M.Zuiko f/2.8 Trinity

This article showcases the M.Zuiko f/2.8 trinity of zoom lenses with a selection of handheld images along with some commentary. There is no intent in this posting to suggest to readers that they purchase these lenses, or change the camera system that they are currently using. As is often stated here… photographers should buy and use whatever gear best meets their needs.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

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

Back in my full frame camera days I investigated the practicality of owning the f/2.8 trinity of Nikkor Pro zoom lenses. These included the 14-24 mm, 24-70 mm and the 70-200 mm. Without doubt all of these zoom lenses were outstanding choices.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 26 mm, efov 52 mm, f/4, 1/30, ISO-800, subject distance 27.9 metres

For many years this Nikkor f/2.8 trinity of zooms had been the ‘go to’ lenses for many professional photographers who shot with Nikon gear. Those pros loved the fast apertures, focal length flexibility and image quality that this trinity provided. For many years I heard professional photographers extol the virtues of using f/2.8 zoom lenses, with them citing a number of different brands.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 40 mm, efov 80 mm, f/5.6, 1/13, ISO-3200, subject distance 340 mm

Fort as good as those Nikkor f/2.8 zoom lenses were, there was no way that I could cost justify the necessary investment for my business. The size and weight of the f/2.8 Nikkor trinity of zoom lenses was also a consideration. I decided they were too large and heavy for my needs. At the time the three Nikkor f/2.8 zooms weighed about 3500 grams in total (~7.7 lbs).

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, 1/60, f/5.6, ISO-6400, subject distance 1.4 metres

To Nikon’s credit, the weight of their new generation of f/2.8 mirrorless zoom lenses has been reduced by about 20%.  That same trinity of pro f/2.8 mirrorless zoom lenses weighs about 2815 grams in total (~6.2 lbs.).

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 12 mm, efov 24 mm, 1/10, f/5.6, ISO-200

Cost, size and weight won out and I ended up using other Nikkor full frame lenses including a couple of f/4 constant aperture zooms and a selection of f/1.8 primes for a few years. In the back of my mind I always wondered what it would have been like to shoot with the Nikkor f/2.8 trinity of zooms.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and Kenko 10 mm extension tube @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/6.3, -0.7 EV, 1/1250, ISO-800, cropped to 3155 pixels on the width

In July 2015 I transitioned my business into the Nikon 1 system and shot with that gear exclusively for about 4 years.  Then, in the spring of 2019 I faced another decision… transitioning my camera kit once again. This was brought on by changing client needs (i.e. 4K video) and the discontinuation of the Nikon 1 product line. I decided to seriously investigate Olympus M4/3 pro-grade equipment.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 PRO with M.Zuiko 1.4 X teleconverter @ 210 mm, efov 420 mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-6400

Fortunately I was able to qualify for the Olympus Pro Loaner program. This allowed me to field test some Olympus gear including a couple of M.Zuiko f/2.8 constant aperture pro zoom lenses, for a few months. There was no obligation on my part to write any articles about the gear. Or produce any YouTube videos. All I had to do was try out the equipment and discover its capabilities first hand.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 35 mm, efov 70 mm, f/5, 1/13, ISO-200

After the first two weeks of rigorous field testing I knew I had found the right equipment for my changing needs. Optically the lenses performed wonderfully… allowing me to feel very comfortable shooting all of them wide open. Build quality, weather sealing, and handling were outstanding.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 12 mm, efov 24 mm, f/7.1, 1/2 second, ISO-200

For the first time in my life all of those comments I had heard from professional photographers about the benefits of using f/2.8 pro-grade zoom lenses made perfect sense. Being able to shoot client safety video assignments at f/2.8, using an uninterrupted focal length range from 7 mm to 150 mm (efov 14 mm to 300 mm) was a huge game changer.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 12 mm, efov 24 mm, f/8, 1/2, ISO-64, Live ND

The M.Zuiko f/2.8 trinity enabled me to reduce my onsite shooting time significantly. I could arrive at a client’s industrial facility with a medium sized shoulder bag containing an E-M1X and four lenses (i.e. PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8, PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8, PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8, PRO 45 mm f/1.2).  I didn’t have to bring any studio lights or camera supports with me… as I could shoot everything handheld in available light. This was incredibly liberating… and very efficient.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 115 mm, efov 230 mm, f/2.8, 1 second handheld, ISO-200

