The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II is an evolutionary upgrade to the first Olympus 14-150mm Micro Four Thirds lens, which was announced back in November 2009. The main improvement is the addition of weather sealing, along with ZERO (Zuiko Extra-low Reflection Optical) coating on the surface of the front element, plus various cosmetic changes. Apart from the new lens coating, the optical construction is similar, featuring 15 elements in 11 groups and an iris diaphragm with 7 rounded aperture blades. The new lens also boasts the manufacturer’s MSC (Movie & Stills Compatible) auto-focus system, which promises fast and nearly silent focusing on all compatible camera bodies. Like its forebear, the new M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II lens offers a 35mm equivalent focal range of 28-300mm, while measuring just 83.0×63.5mm. The addition of weather sealing and improved mechanical construction have resulted in a marginally higher weight of 285 grams. The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II is currently available for £549.99 / $599.00 in the UK and the US, respectively.
Ease of Use
The lens attached to an Olympus OM-D E-M5 II camera body
Like its predecessor, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II is surprisingly small and light for a superzoom lens covering a 35mm equivalent focal range of 28-300mm. Zoomed out to the 14mm setting, the lens practically fits in the palm of your hand. Weighing in at 285 grams, the new lens is only 5 grams heavier than its forebear, which is hardly noticeable in actual use. (Incidentally, it’s exactly the same weight as the Tamron 14-150mm f/3.5-5.8 Di III.)
The lack of in-lens IS is no problem as long as you couple the lens to a stabilised body
Given that all Olympus compact system cameras – and the Panasonic GX7 – feature an in-body anti-shake system, it is not surprising that the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II doesn’t offer in-lens image stabilisation. In particular, the body-integral IS system of the OM-D E-M5 II, seen above, has turned out to be a rock solid companion to this lens.
The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II is generally light on features (putting aside its huge zoom range, of course). There is no distance scale, focus limiter, function button or tripod collar. Apart from the focus and zoom rings, the lens barrel is entirely devoid of controls. The most attractive feature of the lens is its extensive weather sealing.
Zooming is not internal – as you can see, the front extends considerably upon zooming to 150mm, at which point the lens cannot be considered tiny any more. Still, it’s a pretty compact affair for a lens that spans such a vast focal range. The wide zoom ring’s textured finish is markedly different to that of the first version, although this difference is essentially cosmetic in nature.
Side of the lens
The narrow focus ring sits in front of the zoom collar.
Front of the lens, isometric view
The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II lens accepts 58mm screw-in filters. The thread does not rotate on focus, making the use of polarisers that much easier.
Rear of the lens, isometric view
The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm II is fully weather sealed (dust- and splashproof), so it can be used safely in wet and dusty environments alike as long as it’s attached to a similarly weather-sealed body. It is not claimed to be waterproof though, so do not try to submerge it in a pond or river. The mount has all the MFT contacts and is made of metal.
This lens has a 10.7x zoom ratio.
At the 14mm end of the range, the diagonal angle of view is 75 degrees, which is similar to that of a 28mm lens on a 35mm camera.
Field of view at 14mm
At the 150mm end, the angle of view narrows to 8.2°, equivalent to that of a 300mm lens mounted to a 35mm full-frame body.
Field of view at 150mm
With the lens attached to an Olympus E-M5 II camera body, focusing is very fast and almost silent. This camera-lens combination is actually fast enough to track and capture subjects in motion, which is still the exception rather than the norm in the world of compact system cameras and zoom lenses.
The 58mm filter thread does not rotate on focus, which is good news for users of polarisers and graduated neutral density filters.
Manual focusing is possible in a focus-by-wire fashion. This should not put you off using it as it feels pretty natural in use. The focus ring is slim but adequate for the job.
The promise of the ZERO (Zuiko Extra-low Reflection Optical) coating applied to the surface of the front element was enhanced resistance to flare and ghosting – and indeed you need to frame your shots in a pretty awful way (see photo above) to see any ghosts or streaking. Our experiment shows that flare effects can definitely be triggered (if you go to great lengths to trigger them, that is) but they aren’t likely to raise their ugly heads during normal, everyday shooting – especially if you use a lens hood.
Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are quite well controlled with this lens. These are the absolute worst examples we were able to dig up (not to mention we had to shoot raw again, as the OM-D E-M5 II’s JPEG engine automatically compensated for chromatic aberrations, and did a great job of it).
With the lens set to its maximum aperture, you can see some pretty heavy light fall-off in the corners, especially at the 150mm end of the zoom range.
This is not a macro lens but its close-up performance is very decent. The minimum focus distance is 0.5m, as measured from the sensor plane. The shot below demonstrates how close you can get to the subject – in this case, a Compact Flash memory card.
Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. In the M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II, Olympus employed an iris diaphragm with 7 rounded blades, which has resulted in a pretty decent, albeit not outstanding, bokeh for a zoom lens – at least in our opinion. However, recognising that bokeh evaluation is subjective, we have provided a few examples for your perusal.
