Review Olympus 40-150 f2.8 Pro + MC-20 review coming from Olympus ZD 50-200mm f2.8-3.5 ED (non-SWD) + EC-14

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What I'd like to share with everyone is my experience with the new to me Olympus mZD 40-150mm f2.8 Pro + and MC-20 2x converter coming from owning and loving the Olympus ZD 50-200mm f2.8-3.5 ED (non-SWD) + EC-14. It's going to be a lengthy post / rolling review with a few images and may take a couple of days to add some things that I want to share. What I really want to highlight for others is what living with the 40-150 f2.8 is like with the MC-20 and what to expect. I welcome others with this lens + TC to add to my comments and let me know if that's what they have experienced as well. I'm no expert lens reviewer by any imagination and won't be posting shots of newspaper (though I've done that comparison and my real world shooting has confirmed it).

Why am I changing lenses? The wife found out she wished I had quicker AF when grabbing my E-M1.3 and 50-200 to take photos of my son while I was coaching and he was playing. Dimly lit school or sports activities are just beginning for my kids, so this need is only increasing. I loved having the extra 50mm on the tele end, but most of the family needs are 150mm or less. The pandemic got me into wildlife/birds for fun (so the 283mm with EC-14 scratched that itch pretty well), so I needed a way to get out to ~300mm economically. That pushed me to try the MC-20 on the 40-150.

Bare Lens comments -
40-150 f2.8 - Hands down the best optic I've ever had. Incredible sharpness across the frame and great contrast. It is better at every focal length within it's range. I'm not really telling anyone anything new here, it's now as @Brownie would say "my cold dead hands" lens. AF is lightning quick. I've taken literally thousands and thousands of shots of my family and dogs over the last few years, so I know when something is resolving more details and the 40-150 has more resolving power. I also love that it doesn't trombone.

50-200 f2.8-3.5 - This lens is an incredible optic as well, especially for the time period that it was designed. For it to be a hair behind in center sharpness when being designed when something like 5MP sensors were all the rage is incredible. It is a bit less contrasty, but I have zero issues with this lens optically. The corners are not as sharp, but with this type of lens I'm usually centering the subject and never noticed any softness in real world shooting in the corners.


Lens + TC comments - Switching order here since much more to talk about on the new combo

50-200 f2.8-3.5 + EC-14 -
I hear all the rave reviews about the MC-14 & MC-20 being awesome, but I don't know how many people have used the EC-14. I really have a hard time telling any IQ difference with this TC on the 50-200. It's pretty incredible.

Example 1600px long edge resized from ~4000px long edge after crop.
em1_3-20210419-4192368-Edit.jpg
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1:1
em1_3-20210419-4192368-Edit-2.jpg
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40-150 f2.8 + MC-20 -
Autofocus -
I consider the AF with MC-20 to be pretty darn good. You can tell that it's a step behind, but I have no complaints
Close Focus - This is really a plus for the MC-20. It's really awesome for bugs and small flowers
example of a fly - 1600px long edge from an uncropped image
em1-3-20210707-7070088-Edit.jpg
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IQ - This is where I want to possibly temper some expectations. There is a substantial falloff of sharpness and contrast at all focal lengths. For fine details to be rendered well you must be in good light and stopping down helps. I find that f7.1 and f8 are better than f5.6, which shouldn't be too big of a surprise. The other thing is that the corners suffer quite a bit compared to the center. There is a kind of glowing that's present around edges. IBIS takes a 1 stop loss when using this combination, so be mindful of that as well. I find this combination more difficult to get the results I want. I find that I can get some good results, it takes much more effort in post processing to clean these images up. I'm not finding what Scott Bourne said, that he has to check exif data to make sure he used the TC (maybe on the 300mm f4, but can't be this).

Edited example of good results that you can achieve. This hasn't been through Topaz - 1600px long edge

em1-3-20210709-7090921.jpg
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1:1 center
em1-3-20210709-7090921-3.jpg
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1:1 Off center
em1-3-20210709-7090921-2.jpg
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One comparison view of edited vs non edited showing the need for extra contrast / texture/ sharpening
Sadie Compare.jpg
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It's getting pretty late here, but in the next few days I want to add an exercise I did in bare lens cropping vs using the MC-20.
 
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Thanks @retiredfromlife .

Ok... so I'm not sure that I made it clear with my prior post, but I find that the ZD 50-200 f2.8-3.5 ED + EC-14 is a superior optical combination over the mZD 40-150 f2.8 PRO + MC-20 (for my copies at least).

For me though, I will be keeping the 40-150 + MC-20 combination even though it's more difficult to get sharp shots, requires more post processing, and is optically inferior. Why would I do this?
1. The bare lens is better
2. AF is faster and more reliable
3. Close focus abilities of the MC-20 are better and pretty darn cool. Combined with the in camera focus stacking I'm going to have fun with this
4. This combo gives access to Pro Capture Low and allows incredible burst rates in the normal continuous Low drive mode

As sad as it's going to make me, I'm going to have to part ways with my old combo. With this being a hobby I can't keep everything & I need to offset some cost.

Now I want to move on to discuss what I'm sure has been asked and discussed elsewhere, should I just forgo the MC-20 and crop the bare lens since it's so good? I tried to test this out the other day with a very cooperative heron. I didn't match ISOs and it's probably not a perfect test, but I think it provides some insight and could help someone make that decision for themselves.

