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Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 Lens Review

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6, a telephoto zoom lens for Four Thirds system compatible cameras.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Olympus Zuiko Digital 40-150mm 1:4.0-5.6
Price : £489
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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification



This telephoto zoom for Four Thirds system compatible cameras is available from around £210 and sports a fast, silent focusing motor.

Panasonic's 45-200mm lens costs around £240, but adds another 50mm to the telephoto end of the zoom range as well as in-lens stabilisation.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6: Handling and features

Weighing only 190g, this lens is very compact and lightweight for one covering a range like this, and it balances well on the Olympus E-PL1 used for testing. The lens barrel is constructed from good quality plastics and the lens mount is plastic also, which probably contributes to the light weight of the lens.

Zooming the lens to 150mm virtually doubles its length. The zoom and focus rings are both smooth in operation and the lens doesn't suffer from zoom creep. Focusing is performed internally, so the 58mm filter thread does not rotate, which makes the lens perfect for use with polarising and graduated filters. Auto focus is performed quickly and virtually silently, with little hunting for focus.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6: Performance

Shooting wide open at 40mm, sharpness in the centre of the frame is excellent, and the clarity towards the edges of the frame is fair. Stopping down the lens improves sharpness towards the edges, with the best compromise for sharpness across the frame being achieved between f/5.6 and f/8, where the centre is still excellent, and the clarity towards the edges reaches good levels.

Zooming to 70mm maintains the excellent centre sharpness at wide open aperture and the clarity towards the edges is improved over that at 40mm, reaching very good levels at maximum aperture. Again, peak quality across the frame is achieved at f/5.6, where sharpness is excellent across the frame.

Finally at 150mm, sharpness levels drop a little across the frame at maximum aperture, but remain very good in the centre whilst approaching good levels towards the edges. There is little difference in edges sharpness with the lens stopped down, although sharpness in the centre does reach excellent levels at f/8 at this focal length.

Resolution at 40mm

 

Resolution at 70mm

 

Resolution at 150mm

 

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on an Olympus PEN E-PL1 using Imatest.
 

Levels of Chromatic aberrations are very low for a telephoto optic such as this. A their worst fringing approaches 0.75 pixels widths towards the edges at 40mm and maximum aperture. This is still a very low level, which should pose few issues, even in large prints or harsh crops from the edges of the frame.

Chromatic Aberrations at 40mm

 

Chromatic Aberrations at 70mm

 

Chromatic Aberrations at 150mm

 

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on an Olympus PEN E-PL1 using Imatest.

 

Falloff of illumination towards the corners is well controlled. At 40mm the corners are only 0.5 stops darker than the image centre at maximum aperture and this level increases to 0.8 stops at 150mm. Stopping the lens down just one stop results in visually uniform illumination throughout the zoom range.

Olympus Micro Four Thirds compatible cameras automatically correct distortion in camera, so the following won't be noticeable if shooting JPEG images, or if the software supplied with the camera is used to convert the RAW images. For a lens with a zoom range over three times, distortion is very well controlled at both ends of the zoom range. Imatest detected 2.8% barrel at 40mm and 0.5% pincushion distortion at 150mm, which are both very mild levels. The distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, so correcting this in image editing software afterwards should be a straightforward affair.

Although this lens isn't supplied with a hood, it is quite resistant to flare and loss of contrast in contra-lit situations. In extreme circumstances strong sources of light just outside of the frame might cause a little flare, and shooting into very strong light sources may result in a slight loss on contrast.

 
The minimum focus distance of 0.9m is quite close for a lens with an angle of view equivalent to a 300mm lens - ISO200, 1/250, f/5.6, 150mm (35mm equiv – 300mm)   Excellent sharpness levels are possible throughout the zoom range - ISO200, 1/2000, f/5.6, 40mm (35mm equiv – 80mm)
 
Widest angle - ISO200, 1/640, f/5.6, 40mm (35mm equiv – 80mm)   Telephoto - ISO200, 1/1000, f/5.6, 150mm (35mm equiv – 300mm)
 
ISO200, 1/2000, f/5.6, 150mm (35mm equiv – 300mm)   ISO200, 1/160, f/5.6, 128mm (35mm equiv – 256mm)
 
ISO200, 1/1250, f/5.6, 40mm (35mm equiv – 80mm)   ISO200, 1/1000, f/5.6, 150mm (35mm equiv – 300mm)

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6: Verdict

With this lens retailing for around £210, or for even less when purchased as part of a bundle deal with an Olympus PEN body, it represents excellent value for money.

The levels of sharpness it can deliver throughout the zoom range are excellent, especially in the centre of the image area. This coupled with the low levels of CA and distortion make it an excellent choice for anyone looking to expand the zoom range of their Micro Four Thirds camera into telephoto.

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 lens is an excellent choice for anyone looking to expand their zoom range.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6: Pros

Excellent value for money
Excellent sharpness, especially in the centre
Lightweight and compact
Focuses close for a telephoto zoom
Fast AF

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6: Cons

A lens hood would make this lens perfect for the price (although it is very resistant to flare anyway)

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE FOR MONEY
OVERALL

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6: Specification

Price £210
Contact www.olympus.co.uk
Filter size 58mm
Format Micro Four Thirds
Construction 13 elements in 10 groups
Angle-of-view 30 - 8.2°
35mm equivalent focal length (on APS-C body) 80 - 300mm
Internal focusing Yes
Image stabilisation No
Minimum focus 90cm
Maximum aperture f/4 - 5.6
Minimum aperture f/22
Weight 190g
Size (lxw) 63.5 x 83mm
In the box Lens caps

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Comments


23 Dec 2012 10:07PM
I'm really puzzled by the resolution graph at 40mm. According to the graph, edge resolution is only just above fair at f5.6, yet the 40mm canal shot shows barely any perceptible fall-off in resolution right across the frame. The graph and the photo don't seem to be telling the same story!

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