In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.
Sharpness at 14mm
For these tests, the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II lens was attached to an Olympus E-M5 II body, which in turn was mounted on a sturdy tripod. The self-timer was activated. The 100% crops represent about 1/400th of the total frame area.
The full frame at 14mm
At the wide end of the zoom range, the image centre is very sharp already at f/4, and stopping down brings only a minimal improvement in lens contrast. Diffraction creeps in at f11 and becomes noticeable at f16. The f22 setting is best avoided.
The corners are a different story. They are pretty soft wide open and never really sharpen up, although stopping down to f/5.6-f/8 does bring appreciable improvements. The effects of diffraction once again become evident at f16, and f22 is clearly worse than the f/4 setting. Given that depth of field is already vast at f/5.6, we see little reason to use f/22 at this zoom setting anyway (if you need to use a slow shutter speed in broad daylight, it is probably a better idea to shoot at f/8 and use a good quality neutral density filter).
|Aperture||Centre Crop||Edge Crop|
Sharpness at 50mm
For these tests, the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II lens was attached to an OM-D E-M5 II body, which in turn was mounted on a sturdy tripod. The self-timer was activated. The 100% crops represent about 1/400th of the total frame area.
The full frame at 50mm
Centre and corner sharpness is best at f/8 Performance gradually decreases from there, although again it does not reach unacceptable levels until you hit f/22.
|Aperture||Centre Crop||Edge Crop|
Sharpness at 150mm
For these tests, the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II lens was attached to an Olympus OM-D E-M5 II body, which in turn was mounted on a sturdy tripod. The self-timer was activated. The 100% crops represent about 1/400th of the total frame area.
The full frame at 150mm
Centre sharpness is very good wide open at f/5.6 but improves further upon stopping down to f/8. The f11 setting also yields excellent results.
Edge shapness is satisfactory at f/5.6 but you need to stop the lens down to f11 for best results.
|Aperture||Centre Crop||Edge Crop|
|Focal length||14-150mm (35mm equivalent: 28-300mm)|
|Lens construction||15 elements in 11 groups
(1 DSA lens, 1 EDA lens, 1 ED lens, 1 HR lens, 2 E-HR lenses, etc.)
|Splashproof processing||Dustproof and splashproof construction|
|Angle of view||75°-8.2°|
|Closest focusing distance||0.5m|
|Maximum image magnification||0.22x (35mm equivalent: 0.44x)|
|Minimum field size||78 x 59mm|
|Number of aperture blades||7 (circular aperture)|
|Maximum aperture||f4.0 (14mm) – f5.6 (150mm)|
|Size (Max. diameter x overall length)||Φ63.5 x 83mm|
|Box Contents||Lens Hood (LH-61C), Lens Cap (LC-58F), Lens Rear Cap (LR-2), user guide, warranty card|
The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II is a modest but worthy upgrade to the 5-year-old M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 lens. The biggest improvement is the addition of dust and moisture seals, which means the lens can be used safely in wet and dusty environments alike, as long it is attached to a similarly weather-sealed camera body. The also-new ZERO coating really does provide enhanced flare resistance (in line with Olympus’ claims), although you can still trigger the appearance of funky-coloured ghosts and streaks if you deliberately go after these effects.
In general though, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II continues to be pretty amazing for a superzoom. Despite the addition of weather sealing, it is still tiny and lightweight for a lens with a 10.7x zoom factor, which is no mean feat even if it does extend considerably when zoomed in. The lens has also earned our admiration for its zippy focus acquisition, even when shooting (moderately fast) moving subjects on an Olympus E-M5 II. After all, this is still the exception rather than the rule when it comes to mirrorless cameras and consumer zooms.
Optically, the lens isn’t a top performer but, like its predecessor, it’s perfectly acceptable and actually better than the majority of superzooms out there. At most focal lengths, you can safely use it wide open or stopped down by one f-stop (two if you want decent corner/edge sharpness at the 14mm and 150mm settings). Chromatic aberrations aren’t much of an issue (and if they do bother you, they can easily be dealt with in post processing). Distortion is very high at the wide end of the zoom range, but given that both Olympus and Panasonic bodies, as well as most raw converters, automatically correct it, chances are you won’t notice any of it in your images. The lens’ bokeh, while not outstanding, is actually pretty nice considering we’re talking about a zoom lens with a 7-bladed iris diaphragm.
Mechanically, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II is as good as you could expect based on the asking price. The zooming action is smooth without the zoom ring being too loose, manual focus is easy, and the auto-focus motor is quiet, fast and accurate. Build quality is commendably on a par with most other consumer-grade Olympus lenses that we’ve reviewed – and definitely a notch above the (non-weather-sealed) first version.
As an affordable all-in-one lens for Micro Four Thirds shooters that covers everything from wide-angle to extreme close-ups, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II is certainly an appealing proposition, especially if your camera features in-body image stabilisation and environmental seals.