Favourite M.Zuiko Lens

This article discusses my favourite M.Zuiko lens, the reasons behind this choice, as well as sharing a range of photographs captured with it. After creating well over 100,000 images with my M4/3 camera gear over the past 18 months or so, one lens stands out as my favourite M.Zuiko lens. The M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 zoom.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/3.5, 1/2, ISO-400, subject distance 1.4 metres

The versatility and quality of the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 is nothing short of astounding. Its focal length range, fast aperture, and its compatibility with M.Zuiko MC-14 and MC-20 teleconverters, makes it an incredibly flexible piece of kit.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 90 mm, efov 180 mm, f/5.6, 1/40, ISO-5000, subject distance 2.2 metres

Given its specifications, capabilities and optical performance the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 is compact and lightweight, coming in at 760 grams (~1.67 lbs.) without the tripod collar, and 880 grams (~1.94 lbs.) with collar. This may seem ‘heavy’, but the question is compared to what?

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/400, ISO-200, subject distance 950 mm

Have a look at other lenses in other formats and try to find a constant aperture 2.8 lens with an equivalent focal length of 300 mm that is smaller and lighter. The M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 measures 79.4 x 160 mm (~3.13 x 6.3 inches) and features an internal zoom.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 885 mm

Other f/2.8 300 mm efov lens offerings are often up to 3 times heavier and much bulkier. They also typically cost 3 to 4 times more money, and don’t offer the flexibility of a zoom lens.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/200, ISO-200, subject distance 700 mm

Another reason why the PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 is my favourite M.Zuiko lens is its minimum focusing distance of only 0.7 metres (~27.5 inches). This is about 65% shorter than many other efov 300 mm f/2.8 lenses which are usually in the 2 to 2.2 metre range. This is a significant advantage that is often overlooked.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/5, 1/200, ISO-200, subject distance 730 mm

This short minimum focusing distance makes it ideal to photograph a wide range of subject matter where a photographer may want to achieve a shallow depth-of-field. The M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 is hands down my favourite lens to photograph flowers.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/400, ISO-400, Kenko 10 mm and 16 mm extension tubes used

All one needs to do is add a simple set of extension tubes to achieve an even shallower depth-of-field. You may have read many comments in photography chat rooms about how M4/3 camera gear  cannot produce images with shallow depth-of-field.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/400, ISO-400, Kenko 10 mm and 16 mm extension tubes used

Unfortunately the folks who post these types of comments seem to have no idea about how to use M4/3 camera gear effectively. Or, perhaps they don’t fully understand all of the factors (sensor size is not one of them) that affect depth-of-field. When you read such comments… just ignore them.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, 1/400, f/5.6, ISO-4000, subject distance 990 mm

The PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 is my favourite M.Zuiko lens because of how adaptable it is for bird photography. When coupled with the M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter it delivers a very respectable each of 600 mm efov at f/5.6… in a small, easy-to-handle package.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-200, FL-700WR flash used, subject distance 1.9 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/800, ISO-4000, subject distance 3.4 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-3200, subject distance 2.9 metres

While my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom is now my primary birding lens, the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 is excellent for specific lower light situations, or when I want to reduce the weight of my kit.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-2500, Pro Capture H mode, subject distance 4.2 metres

When used with leading edge technologies like Olympus Pro Capture, the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with the M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter is a powerful bird photography tool.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 plus M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 104 mm, efov 208 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H mode, subject distance 3.6 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/4000, ISO-1000, Pro Capture H mode, subject distance 4.8 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-3200, Pro Capture H mode, subject distance 6.8 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 164 mm, efov 328 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-4000, Pro Capture H mode, subject distance 3.9 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 212 mm, efov 424 mm, f/6.3, 1/2000, ISO-2500, Pro Capture H Mode, subject distance 6.3 metres

This same combination is excellent to capture butterflies in flight.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/11, -0.7 step, 1/1600, ISO-3200, Pro Capture H mode, subject distance 3.1 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/11, -0.7 step, 1/1600, ISO-1250, Pro Capture H mode, subject distance 1.4 metres

Spending some time using the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with extension tubes, teleconverters, and a current generation OM-D camera body will enable a photographer to experience the wonderful flexibility of this superb zoom lens. Its unique combination of attributes, build quality and performance makes the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 zoom my favourite M.Zuiko lens.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-2500

If I was marooned on an island and could only have one lens with me, the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 would be the one I’d want!

