 40-150mm. It’s got a fantastic range, excellent optical quality and a robust build quality that oozes professionalism. It is well worthy of the PRO label etched into the lens barrel.
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33 thoughts on “Review: Olympus M. Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO”
Thanks for this.
The flare isn’t surprising. A cursory look at lenstip.com reviews shows that most telephoto zooms do fairly poorly in this regard.
And while the bokeh is a bit busy, it still looks like a vast improvment over the Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5.
Thanks for this review, Jordan.
I was hoping you would have compared the Oly to the Pany 35-100 at their overlapping range.
From 40 to 100, how do they both compare? Mostly in terms of sharpness, bokeh, AF and flare?
Thanks a lot!
Unfortunately I don’t have the 35-100 any more, so I couldn’t do a head to head. In general terms, I think the Olympus is a bit sharper (though we’re splitting hairs here), especially at the longer end. Bokeh is pretty close…maybe a slight nod to the Panasonic. AF is very similar in speed, though I found the Panasonic a bit better in dimmer light. The Panny is way better in the flare department, and it’s a lot lighter and smaller. The range of the Olympus is really useful, though, so I think for most people it’s going to come down to size vs. reach when deciding between the two lenses. Both are stellar.
Thanks for the comparison with the Pany.
I agree, I think these lenses fulfill different need/purpose given how much they differ in terms of size.
Do you plan on testing the Oly with the 1.4x converter as well?
It could be a very interesting combo for wildlife for sure.
For flare, it looks as though you have my Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8. I’m constantly surprised at how bad it is, and how the repair facility stated that it was normal.
I was shocked while using a pre-production Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 at the same time as the Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8. With lens hoods in use and the sun out of frame for the Panasonic, and the sun in frame for the Olympus, the Panasonic was horrible and the Olympus showed barely any problem.
After 1.5 years with the 12-40mm f/2.8, I’ve found ways to record flare. I just wonder if the coatings are not applied consistently at factories producing any of these lenses.
Hi, great review!
Did you test it with the latest E-M5 firmware update? It should improve autofocus precision in combination with this lens…
Yes, I did the firmware update the day after I got the lens.
Jordan, good review. I am considering this lens for my OMD E 1 but I am also looking at the Olympus 75 mm lens. Have you had a chance to review that lens? It’s a tough decision. The reason I use micro four thirds is the size and weight advantage it seems this lens contradictes that assumption. Let ne know if you have ever looked at the 75 mm lens?
My 75mm review is here: https://admiringlight.com/blog/review-olympus-m-zuiko-75mm-f1-8-ed-msc/
All my reviews can be found by clicking on the Review Index in the main bar at the top of the page.
You should also check the Robin Wong blog about the 40-150mm vs 75mm.
40-150mm is so close to 75mm that it is identical.
I’ve got both and I’ll use them in very different ways – the 75mm is for the best low dof and for ultralight travelling (I cycle & motorcycle with that + the 12-40mm). I was expecting to say that I’d use the 75 for ultimate sharpness too, but my first test shots from the 40-150 are so far beyond anything I’ve seen from a zoom that I’m not so sure now.
I never fail to be amazed by the amount of people who always find the need to comment on the size of a lens as if just because it’s Micro Four Thirds any lens longer than 50 mm should be built to ever diminishing dimensions and weight. If only this were possible, just think, the Micro Four Thirds system would be dead in its tracks as all those big heavy lenses used by the FF army would all be as small as the Oly 75mm prime and 12-40mm zoom, the only benefits left for Oly and Pana would be the smaller bodies in the system, as the gains from the telephoto end of lenses would be no more.
The size is especially important for this lens just because you have a very comparable alternative. Panny 35-100 2.8 has mostly the same optics, speed and build (build is not as rugged but still good and weather sealed).
There area only two differences size and reach. (assuming you have an Olympus body I will ignore stabilization)
What you need to consider is that if you want to sacrifice carrying a lens with 2 times the weight for 50% more reach. And this comes down to personal need.
For my needs i very much prefer having a smaller lens. I realized I carry it with me more often. Even when I am not necessarily going out for photographic purposes.
Excellent review. I would really like to see how this ones compares with Fuji 50-140 and Samsung 50-150.
I hope to have the Fuji in for review sometime in the next week or so. The Samsung may be more challenging, but I really want to get a hold of the NX1, 16-50 and 50-150 for testing.
Great review. i love your images how do you post process them? What are you doing? if Jpegs, what settings?
Keep up the great work
I’m surprised that the click-back manual focus ring has the stepping issue of the 12mm f/2. I’d figured that Olympus had figured that out already with the 17mm. These kinds of steps backwards are disappointing, although this lens is too big for what I want to do anyway. I Am surprised that it didn’t make your “cons” list.
