The Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 PRO lens is the company’s latest offering for professionals and semi-professionals looking to get better results in a wide zoom range. With the equivalent field of view of 80-300mm due to the 2x crop factor, this is a lens that portrait photographers, wedding photographers, event photographers, photojournalists and sports shooters alike will want to reach for.
One of the biggest selling points is its weather sealing and all metal construction. To add an extra cherry to the icing, there is internal zooming and a cleverly designed retractable lens hood. But will weather sealing and a constant f2.8 aperture be enough to draw consumers to the lens at such a high price point of $1,499?
Pros and Cons
- Excellent build quality
- You get an 80-300mm f2.8 lens in the size of a standard 24-70mm f2.8 from other manufacturers
- Very sharp wide open
Retractable lens hood is very convenient, but if you want to use the lens without the hood, you essentially need to remove it.
- Focusing ring can be accidentally switched back for manual focusing
We reviewed the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 PRO lens with the OMD EM5, PocketWizard Plus III transceivers, Adorama Flashpoint Streaklight 180 WS, and Westcott six foot parabolic umbrellas.
Tech specs taken from the B&H Photo listing.
|Filter Thread||Front:72 mm|
|Dimensions (DxL)||Approx. 3.13 x 6.30″ (79.4 x 160.0 mm)|
|Weight||31.04 oz (880 g)|
The Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 PRO is a lens with a lot going on. To start, the exterior is entirely metal and the lens feels every bit as so. What Olympus did differently with this lens though has to do with the lens hood. This is the company’s first retractable lens hood that only requires a twist of the ring around it.
When this hood is brought back in on itself, the lens becomes a much more compact package. However, you’ll only really be able to reach a bit of the zooming ring and not much else.
As far as controls go, the lens has two major ones: focusing ring and a zooming ring. The lens zooms internally which means that it won’t get any larger than it is and the focusing ring slide back to go into manual focusing mode.
Otherwise, the lens has a function button on it that interacts with the way that you set up the camera’s function buttons.
If the product shoot for this lens isn’t enough to assure you that the lens is very durable and extremely weather sealed, then we’re not sure what is. Beyond leaving it in the rain and shooting with the lens in inclement weather, the lens was also put in camera bags with thin padding that were bumped by all sorts of nonsense in the NYC subway during busy commutes. The 40-150mm f2.8 PRO took all the bumps and hits like, well, a pro!
Two of our small issues with the lens is that the lens cap can pop off fairly easily and that the lens hood when retracted doesn’t allow you to do much with the lens. When retracted, the hood covers the focusing ring and most of the zooming ring. Not enough of the ring is uncovered to let you easily zoom in or out–and I don’t have very large fingers. For someone with even chubbier appendages, it may prove difficult.
Ease of Use
The 40-150mm f2.8 PRO is a fairly complicated lens. Besides the zooming function, there is a focusing ring that when pulled back will manually focus. While that’s cool, it may be too difficult for those simply lusting after this lens and not knowing its true potential in various situations.
Additionally, the lens has a function button on the side that is fun to use if you indeed need it. With the way that we programmed the OMD EM5 though, we don’t need it at all.
Rest assured though that all you’ll need to do otherwise is pop the hood, turn the camera on, choose a focusing point, focus, and shoot. Taking pictures is just as straight forward as it has ever been.
During our tests we found the lens to usually nail the focusing but sometimes it didn’t when using Olympus’s face tracking feature. In fact, this is the only lens that we’ve used that gave us issues when we turned this on with the OMD EM5.
Besides the bad stuff, the 40-150mm f2.8 PRO focuses like a speed demon. It’s super quick and when combined with proper hand holding techniques and the in-body IS, the lens will yield you blur free and wonderful images. The photo to the left is the exception when you’re looking at the image at 100%. However, as we always stress, most of your clients and the folks looking at the images that you shoot with this lens won’t be pixel peeping.
While focusing performance is about on par with the speed of sound (really, but not really) in good and sufficient lighting, we noticed a drop in performance in lower lit scenarios. For what it’s worth though, the lens and camera still communicate very well together and the lens proved able to focus faster while in low light than some Fujifilm interchangeable lens cameras in sufficient light. Part of this has to do with the fact that Olympus is a class leader when it comes to focusing speed.
Bundle this in with the fact that at f2.8 you have the equivalent of an image at f5.6’s depth of field with a full frame camera and you’ve got yourself a very accurate beast of a lens. Granted, we did sometimes miss even when trying to photograph little English Sparrows in Brooklyn.
With the more fine tuned focusing options that the EM1 and the EM10 offer, this shouldn’t be as much of a quibble. As it is, the EM5 is years old now but is such a good camera that we don’t see a reason to upgrade yet–especially since the sensor delivers similar image quality performance to the other cameras and that I own Voigtlander f0.95 lenses.
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The Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 PRO is a lens that exhibits exceptional image quality that is sharp, contrasty, and detailed, enough to give any Micro Four Thirds user exactly what they want. In some events, like shooting portraits, it’s easy to say that it can be too sharp. Of any Olympus lens that we’ve tested, this one has given us the best results–understandably too for the price point!
We see almost no reason for you to stop this lens down considering the equivalent depth of field of f5.6 on a full frame camera when shooting wide open at f2.8. With the right light in the perfect spot, the 40-150mm f2.8 PRO lens can shine like no other. The sharpness is almost on par with Zeiss/Nikon combination levels in our eyes.
The color rendition of the lens is accurate for the most part, and modern Olympus cameras have the option of making your images warmer. In general, you’ll want the output to be warmer and look more alive.
The best bokeh from this lens comes from this lens at f2.8 at 150mm. We’d describe the bokeh as a mix between creamy and hazy. While it isn’t something to write home to your parents about, note that better bokeh will come from lenses with faster apertures.
That’s why we believe that this lens should have been an f2 or f1.8 zoom.
In our tests, we didn’t see very much color fringing right out of the camera. Indeed though, it came when we boosted the contrast in our images.
Extra Image Samples
- Phenomenal build quality
Retractable lens hood can be very convenient
- Really wish that they would offer an f2 zoom option, or even f1.8.
We spent five days with this aggressively designed piece of glass. Among any of the Olympus zoom lens offerings that we’ve tested, the 40-150mm f2.8 PRO is the one that I loved the absolute most and almost didn’t want to send back. It’s lightweight, fairly small for what it is, fast to focus, offers crisp image quality, is weather sealed, and won’t fail you when working. For the wedding, sports, portrait, or journalism photographer that needs to work with zooms, you should know that Olympus now has the best zoom lens lineup of any manufacturer in the mirrorless camera world. When coupled with the company’s very good 12-40mm f2.8 lens, you won’t encounter a single moment that you can’t capture.
Using this lens is fun, and glass like this reminds us that even though these cameras have small sensors, there is still quite a bit that they can do in the right situations.
What Olympus needs to do now is work on weather sealed prime lenses. They have loads of wonderful, beautiful primes. But working pros would appreciate extra durability.
The Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 PRO lens receives a five out of five star rating and our Editor’s Choice award. Want one? B&H Photo lists the lens for $1,499 at the time of publishing this review.
Recommended Cameras and Accessories
Olympus OMD EM5: This is the camera that we used to test the 40-150mm f2.8 PRO. It’s a wonderful camera still and all you need to do lots of professional grade work. It’s all about the lenses with this one.
Olympus OMD EM1: Olympus’s flagship will perform the best with this camera and take advantage of its fullest potential with autofocusing.
Panasonic GH4: The GH4 is a weather sealed beast of a camera that is bound to perform well with this lens–though not as well as Olympus cameras.