Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 R – Real World Review

Hand Held, ISO 200, 150mm, f/5.6, 1/125 sec
8 Build Quality
8 Image Quality
8 Handling
10 Value
8.5

I’ve taken a break from shooting with the Nikon D600 for a while and picked the Olympus OMD EM5 back up, I figured if it was good enough for everyone over at DPReviews (recently ranked the number one camera of 2012 by users of that site) then it’s good enough for me.  I initially purchased the 40-150mm for my EPL-1 and a trip to Barbados thinking I would get some nice shots of tropical birds.  All the exotic birds were bashful so you’ll have to settle with birds from the local aviary that I photographed last year.  You see, the 40-150 focal length on a M4/3 camera is equivalent to 80-300mm on a full frame (35mm) camera so it’s got some reach.  I’ve downsized my M4/3 lens collection but this lens has stayed with me, I don’t use it a ton because I like shorter focal lengths but it’s nice to know I have the reach if I need it.

The image at the top of the page was shot handheld at ISO 200, 150mm, f/5.6, 1/125 sec without a flash.

First Impressions

The first thing you’ll notice with this lens is that it’s probably the smallest 80-300mm (equivalent) lens you’ve ever peeped on your neighbors with handled.  The next thing you’ll notice is that it extends like a light saber, you can forget about being incognito with this lens.  Being inconspicuous is not what this lens is for, it’s designed to travel well and give you adequate reach with an adequate image.  It’s light, it’s small, and it’s sharper than a $200, 40-150mm lens ought to be.  But is it sharp enough?  If you want a sharper lens that covers the same focal length you’ll have to bust your piggy bank open and shell out over $1,000, anything else is a waste of money.

Image Quality

It’s not a pro lens, as soon as you realize and accept this the happier you will be with this gem.  Distortion on the M4/3 lens is really a non issue, the camera corrects distortion automatically (it’s less than 1% barrel distortion to pincushion).  Vignetting is also not a problem, especially if you have access to Photoshop or Lightroom 4.  Chromatic Aberrations are visible at the wide end (also not a problem if you have Lightroom 4 or Photoshop, fixed at the click of a button).  And now for some quality nut shelling:  The lens is good, it’s sharp up to 100mm and then there is a slight softening of the image from 100-150mm.

Conclusion

This is a quality lens for the enthusiast or beginner, the best part is the price.  At $200 you won’t hate yourself after buying this lens and if you break it you will not be $1,ooo mad.  Speaking of breaking things, don’t drop this lens because it’s made out of plastic.  Them are the breaks when you’re trying to build a small, light lens for only $200.  As far as image quality, if I had to put it on a scale of 1 to 5 (five being the best) I’d say it’s a solid 3.  That’s not bad when you consider the format and limited options of lenses available.

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