Olympus 40-150mm f/3.5-4.5 Zuiko Digital

Lens Reviews / Olympus Lenses i Lab tested
40-150mm $225
average price
image of Olympus 40-150mm f/3.5-4.5 Zuiko Digital

Lab Test Results

  • Blur
  • Chromatic Aberration
  • Vignetting
  • Geometric Distortion

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Buy the Olympus 40-150mm f/3.5-4.5 Zuiko Digital

(From Olympus lens literature) The interchangeable Zuiko Digital 40-150mm f/3.5-4.5 lens (equivalent to 80-300mm in 35mm photography) is perfect for everything from portraits to sports scenes. It features a 3.8x zoom, a f/3.5-4.5 brightness for effects like background blurring and compression, a new multi-coating and reliable metal lens mount, along with 13 elements in 10 groups and a weight of just 15.75 oz. / 425 grams (approx.).

Test Notes

This is the second lens that ships as part of the two-lens kits with the E-500. (The first is the 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6) Offering a range of angular field of view equivalent to that of an 80-300mm lens on a 35mm camera, this is a pretty good telephoto, about as long as most users are likely to need for common shooting situations. Thanks to the small dimensions of the Four Thirds sensor, it's also a surprisingly light and compact lens.

Looking at the interactive blur plot, we see that the Olympus 40-150 does pretty well across most of its focal length range, but softness at maximum aperture does increase noticeably as you go from 100 to 150mm. As we've often found with inexpensive lenses, stopping down a couple of f-stops makes a substantial difference in sharpness across the board, and the 40-150 is actually a very good performer when used that way. As is also generally the case, the lens gets softer across the entire frame and at all focal lengths when stopped down to its minimum aperture of f/22, due to diffraction limiting. - But the degree of softening at minimum aperture isn't as severe as the worst we've sometimes found in other lenses.

Where the 40-150mm does get a little wild and woolly though, is in the area of chromatic aberration. Starting out from a pretty low value at the 40mm end of its range, CA drops slightly at 48mm and then increases fairly rapidly as you move to longer focal lengths. At 150mm chromatic aberration is rather high, although for the most part you'll only notice it around the edges of the frame. Geometric distortion in the 40-150 ranges from a slight barrel distortion at the wide angle end (about 0.3%) to a fairly noticeable pincushion distortion (also about 0.3%) across much of the longer end of its range. (The inflection point of zero distortion is right around 48mm, with pincushion distortion increasing fairly rapidly up to about 68mm, and then more slowly as you zoom to 100mm.) Uncorrected vignetting or shading is pretty high at large apertures across the entire focal length range, varying from 0.25 to about 0.4 EV. The shading decreases quite rapidly as you stop down though, to less than 0.2 EV at f/5.6 for all focal lengths, and to an imperceptible 0.1EV or less from f/8 onward.

Important to note though, is that the in-camera shading compensation offered by the E-500 and E-1 bodies can almost completely eliminate the shading or vignetting seen in the above tests.

Overall, this lens falls about in the middle of the range of inexpensive ~50-200mm zooms that we've tested. It falls short of the surprisingly excellent Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6, but beats the Canon 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6 quite handily, particularly at longer focal lengths. When you factor in the very low incremental cost of acquiring this lens as part of a bundled package with the Olympus E-500 body and the 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6, it's a really exceptional bargain.

Olympus 40-150mm f/3.5-4.5 Zuiko Digital

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Four Thirds - Black

Olympus 40-150mm f/3.5-4.5 Zuiko Digital User Reviews

7.8/10 average of 8 review(s) Build Quality 7.4/10 Image Quality 8.0/10
  • 5 out of 10 points and not recommended by MichaelShea (10 reviews)
    Cheap, lightweight, adequate build quality, faithful Olympus colours.
    Soft at longer focal lengths and lacking in microcontrast throughout the range. Minimum possible focussing distance restricts potential usage. Focus accuracy consistently poor on an Olympus E-3 camera.

    Perhaps it was a little unfair to test out and compare the results from this bargain basement lens with those of a Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 on a full-frame camera, but I wasn't expecting miracles. Having paid nearly ten times as much money for the latter however, I still believe it represents far better value for money. This is because each and every Canon image was absolutely brilliant in terms of colour, contrast and sharpness, whereas with the vast majority of my Olympus pictures of exactly the same subjects - flowers, swans, bridges and boats - will be consigned to the laptop dustbin.

    Let me state that I am a massive fan of Four Thirds lenses by Olympus and am sorry that the system was dumped as soon as it was, before any camera was truly able to do full justice to many of its fabulous optics. This is the fifth 4/3 lens I have used to date and the only one of the five that has proved to be a disappointment. However all the others were either classed as 'High Grade' or 'Super High Grade' by the manufacturer and evidently these claims apply as much to the optical quality as they do to the build standard. The 40-150mm feels somewhat lacking in substance, but I actually preferred that because my main needs as a hobbyist photographer are at the wider end of the range and the lightweight and medium size will enable me in theory to carry around the lens as a standby addition on many occasions.

