src="http://www.mirrorlessons.com/wp-content/themes/mirrorlessons Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f4-5.6 II Review
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Lens Reviews

Date: 09/03/2015 | By: Heather

Compactness and versatility all in one zoom – Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f4-5.6 II Review

Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f4-5.6 II Review

Compactness and versatility all in one zoom – Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f4-5.6 II Review

While there is no question that the recent announcement of the OM-D E-M5 Mark II stole the show, there was also another announcement that has grabbed the interest of beginner and amateur photographers looking for an affordable all-purpose zoom: the 14-150mm f/4-5.6mm Mark II. We recently received it for testing on our OM-D E-M1.

Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f 4-5.6 II Review
E-M1, 1/500, f/ 9, ISO 200
Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f 4-5.6 II Review
E-M1, 1/200, f/ 5.6, ISO 200
Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f 4-5.6 II Review
E-M1, 1/200, f/ 5, ISO 200

Want to find out more about this multi-purpose zoom? Then be sure to read on!



Build Quality and Ergonomics

The differences between the original 14-150mm f/4-5.6mm and its successor are actually quite subtle, and most of them lie in the build and ergonomics of the lens. Not only does it feature a new solid body but unlike the previous version, it is also weather sealed. With the weather being so wet here in Wales, it was a comfort to know that both our E-M1 and the new zoom could stand up to the rain.

Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II Review

What I really love about this zoom is how well it respects the ethos of the Micro Four Thirds system. Despite the enormous focal range it covers, the body of the lens itself is no bigger than a small drinking glass when the zoom is sheathed and hardly adds any weight to the camera. When you fully extend the zoom, it doubles in length. It also comes with an additional petal-shaped lens hood.

DMC-LX100, 1/125, f/ 28/10, ISO 800
Zoom extended to full length

Since this isn’t a professional zoom, it does not have any function buttons on the body. What you do have is an improved textured zoom ring, which is very easy and smooth to turn, and a well-designed ribbed manual focus ring at the end of the barrel. There isn’t an aperture ring.

DMC-LX100, 1/125, f/ 4/1, ISO 800
The lens and its hood

Sharpness

Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f 4-5.6 II Review
Peacock at Powys Castle – E-M1, 1/200, f/ 7.1, ISO 200

As I mentioned above, we aren’t dealing with a professional zoom so it would be foolish to expect the kind of sharpness you’d see from the 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO. That said, I was far from disappointed by the performance of the lens. Zooming in on the photos I took of the birds in our back-garden and the peacock at Powys Castle, the detail in the feathers is impressive for a kit lens even at 150mm. However it is slightly softer at the fastest aperture with the optimal sharpness being around f/8. Below you can see a small gallery of some of the shots that best demonstrate the lens’ sharpness.

Vignetting

Given that the 14-150mm covers such a wide focal range, it is normal that there is some vignetting at the fastest apertures and longest focal lengths. If you set the aperture to f/5.6 at 150mm, for example, vignetting can be quite noticeable in some situations. It gradually becomes less pronounced up until f/13, at which point it completely disappears.

Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f4-5.6 II Review
Vignetting at 150mm at f/9 – E-M1, 1/125, f/ 9, ISO 200

It is less noticeable at 14mm and tends to disappear at around f/8. A quick fix is to bring those photos into Lightroom or a similar program and correct the vignetting in the Lens Corrections section.

Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f4-5.6 II Review
Vignetting at 14mm and f/4 – E-M1, 1/2500, f/4, ISO 200

Chromatic Aberration and Flare

I did not observe any chromatic aberration with this lens, even in shots featuring tree branches taken straight into the sun.

Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f4-5.6 II Review
Example of a photo taken into the sun – E-M1, 1/500, f/ 8, ISO 200

Flare however does exist, though it is much less intrusive than on other Micro Four Thirds lenses. This is because Olympus has improved the coating of the optics. If you take a photo straight into the sun, you may also see a small rainbow flare along with a purple glow.

Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f4-5.6 II Review
E-M1, 1/200, f/ 22, ISO 200

Distortion

Distortion becomes an issue only at the widest focal length (14mm) but it is fairly pronounced especially if you are photographing a flat horizon line such as the sea. Like vignetting, it can easily be resolved in Lightroom. Below you can see two shots of the same scene, one where I’ve left the distortion and the other I’ve corrected.

Out-of-Focus Area

Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f4-5.6 II Review
E-M1, 1/400, f/ 5.6, ISO 200

The 14-150mm isn’t known for its bokeh but I actually find it quite attractive with the nicest results being produced at 150mm. The rendering is both smooth and creamy and the out-of-focus points of light (bokeh balls) are perfectly round, though there is a slight “onion ring” effect due to the three aspherical lens elements. Of course, since we are dealing with a f/4-5.6 zoom, you have to get as close to your subject as possible to produce a pleasant out of focus area. The closest focus distance is 50cm.

