Eric L. Woods

That’ll do series: Olympus OMD E-M1/Zuiko 40-150mm f/4-5.6 R

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A lot of virtual ink is regularly spilled, myself included, about the latest and greatest gear. Perhaps a product of my nature and/or my Industrial Engineering degree minimum requirements are a bit of an obsession. This “That’ll do” series focuses on minimum requirements for my photography. The latest and greatest gear available is fantastic, but not everyone wants to, is able to, or even needs to buy into the latest gear. I focused on individual components already. Now I will focus on pairings as compared to much more expensive current alternatives. I will spend a little time on specs, make some comparisons, and then will share sample photos. Any combination suggested is not the only older gear that could suffice. Meant as a sample of what can be accomplished with gear that has a few years on it at a lower price. Or if you already have something similar it stands as an example of how upgrades are an option rather than a necessity for many.

The brief:

  • Long tele full frame equivalent focal length zoom.
  • 16MP minimum.
  • Good ergonomics.
  • Sharpness and strong IQ.
  • Low cost, size, and weight are key considerations.

Main Purpose:

  • Inexpensive daylight sports and portrait lens set up option with bokeh and subject isolation under the right conditions.

The title gave away the subject of this post…

Shot for blog post.
Olympus OMD E-M1 w/ Zuiko 40-150mm f/4-5.6 R

…but I will start with a few more recent set ups that cost significantly more. The equivalent full frame and APS-C tele zooms are usually quite expensive and large. I will pull from past set ups I have owned or own so I can speak from experience and provide sample shots for comparison.

  • Full frame sample
    • Sony A7III w/ Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8
      • Pluses
        • Far faster lens that is far more suitable for lower light.
        • Better battery life.
        • Great AF performance, IQ, and bokeh.
      • Minuses
        • Considerably more expensive set up.
        • Much larger and heavier.
        • The 40-150mm has a considerably longer reach at a 300mm full frame equivalent.
Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD
One Handed at Arm's Length - Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD
@samsungcamera #NX1 #50150mmf28
Voices
Graduation
  • MFT
    • I could not think of a better alternative MFT portrait solution at anything approaching a reasonable price.

Both options above are great. While they are not the most expensive options on the market at all by a long shot they will both set you back thousands.

Value:

The main party piece here is the lens. I will grant you that this is not a fast lens, but it is also a small, lightweight 80-300mm full frame equivalent lens far sharper than it has any business being that can be purchased for around $80 used and $90 brand new. I paid around $250 for my EX grade used OMD E-M1 for a grand total of about $330 all in.

Features:

I point you to my write ups on the camera and lens for details but here is a high level overview.

  • 16MP.
  • 10fps… 10fps!
  • 1/8000s top shutter speed.
  • Small and light. I do not know of another 80-300mm full frame equivalent set up as capable as this that is anywhere near as light and compact as this. Have carried this lens in a cargo pants pocket.
  • Stellar IQ. This is one of my favorite all time lenses at any price. At $80-$90 this makes it something special. Some of my favorite all time photos were taken with this lens and a couple have been hung in prominant location at UNC ISD offices.
Co-Op City, The Bronx
  • Fast, silent hybrid phase and contact stills AF offers better performance than the already good E-M5.
  • Touch AF.
  • Many, many actually useful image modes and special features.
  • Articulating touch screen.
  • Camera is downright tiny.
  • Lens is surprisingly small and light for a long portrait length lens.
  • Unlike the E-M5 you can review images in the EVF.
  • Silent modes available with every shutter mode and easily activated in the shutter settings.
  • Lens has a modest aperture spec, but combine this with Olympus’ fantastic IBIS respectable low light photos are possible.
100 Men In Black Annual Concert ft. William McDowell
  • Fantastic ergonomics rivaling any camera I have ever used. Feels like it should cost far more than it does. Thought I might upgrade later but I am so pleased with this camera that I see no practical reason to do so.
  • Again, this is one of the best lenses that I have ever used on any system or sensor size.

And add a solid flash and this is a great lens even in challenging lighting conditions as shown in this post.

Godox V1/Flashpoint Zoom Li-on X R2
Uncropped
Sample Crop
Crop

What is missing?:

Practically speaking not much actually. Especially given the price point.

  • Other options would be better if regularly shooting in low light.
  • Battery life is not the best. A common malady for mirrorless cameras. Nothing surprising, but carry extra batteries.
  • Just passable video. But that is not what this set up is made for.

Samples:

Same lens with other Olympus cameras.

Butterfly house
Moon over trees.
NYC - Archives, Central Park
Harlem
Beach
Spring spotted.
NYC

Summary:

This is one of the best bargain tele zoom set ups available. Far better than the tongue in cheek “That’ll do” descriptor in the title. Better than would be expected all around performance in a relatively small and lightweight set up at a reasonable price.

Shot for Blog Post
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