My wife and I had spent some time discussing the potential shift to Olympus gear, and the required investment. Given my advancing age it was pretty obvious to both of us that I would likely stop doing client projects in the not too distant future. So, this purchase would probably be the last significant investment in camera equipment that I would ever make.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/6.3, 1/100, ISO-200, subject distance 770 mm

My wife has a way of bringing clarity to situations. She reminded me that we needed to look at this investment from two very different but equally important perspectives… business and personal. We needed to make sure any new camera system would meet our business needs for the next number of years.

And just as importantly… we needed to ensure that we bought camera gear that I would want to use for many years after our client video business ceased. Basically she was saying that it was the right time for us to make a larger investment if needed, and that she was comfortable doing so.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 40 mm, efov 80 mm, f/2.8, 1/20, ISO-3200, subject distance 585 mm

We decided to move forward with the transition to Olympus M4/3 equipment. Our initial purchase included an E-M1X, PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8, PRO 12-40 mm  f/2.8, PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8, 60 mm f/2.8 macro, and MC-20 teleconverter. It was a significant expenditure for our small business, but we viewed it as a minimum 10 year investment.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 13 mm, efov 26 mm, f/5.6, 1/320, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted in post

We added some additional Olympus gear over the next year and eventually completed our kit of 3 bodies and 9 lenses. Our rationale for what we purchased is detailed in an earlier article, so I won’t repeat that here. 

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/5.6, 1/320, ISO-3200, Handheld Hi Res Mode, subject distance 920 mm

About eight months after we transitioned into Olympus gear COVID-19 lockdowns hit, and our client safety video assignments evaporated. As a result we ended up closing our corporation a few years sooner than we originally had anticipated. I began spending more time on this photography website and on some eBook projects that were in various stages of development.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 12 mm, efov 24 mm, f/2.8, 1/3200, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted in post

I don’t have any regrets at all about making the investment in the M.Zuiko f/2.8 trinity of zoom lenses. They provide me with more shooting flexibility than I’ve ever had before, with any other system I’ve owned. It’s hard to describe the feeling of absolute confidence that I have when I’m out with these three zoom lenses.

It wasn’t until I owned and used this trio of f/2.8 constant aperture lenses that I fully appreciated how important an extra stop of light can be… especially in indoor situations.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, efov 28 mm, f/4, -0.5 EV, 1/125, ISO-200, handheld in camera HDR1

I appreciate how difficult it can be to reach into one’s wallet and spend a significant amount of money on camera gear. If I was to purchase the M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8, PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 and PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 today, those three lenses would cost about $5,000 CDN.

This is quite a bit more than the original investment we made to purchase those three zoom lenses in June 2019. As we are all aware, the cost of camera gear from all manufacturers has increased significantly over the past 4-5 years.

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, 1/2500, ISO-640, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 4454 pixels on the width, subject distance 41 metres

Five thousand dollars is not an inconsequential amount of money, but it is still much more affordable than the comparable Nikkor f/2.8 zoom trinity or similar gear from other manufacturers. Those lenses would cost almost double that amount. And, the comparable full frame zooms would weigh about 40% more. This is similar to what other full frame lens solutions have been over time.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, -0.7 EV, 1/2500, ISO-3200, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3546 pixels on the width, subject distance 870 mm

Folks who are interested in OM System gear today have the option of considering the M.Zuiko f/4 trinity of zoom lenses… the PRO 8-25 mm f/4, PRO 12-45 mm f/4 and the PRO 40-150 f/4. None of these f/4 PRO zoom lenses existed back in June 2019 when we began our journey with Olympus (now OM System).

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and Kenko 10 mm extension tube @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-2000, cropped to 2918 pixels on the width

In Canada these three f/4 constant aperture zooms would sell for about $1600 less than their f/2.8 cousins. Additionally, this trio of f/4 PRO zooms weigh about 38% less coming in at 1,047 grams (~2.3 lbs.) compared to 1676 grams (~3.7 lbs.) for the f/2.8 trinity.