Conclusion

Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f4-5.6 II Review
Wide-angle shot – E-M1, 1/800, f/ 8, ISO 200
Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f4-5.6 II Review
Medium focal length – E-M1, 1/2500, f/ 7.1, ISO 200
Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f4-5.6 II Review
Telephoto shot – E-M1, 1/160, f/ 5.6, ISO 200

I end off this review with a small discussion about the lens’ strongest point, its versatility. Since the 14-150mm covers all bases, including landscape, portrait and telephoto, it is likely that a casual photographer would never feel the need to change lenses.

The only exception would be specific kinds of photography that, for example, require a fast aperture, close focussing/macro capabilities or extreme sharpness. The lens isn’t nearly as compact as some of Olympus’ other offerings but it doesn’t matter as it covers nearly every focal length you’ll ever need.

Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f4-5.6 II Review
E-M1, 1/1250, f/ 5.4, ISO 200
Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f4-5.6 II Review
E-M1, 1/320, f/ 5.6, ISO 1600
Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f4-5.6 II Review
E-M1, 1/800, f/ 5.6, ISO 200

Some of you might be wondering whether it would make more sense to choose the Mark II or go with the original version of the 14-150mm. The truth is that the two lenses are very similar. The Mark II has weather sealing, a sturdier body and less flare but the optics and zoom range are exactly the same. Keep in mind that the first version will indubitably be cheaper.

If I had to recommend a “first lens” to a beginner who had just invested in an Olympus camera, I would not hesitate to suggest the M.Zuiko 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II. There is no better lens to help you develop your photography skills and discover the genre that appeals to you above all others.

thumb-up What I like about the M.Zuiko 14-150mm:

  • very compact and well-built
  • weather-sealed body
  • very sharp images for a kit lens
  • very little flare and no observable chromatic aberration
  • an extremely versatile focal range for landscape, portraits and telephoto
  • a less expensive option for beginners and amateur photographers

thumb-down What I don’t like about the M.Zuiko 14-150mm:

  • some distortion at 14mm noticable especially when there is a flat horizon line in the image
  • some vignetting at the fastest apertures and longest focal lengths
  • fastest apertures are f/4-5.6 so low-light shooting is challenge, as is achieving a shallow DoF
  • close focussing capabilities could be better

Do you own the M.Zuiko 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II? If so, share your thoughts about it below!


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About the author: Heather Broster

Heather Broster was born in Canada, has lived in Japan and Italy but currently calls Wales home. She is a full-time gear tester at MirrorLessons. You can follow her on Google+, Twitter or Facebook!

  • 黃瑞倫

    I use both models together because I like to shoot different angles at the same time. Thanks for satisfy my curiosity about the shutter, but my MAIN DOUBT is unsolved yet.

    I am going to need leastways a 10x or 11x zoom lens for video. I am plenty aware that the IQ of these lenses is not so great, then for that very reason I need your advice to choose the sharpest possible candidate of these three:
    a) Olympus microZuiko 14-150mm f/4-5.6 version II
    b) Panasonic Lumix 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6
    c) Tamron 14-150mm f/3.5-5.8 Di III

    Besides I want to know which one is smoother for zooming in video?

    According to the following attached resolution graphs, it seems that the Tamron is better than the Lumix version f/3.5-5.6, I also read that the last Lumix is better than the older version f/4-5.8. But I cannot found any references about the Olympus version II (splashproof), only about the older one.
    Any clue or recommendation please?

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    Which camera do you use for video?
    The E-M10/E-M5 do not have electronic shutter, only the E-M5 mark II has it.

  • 黃瑞倫

    I need to buy a lens with this zoom range for video. I am doubtful between this microZuiko 14-150mm f/4-5.6 versión II, the Panasonic Lumix 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6 and the Tamron 14-150mm f/3.5-5.8. Which zoom would you recommend me if sharpness is my main concern?
    Another question: Do the Olympus E-M5 or the Olympus E-M10 have electronic shutter like the Lumix GX-7? Thanks for sharing your expertise.

  • http://www.bestmirrorlesscamerareviews.com/ Heather Broster

    Very smooth. It almost felt as if I was working with one of the PRO lenses.

  • Jon Porter

    Sounds like a worthy improvement on the original. But how was the manual focus — smooth with good tactile feel or loose and too fast?

  • any old name

    In your photo of the lens to demonstrate the weatherproofing feature that the EM1 was missing its hot-shoe cover. A caution that this cover is important to weatherproofing of the camera.

  • http://www.bestmirrorlesscamerareviews.com/ Heather Broster

    I wonder if there is much of a difference between the weather of Aberdeen and that of London! 😉

    Glad you enjoyed the review!

  • Laurent M.

    That is exactly the review I was looking for… Thank you very much.

    Remember that weather sealing is not only for unexpected rainy days, but regular winter days in cold countries like Canada (to avoid internal condensation), hot and very humid days like in japan in summer, usual fall days in Vancouver, or almost any day in Scotland (my twin sister used to leave in Aberdeen… now she enjoy the weather of London)!

    Thanks again.

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