Another angle (since this lens is so expensive)…
There are really two reasons to own a fast zoom lens:
1) Low light gathering performance
2) Subject isolation, or bokeh performance
Not that this Oly doesn’t sound like a really great MFT lens, but…
If a person is trying to obtain light performance, and/or have the best bokeh, full frame is really the ONLY way to go (believe me, I have tried working against that fact, but it doesn’t work).
Of course a person may want to stay in the MFT ecosystem for whatever reasons (I own a GX7 myself), and of course that’s fine, but…
For the same money as this lens, a person can just about buy a decent used full frame camera, AND a used 70-200 2.8.
Now no, you won’t be getting the sharpest lens for that money, but you WILL be getting noticeably better low -light and bokeh performance than this Oly lens…and again, those are really the ONLY reasons to buy a 70-200 2.8 in the first place.
Which FF body +70-200/2.8 can you get for $1500?
Thanks for the review, but why couldn’t you post just one image at full resolution?
Jordan thanks for the follow up about the 75mm lens I may have to put that on my forward purchase list going forward. Good review.
FF cameras do not make a good photograph. The photographer does. We all know that FF cameras offer lower noise and better resolution. The advantages a top-end FF body( 1DX or D4) has are:
-the ability to print gnormous prints with 2-stops less noise and somewhat better resolution.
-high-speed, sequenced-images with decent, but not perfect C-AF(only Canon and Nikon, not Sony).
-2-stops shallower DOF with better bokeh.
– a wider range of lenses.
As a working pro with a newspaper and published freelance images for NG, CNN, NASA, etc…I’ll tell you, I have sold most of my top-end Canon system and L lenses. I have only kept my 200 f1.8…fabulous sharpness and bokeh for the rare occasions I absolutely must have it. I now do 98% of all my work now with the OLY EM-1. For any newspaper or magazine print, the EM-1 gets the same results as the big, heavy guns. And more. The benefits of a top-quality lightweight system cannot be understated:
-After 30+ years of lugging heavy SLRs and DSLRs with their heavy lenses, my body cannot take any more. The OLY system is so lightweight, I am no longer arm, shoulder, neck sore. Though I cannot reverse the long term damage to my joints (arthritis) that my heavy equipment caused. Ask any experienced pro has his back and neck feels.
-The built-in IS allows me to get pics my Canon bodies don’t.
-The tilt screen allows me to get angles my Canon bodies didn’t.
-Ultra-quick S-AF with a higher in-focus keeper rate. One advantage of the Contrast-Detect AF.
-With a non-M43 system, you have to do the tiresome calibration of each lens to each body, otherwise shooting wide open may be off-focus. I had to do this calibration with my 200 f1.8L and my 135 f2L with each of my bodies.
-the image sharpness and contrast of the OLY 75 f1.8 and 12-40 f2.8 easily matches or betters my 135f2L and 24-70L…at a fraction of the cost.
-No more strains, sprains nor fatigue. Shooting is fun again. Can’t wait to get my hands on the 40-150 f2.8 and the 1.4X…the only thing that this high quality pro system was missing for most occasions. The upcoming 600 f4 will offer more possibilities.
If you don’t need the shallow DOF and don’t print large, it is not problem using m43. I even know many photographers of our local newspapers using their IPhones only! Probably, you had the disadvantage to use gear during a less technically advanced area. Since today many cameras provide for small and capable packages. A D750 with primes gives you a very light weight option, which certainly won’t stress your joints dramatically (D750 + 20,50,85 1.8G). Use a 70-300 4-5.6 zoom in addition and you are fine (will give you similar DOF and even stabilisation + articulated screen to the new Oly at a fraction of the price). I use both FF + Oly, the Oly only when traveling far. What I get from FF is much better in my and my wifes opinion (fine tuning is not a problem anymore and works fine with all primes) in terms of noise, tonality and DOF control. The one thing I don’t like about m43 is the lens prices of the better quality lenses (75,42.5, 12-40 …), since our photography is about achieving shallow DOF. For those who can live without needing this, m43 is plenty. The new lens attracted me, but the bokeh is a little too harsh for me and when combining it with the TC you have a 400/F8 in terms of AOV, DOF. Subject separation is quite difficult if your bird is not far away from a distracting background.
You’re correct. If the best bokeh and shallow DOF is what you want, the FF is best.
I rarely need it. And kept my 200 f1.8L for those few occasions.
YES, the best OLY lenses are not inexpensive…but they do cost less, almost half than similar quality Canon L lenses. As stated, the best OLY lenses are as good or better. You must try them to see this for yourself. No softness whatsoever…especially in the corners…a weakness of FF images shot wide-open.
I did a UFC event this year with my 75 f1.8, I was 3.5 feet away from the octagon. My images were sharper than those of a buddy who was shooting with a 70-200 M2 f:2.8 with a 6D (FF). We both shot at 1/3200 sec. He couldn’t believe the detail on the fighters’ faces. I was shooting at f1.8, 800 ISO and S-AF. The AF is instantaneous.
