Last October, Olympus finally released the Micro Four Thirds (m43) version of their mid-range telephoto 40-150mm (80-300mm equivalent) lens. On the regular Four Thirds (43), Olympus usually pairs this lens with the regular 14-42mm as a dual lens kit. It took some time for them to release this version after 3 m43 bodies, the only option before was the regular four thirds 40-150mm with the MMF-2 adapter included on a dual zoom kit. But I had a problem with this set up as the lens is slow to focus on the m43rds bodies for me so I decided to get the m43 version instead and see if it will perform better.
So why would one want to buy the new 40-150mm over the old one with adapter? I had the lens new 40-150mm lens for a few weeks now and here are my impressions during my field use.
Lens Build and Handling
Surprisingly, the m43 lens is a lot longer than the regular 43 lens by 11mm which is almost equivalent in length when fitted with the MMF-2 adapter. But the m43 version is also noticeably slimmer and significantly lighter at 190g versus the 43’s 220g. The plastic build is solid and being new it’s a bit stiff on initial use. It sure makes the camera a lot bigger but it’s still significantly smaller than regular DSLRs fitted with zooms of the same length. Aesthetically I would have preferred the silver lens as it goes well with the white body but its hard to come by here.
Faster and Silent Autofocus on M43 body
The M43 lens has a different design. Olympus implemented their Movie and Stills Compatible (MSC) design on this lens which claims to have a High-speed Imager AF capabilities. And from personal use, I did find the focusing a lot faster and more fluid than the first M. Zuiko 14-42mm (though they released a new version of this lens with MSC as well). And more importantly its silent focusing is ideal when taking videos. While the AF is fast, I thought it still falters a lot on C-AF (Continues Autofocus) and it doesn’t seem to focus where I want to at times on S-AF (Standard Autofocus) so I had to choose the autofocus points where I need it to be. I’m not sure if the camera’s AF algorithm is to blame for this than the lens.
I’ve had the 2 versions of the regular 43 lens and I thought the new one is a little above in terms of image quality with the regular 40-150mm f4-5.6. It is a lot sharper and had better contrast. The lens also produces decently sharp images especially at f5.6 and the bokeh (background blur), when composed correctly can produce pleasing results. There’s also slight barrel distortion on the wide end and pin-cushioning on the long end but they are negligible and easily corrected. I also noticed some amount of Chromatic Aberration on high contrast photos so make sure to check them especially when shooting on harsh or high contrast lighting if it’s a critical photo.
The M. Zuiko 40-150mm f4-5.6 is a decent lens addition for the Micro Four Thirds lie. Not spectacular but it does its work well as a mid-range zoom. The MSC design is what you are buying into this lens which offers faster and near silent Autofocus compared with the first 14-42mm kit lens. I’m betting we’ll be seeing this lens as a double zoom kit in the future m43 Olympus body along with the new MSC version of the 14-42mm kit lens. But if you currently looking for a mid range zoom the only alternatives are the old version with MMF-2 adapter but it’s a lot slower or the Panasonic’s 45-200mm with an extra 50mm more on the long end but it’s a lot bigger priced a bit higher.
Sample Photos and Videos
Here are some sample photos I took in a nearby zoo in our city, the Rainforest Park. You can check larger versions up to 1280 pixels at flickr. All images are straight out of the camera with only resizing, watermarks and high compression done on the images. Videos are also unedited, uploaded the camera file output.
The Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f4-5.6 MSC’s suggested retail price is US$299