If I could fast forward the past 4 years would I still buy the M.Zuiko f/2.8 trinity of zoom lenses instead of the f/4 versions if I was buying gear today?  Absolutely. I have become completely spoiled by the increased flexibility that the trio of f/2.8 constant aperture lenses provide.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 50 mm, efov 100 mm, f/4, 1/5, ISO-200

During a recent photography tour of Newfoundland I used my M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS zoom lens extensively and wrote a hands-on review of this superb lens.  While this zoom is a great one lens travel solution, the f/4 constant aperture does present some limitations.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 80mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-320, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 4049 pixels on the width, subject distance 4.7 metres

Whether the additional investment to purchase the M.Zuiko f/2.8 trinity is worth it to other photographers is a question only they can answer. For folks who want a lighter weight and less expensive option the M.Zuiko f/4 trinity can make perfect sense.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 @ 7 mm, efov 14 mm, f/6.3, 1/640, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted in post

Do I have any regrets about not buying f/2.8 constant aperture zoom lenses when I was shooting with full frame gear years ago? Nope. Within a few years it became apparent to me that a full frame camera kit was not a good solution for my specific needs.

Investing too much money, too early, in a camera format can cloud our judgement. We can resist correcting a mistake because the financial penalty to do so is steep. Living with a mistake is seldom pleasant… and a mistake never self corrects.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 @ 7 mm, efov 14 mm, f/4.5, -0.5 EV, 1/180 ISO-200, handheld in camera HDR1

I been using the M.Zuiko f/2.8 trinity of zoom lenses for over 4 years. My appreciation for this equipment has only increased over time. Each of these lenses has become a partner for me in the creative journey that we all pursue as photographers.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with 10 mm and 16 mm extension tubes @ 100 mm, f/7.1, 1/30, ISO-400, uncropped out-of-camera jpeg, handheld in-camera focus stacking

Regardless of the brand of gear we may use, it is an amazing feeling when we find camera equipment that supports our creative instincts… rather than getting in the way of them. It allows us to operate in a “3 C” environment. Calm. Confident. Creative. That’s what the M.Zuiko f/2.8 trinity of zoom lenses delivers faithfully for me every day.

 Technical Note

Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW or jpeg files using my standard process in post. This is the 1,324 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

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4 thoughts on “M.Zuiko f/2.8 Trinity”

  1. Hi Thomas, I enjoy your articles very much and thanks for sharing your valuable experience and passion. I took up Olympus systems not so long ago, and now I got the F2.8 Trinity and the EM1X at substantial less costs as all are pre owned equipment. May be I take mostly outdoor, I found that I use the 12-100 F4 more and more. Especially during travel, the versatile 12-100 F4 is hard to beat, it is sharp and save the effort of changing lens.

    1. Hi Andrei,

      I also use my M.Zuiko Pro 12-100 as a travel lens, or for general outdoor photography, and find it excellent for that purpose. The PRO 12-100 f/4 is a great lens to partner with the M.Zuiko 100-400 for travel purposes, especially for folks who integrate some nature/bird photography into their travel plans.

      I typically use my PRO f/2.8 zoom lenses for low light and interior use… especially for my video work as I find the PRO 12-100 f/4 can be a bit slow with its f/4 minimum aperture for indoor video.


  2. Speaking of lenses… Do you have any lens that is not existing to be made in real life (carrying a F2 400mm lens would be to heavy for me and I would think unrealistic for M4/3)?
    I recently have been hoping for a 100-300 F4 zoom. Maybe it will happen one day.

    1. Hi Lewsh,

      My needs are being very well met by my current compliment of lenses… so I’m not ‘pining away’ for something different or additional.

      I had a look at the OM System Lens Road Map before replying to you. There appears to be a couple of PRO zoom lenses that may appeal to a number of nature/birding photographers. It looks like the two lenses are in the 50-200 and 50-225 focal length ranges. I suspect that one of them will be a constant aperture zoom at f/2.8 and the other one at f/4. The f/2.8 version will likely be compatible with teleconverters and may be an update to the current 40-150 f/2.8.


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