Technical Note

Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear and technology as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/4, 1/640, ISO-2500, subject distance 1.1 metres, Handheld Hi Res Mode

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8 thoughts on “Favourite M.Zuiko Lens”

  1. Hi Thomas, how do you manage to get the distance to subject and the mode you were using? I don’t seem to find it in the exif data.
    Thanks for such a great and informative articles,
    Javier.

    1. Hi Javier,

      The distance to subject measurements are estimates done by my E-M1X. For me, these are visible after I process an image and save my files in Windows Explorer. I right click on a jpeg, then left click on properties, then left click on details. Not all cameras provide this information. For example, none of my Nikon 1 cameras provide this.

      Tom

  2. I have not purchased the 100-400 yet but did try it out. I am not sure that the 40-150 mm pro with tele 20 is not better image than the 100-400. Just the reach is lacking. Have you compared the 100-400 to 50-150 pro plus tc20?

    1. Hi Phyllis,

      While there is some overlap with focal length range, these two lenses are very different animals. I think the M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 has more overall flexibility given its fast f/2.8 aperture and closer focusing distance. When using the MC-20 teleconverter this lens does perform very well for birding and did yeoman’s service for me through 16 months of use.

      As your comment indicates, the reach is lacking, which for me is a significant issue as I was used to shooting with an 810 mm efov lens with my Nikon 1 kit. The fact that the M.Zuiko 100-400 accepts both the MC-14 and MC-20 teleconverters made buying it a very easy decision for me. When I have enough light I always use the 100-400 with one of my teleconverters as the added reach gives me significantly more photographic opportunities.

      For bird photography this makes the M.Zuiko 100-400 a much more usable lens for me personally as I don’t like to crop my images to any significant degree. When using the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 f/2.8 with MC-20 teleconverter I would not even try to capture a good number of bird images during every outing as I just didn’t have the reach to make the effort worthwhile.

      If a photographer has narrowed their lens choice down to either the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 f/2.8 or the M.Zuiko 100-400 it can be a difficult decision. That choice would likely come down to overall flexibility and ease-of-use, versus reach. If the M.Zuiko 100-400 did not accept teleconverters, I may not have purchased this lens.

      As far as image quality goes, I haven’t done any in-depth comparisons between the M.Zuiko 100-400 and the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 with MC-20 teleconverter. I haven’t noticed any meaningful difference between the lens set-ups when it comes to the quality of my bird photographs. In my experience both set-ups create very good image quality, and both are noticeably better when shot wide open than the full frame 150-600 mm zoom that I used when I was shooting with that format of camera. When fully extended I had to stop the full frame 150-600 mm lens down to f/8 to get acceptable image quality.

      When compared to the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8, the 100-400 is more difficult to use given its larger size, heavier weight, and longer reach… so technique is more critical with the 100-400. When I go out to specifically photograph birds, I don’t even think about using the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8. If i was going to a captive environment like a zoo, I may take the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 f/2.8 with me in addition to the 100-400 mm, but not instead of the 100-400.

      Tom

  3. Once again a well thought out and well written post, Tom!

    Our of curiosity, and I apologise if this is already covered in an earlier post, the 40-150 with the MC20 has a huge overlap with the 100-400.

    Do you use the 100-400 only for the 300-400mm span, and the 40-150 otherwise?

    Cheers,
    Ray

    1. Hi Ray,

      Thanks for your comment and question!

      I now always reach for my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS when going out to photograph birds. I always take my MC-14 and MC-20 teleconverters with me for the additional reach they provide. If I have enough light I always use my 100-400 with one of my teleconverters. These give me efov’s of 280-1120 mm and 400-1600 mm. So, for typical bird photography and the way that I like to use my gear there really isn’t much overlap at all. Since I received my 100-400 mm I have not captured a single bird image with the PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8.

      I would still use the PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 if I was in low light conditions and if I knew that I could get in very close to subject birds… otherwise the 100-400 is my clear lens of choice for nature and birding. For example, if I was going to a captive environment like a zoo I would take the PRO 40-150 along with the 100-400, but I would not plan to use the PRO 40-150 with any teleconverters in that scenario.

      Hope this answers your question.

      Tom

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