Review: Olympus 14-150mm f4-5.6 II Weather Sealed (Micro Four Thirds)

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When Olympus first showed us their 14-150mm f4-5.6 II, we weren’t incredibly impressed. Wide zoom range, weather sealing, minimal change of an aperture: okay, it’s got a lot going for it. But we’re always skeptical until we get the unit in our hands.

Olympus chose to recreate the 14-150mm f4-5.6 II, and they did so with the incorporation of weather sealing, sharper optics, and a new body overall. Yes, it’s sharp–but if you’re spoiled by the higher end offerings from the Micro Four Thirds world like we are, there is absolutely no looking back.

But if you’re someone that needs an all in one option, then this lens will probably become your best friend.

Pros and Cons

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Pros

– Pretty darn sharp

– Okay bokeh

– Weather sealing gives you an all-in-one lens for travel and street photography work

– Fairly compact size

– At $599.99 you’re getting a big bargain

Cons

– Only f4

Tech Specs

Tech specs taken from the B&H Photo listing of the product

Performance
Focal Length 14 – 150mm
Comparable Four Thirds and Micro 4/3 Focal Length: 28 – 300 mm
Aperture Maximum: f/4 – 5.6
Minimum: f/22
Camera Mount Type Micro Four Thirds
Format Compatibility Micro Four Thirds
Angle of View 75° – 8.2°
Minimum Focus Distance 1.64′ (50 cm)
Magnification 11x
Maximum Reproduction Ratio 1:4
Elements/Groups 15/11
Diaphragm Blades 7, Rounded
Features
Image Stabilization No
Autofocus Yes
Tripod Collar No
Physical
Filter Thread 58 mm
Dimensions (DxL) Approx. 2.5 x 3.3″ (6.35 x 8.38 cm)
Weight 10 oz (284 g)

Gear Used

We tested the Olympus M.Zuiko ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II Lens with the Olympus OMD EM5 and the OMD EM5 Mk II cameras.

Ergonomics

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The Olympus M.Zuiko ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II Lens is one of the company’s weather sealed options for the Micro Four Thirds line of cameras. The lens is dominated by the giant zoom ring that is textured to make grip that much better. The exterior body is made of plastic, or at least it feels that way. Still though, you should know that this lens incorporates weather sealing to pair it well with the company’s higher end cameras.

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The lens is an external zoom offering, which means that it elongates quite a bit when zoomed all the way in. Still though, the lens also remains quite lightweight and not too terribly large overall.

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This lens also has a 58mm filter thread on the front. If you put the filter on, it’s bound to add even more protection to the overall package.

Build Quality

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So ummmm, notice how the product shoot for this review was done in the snow?

And, you know, we put it straight up in the snow?

Well guess what, it took the abuse with no problems. Many lenses out there wouldn’t be able to do this but this lens surely had no issue with the cold–unfortunately we can’t say the same for most New Yorkers.

Indeed, the lens continued to work with no issues. We left it to air dry in the warmth of my apartment after the shoot and it only needed a bit of a wipedown afterward. So while the New York City subway system may fail you, the Olympus M.Zuiko ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II Lens surely won’t.

Autofocus

Olympus has long been highly regarded as a camera company that delivers lenses and cameras that outpace pretty much everyone else when it comes to autofocusing. This lens is absolutely no exception: your subjects will be acquired quickly, quietly, and with little fuss providing you’re using the specific autofocusing points. With the OMD EM5 MK II, it can take a bit longer if you choose to utilize the small focusing point option, but even then it’s still faster than everyone else’s offerings out there.

Travel photographers are the ones that will make the most of this lens’s autofocusing abilities.

Ease of Use

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The Olympus 14-150mm f4.5-5.6 II lens has no controls on it or any custom function buttons. So any control parameters need to be done through the camera: which tends to be common in the mirrorless camera world. But otherwise, there is no reason why you can’t mount it right onto a camera, point, focus, shoot and stare in awe at the images that you’ve just captured.

The main controls on the lens are a focusing ring and a zoom ring function. The lens becomes larger as you zoom into a subject, which means that it isn’t an internal zoom offering. But that shouldn’t be a problem considering how small the lens really is.

Image Quality

The Olympus M.Zuiko ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II Lens is one that is a lens that you can’t really complain about when it comes to image quality. At the price point, we can’t expect the image quality of Olympus’s Pro lenses or their premium offerings, but it’s still no slouch at all.

Bokeh

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Shot at the 150mm end of the image at f5.6, which translates to 300mm at f11

Now take this into consideration. This lens is designed for a four thirds sized sensor. That means that due to the crop factor, f4 is like f8 in the full frame world. So don’t expect a whole lot of bokeh. The bokeh that is there though isn’t all too terrible, and getting lots of glorious bokeh with Four Thirds sensors is tough to do unless you’re Voigtlander.

Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95 shot wide open. You're not going to get bokeh like this with the Olympus offering.

Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95 shot wide open. You’re not going to get bokeh like this with the Olympus offering at the closest focal length

Here’s an example of bokeh that is possible with an f0.95 aperture lens and Four Thirds sensors. This bokeh is nicer than Olympus’s, though not by much.

Sharpness

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Olympus has never really given us a reason to complain about the sharpness of their lenses, though we found this lens to not be as super sharp as some of their other offerings. But for what this lens is (a superzoom with weather sealing) it isn’t too shabby. Olympus’s Pro lenses and premium primes beat this though.

Color Rendition

Olympus lenses usually give very solid color rendition, and the this lens is no exception. However, the results are best with the JPEGs that their cameras put out. The lens delivers a fair amount of contrast, though nowhere as much as Sigma or Zeiss do. In Adobe Lightroom, we liked what we got when we applied Alien Skin’s Kodak Ektachrome color profiles to the images.

If you’re a travel shooter, you’re probably going to want to do the same thing.

Color Fringing

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Unfortunately, we found color fringing in our tests with this lens. Still though, there is no reason for you to cry about it, just incorporate another step. But for a lens at this price and offering so much, you have to expect it.

The fringing only occurs at the most extreme areas of the image.

Extra Image Samples

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Conclusions

Likes

– Pretty sharp for what this lens is

– Weather sealing

– Compact size

– Affordable price

Dislikes

– I’d probably never use a lens like this personally because I’m all about primes

The Olympus 14-150mm f4-5.6 II lens is a really good option for most photographers. It isn’t going to give you the absolute best images, but the images that it delivers are still quite good. If you need a superzoom with weather sealing and a pretty good zoom range, you can’t beat this one. Slap it into your camera and go shooting. You won’t be disappointed; and if you are, you can just fix it in post.

four-star-Phoblographer-Star-rating

We give the Olympus 14-150mm f4-5.6 II lens four out of five stars. Want one? B&H Photo has them right here for you.

Recommended Cameras and Accessories

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Olympus OMD EM1: The company’s flagship camera should really be paired with glass from the higher spectrum, but if you want an all purpose lens, then this one is a great option.

Olympus OMD EM5 Mk II: Olympus’s latest offering pairs very well with this lens due to the balance, size, and focusing performance.