Monday, October 13, 2014

Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro Lens Review Extension: MC-14 Teleconverter, Continuous AF with Tracking and Quick Comparison with M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 lens

Important Note:
1. I am an Olympus Malaysia employee. 
2. This is a user experience based review, based on my personal opinion which can be subjective.
3. All images were shot in RAW and converted directly to JPEG (High Quality) via Olympus Viewer 3.
4. General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal
5. Minimal post-processing applied to the images, with slight brightness/contrast balance tweak. All images were almost as good as straight out of camera, with minimal cropping for better presentation.

This blog entry serves as a review extension to my original post M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro Lens review, so if you have not read that first part, kindly do so before proceeding to this extension. The reason why this extension exists is because I did not cover three items in my original blog post: 
Shooting with Olympus MC-14 1.4x teleconverter for M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens
Continuous AF with Tracking capability of the lens
and comparison with M.Zuiko 75mmm F1.8 the sharpest M.Zuiko prime lens

I intend to cover all the three items in this blog entry. 

Before we start, let's have a look at how fast the focusing speed of the M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens is. I mentioned it was very fast and accurate in my previous review, and I also believe seeing is believing. I have recorded a video of the touch AF (shooting by touching on LCD screen of the OM-D) in action, and you will see how blazingly fast the AF of the lens is. That implementation of new Dual VCM (voice coil motor) mechanism works very well!




SHOOTING WITH OLYMPUS MC-14 1.4x TELECONVERTER ON M.ZUIKO 40-150mm F2.8 PRO 

Olympus has released a teleconverter MC-14, which multiplies the focal length of the M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens by 1.4x, and losing the aperture brightness by one stop, from F2.8 widest to F4. Therefore, with the teleconverter MC-14 attached to the lens, you effectively obtain 56-210mm (in 35mm format, it is 112-420mm), at constant aperture of F4, which is still very respectable for a zoom lens. Obviously the purpose of having the tele-converter is to add that extra far reach, and that 40% longer foal length does make a difference when you do need to get a little closer.  Considering that the main gain is the focal length, it is only prudent to use this converter when the 150mm longest reach is insufficient, because if you intend to shoot mostly within 150mm, without the teleconverter you get brighter F2.8 aperture. 
The MC-14 teleconverter is so small and light that it does not add to any significant weight to the lens. It features a protruding element which inserts right into the rear of the 40-150mm F2.8 pro lens, which has a hollow opening. With this specific design, the teleconverter cannot be used with any other lenses, and is tailor made only for the M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens. The MC-14 still maintains the weather-sealing properties of the lens and OM-D body combination.  


Generally, every single glass adding onto the original lens translates to light loss, which ultimately reduces light into the camera, resolving less details. So the real question here is, how much light loss will happen with the teleconverter? Knowing from any other teleconverters around, from any brand with any lenses, it does cut off some light, and affect the overall image quality. Studying the MTF charts provided by Olympus officially (go dig around, I am too lazy to reproduce it here) it can be observed that the sharpness does indeed drop when the teleconverter is used, vs using the lens without the teleconverter. We can argue on and on about numbers and chart but to me, what really matters is the result I see from real world shooting. That is the main purpose of this blog review, and what I have been spending a lot of time and effort doing, doing practical shooting, getting as many samples images as I can, and let's study the results based on those sample, real world images. 

So what have I been shooting? I went to a Dogathon (Dog lovers event), Bird Park as well as an Opera Musical show. In these tests, I have attached the MC-14 teleconverter on full time, and I emphasized on getting images at the longest reach of 210mm (which we are all interested in). I shoot mostly wide open, but there are times I needed to stop down the aperture mainly to achieve sufficient depth of field. All images were taken hand-held. 

MC-14 210mm, 1/400sec, F4, ISO200


MC-14 210mm, 1/320sec, F5.6, ISO320

100% crop from previous image

MC-14 210mm, 1/800sec, F4, ISO200

MC-14 210mm, 1/800sec, F4, ISO200

MC-14 180mm, 1/640sec, F4, ISO200

MC-14 210mm, 1/640sec, F4, ISO200


That MC-14 teleconverter was impressively sharp. Overall the images come out super sharp with excellent amount of fine detail still and perhaps there is some slight sharpness loss, which did not really matter in real life conditions.  At least, to my eyes, it was quite difficult to tell. Of course some would request for me to do a comparison of images taken with and without the MC-14 teleconverter to gauge how much sharpness loss there is, but seriously, that is NOT the point of this blog review extension. I am sure in the future someone would be doing such comparisons, and I do not intend to do the same. 

