Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My Experience with Four Thirds Glass: 40-150mm f/3.5-4.5 Zuiko EZ Zoom and the 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED Zuiko Zoom

Blowing a kiss to my brand new lens

When I purchased the Olympus OMD E-M1, I was given the option to purchase the Olympus MMF-3 weather sealed adapter and receive a mail in rebate for the full cost of the adapter.  If I didn't already have the FL-600r, I would have taken advantage of the free with rebate FL-300 flash. I originally neglected the adapter thinking I would never use this thing, let alone an "old" Olympus four thirds lens, until I found myself a very inexpensive one on ebay.  I made an offer of $40 thinking it would be rejected, but to my surprise it was accepted with free shipping. The 40-150mm f/3.5-4.5 Zuiko EZ zoom came right in time for a special event at my buddy's Crossfit gym so I decided to give this lens a whirl.

Some of Crossfit Nerd's super friends
I usually shoot in manual, single auto focus mode, but I didn't want to worry about too many factors given I was working with a new-to-me lens.  I locked the camera in Aperture Priority mode and stopped the lens down to around f5.6 (I wanted to really test the sharpness of the lens, so I stopped it down a bit).  An important thing to note about these four thirds glass is that they are optimized to work on phase detect auto focus system cameras unlike my original OMD E-M5, which has contrast detect. The OMD E-M1 has a hybrid sensor that has both phase detect and contrast detect (native to the Micro Four Thirds) pixels. Unlike what I am used to, most of the phase detect pixels reside within the center of the sensor, so all the focus points are within the middle of the frame.  I found a brief description on dpreview regarding the differences between the two and it's summarized below:
"Contrast-detect autofocus uses the image sensor and tells the camera to keep changing focus until the contrast from one pixel to the next is the highest possible"
"Phase-detect autofocus uses a completely different sensor that splits the light into two images and focuses until the two images come together on the focus sensor ... it can measure how far apart the 2 images are and knows which direction to focus."

I was initially concerned about the placement of the focus points, but it really didn't hinder my ability to compose shots. Overall, I was quite impressed at how sharp the images were.  For the price I paid, it was snappy and fairly quick to focus.  I hear from friends the second and newer version of the 40-150mm has a faster autofocus mechanism, but I unfortunately can't validate their claims.  I did, however, notice hunting in low contrast areas.  Given it was a bright, overcast day I didn't expect to experience this especially since my native m43 glass would not have failed to lock focus.  Despite this issue, I would most definitely recommend the lens if you have this adapter sitting around. I wouldn't, on the other hand, tell people to purchase this adapter just to get this lens, as the native m43 40-150mm is much lighter, quicker to focus and optically quite good. For more samples check out the our facebook page HERE

Some talented Da Vinci High School crossfit athletes. 

Sadly, my love affair was short lived with the 40-150mm f/3.5-4.5 Zuiko EZ Zoom.  I immediately traded in this lens...to help acquire an even better, sharper, faster, contrasty zoom. Oh did I mention this new-to-me lens is a canon and weighs a ton compared to my heaviest micro four thirds lens.  The optional battery grip for the E-M1 is not an option for me while using this beaut, it's a requirement from an ergonomic standpoint. 

Please excuse the cell phone picture of the 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED Zuiko Zoom

I introduce the Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED Zuiko Zoom. From the short amount of time I spent with this lens, I am already in love with it.  While I impatiently wait for the Pro 40-150mm constant f2.8 to come out, this zoom will most definitely fill that hole in my lens collection.  

This lens exhibits great bokeh and compression
As far as autofocus speed goes, I would say it's comparable to the the 40-150mm f/3.5-4.5 Zuiko EZ Zoom in good light.  I had some experience shooting with the SWD (Sonic Wave Drive) version of the 50-200mm a while back, which is the newer, more expensive, better sealed and faster focusing version on Olympus Four Third cameras. Based on memory alone, I would go as far to say that there is no noticeable difference in AF when mounted on my E-M1 under the same lighting conditions (at the Mad T Party).  See my examples HERE. From an optical standpoint, I see no noticeable difference in sharpness, dynamic range and color rendering.  

The amazing Nathan Shrake as the Mad Hatter

One of my favorite duos - Dani Kerry and Nathan Shrake as Alice and Mad Hatter

Nathan Shrake and Dani Kerry with George from 80z All Starz

The beautiful Dani Kerry killing it during the 3rd set
Based on the little time I've had with the 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED Zuiko zoom, I can honestly say that I am extremely pleased with the results.  Despite the weight, it is extremely usable and ergonomic, albeit for short periods of time, on a gripped E-M1.  I plan to shoot some studio headshots with this lens and will report my findings.  Thanks for stopping by and feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.  

So say we all,

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