Well, it’s not exactly new; but it is new to me. I bought it “used”, but in mint condition, from my friend Dennis.
I’d been eyeing this lens since it was first announced by Olympus some four years ago, but I was just not able to justify it. It’s one of their PRO models: the 40-150mm (80-300mm full frame equivalent) F2.8 and is pictured below on the right. [Side note: Think of it as Olympus’ answer to the classic 70-200 F2.8 full frame zooms, but with a bit more reach, similar price tag ($1500 compares with Canon), slightly smaller size (6.3” length and internal zooming), and significantly lighter weight (26.8 ounces).]
This comparison shows the two complementary
F2.8 PRO lenses I now own.
Left: 12-40mm (24-80mm-ffe)
Right: 40-150mm (80-300mm-ffe)
I originally owned the PRO 12-40mm (24-80mm full frame equivalent) F2.8 zoom (above left), and when the 40-150 was subsequently announced I thought the pair would make a beautiful combo. But it was the $1500 list price that held be back from buying the longer zoom. Plus, since the 12-40 covers 75% of my landscape and travel focal length needs, the PRO level long-zoom seemed to be overkill in size and price. (What I opted for instead was the “good enough” consumer level 45-175mm (90-350mm full frame equivalent) F4-5.6 from Panasonic which had a grey market price on eBay of about $250.)
Left: Olympus 12-40mm PRO F2.8
Right: the "good enough" Panasonic 45-175mm F4-5.6
The 12-40 and 45-175 has been one (of several) of my standard combos. This focal range covers nearly all of my travel and landscape focal length requirements. (The exception is when there are large animals to photograph, such as in Yellowstone, and for that a longer zoom comes in handy.)
So why add the 40-150mm F2.8?
First, Dennis and I agreed on a $900 price, which I found reasonable. I figured I could use the lens for a year or two and sell it for the same price, or a bit less, assuming I am able to keep it in mint shape. To be truthful, I believe I will use it only sparingly. I like to travel light so I believe my travel needs for a long zoom will continue to be met with the small and light 45-175mm (only 7.4 ounces!).
Primarily I think the 40-150 F2.8 will help me with my flower and butterfly photography. I have been enjoying focus stacking and want to do that at F2.8 (and this lens is quite sharp wide open) to keep the background out-of-focus and less distracting. My Olympus EM-1 camera has a focus stacking feature built it. It will take up to 99 images. I usually have it set for “just” 25 images, starting with the part of the flower closest to the lens. In post, I usually discard a number of images at the end of the series because by then they are focusing beyond the flower. I’m currently favoring Photoshop for stacking the images.
I do own the 60mm F2.8 macro, and this works great if I can get close enough. But the 40-150 has a real advantage because when fully zoomed in I can fill the frame with a 3” flower at 2 1/2 feet. This extra working distance is quite helpful at botanic gardens, where I comply with the “stay on the path” rule.
Last week I spend one hour on two different days with this new lens at a local arboretum. I am still working on the images, but will post some soon.