I used my 12-40 f2.8 only when fighters were close to the cage and as they walked out.
For press assignments, I only shoot jpg. Unlike my Canon images, I never have to add PP sharpening. The OLY algorithm is very good. So is the WB.
You can print very large, 5 feet (1.5m) wide and you still get very great results that people will amaze. I have done couple meters size and people amaze the sharpness and details.
All what is required is that you nail the focus and you eliminate the camera motion blur.
The 135 format 36Mpix sensor has negligent difference to 16Mpix 4/3 sensor. You need 64Mpix 135 sensor to really see a difference.
And 135 format shooters have long time already learned that 10-12Mpix offers possibilities to make huge sharp prints, and you are not looking those from 50cm distance.
As sample: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VHuY4cIrSk&t=60
And one o those is taken with Nikon D3s, a camera that as 12.1Mpix sensor!
Everyone already knows this ad I suppose: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39tFGoO4008
But you really can make large great looking prints from 4/3 sensor. You can even make over 4×3 meter size prints. Meaning that one pixel from current 16Mpix m4/3 camera is 1×1 millimeters by size. _one millimeter_. Now, you can go close proximity and look how detailed the photo is, or you can step back to see the whole frame filling one room in your house and yet get your mind blowed because it is sharp and very detailed HUGE print (if people would often see and get those size prints).
The 135 format doesn’t have a edge in large prints, it doesn’t have edge in noise. It doesn’t have edge in the shallow depth of field. Instead 135 format has limits, as m4/3 cameras has 2 stop benefit receiving more light for same depth of field. And you want your subject to be in focus, you want your subjects in group photograph to have their faces in focus, you want your landscape to be in focus from foreground to background, you want your subject in macrophotography to be in focus, you don’t want out of focus photographs! A many m4/3 lens is sharper than 135 format lens already from from the wide open and 135 format lenses needs to be stopped down to f/4 or f/5.6 level to get that sharpness, And if you stop down m4/3 lens to f/4, it is almost twice as sharp at that point than 135 format lens.
We have digital technology to minimize noise and grain, we can add contrast and sharpen details where needed high levels, we can easily even blur areas that are little bit defocus and get it look natural with good bokeh.
Instead what we can’t do easily is to get out of focus subject or motion blurred subject back in the focus.
With m4/3 we get 2 stops more light than 135 format gets, and that we can use to either faster shutter speed or lower ISO, or to both. We can lighten the subject further with our flashes, or we can get twice amount of cycles from our flash because we can use smaller power.
But with m4/3 we have penalty as well, we need more often use ND filter as the sensor receives 2 stops more light, so we easily hit to fastest possible shutter speed limits or diffraction limit or we can’t get lower ISO. So we swap the light gathering power of 2 stops to requirement to carry ND filters with us to stop down 2-3 stops.
There are people who hunts the “out of focus” photographs, where they want that their subject is perfectly sharp and background is perfectly blur. There is no difference in that between 135 and 4/3 formats. Same possibilities with both.
Yet people like to say “But the m4/3 camera doesn’t blur so…”. Answer for that is just “learn to take photographs”.
I agree with everything you said. FF definitely has a few drawbacks, perhaps the biggest one being size/weight.
If this lens was maybe $1200 or less, it starts to make sense to buy it over a FF/Lens combo for the specific purpose of what this kind of lens is typically bought for…low light performance and bokeh.
I would love to jump completely to APS-C or MFT, but I shoot indoor high school sports (crappy light of course), an FF just can’t be beat for the HI-ISO noise performance.
You’re absolutely right. FF has a 2-stop advantage in low light situations…when there is movement involved, ie indoor sports. It’s why I still have my 200 f1.8L.
On the other hand, noise doesn’t affect me as much as purists. The content of the image is always more important than the noise-quality. High speed 35 mm film was much noisier than today’s sensors. And the pictures told a thousand words.
Again, FF is visibly better for large sized images. I’ve chosen to trade off a little bit of image quality for much better comfort and a smaller footprint. I still get the shot.
Olympus has updated their firmware twice to accomodate the 40-150mm F2.8 lens. The newest firmware – version 2.2 was released to correct some focusing issues in version 2.1. I would like to know which version of the firmware was used in conducting this review. I own this lens, use it with my E-m1 and have not noticed focusing difficultites after updating the firmware to version 2.2. I used firmware version for 3 days and had some focusing difficulties.
Wow, i like the grass-photo you made.
Agreed, the grass photo caught my attention. Looking forward to this lens arriving tomorrow and seeing if it and the
EM-1 can kick the D810 out of my bag for travel.
My lens arrived Friday and almost my first use of it on my E-M1 was available light shooting @1600iso in the Kunsthistorisches museum in Vienna – I was startled by how fast the low-light focussing is. Initial results support your “stellar” assessment, even without the latest 2.1 firmware.