Here, I am providing you PLENTY of image samples with the MC-14. I would have expected more technical flaws such as chromatic aberration to show more prominently, but that was not the case. I was happy with all my images taken even at wide open F4. In comparison to all other lenses from Olympus, I'd still think with the teleconverter, the image output is noticeably better than what can be obtained from the older M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4-5.6 or 75-300mm F4.7-6.3 lenses. The overall color, tones and micro contrast rendered from the new M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 pro lens, even with the tele-converter MC-14 attached, are very good. 

MC-14 210mm, 1/60sec, F4.5, ISO320

MC-14 210mm, 1/50sec, F5.6, ISO400

100% crop from previous image

MC-14 210mm, 1/40sec, F5.6, ISO200

MC-14 210mm, 1/60sec, F5.6, ISO400

100% crop from previous image

MC-14 210mm 1/40sec, F4, ISO250


MC-14 210mm, 1/100sec, F4, ISO320

COMPARISON WITH M.ZUIKO 75mm F1.8 LENS

In my previous blog about the M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO lens, I made a very crucial claim that the lens is almost, if not as sharp as the currently sharpnest Micro Four Thirds lens out there, the M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8. I did not have the 75mm with me last week during my shoot so could not verify this claim. The only reason I mentioned such comparison was based on my own memory and experience shooting with the 75mm F1.8 lens, the sharpness, the micro contrast and the rendering if images are as good with the M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO lens. 

In the following comparison shots, I did not use the MC-14 teleconverter. I originally wanted to shoot buildings and urban landscape/scenery shots, alas weather in Kuala Lumpur did not permit as the skyline was covered with thick, mushy haze. I do not think the weather is doing to clear out anytime soon so it was a pity because that would have been a better test to compare the two lenses. Nevertheless I made do with what I can, and I must make sure the subjects that I shoot are not too far away. Visibility is very poor, so my subject choice is limited, so I hope you understand. 

The comparison tests were carried out hand-held (was too lazy to carry around tripods). I shot everything in aperture priority but I watched all parameters and ensured they were the same (focal length fixed at 75mm, aperture, ISO and shutter speed maintained, and framing/composition as close as possible between two lenses). I adjust the white balance manually from the Olympus Viewer 3 to ensure color consistency. I have taken over 10 comparison samples, and decided to show only three (some did have errors, some was less helpful in showing the difference between two lenses). 

So here are the results: 

M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO  on the left vs 75mm F1.8 on the right

COMPARISON 1

75mm, 1/400sec, F4, ISO500

M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO  on the left vs 75mm F1.8 on the right

COMPARISON 2

75mm, 1/1000sec, F4, ISO200


M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO  on the left vs 75mm F1.8 on the right

COMPARISON 3

75mm, 1/250sec, F4, ISO200

M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO  on the left vs 75mm F1.8 on the right

My conclusion? I was not wrong in the first place. 

Both lenses were VERY close. In fact, they were so close, I have to refer to the image name/numbers a few times just to make sure I did not do the comparison boxes wrongly. Generally, I still think that the 75mm F1.8 is a tad sharper. But we are talking about zoom lens vs prime lens here, and for the M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 pro lens to come so close to the quality expected from the 75mm F1.8 lens, this was surely a great feat. 


CONTINUOUS AF WITH TRACKING

Now this is the part that I shall not make any conclusions, and leave it open for other reviewers to do further tests. We all know that OM-D E-M1 is not performing as good as some other cameras currently available out there when it comes to Continuous AF shooting with tracking. Therefore, I did not expect miracles to happen with this new M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens. Furthermore, I rarely shoot in C-AF mode, I am a Single-AF shooter, thus factoring my inexperience in handling such shooting demands, I am not the best person to make any judgements. It does take some special skill to nail those C-AF with tracking shots. 

