There is no doubt that one of the main strengths of the m4/3 rd system is its lens line up which covers a lot of focal lengths. However, if you want to shoot at the Focal lengths of 150mm or 200mm (300mm and 400mm respectively in 35mm terms) neither Olympus nor Panasonic have a 150mm or a 200mm fixed lens. To use either of these focal lengths your only choices are zoom lenses.
You can choose either large, bright (and somewhat pricey) pro zooms like the Olympus 2.8/40-150mm or the Panasonic 100-400mm
Or you have in Both Olympus and Panasonic catalogs , lighter not so bright zooms like the Olympus 4-5.6/40-150mm and the Panasonic 4-5.6/45-150mm.
Let s first get one thing out of the way : I am NOT a zoom guy. I always preferred single focal length. As a matter of fact, If I was to choose ONE zoom it would be one that NOBODY, outside myself, seem to want : the zoom would be like for M4/3rds a 100-200 or maybe a 120-200 (meaning a 240-400mm in 35mm terms) because I realize that when you are photographing something far, there are times where getting closer is not an option or, in the case of a moving object, one may not have the time to change lenses to photograph a subject coming towards you.
Every time I use a zoom like a 80-200 or 80-300mm (in 35m terms) I end up always using the longer focal lengths.
In the case of the m4/3rds 40-150mm, I use those zooms between 100 and 150mm 98% of the time. On such zooms, it is generally admitted that sharpness tend to get lower as one approached the longer end of the zoom. I have had the Olympus M 4-5.6/40-150mm for a few years now. Before that I owned his older counterpart in the 4/3rd system on my Olympus E1 & E3.
Both are supposed to be identical in terms of optical design. The lens is supposed to be very good up until mid range (100mm FOV) and get to just good quality at the max 150mm FOV.
All serious reviews I have read tend to say that the Panasonic equivalent 45-150mm is different because it is stronger at the 150mm setting.I am now finishing my test comparing these two zooms and before I publish all details in a dedicated article, let me make two details clear from my testing :
1/ The Olympus seems much better than the Panasonic (at least my copy), especially at the longer end despite what serious reviews say. Of course, it may be due to sample variation.
2/ Both lenses have some space in their foot. After all,these are two cheap zooms which you could expect would be weaker with larger resolutions. Shooting on a tripod in the high-res (40MP) mode of the EM5 Mark II, the lens seem capable of resolving very fine detail indeed.
the images were shot at 800 ISO so there is definitely some noise but resolution wise it is impressive that a lens of this price can resolve that much detail
All images are shot on a tripod with only AUTO CONTRAST in Photoshop.Here is a center crop of the test image in the 40MP mode at the max aperture at the 150mm setting (f5.6) :
Now at F.8 :
Same after some sharpening in PS :
The full details may not be fully visible on a computer screen but the amount of details that can be achieved with a $99 lens is really impressive.
Yes, your heard me well :The Olympus 4-5.6/40-150mm (which originally launched at $299) has been available on and off for $99. (although you will need to spend a few dollars more as the lens does not come with the hood. The Olympus hood wasn’t available when I purchased the lens from Amazon so I got a generic hood from JCC but I do not recommend this item as it is not a perfect fit on the lens. The Olympus hood is $32 .
Often, the Olympus 1.8/45mm is considered as the “best bang for your buck” lens in the Olympus m4/3rd. While this lens is indeed great value for the price at only $299 in black or silver, I think the Olympus 40-150mm at $99 just tops it.