Reasonable and appropriate lens buying that I was easily able to rationalize. At least to myself. One from Nikon and one from Olympus. Why play favorites? First up: Olympus.

If memory serves correctly this lens is the fourth one in the short history of micro-four-thirds lenses with the focal length of 40-150mm and a maximum aperture of f4.0-5.6. The "R" designates that it is the version with an aspherical element and an "HR" element. It's one of Olympus's "high grade" series of lenses (according the the fact sheet on B&H Photo) so I think you can expect that it's not a bad lens. Time will tell but my early shots, wide open, seem sharp, detailed and nice. 

So, why did I buy a cheap, kit class 40-150mm instead of the new, super premium f2.8 "Pro" model from Olympus? I'm booked to shoot two different conference/events in the upcoming week and I'm torn between shooting with the (much) heavier Nikons or the much more convenient Olympus cameras. 

If I chose the Nikons (two D610s) I would want to use an all purpose, all terrain lens that covers a wide range effectively and then bring a longer zoom for just in case. If I choose the Olympus cameras (two EM5.2s) I needed something longer than the 60mm Sigma or 60mm Olympus Pen FT f1.5 lens to get images of speakers on stage in a giant ballroom. Since I rarely need longer lenses for the Olympus cameras and because I see myself doing more and more commercial work with the Nikons I wasn't ready to pony up a small fortune for the premium Olympus optic if I thought I could use something less pricey and
still get good results. Which ever system finally selected I would want to buy a new optic. Why not? We change stuff all the time anyway...

With all this in mind I headed over to Precision camera to look at my choices. I spent a lot of time with three Olympus and Panasonic lenses. I looked at the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 Pro. I look at the Panasonic 14-140mm f4.0-5.8 and I looked at the lens illustrated above. The Pro lens would run me about $1400. The Panasonic about $499. The Olympus, with an instant rebate, would set me back a little less than $125. Brand new, with warranty. I shot and looked and shot and looked for a good amount of time. I am sure the big Olympus is fantastic but I'm equally sure that the slower lens is also very, very good optically. Especially for shooting waist-to-top of the head images of people talking at a podium. 

At some point you have to keep in mind the final use. If I were shooting for a double truck spread in a printed, high quality magazine (with an ample budget) I would certainly get the Pro lens but I know that both the clients I'll be working for this week will use the images for general marketing on the web and one will also print a MyPublisher book of 200 or so images: none going up to full page. 

I bought the least expensive option and I've been testing it all day today, around the studio and out in the streets. Focus acquisition is good and,  in conjunction with the EM5.2 camera, the images are sharp, detailed and clean. I expect to be able to shoot the podium shots at f5.6, 1/125th of second and ISO 3200. It should work well enough. I am pleasantly surprised by the 40-150mm f4.0-5.6 R lens. It's fun on the camera; small and lightweight. I just put an image up on my computer screen and the detail is everything I would want. And, at a certain point, the price of $125 is the price of a good Austin restaurant meal. 

It's a great and cheap way to add some reach to the system. But I'm not fooling myself. In lower light levels I know that the slow maximum aperture will become an impediment. It's an interesting gamble. 

On the other hand I did buy the wide-focal-length-spanning lens for the Nikon. Maybe that will be a better choice. I'll write about that one tomorrow. And then maybe I'll let everyone vote on which system I should really use. Could be fun......  A cool, new lens for $119? I'm in.


  1. is it a sharp lens? do you like it?

  2. There's actually no difference in the optical formula between the original m.Zuiko 40-150 f/4.0-5.6 and the R version...R was just an external cosmetic change to make the kit lenses fit aesthetically with the E-P3 and subsequent cameras. Both versions are listed on four-thirds dot org, which shows that both have the same optical formula and same number of HR elements, and user reports haven't been able to discern a difference between them in AF performance either.

    My experience...dollar for dollar, it is the finest lens in Olympus lineup. At similar focal lengths and apertures, it matches the venerated 75mm f/1.8. And it's so small and lightweight and inexpensive...I'm not much of a telephoto shooter and I just don't go anywhere without it. It's the lens I most frequently recommend...I'd say it's the one must have lens in the system for any shooter.

  3. I have this lens for some time, and it will impress you wide open below ~ 110mm. Beyond that, it is not as sharp, but still very good, but not impressive.

    For the price, it is an all-time bargain.

  4. It's a real sleeper. Very good closeup too. Sharp and decent magnification. I've used it a lot for butterflies. Also,I've used it for flower closeups, by adding my canon 58mm .250D or 500D closeup,filters. The Raynox works nicely too.

  5. This lens does function well for flower photography -- nice isolation of subject with soft out-of-focus backgrounds. It will be interesting to see if the same applies to the interior lighting conditions found in event photography. A relatively high ISO combined with the EM5 II's stabilization could do the job.

  6. Looks like Cmdr Hadfields camera, floating around like that ...!

  7. I have the Black version and mostly use it at Air Shows, I am happy with the images except I get more keepers when I use an OVF camera since there is a tiny delay in the EVF with fast moving objects (and it is weird seeing the propellers stopped in the screen) so many of the fast moving planes are not centered in the frame.

    Unlike my other Zuiko lenses, this has a non-metal mount, which for light-duty use seems fine. I agree that it can't be beat for the price.

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  9. Everybody that has used this said that it was a great buy at 199$, so when a local store offered a clear-out sale of the version with the small Olympus Pen bag at 99$, I jumped on it. Even if I'm not a tele shooter, every time I use it I find it being a very good value for money and having astounding quality even for the original price...

  10. Have one, like it too. Very good quality, very little to carry. Worth keeping in the bag when you travel..


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