In the absence of a firsthand tryout of crucial new gear, I look to the well-qualified opinions of industry experts. Luminous Landscape’s Kevin Raber is one such. He recently received one of the first M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40- 150mm f/2.8 PRO lenses (Order at B&H Photo Video) to ship. His verdict? “Simply stunning”.
I first encountered the 40-150mm f/2.8 at the Olympus stand at a Sydney trade show earlier this year, or rather a dummy version of one. Mock-ups of the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO and the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 300mm f/4 PRO were on display next to it.
At the time I was in the last days of making my mind up whether to buy into the Micro Four Thirds system via the Panasonic Lumix GH4, primarily for its amazing 4K video capabilities. The GH4 is a great hybrid camera capable of excellent stills too, as indicated by the images on my Flickr account.
The one thing holding me back was the lack of matched sets of top quality lenses of the sort I used in the analog film era. Trying the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO at the show clinched it for me along with the coming three lenses in the set. These appeared to be lenses to hang a career on.
I bought the GH4 and the 12-40mm and waited to hear more about the 40-150mm. A pre-release pair appeared at a subsequent Olympus event and though my tryout was cursory at best, I eagerly waited to see one in the flesh at a local retailer. I am still waiting.
Meanwhile Mr Raber has been putting his pre-ordered 40-150mm to the test and the results are impressive. Even more impressive is what he is getting with the lens on his Olympus E-M1 using its 5-axis In Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) function. His lovely brown cat photographed with the E-M1 and 40-150mm set to a focal length of 142mm at 1/8th of a second at f/5.6? This time it is me saying “stunning”.
The 35mm equivalent of 142mm is 284mm. Handholding an almost 300mm lens at 1/8 was once the fever dream of madmen. Panasonic doesn’t have 5-axis IBIS on its cameras so one must forgo image stabilization when using one of these lenses on your GH4. That is a price I am prepared to pay in return for image quality. I grew up using camcorders on tripods anyway and I am not a handheld camera freak – “queasy cam” as retired movie critic David Stratton calls it.
Stills are another matter. I rarely tripod-mount a stills camera for people pix and I don’t attempt the sort of thing Mr Raber amply demonstrates in his shot of his furry young friend. Perhaps I should and perhaps I need to consider adding an Olympus OMD E-M1 to my revised budget for They Called Him Mr B .
The last thing I want to do is dismantle a Panasonic GH4 movie shooting rig to snap a set of handheld production stills. A movie kit already holding some great Olympus lenses? Makes sense adding an Olympus camera body for stills.
The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40- 150mm
The 40-150mm has an equivalent 35mm full frame focal length of 80-300mm. That’s a remarkable range and with the 1.4 Tele-extender you have a reach of 420mm, all in a remarkable compact lens. This lens weighs in at 1.94 lb. With the tripod collar attached. It has a f/2.8 – f/22 range. It is a little over 6.25 inches in length and about 3 inches in diameter. The filter diameter is 72mm. The lens as you can see in the video above has a very clever lens shade. I must tip my hat to Olympus as they have been ahead of the curve in many aspects and the thought process of engineering the lens hood into the lens as they have is very cool.
There is a lot of talk now about IBIS that will be a photographic term that will be thrown around a lot in the coming months. In Body Image Stabilization is the newest feature being added to cameras. Olympus was the pioneer of 5 – axis IBIS with the must be experienced to be truly appreciated. Sony just announced 5-axis IBIS in the Ar II camera that will be shipping December 12. We are testing that camera now.
Since using the Olympus, I have been shooting long exposure handheld images at shutter speeds I would not think possible even with normal lens stabilization. This is even more evident in the images I have been making with the 40-150mm lens. I was able to shoot handheld with this lens at 1/8th of a sec. and produced great results. (see the image of my cat Pixel below).
I have fallen in love with this lens. Using the Dual Phase and Contrast detection AF in the E-M1 body, this lens focuses very quickly and follows subjects very well. The E-M1 is a very versatile camera and allows for a few different ways to use auto focus. I tested the lens by putting it on a tripod and using the touch screen I selected close and far away focus points and watched how fast it could adjust as I touched the screen at different locations. I was very impressed by the responsiveness.
See full article at Luminous Landscape “The Olympus 40-150mm Lens”
(cover photo credit: snap from Luminous Landscape)