There were signs of intriguing things to come when Olympus released its M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro lens alongside the OM-D E-M1 camera last year. This first of a new series of lenses, the M.Zuiko Pro series, was intended to rival or surpass the optics and build quality of Olympus’ legendary Four Thirds High Grade (HG) lens series.
Reviews of the 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro lens heaped praise on it and positioned it as pro quality glass. I recently did some informal tests of the lens with the intention of mating it to a Panasonic GH4 for 4K movie production and I wholeheartedly agree.
Here comes the 40 to 150
It is exciting, then, to learn that the next lens in the M.Zuiko Pro lineup is about to arrive – the M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F2.8 Pro. Even better, there are two more M.Zuiko Pro lenses to come sometime in 2015 – the M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm F2.8 Pro and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 300 F4 Pro.
When I began assembling a kit for making independent short movies and feature documentaries as a one-person crew with limited to almost zero budgets, high on my list was a matched set of pro quality lenses that would stand up to heavy use and challenging conditions.
I was open to a set of matched prime lenses or a set of matched zoom lenses from 10mm at widest to around 50mm at the longest focal length. I soon ruled out primes – the wide end appeared under-catered for. So zooms it is.
Settling on the top end standard
I have gladly settled on the Olympus 12-40mm as my standard, carry-anywhere, lens. Michael Reichmann’s recent article The Mirrorless Revolution at The Luminous Landscape reminded me that the 7-14mm is on its way to satisfy my need for wide, up close and personal. That takes care of an opening scene inside the cockpit of one of the last flying boats for a feature documentary I have in pre-production.
The space-compressing shots I have been visualizing for other key scenes set in the Mad Max country will be well catered for by the 40-150mm zoom and if I really want to go for the maximum then there is the 300mm telephoto.
The knowledge that this set of lenses – super wide to super telephoto – will be available by the time it comes to shooting is reassuring indeed. One less weight on my mind. Even better is that the specs for all the M.Zuiko Pro lenses include excellent optical quality, small size, light weight, dust-proofing, splash-proofing and freeze resistance.
And then there is the consistency of the 2.8 maximum aperture for all the zoom lenses. Brilliant for intimate scenes shot in fairly poor light.
Easy switching to manual focus
The Manual Clutch Focus (MFC) mechanism tipped the balance in favour of Olympus zooms when I picked up the M.Zuiko 12-40mm Pro lens. I need repeatable focus and the focusing ring action felt good and smooth. Pulling the clutch towards me was all required to tell the camera to flip from auto to manual focussing. The less for me to think about the better.
If the 40-150mm lens equals or surpasses the qualities of the 12-40mm then I will be well pleased. I am looking forward to the other two lenses, the super wide zoom and the long telephoto, when they arrive next year. Another option that has me intrigued is the M.Zuiko Digital 1.4x teleconvertor to arrive at the same time as the 40-150mm.
The teleconvertor is, reportedly, the first to be made for mirrorless aka Compact System Cameras (CSCs) and it may be a great stand-in for the 300mm telephoto for me at least. Weight will always be a big consideration for me as a one-person crew. The loss of a stop in aperture caused by connecting the teleconvertor to the 40-150mm is more than compensated for by its negligible extra weight.
The teleconverter effectively turns the 40-150mm lens into a 56mm to 210mm zoom. In 35mm equivalent terms, the lens then becomes the equivalent of a 112mm to 420mm zoom. More then long enough at the long end of the scale for my needs.
Olympus has also announced the very first protection filter to carry the Zuiko high quality designation, the Zuiko PRF-ZD72 Pro.
The lens shortlist for my next doco feature
So here is what it comes down to for the minimum lens requirements for my feature documentary They Called Him Mr B, from wide to long:
• M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm F2.8 Pro
• M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 Pro
• M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F2.8 Pro
• M.Zuiko Digital 1.4x Teleconverter
• Zuiko PRF-ZD72 Pro protection filter for the 40-150mm lens.
The complete set of lenses for an intense, low-budget feature documentary shoot from outback Australia to the highlands of Papua New Guinea, all able to fit into one backpack on one not-terribly-strong director/cinematographer. Not bad at all.
Olympus M.Zuiko ED 40 150mm f28 PRO
Olympus Press Release
SYDNEY – 15 September 2014
Olympus Imaging Australia has today announced the launch of the new but long anticipated M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f2.8 PRO professional telephoto zoom lens.
The second, released lens in the M.Zuiko PRO category of professional lenses, the new M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f2.8 PRO boasts high optical performance, splash & dust proof construction and robustness, extremely high image quality under any conditions. It is the perfect lens for all customers seeking a depictive power and mobility that satisfies professional standards.
Together with the current standard-wide M.Zuiko ED 12-40mm f2.8 PRO zoom lens, this professional lens pair covers the focal length from 24mm to 300mm (35mm equivalent), with the same bright f2.8 constant aperture. Combined with the OM-D E-M1, these lenses will provide the professional photographer with all-condition imaging confidence.
The new M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f2.8 PRO is expected to be available in November 2014 and the recommended retail price is to be announced.
Olympus Imaging Australia Pty Ltd is a subsidiary of Olympus Corporation, headquartered in Japan. Olympus Imaging Australia is responsible for the marketing and distribution of Olympus consumer products in Australia and New Zealand, and through Olympus agents and dealers in Papua New Guinea, Tahiti and the South Pacific region.
The Olympus consumer range encompasses still and video imaging products, binoculars and digital audio recorders. Your Vision, Our Future. olympus.com.au
(cover photo credit: snap from Olympus)
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