Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - (Micro-)Four-Thirds

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published July 2015

Introduction

At the time Olympus started the "classic" Four-Thirds system, they focused on professional grade lenses. However, this didn't work out for a couple of reasons mostly on the camera side (although I was thrilled by the E-1). After moving to Micro-Four-Thirds, both Olympus as well as Panasonic stayed short of this segment for quite some time and preferred to concentrate on amateur products. While this strategy succeeded in terms of market share, it also represented a problem. The amateur segment is a low margin game. However, now that a healthy customer base has been established, it seems as if the gang is getting more bold again. Panasonic started to release some expensive Leica lenses and Olympus is busy expanding their M.Zuiko Pro lineup. As of the time of this review, it contains 3 zoom lenses with 2 primes in the pipeline. In this review we'll cover the tele zoom lens - the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro.

When playing the usual "equivalence" game again, the specs translates to a "80-300mm f/5.6" full format lens. Some readers may shout out in agony that a f/2.8 lens remains an f/2.8 lens. That's true, of course, but in terms of depth-of-field - thus the creative potential - the 2x crop factor has to be applied as well (roughly). In this framework, the lens compares to something like a Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM L IS. The Olympus lens is more light-weight and compact just as promised by the MFT marketeers but about as expensive despite the smaller image circle. Mirrorless doesn't mean more affordable once more unfortunately.

The build quality of the M.Zuiko is certainly up the with the big boys as well. The lens body is made of metal, everything is tightly assembled, weather sealed and the control rings operate smoothly. Olympus even implemented a tripod mount for a better balance although it isn't perfectly implemented. The balance point is way too far towards the rear - if you place the camera-lens combo on a table it'll actually tip over towards the camera (we used trickery in the product shot to avoid this). A really cool feature is the design of the lens hood. You mount it like any other hood but there is no need to reverse it for transport - instead you just slide it back. Kudos, Olympus!

The M.Zuiko ED 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro is the first lens to feature a Dual VCM (Voice Coil Motor) AF system. Rather than using just one motor it uses two in order to move one "floating" lens group each independently. This is supposed to improve both AF speed as well as close focus performance. We tend to concur although it still stays short of the best DSLR setups. Manual focusing works "by wire" thus the AF motor is actuated via the focus ring. This system works just fine.

Specifications
Equiv. focal length"80-300mm" (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/3.6 (full format equivalent in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction16 elements in 10 groups inc. 1x aspherical-ED, 2x aspherical, 1x SED, 3x ED and 1x HD element
Number of aperture blades9 (circular)
min. focus distance0.7m (1:2.4)
Dimensions (L x W)79.4×160mm
Weight760g
Filter size72mm
HoodBarrel-shaped, telescope-style, bayonet mount, included
Other featuresDustproof and splashproof, ZERO coating, Dual VCM