Using the Olympus M. Zuiko 14 – 150 mm Lens as a Walk-About Lens on one of the Pen cameras

I ordered the Olympus micro four-thirds 14 – 150 mm zoom lens.  My intent was to evaluate it as a walk-about lens when traveling to places that might warrant the use of a longer focal range.  It is a small, light-weight lens for use on either of my Olympus cameras giving me an effective zoom range between 28 and 300 mm.  I will not repeat the technical details and reviews of this lens on this site, so I suggest that you go to the site for those details.

Once it arrived, my first desire was to quickly check out how it worked for me so that I could decide whether to keep it; therefore, I put it on my E-P1 and took a walk.  When I got to a small lake near our house I noticed that the surveyors were back and were measuring the depth of the pond.  I expect that they are getting ready to have it dredged since it was designed to filter out the dirt from surrounding construction sites, and it is filling up.

The first picture was taken at the 14 mm end of the zoom … I think it was f/8.  If you look carefully in the center of the picture, you will see a white dot, the surveyor’s paddle boat.  You can click on any of the pictures to view them in a larger size.

The following is the same shot as above but this time I zoomed out to the extreme 150 mm end of the zoom, which is an effective 300 mm on a 35 mm film camera.  You can now see the boat better.

One of my biggest concerns with the lens was the ability to hold it steady enough while shooting at 150 mm.  This is much harder (in my opinion) on these mirror-less cameras which don’t have viewfinders where you have to use the LCD to compose the shot.  This is especially true if you hold the camera out at arm’s-length, but I don’t do that.  I usually keep the neck strap relatively short enough that the strap is tight and my elbows are held firmly against my chest while holding the camera out in front of me.  This creates a triangular support for the camera and is a big help when shooting with a long lens.

The following picture is close to a 100% crop of the above picture.  As you can see, it is a fair, but not great picture.  When shooting this way I am stretching the limits of the camera and lens.  I would expect that the image would be a little sharper if I had used a tripod but since I don’t use one when touring, I tested under the typical conditions that I shoot.  You also have to remember that I’m showing pictures taken at the extremes of the lens where its’ quality isn’t as good (see

After taking the above shots, I walked on into the wooden area above the lake.  As soon as I entered the woods I heard a hawk so I started looking for it and found it.  The following picture is a quick shot taken at 150 mm.  Since the hawk was a ways off and there were quite a few branches between me and it, the focus isn’t “spot-on”.  I didn’t take the time to focus the lens manually … I just took a quick shot at an aperture setting of 5.6 before it flew off.

The following shows this focus problem, mixed in with the not so great image quality at 150 mm and the fact that I shot quickly.  In this scene I cropped the above picture to get close to a 100% crop just to evaluate the picture and see how well it did, or didn’t do.

I can say that it sure is a lot better than any I have taken with point & shoot cameras under similar conditions, but this lens certainly isn’t a lens for birders.

Another factor that you have to keep in mind when using this lens is the depth-of-field (DoF).  When shooting at f/5.6 with it at something 100 ft. away, the DoF is roughly +/- 10 ft.  If you are shooting something a lot closer it is a lot less.  Shooting something only 10 ft. away, again at f/5.6, the DoF is only roughly +/- 1.3 inches.   The previous as well as the following series of shots demonstrates this.

The next picture was taken at the 14 mm end of the zoom.

I didn’t realize that I was taking a self-portrait … that’s what wider angle lens do for you. The following is the same shot but taken at 150 mm.

I guess that I can best summarize all the above by just saying that I’m keeping the lens.  It certainly isn’t as good as prime lenses but it is typical of most zoom lenses of this range.  I think that, when needed, it will make a great walk-about lens for either my E-P1 or E-PL2 cameras while traveling.  It is also so small and light-weight that I can keep it in my vest or jacket pocket ready to put on the camera if I happen to be using another lens.

One comment

  1. slpmartin

    Once again John you provide a clear and easy to follow analysis of the lenses…excellent post….you’ve almost talked me into a mirco 4/3..but not quite. 🙂