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M.Zuiko 40-150mm

Date: 19/09/2014 | By: Mathieu

Photokina 2014: Hands-On with the new Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro and more

olympus photokina 2014

Photokina 2014: Hands-On with the new Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro and more

Update: check out our first impressions article with lots of images and video samples!

One of the most interesting aspects of this edition of Photokina is that most mirrorless systems are expanding their high-end products to satisfy professional photographers, and something they almost all have in common has been the decision to release a professional telephoto lens. Perhaps the new M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 is the most interesting: it is surprisingly light and compact while being the one that offers the vastest focal length range (80-300mm equivalent).


The first important thing to say concerning the design and size of the lens is that the hood can be misleading and lead you to believe that the lens is bigger than it actually is. The hood is definitely considerable but the nice thing about it is that you can slide it back on the lens instead of detaching and reversing it as you would normally do with most lens hoods. You can achieve this by slightly turning the dedicated ring on the hood, which is a very clever mechanism that will avoid the hood being pushed back accidentally. (The 60mm macro hood also slides back, but doesn’t have a safe lock mechanism).


If you detach the hood from the lens, you realise that it isn’t big considering its f/2.8 constant aperture and the focal length it covers. The lens is 16cm long with a diameter of almost 8cm (filter diameter is 72mm).

DMC-GH4, 1/40, f/ 28/10, ISO 250

DMC-GH4, 1/80, f/ 28/10, ISO 250

The lens is also surprisingly lightweight. You can see proof of this when you set the E-M1 and the lens on a table with the tripod adapter–you notice that the E-M1 tilts back and touches the surface of the table. The lens weights 880g with the tripod adapter and 760g without it. Just for reference the E-M1 weighs 497g (including battery and SD card) and the battery grip is 286g (including battery) so the whole combo gives you a weight of maximum 1.66kg. Actually, I also found that the lens is easy to use even without the HDL-7 grip for the E-M1, as the weight of the lens doesn’t unbalance the grip.

DMC-GH4, 1/125, f/ 28/10, ISO 250

The autofocus was really fast and totally silent in my quick test and I didn’t notice any sort of hesitation or back and forth movement of the lenses.

The 40-150mm f/2.8 has the same build quality as the other Pro lens, the 12-40mm f/2.8: the same metal finish, and the same dust, splash and freeze proofing. The focus ring can be slided to instantly switch to manual focus and there is also an Fn1 button on the side.

I cannot say anything about image quality yet since the lens was a pre-production model so I wan’t authorised to take pictures. But we should receive a final sample for testing very soon.

E-M1, 1/20, f/ 28/10, ISO 200

The next Pro lenses, the 1.4X Teleconverter and why wildlife photographers will be happy

At the Olympus booth we also had the chance to see two mock-ups of the next Pro lenses to come: the 7-14mm f/2.8 and the 300mm f/4. The 7-14mm f/2.8 looks very similar in size to the Lumix 7-14mm f/4. The 300mm f/4 doesn’t look much bigger than the 40-150mm but seems to have a slightly larger diameter.

E-M1, 1/15, f/ 28/10, ISO 200

The cherry on top is the 1.4x teleconverter which is the first teleconverter designed for Micro Four Thirds lenses and also the first teleconverter designed for a mirrorless system. It is compatible with both the 40-150mm and the 300mm but unfortunately won’t be compatible with any other lenses. The reason why is that the lens inside the converter protrudes and therefore would touch the rear lens of the other lenses.

DMC-GH4, 1/320, f/ 28/10, ISO 250

It might be too early to say but I think Olympus is on a very good path with the new Pro lenses. Many people are enthusiastic about the 12-40mm and this new telephoto lenses combined with the 1.4x converter can offer a true high quality alternative to DSLRs for wildlife and outdoor sports photography. Particularly for wildlife photographers, who usually move around a lot by foot for several hours or days, the ability to carry that kind of extreme focal length in a (relatively) small package is something that might become difficult to ignore.

Professional quality in a compact package reaches a new level

DMC-GH4, 1/50, f/ 28/10, ISO 250

It is hard to say anything yet about a comparison between the 40-150mm and the Lumix 35-100mm f/2.8 except the obvious: the Lumix lens is around half the size and weight and you might wonder if those extra 50mm (100mm equivalent with 35mm format) are worth the higher price, size and weight. I think that two key factors will help clear this up: the image quality between the two lenses and also the 1.4x converter that will in fact increase the capabilities of the 40-150mm f/2.8 even more.