One very good example of a capable photographer who has done very well with the similar combination of OM-D + 40-150mm Pro is Pekka Potka, who captured some amazing bird in flight shots (go see his sample images if you have not done so)

This is me begging you beautiful readers, PLEASE do not expect me to magically transform into a wildlife photographer overnight. Such photography requires skill and techniques which I have yet to acquire, and practise. I beg your understanding. 

Nonetheless, in my humble tests, I performed on running dogs. They were running in straight lines, so movement was quite predictable, and should not be too much of a challenge to any cameras out there. I set the camera to the following settings: C=AF with Tracking, Burst sequential shooting of 6.5 FPS (Low), Aperture Priority with Center Weighted metering, IS off. 

SERIES 1 
(CLICK ON IMAGES TO VIEW LARGER SIZE)




SERIES 2
(CLICK ON IMAGES TO VIEW LARGER SIZE)


To me, the focus tracking worked well, for that tiny running dog. I cannot say the same for running lions chasing a deer, or a flying eagle. I have not had such opportunities, or skills to perform such tests. 

I shall leave you with more samples of images  taken with the MC-14 teleconverter, this time at a Musical Opera show which I attended last night. It was held at DBKL (city council building) in an auditorium with horribly dim lighting. The show was about Merong Mahawagsa, a historical story dating back centuries ago. I figured some of you may wonder how the lens performed in a stage/concert shooting conditions, with dim light and the need to zoom far. The lens fared well, and locked in focus very accurately. 

MC-14 210mm, 1/250sec, F4, ISO3200

MC-14 210mm, 1/160sec, F4, ISO3200

MC-14 210mm, 1/320sec, F4, ISO3200

MC-14 210mm, 1/160sec, F4, ISO1600

MC-14 210mm, 1/200sec, F4, ISO3200

MC-14 210mm, 1/80sec, F4, ISO3200

MC-14 210mm 1/80sec, F4, 1SO5000

MC-14 210mm, 1/80sec, F4, ISO3200

MC-14 210mm, 1/320sec, F4, ISO4000

As usual, I am providing you with pixel peeping pleasures, and you may download 10 image samples at full resolution (JPEG converted straight from RAW in Olympus Viewer 3), from the MC-14 1.4x teleconverter samples. 


Oh and Madonna says hi!


I know I may not have fulfilled ALL requests but hey, this is not the end. I may have my hands on the M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 pro lens in the future again, and surely I will shoot with it and blog about it here. 

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45 comments :

  1. Robin and his Olympus gear have this time really "gone to the dogs." Not. Ha ha ha ha ... Again, well done, Robin! What attracts photogs like me to your blog is that you demonstrate the IQ quality of Oly gear with real-world examples, believable as-is examples of people, places and creatures as if the viewer were there in person too. No need for MTF graphs or lpm resolution data or chromatic aberration percentages, etc. And recently too your human portraits both color and B&W are quite decent. You deserve a raise from Olympus.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HI Ulfie,
      Thanks for the kind words. I think that there are many others who do technical analysis and reviewing the MTF charts, so why should I do the same? Ultimately I also believe that final output matters, hence my approach of showing as many real world samples as I can.

      Delete
  2. Amazing photos from an excellent zuiko lens by an olympus master.

    Eric V
    Edmonton Alberta

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am not an Olympus Master, but thanks for the kind words!

      Delete
    2. I disagree! I don't think anyone else at Olympus can do a better job … so you are the Olympus Master!

      Delete
    3. Thanks Bobby, you are being too kind!

      Delete
  3. Wow you sure work fast Robin ! I was just with him yesterday at the Dogathon and finally managed to fondle and caress the Oly 40-150mm f2.8 and the teleconverter. I am definitely teleconverted :-) Will be in my urgent shopping list when it comes out. I felt that the autofocus was a tad surer and faster than the 75mm f 1.8 :-)
    Again, great job Robin :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Carl,
      A hot bowl of noodle soup should be served while hot! So yes, I needed to be quick in updating my blog.
      Nice to see you again, and I sure hope you like the lens. Will keep you updated on the availability here.

      Delete
  4. Hi Robin,
    Thank you for the time u spent to review this amazing lens, and compliments for a job well done, as always. I am Italian but I live in Taiwan and my job could lead me in KL in the next future so if u have time it would be nice to have some shutter therapy and some local food together! Thank u again.
    Simone

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Simone, I always welcome visitors to join me for a shutter therapy session or two. Email me when you are coming, would be happy to have you.

