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40-150/2.8 vs 50-200 2.8-3.5

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by Rasmus, Jan 3, 2015.

  1. Rasmus

    Rasmus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    659
    Nov 16, 2013
    Stockholm, Sweden.
    Hi,

    I'm contemplating a bit if a fast zoom would be useful to me. Top candidates seem to be the 40-150/2.8 and the 50-200 SWD. I already own the 150/2.0 and the 300/2.8 so "none of them" could be a fully adequate answer.

    Afaik, both have excellent IQ, with the 40-150 possibly having the edge. Also, it's a constant aperture internal zoom while the 50-200 is a variable aperture external zoom.
    I guess the 40-150 is faster at 150 mm, but the other one is longer. At 200 mm, the 50-200 is stil 3.5. The 40-150 with MC-14 is an f/4 at 200 mm.
    40-150 will give me decent autofocus on all bodies, the other will only have decent AF on the E-M1.
    40-150 is supposed to have much better transmission characteristics, which would give a definite advantage in low light.
    40-150 is smaller and lighter.
    50-200 can probably be found used on ebay at low-ish prices. Not the 40-150, yet.

    Another alternative could be waiting a few months more and save up to the 90-250/2.8.

    Thoughts? I mostly use my long lenses for birds and wildlife, but I also occasionally shoot some windsurfing.

    Edit: Two more things on the 50-200: On the good side, I effectively will get C-AF+MF. On the bad side: Terrible bokeh.
     
  2. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I used to own the 50-200mm and I was never disappointed with the quality of the images that it produced. From a size and weight perspective, it was a good compromise. As one version came with the SWD motor, it should focus reasonably fast with the E-M1. I wouldn't suggest that the bokeh would be terrible, bokeh should be judged not just on how blurred the background/foreground might be, but also the quality of the bokeh (how smooth or pleasing it is).

    I went with the 90-250mm because I needed extra reach and retain the ability to zoom in to follow sports action. From a size and weight perspective, it was a significant change from the 50-200mm. But that said, it had its advantages with the constant f stop and, with the 1.4x converter, became a much longer reach lens that was still relatively fast, especially considering the reach. If you're happy with the size and weight of the 300mm f2.8, then the 90-250mm isn't going to be an issue.

    Now I have never used the 40-150mm and it did interest me at one point, but as I have the 35-100mm f2, with the 1.4x converter, I ostensibly have the same lens. Now the 35-100mm isn't going to be anywhere near as fast focussing, especially as it never came with the SWD motor, but it's still quite usable, if you don't need to follow fast action. The 35-100mm was really designed for portrait, fashion, advertising style work, though it clearly works in other environments. Again, the 35-100mm is a lot bigger and heavier than the 40-150mm, but it's another lens that I would not wish to give up, as it's such a superb performer and balances extremely well with the E-M1.

    I won't try and suggest which lens to go for, as I'm not in your shoes; all I can offer is my perspective, wearing my shoes.
     
  3. Serhan

    Serhan Mu-43 Top Veteran

    533
    May 7, 2011
    NYC
    2xTC & 50-200mm non-swd
    original.

    original.
     
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  4. edmsnap

    edmsnap Mu-43 Veteran

    430
    Dec 20, 2011
    Edmonton, Alberta
    I've generally observed that the 50-200 produces stunning photos - if you look through its dedicated Flickr group, I think your jaw will drop. I haven't had the same reaction to the 40-150/2.8 photos in its dedicated thread here, often finding them to be unnaturally contrasty and clinical (a lot of this seems that it could be over-processing; though I can't guess why people would be over-processing photos from this lens more than others). Obviously, price and reach are the unarguable benefits of the 50-200. At 150mm, the 50-200 has a maximum aperture of f/3.2 (only 1/3rd of a stop slower than the 40-150) which with today's high-ISO capabilities and stabilization is completely indiscernible from f/2.8 from a practical shooting perspective. If you're going to use a 50-200 on a µ4/3 body, there is a recurring opinion out there that the original ED version of the lens might be better to get as the SWD motor is reported to tucker and die faster when used with CDAF while the older non-SWD motor doesn't seem to care. With the E-M1's PDAF, opinion seems to be that it doesn't matter which version you get (in terms of lens longevity).

    Once in a while, the 50-200's bokeh gets strange and unpleasant, but over 95% of the time it's beautiful and gives something unique to the photos, not unlike how the Panasonic 25/1.4 renders things in a special manner. You can just "tell" (in a positive way) when a photo comes from the 50-200.

    As a huge fan of 4/3 zooms, that'd be my 2-cents for considering the 50-200. I own it and don't feel any need to think about the 40-150/2.8 as a replacement. It's a great lens with no significant downsides IMO. On the flipside, if you can afford a 90-250 in a couple months, then you're in a very different financial situation than me so you probably weigh what's important and what's not important very differently! :tongue:
     
  5. minibokeh

    minibokeh Guest

    Great comment on how difficult it can be to judge over-processed pictures. Here are a bunch from the 40-150 f/2.8 (with E-M1), no corrections applied (direct conversion from RAW):
    110mm, f/2.8, 1/320"
    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/101667287@N08/16188137271" title="141226-123501 by Moritz Berger, on Flickr">"1024" height="766" alt="141226-123501"></a>

    85mm, f/2.8, 1/160"
    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/101667287@N08/16189230592" title="141225-203927 by Moritz Berger, on Flickr">"1024" height="766" alt="141225-203927"></a>

