The Olympus M. Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO is not part of a very successful Olympus MFT story especialy considering its extended versatility and its reduce size compare to the DSLR 24X36mm sensor format equivalents. Furthermore the same statement can be proclaimed for many M4/3 format photo equipment products.
For sure there is still a strong resistance to the introduction of the M4/3 format from the so-call professional intelligentsia. The picture quality argument has been served ad nauseam to reject any more compact option. But time is passing by and moreover people are adopting MFT and APS-C formats. The new state regarding photography and its popularity is intimacy related to its fast, versatile and portable ability. Big DSLR dont seem to follow that path so extinction seems not far away for them.
The Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 PRO stays a massive lens by MFT compact standards. But it replace at least two DSLR Pro lenses, i.e. the traditional 70-200mm zoom and the powerful 300mm telephoto, both with maximum aperture of F2.8. So the trade-off is still at the advantage of the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro. It prevent also the necessity of changing lenses or to operate with two different camera bodies.
Using big telephoto zoom lenses increase the unbalance tendency between the optic and the camera. That fact can be critical if you need a correct handling especially if you are panning the action not only for the effect but simply to follow the subject. Fatigue can be a highly distractive factor that will affect your ability and motivation to produce pictures. You can enhance your handling by adding an additional grip or vertical power grip on the camera. If you adopt a more static position, a fix support like a monopod or a tripod will be a great help for stabilisation and a more careful picture cropping. In fact the nature and the context of your subject will characterize your working methodology.
With such a Pro lens model with a larger maximum aperture of F2.8 the photograph will select most of the time a fairly large lens opening often between F2.8 and 5.6. Those aperture opening will narrowed the deep-of-field phenomena and privilege the main subject. Focus can be critical at that point and autofocus or prefocus have to be set carefully. Your picture waste may also increase accordingly. That is part of the experiment. Many photojournalists may prefer to work with DSLR 24X36mm sensor format classic equipment. I am always impressed to see those boxes full of photojournalists with identical equipment in major sports events. They often reproduce the same picture without any search of originality. This is another specie of photographs in danger of obsolescence.
As a Pro lens the Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 is getting a superior quality of construction. The zoom and focusing rings are larger and will turn nicely with a simulated friction similar to old-fashioned lenses. The click-on manual option (Clutch Manual Focus) available on the focus ring is a very secure and fast way of selecting between auto or manual possibilities. By selecting the manual focusing only position you over rule the autofocus fonction and get a better focusing ring resistance similar to the previous manual focusing lenses. It replicate what is already present to the Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens which is often the companion optic chosen by many. As for all the Olympus other M4/3lenses, no aperture ring are offer on that model assuming that it will done by one of the dials of the camera.
The monumental push-pull lens hood is included with the Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro. Operating the mechanism may require some study and practices from your part. I have worked freely with or without the lens hood (if it was possible to do so without compromising my picture quality). The Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro is also doted of an already tripod/monopod accessory mount that can be rotate for horizontal or vertical shooting. The making of this piece appears to be very well designed and constructed. My suggestion is to kept it permanently on the lens and simply rotate it aside when you are handholding the lens. The Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens got the weather protection which qualify the optic for an extended use in most adverse conditions. It allows you also to fully clean the lens.
Contrary of the usual mystic regarding the use of those big Pro lenses could require from the photograph an effort in preparation and during their specific manipulation. Shooting at will may expose you to some disappointment in view of the final results. With try and experience you will master the care and the limit of these pro telephoto lenses such as the Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro. In-board camera stabilization may partially help you but the fundamentals stay the same such as selecting a higher shutter speed and follow (panning) your subject. If possible an external support such as a monopod or a tripod can help you a lot (and prevent fatigue!).
The Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro can be a very fine portrait lens and many beautiful examples presented over the Web illustrate that fact. It can be also an interesting “abstraction” lens that allows many defocusing experimentations. Working with relatives short distances (for this type of lenses) will narrow the deep-of-field for bokey effect. Sport and nature photography appear to be the most spontaneous themes of preference for what the Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro has been first designed et manufactured. And many users have already demonstrate the rightful of this perception. As I have already said at the beginning of this post, this telephoto zoom pro lens is in fact more versatile into a smaller package. In many ways it respond to the standards imposed in almost any photojournalistic situations.
Finally here is a short note regarding the high selling prices of many of those “pro” lenses. Usually these professional intended optics are produced in smaller quantity with higher cost material and for a limited distribution. Therefore their price tags are positioned at a selling point more difficult to reach for many of us (including obviously myself!). But if you consider the added durability of these models and their constant value over time, you will often discover that they simply follow the inflation rate over the years and the decades. It is up to you to invest yourself in that kind of higher expense.
The Olympus M. Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens is a very fine, constant, versatile, workhorse optic that is reliable into various conditions of uses. It is part of the traditional duo along with the Olympus M. Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro and also with the T(h)ree family if combined with the Olympus 7-14mm Pro. All these pro lenses will form a very competent equipment when teamed with OM-D bodies like the E-M1 and E-M5 or even the E-M10 series.
A complete Pro system
Olympus is very serious about its Pro line of lenses involvement and offer a complete line-up of fine, fast and sturdy optics with the M. Zuiko 7-14mm F2.8, 12-40mm F2.8, 12-100mm F4.0 IS, 40-150mm f2.8, Fisheye 8mm F1.8, 25mm F1.2, 45mm F1.2 and 300mm F4.0 IS. Combined with the OM-D E-M1 series, an independent professional photographer will find a very competent and compact eco-system that will sustain most of its need.
(First Published in September 2017, Revised in May 2019)