      Delete
  5. Robin, once again thank you. This review extension is one I was waiting for and am pleasantly surprised to see it so soon. Yo have shown once again how truly capable this complete system is. The 40-150 with or without the 1.4x appears to be a winner. I am very impressed how well images held up with the converter. The only other long lens/1.4x combo I have personal experience with is the Canon 300/2.8 and the 1.4xII. This Olympus combo appears to be every bit as good. That, I assure you, is saying a lot. It obviously doesn't have the creamy bokeh of the Canon, but the sharpness...oh man, ...

    Safe to say this lens with or without the 1.4 appears to be winner all around. It has exceeded all expectations I had for sure. I can sum it up with one word;

    SOLD!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was my pleasure doing the review. And yes the lens does live up to the expectations!

      Delete
  6. From the getOlympus website, the MC-14: "...and will also be compatible with the M.Zuiko ED 300mm f4.0 PRO"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. unfortunately we do not have the 300mm F4 pro at this moment.

      Delete
  7. Hi Robin, thanks for extending your review. Your bird-park pictures are amazing. I am stunned by the slow shutter speeds you achieved - e.g. 1/40 or 1/50 on several, without compromising sharpness. I can only assume the birds are very used to photographers and were posing calmly. Did you shoot them handheld? if handheld, even more amazing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Derek, those were taken handheld. The trick? Wait until no one else is around, just you and the birds, and they do not move at all. They stayed very still. When the kids (they should be banned from the park!!) came all hell breaks loose and it is impossible to shoot even with very high shutter speed.

      Delete
  8. Very good article with great images. About the comparison crops, I don't know why but I like more the ones made with 40-150mm F2.8 lens then the 75mm F1.8. Even the sharpness is greater for the portrait lens, the colors and the contrast look better in my opinion with the 40-150mm Pro glass.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Mircea. I think the 75mm looked a tad (hard to notice) better, but they were so close the difference is negligible.

      Delete
  9. Wow! I'm very impressed of this pictures! Especially the 1.4TC crops make me think about selling my sony-gear ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL! Optical quality and great lenses have always been Olympus' strengths

      Delete
  10. After the E-m5, the E-m1, and a good collection of lens, count me in fort that one too :p
    Now, you have to serioulsy think of enrolling a classroom for wannabe photographers like me, because i am in no way nearly as good as you are with my cameras.
    thanks again for the beautifull images and rich reviews.
    You can give a pet to Madona for me next time, she looks totally adorable *^.^*

    PS : Would you care to advise me on a good flash for the macro lens, or how to use it mine the way you do.
    I saw the way you proceed but never manage to have the flash worked as i wished (at distance) i have the something 600 led flash :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I personally use the FL-50R for macro lighting, fired wirelessly. Do search around, I have shared all my macro shooting and lighting techniques.

      Delete
  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Yet another terrific review/test! Great job, Robin! With the introduction of this lens + TC and soon to be released 300/4 PRO, this system/format is now fully mature and provides sports and wildlife shooters with a serious alternative to the DSLR.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope so too! I am now very curious of what the 300mm F4 can do!

      Delete
  13. Fantastic shots. I'm very tempted by this. Are you still planning on testing the lens on the E-M10 Robin?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Wataru, yes I do intend to do so but I am not sure if I can have both items this weekend.

      Delete
    2. Hi Robin,
      Sorry to be a pain after years lol did you get a chance to test witb e-m10 please? I own an e-m10 mkii and thinking about getting this lens :)

      Thanks!

      Delete
  14. Very informative review and fantastic images - as always!

    Thank you, Robin!

    Alex Galimov

    ReplyDelete
  15. Great review! One question: How is the bokeh in the upper left corner of comparison 2 for the two lenses? Which lens had more circuler vs. oval bokeh in the corner? Which lens had less chromatic aberration in the bokeh? Can you post a cropped to 100 % competition of the upper left corner of comparison 2?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In terms of CA control, the 40-150mm F2.8 pro is the winner. However, this could be due to clever in camera processing (or in this case, via Olympus Viewer 3) which is more optimized.
      In terms of bokeh quality, I would say they were very similar.