    150mm, f/2.8, 1/500"
    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/101667287@N08/16002682130" title="141226-124643 by Moritz Berger, on Flickr">"1024" height="766" alt="141226-124643"></a>

    120mm, f/2.8, 1/1600"
    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/101667287@N08/16002682180" title="141226-131048A by Moritz Berger, on Flickr">"1024" height="766" alt="141226-131048A"></a>

    40mm, f/2.8, 1/3200"
    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/101667287@N08/16002682320" title="141226-131757A by Moritz Berger, on Flickr">"1024" height="766" alt="141226-131757A"></a>
     
  6. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
  7. minibokeh

    minibokeh Guest

    OzRay: Agreed. Sometimes the non-photographers have a better eye for the essence of a lens:
    The only pictures I have ever gotten "wow" comments from my wife were those (obviously otherwise satisfactory ones) taken with top of the line Zeiss glass (e.g. 100m f/2 Macro Planar, 55mm Otus f/1.4).

    None of my other "premium" lenses (including to just stick with the primes e.g. PanaLeica 42.5mm f/1.2, Canon 85mm f/1.2 mk2, Sigma 35mm f/1.4, PanaLeica 25mm f/1.4, Voiglander 17.5mm f/0.95, Nikon G 28, 85mm, ...) have ever elicited a similar response from my better half. Technically some of those are better in some aspects (e.g. Nocticron has lower CA at f/2 compared to the Zeiss MP) but fail to satisfy the aesthetic criteria that determine the difference between good and great (perhaps in the areas of bokeh, tonal gradation, micro contrast, color rendering, ...). Yes interestingly the Voigtlander has failed to impress as well ... perhaps trying too hard to be "artsy"?

    I have some hope that as post processing capabilities improve we will be able to get closer to a even better ways of shaping image characteristics in our digital darkroom. To the extent that modern glass is optically "more perfect", today's perceived "lack of character" might turn into an advantage, giving us more headroom for manipulation. I know that this is not a very original thought ... and know many who feel obliged to use "the real deal" for the time being (including myself - shooting 50% Zeiss, 50% "modern mass-produced" lenses).
     
  8. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    SWD motors also have some history of dying when used with PDAF systems. On the flip side, the 50-200 non-SWD had a problem where a screw could come loose causing the lens to fall apart. That's not to say that either lens should be avoided per se, but it's worth factoring in the cost of repairs on secondhand gear when comparing prices.
     
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  9. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Really?
     
  10. minibokeh

    minibokeh Guest

  11. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    That's the first I've ever heard of that. When I Googled 'lens motor failure' it appears there are vocal critics from all brands. I don't think it has anything to do with the PDAF system.
     
  12. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    I'm not saying it fails due to PDAF. I'm saying it has failed when used with PDAF, not just when used with CDAF. As to the notion that all brands of ultrasonic motors have failures, I'm sure that's true, but all evidence I've seen indicates that the failure rates of the 12-60 and 50-200 SWD are well above the norm. Again, that's not to say that the lenses aren't worth having, but at $300 or so for an out-of-warranty repair, it's definitely something to consider.
     
  13. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    All DSLR focussing systems work on PDAF, PDAF is camera based, the motor (regardless of its nomenclature) is lens based. If the lens has a design flaw, it's not the camera that causes the failure, it's the lens. If mirrorless lens motors designed for CDAF focussing systems start to fail, it's not the fault of CDAF, but again the lens motor design.
     
  14. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia


    I've got both the 12-40 and 40-150 f/2.8 PRO zooms and I have to say that I think they deliver an image with more contrast than my Olympus primes. I find myself often reducing contrast in Lightroom rather than increasing it slightly, and I find myself using less clarity than I tend to with the primes, even though I've tended to keep my clarity settings in the quite modest range compared to what I've seen some people do. In fact, despite the commonly accepted opinion that RAW files need some degree of processing because they tend to look a little flat, I find that I often end up doing noticeably less processing with my RAW files from the 2 PRO zooms than I do with my files from the primes. There seems to be a real "bite" to the files from the 2 PRO zooms. I really like what they deliver but I do find it easy to over-process the files from these 2 lenses if I don't watch what I'm doing.

    So, to address your point, I think that if people are tending to apply the same level of processing to files from the 40-150 as they do with other lenses when it comes to contrast and clarity, they may well end up with an "unnaturally contrasty and clinical" result. Yes, you can call it "over processing" but it may simply be the result of applying a similar level of processing as they do with images from other lenses simply because that's what they're used to doing in order to get the result they like. In other words it may simply be habit.
     
  15. minibokeh

    minibokeh Guest

    Re: SWD motor failure, not unique to Olympus (Zuiko), e.g. Nikon (Nikkor) 28-70mm f/2.8 AF-S D shares a spot on the list of lenses that warrant attention in this regard when purchased used.
     
  16. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Clint
    If you are a real serious wildlife and surfing photography then you'll want the 90-250mm on the E-M1 if you need the versatility over the 150mm and 300mm telephoto lenses.

    You've accounted for all of the pluses and negatives (although the bokeh is arguable) - and already have two outstanding lenses. So only you can decide on which lens.
     
  17. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    From a wildlife perspective, I can certainly say that the 90-250mm is pretty good, but then so is the 300mm f2.8. I've never really done surf photography except for a beach camping holiday where I took these and experience would have produced much better results (especially if I'd had the E-M1):

    100_0109.

    100_0190.

    100_0080.
     
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