Update: check out our in-depth comparison between the 40-150mm Pro and the Lumix 35-100mm f/2.8!

And though I don’t like to repeat myself, while it is bigger than many other MFT zoom lenses, it might still be a game changer for someone who uses the same type of lens on a DSLR. Building a high quality lens like this one is one way of meeting the requirement of professionals and the proof of this is that several competitors in the mirrorless segment are releasing the same type of lens (Fuji, Samsung, Sony). The M.Zuiko 40-150mm is actually the smallest and lightest of them all.

The Silver OM-D E-M1

DMC-GH4, 1/100, f/ 28/10, ISO 250

We also had a look at the new silver E-M1. There isn’t anything different about it compared to the black E-M1 except the color. The camera certainly looks nice but I still prefer the black E-M1 as it matches the colour of the Pro lens lineup as well as the battery grip. Olympus decided to release a silver E-M1 after hearing customer feedback. When the first E-M1 was released one year ago, we asked about a silver version of the camera but it hadn’t been planned at the time. Overall, we prefer the look of the silver E-M5/E-M10 to that of the silver E-M1, but it still remains a beautiful camera.

Finally as a specie bonus, you can watch a short time-lapse below during one of the many cleaning service performed by Olympus staff at Photokina. Olympus was one of the only company that provided such a service during the event.


Related Olympus articles for Photokina 2014

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The MirrorLessons team will be attending this year’s Photokina, where the products mentioned in this article will be on display to touch and try. To stay updated on our latest hands-on review articles, be sure to keep an eye on our sticky post and follow us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ and Instagram!

About the author: Mathieu Gasquet

Mathieu Gasquet is a professional photographer with French and Italian origins. Besides running his own video and photography studio 3Dit Lab, he is also the official photographer for the National Cinema Museum in Turin. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter or Facebook!

  • Robert

    If you want a lighter telephoto lens just by an Oly 40-150 (non-pro f4-5.6), 70-300 or Pana 45-200. All very nice so don’t complain they now also make a pro-lens.

  • Mathieu

    The problem with long focal lengths is that every micro movements you make gets accentuate in the composition. It happens for every camera or videocamera system. A stabilised lens helps, a stabilised body helps too but I prefer to be cautious and say that it won’t work all the time and that a safe shutter speed is recommended. Also consider that the lens, as light as it can be, is still the double in weight and size of the E-M1. Anyway, I will make more tests in low light and real conditions to see how well the 5-axis works with this lens 😉

  • Evan

    I’m a bit concerned to hear that the EM-1 IBIS is unable to keep up at the longer focal lengths. The market seems to be lacking a high quality handheld telephoto lens with effective IS, reducing the need for tripods or high ISO… At least as far as m43 and Canon are concerned. Am I missing something?

  • Mathieu

    I don’t think Olympus goes away from this. And the fact that they are focusing on the pro market as well is a positive sign. Yes the 70-200 f/4 from Canon is light I agree with you, but the Olympus has more focal length and better weather proof. And you also have to look at the whole system not just one lens.

  • Chris

    I don’t think you should compare this lens with a Canon 70-200mm f/4. This lens has a much greater focal length 80-300mm and an aperture of f/2.8.
    You’d have to compare it to the new Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 or even more so to the Canon 300mm f/2.8. I used to own the 300mm f/2.8 and it alone weighs 4.4kg… so this new M.Zuiko lens beats that hands down!

    Even the 300mm lens will be a total lightweight for it’s focal length because you would have to compare it to a Canon 600mm f/4 at 3.9kg.

  • Stéphane

    760g is the same weight as my old Canon 70-200 f4 IS…!
    I’ve switched to M4/3 because of their incredibly light combos but now Olympus seems to go away from this.
    I really hope that, once the “Pro” buzz will be passed, they will come back with some high quality lightweight lenses.

  • Mathieu

    I don’t have any info about the price but I think that 3500$ would be a little bit too much :)

  • Harold

    Nice write up. So I guess the 300mm will be about $3500 when it comes out?

  • soundimageplus

    That silver version is seriously sexy!!!

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