    Having initially examined the results obtained from captures of swans and newly hatched cignets, mostly with the lens wide-open at 150mm, I wasn't sure if the pictures were slightly off focus, but the more I looked the more convinced I was that the problem was a distinct shortage of resolution all over the frame. The situation improved within the 40-110mm range and two days later I tried again at the long end, this time stopping down to f/5.6 and f/6.3. To be honest, this made little difference with most of my images and the only suitable scenes for the lens appear to be those lacking detail that deserves close attention. For me, that makes the lens practically useless. So to elaborate further, birds and flowers were far too soft when viewed at full resolution, whilst boats and concrete bridges were perfectly acceptable at any aperture.

    I processed my raw files in both Lightroom 5 and Olympus Workspace and mention this because the results were far better in the latter proprietary program. Perhaps the chromatic aberrations referred to by other reviewers were influencing my own perception of sharpness and this seems to be handled better in the new Olympus software, which is far better and much more user friendly than its predecessors.

    Again on the plus side, the colours produced by the lens are very good, with the greens and blues as usual very pleasing to the eye. I find that Olympus images rarely need colour adjustments and this is no exception.

    Overall, I can't recommend the lens because optically it does not stand up to close scrutiny, especially at the longer end of the zoom range. Save your money for a second-hand 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 and I am confident you will produce far more pictures that you will treasure for years to come.

    reviewed May 27th, 2020 (purchased for $79)
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by squirelonsteroids (8 reviews)
    Great bokeh, relatively fast at price-point
    slow, softish

    Great lens. It is cheap as hell, and you get 300mm equivalent. That is a joke! it is much better optically than the later version that have plastic mount, and which is slower and optically inferior.

    This lens is really usable, especially if you have hood. Not in the 50-200 ballpark, but still a fantastic lens for the price.

    reviewed October 30th, 2016 (purchased for $300)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by jfgroen (3 reviews)
    lightweight, good range, good image quality
    a bit slow; noisy AF; front of the lens turns while focussing

    Unlike the 14-45 which came with my Olympus 330 too, this is a very good lens. The construction is very simple, which might be a drawback because the front of the lens turns while focusing, and the zoom ring is a bit loose -- it almost zooms out on its own when you point the camera down. However, the simple design might be the reason that it performs so well. Images are nice and crisp (one can see it already in the viewfinder), and there are no serious image quality issues at the different f-stops, nor at the various focal lengths (though I also discovered that beyond 100mm the lens is slightly less crisp). I tended to prefer to use this lens more and more over the 14-45 lens. But now I have the 12-60mm/f2.8-4 lens which solves the problem for wide angle shots.

    reviewed December 30th, 2007
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by btjh86 (10 reviews)
    Good zoom range.
    Slow and noisy AF

    I used this with a E-300 when they first came out. My first impression was that its a great, compact zoom lens with a pretty wide aperture. It performs well optically too! My only gripe is its AF which can be slow and noisy. Otherwise an excellent lens for the 4/3 system.

    reviewed December 26th, 2006
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by clark666 (5 reviews)
    comes with camera. Sharp images, light weight no need to replace it
    There is nothing wrong with this lens

    This is an excellent lens. It is 3.5-4.5 but has no problems. You do need to stand at least 10 feet away from your subject to get a decent image; it doesn't focus at closer distances

    reviewed November 28th, 2006
  • 6 out of 10 points and recommended by cra3y (3 reviews)
    Lightweight and compact, sharpness when stopped down
    Build quality, very slow AF, soft at long end

    This is amateur tele lens that in pair with ZD 14-45 3.5-5.6. It is smaller and lighter that older heavyweight and much more expensive - ZD 50-200 2.8-3.5.

    The main advantage is size and lightweight of this lens (similar size to ZD 14-54 2.8-3.5). This lens perform very well in good light, especially wide end to middle stopped down to 5.6. At long end is soft and AF hunting much more than ZD 50-200)

    This lens perform better than ZD 50-200 when stopped down and won't resolve 1400 lw/ph with E300 (imatest resolution target shot at raw processed byc dcraw and lightroom with no sharpening at all). This lens satisfied E1/E330 sensor resolution and possibly E300/E500 sensors but not E400 sensor.

    reviewed November 24th, 2006 (purchased for $220)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by ExCibular (2 reviews)
    Opticall quality, size and weight

    I bought this lens for my E-300 and I am very satisfied. This lens is an excellent performer and it's low weight makes an interessting travelcompagnion.

    For daylight use this lens is quick enough, however I find it a bit slow indoor.

    reviewed November 14th, 2005 (purchased for $299)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by halfmac (11 reviews)
    Small, lightweight, good range, sharp, well made, metal mount and fits in my bag
    Front of lens turns.

    I bought this lens as part of the e-300 2 lens kit. I was pleasantly surprised by the quaiity of the lens. I had only seen the 14-45 on demo cameras. I use this lens alot. The 40mm end is almost wide enough for normal photography and is 2 stops faster than the 14-45 at 45mm.

    This lens travels well because of it's size. F4.5 is fast enough for most situations.

    Very good centersharpness, excellent edge sharpness and very low chromatic abberations.

    Much better than my Canon 70-210 that I had on my Digital Rebel.

    Came with lens hood!

    reviewed November 8th, 2005