      Delete
  16. A second question: Have you tried the 50-200/2.8-3.5 43lens on the OM-D E-M1? It would have been interesting to compare that lens with the 40-150/2.8 with 1.4 concerter at 200mm. Based on your review I suspect the new pro lens might be the winner, but it would be nice to see how close they would be in sharpness and other properties. Some of us might consider cost vs. quality for those two options.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We already loaned out the 40-150mm F2.8 pro lens to other photographers so I won't be able t get my hands on one anytime soon. Nonetheless, your guess is correct, the 40-150mm F2.8 pro lens is the winner.

      Delete
  17. Hi Robin,

    Great writeup! If I had that lens, I'd shoot races in Sepang. If my EP3 + 45 can keep up, you combo will work even better! **hint hint**

    MotoGP's coming up, and MMA too!

    Regards,
    Kelvin

    ReplyDelete
  18. Excellent review as always. Since the 40-150 with Mc14 gives a focal length similar to the older four thirds 50-200 without a teleconverter. It would be great to see a comparison of sharpness between these two candidates.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Sometimes, now and then I fall to suppression from all "the "Full-Frame" or nothing!" mantra that typically hits suddenly in any review site comments or so on. It is scary how a widely repeated "lies" can start eating other person judgement what to do in future. Jumped to m4/3 wagon from own tests results that rendered any other format useless (35mm, APS-C) and so far everything perfect or great. But when it starts eating my mind how "m4/3 is bad" etc. All I need to do is to visit your blog and all second guessing is gone. Hope I could stop reading reviews etc but need to do it for work reasons.

    The 75mm comparison really blowed my mind about sharpness.
    I wouldn't guessed it how close/identical they are.

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  20. I'm convinced. Ordering the lens right now. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Robin, I've just got my own 40-150, and have long been a fan of the 75/1.8. on an E-M1, of course. So I asked the same question. I compared them at f/2.8 and f/5.6. I think it's dangerous to use a subject with texture in depth (like your bundle of straw) for a sharpness test, because the AF will have a mind of its own in choosing where to place the sharpest point, and the two lenses may render a little differently away from the sharpest plane of focus in each. So I went to a construction site, with lots of concrete, rebar, etc, and focused on a lattice of rough lumber. At f/2.8, and pixel-peeping at 100%, the 75/1.8 is the winner -- maybe a little better resolution, although the difference is tiny, but definitely better contrast in the midtones. That's saying that the MTF at highest frequencies must be a little better for the 75 stopped down just over one stop than for the 40-150 PRO wide open at 75 mm. Not a surprise. But at 5.6, same subject, bright sun, high shutter speed, no difference is visible at all... I would guess that for low light, the 75 wide open is valuable, but once you reach, say, theater lighting the 40-150 PRO does it all.

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  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  23. Hello Robin,

    thank you for the excellent review and photos again! Here in Finland we are almost putting up a fan club for you! :-)

    The question is when you took the photos of the moving subject (dog) you said you had IS turned OFF? Why was that? Do you think that when there is enough light it is better to leave it off? Will it give sharper photos then, or what is the main reason?

    As you mentioned in the review, my fellow Finn Pekka Potka has taken some nice shots of flying birds here in Finland. In his article he writes that he has IS turned ON almost all the time. Or did I understand it wrong?

    So what is your recommendation when to have IS turned ON and when to turn it OFF? I guess the right name would be IBIS when we are discussing about Olympus gear and image stabilizer?

    And thanks again. Keep up the excellent work! Can't wait for your next review!

    ReplyDelete
  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  25. This lens meets all my expectations.
    I have one negative point. If I want to take a picture of a flying bird in the sky, the AF is very bad. AF goes back and forth on the subject and never sharp. Result bird flew and no sharp picture.
    Various institutions tried. AF tracking (C-AF + TR) smaller AF frame etc.

    Has anyone the same experiences or tips.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi do the 40-150mm pro replacet he 75mm/1.8 ?

    Thanks Robert

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hi Robin,
    Excellent review - But this link - Pekka Potka, who captured some amazing bird in flight shots (go see his sample images if you have not done so) says Account removed. Can you help check the BIF's.

    ReplyDelete