First shot is a 1600px from the bare 40-150 at 150mm, unedited
em1-3-20210709-7090864-3.jpg
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Next up is the 40-150 + MC-20 1600px as soon as I could change lenses - unedited
em1-3-20210709-7090891.jpg
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Now lets crop the bare 40-150 to the same field of view as the MC-20 image
em1-3-20210709-7090864.jpg
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Taking the 40-150 bare lens photo to 1600px 1:1
em1-3-20210709-7090864-2.jpg
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Now 1600px of the MC-20 image 1:1

em1-3-20210709-7090891-2.jpg
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I was surprised at the amount of detail that was kept at f3.2 at 1:1 with the bare lens. However, I think with editing the MC-20 image I would be happier than with the substantially cropped bare lens based on having more data available to make a larger print. It will look better downsampled. I've not played with this enough yet to determine what the crossover point would be for when I would be better served making a crop on the bare lens with an 2 stop advantage. I'd love to hear some feedback or comments on this. My guess would be that it's probably somewhere over 225mm.


Also for giggles, I decided to try out the super resolution and enhance function on the bare lens photo. I wasn't prepared for my 18MB ORF to become a 276MB dng file. Also it happens that the image becomes exactly 20Mp when cropped to the same field of view as the MC-20 image. Here is the image downsampled to 1600px

em1-3-20210709-7090864-Enhanced-2.jpg
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Now cropped to show 1:1 at 1600 px

em1-3-20210709-7090864-Enhanced.jpg
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I'm seeing some artifacts and weirdness in places, but it's a pretty interesting result. It's nice to know it's there, but I'm not going to bank on using this very often at all. I can't stomach the storage requirements for something like this.

To summarize, I find that the MC-20 at the probably >225mm lengths is going to be better than cropping the bare lens, provided that there is enough light.

One thing that I can't test is how does this compare the to the Oly 75-300. I've seen on there that it is assumed that the 40-150+ MC-20 would be better than that lens at 300. @Phocal and some others can make that lens sing, so I'm not sure how cut and dry that would be. I do know that this combo is weather sealed and I will have a very hard time leaving my house without the 40-150 2.8 and the MC-20 is way smaller than toting another lens.

I will probably post some more samples of both the 40-150 +MC-20 and the 50-200 + EC-14 in the coming days.
 

ac12

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I got the MC20 to put on my 40-150 as a higher quality (but heavier) option to my 75-300, and a cheaper option than the 100-400.
I won't have it till later this week, so I can't compare them.
 
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What I'd like to share with everyone is my experience with the new to me Olympus mZD 40-150mm f2.8 Pro + and MC-20 2x converter coming from owning and loving the Olympus ZD 50-200mm f2.8-3.5 ED (non-SWD) + EC-14. It's going to be a lengthy post / rolling review with a few images and may take a couple of days to add some things that I want to share. What I really want to highlight for others is what living with the 40-150 f2.8 is like with the MC-20 and what to expect. I welcome others with this lens + TC to add to my comments and let me know if that's what they have experienced as well. I'm no expert lens reviewer by any imagination and won't be posting shots of newspaper (though I've done that comparison and my real world shooting has confirmed it).

Why am I changing lenses? The wife found out she wished I had quicker AF when grabbing my E-M1.3 and 50-200 to take photos of my son while I was coaching and he was playing. Dimly lit school or sports activities are just beginning for my kids, so this need is only increasing. I loved having the extra 50mm on the tele end, but most of the family needs are 150mm or less. The pandemic got me into wildlife/birds for fun (so the 283mm with EC-14 scratched that itch pretty well), so I needed a way to get out to ~300mm economically. That pushed me to try the MC-20 on the 40-150.

IQ - This is where I want to possibly temper some expectations. There is a substantial falloff of sharpness and contrast at all focal lengths. For fine details to be rendered well you must be in good light and stopping down helps. I find that f7.1 and f8 are better than f5.6, which shouldn't be too big of a surprise. The other thing is that the corners suffer quite a bit compared to the center. There is a kind of glowing that's present around edges. IBIS takes a 1 stop loss when using this combination, so be mindful of that as well. I find this combination more difficult to get the results I want. I find that I can get some good results, it takes much more effort in post processing to clean these images up. I'm not finding what Scott Bourne said, that he has to check exif data to make sure he used the TC (maybe on the 300mm f4, but can't be this).

Thanks for this. I had the 50-200 SWD and used it extensively to shoot kids soccer games, where it performed quite well. However, I later got the 40-150 Pro and both MC teleconverters, and then got the 100-400. I sold my beloved 50-200 SWD kit as a result.

I got the MC-20 for exactly the same reason you did. I tried the 40-150 Pro+MC-20 on BIF and I think I had similar results as you at 300 mm, wide open or nearly wide open. I thought I was imagining things when I saw the halo along the edges. Thanks for confirming that I'm not the only one. Nonetheless, I've seen people like Tom Stirr get great results with this combination. So, I figured it must be me. However, I bought the 100-400 and use it "naked" and find that I get better results with that than the 40-150+MC-20. The 40-150+MC-14 works great, so I use this lens for the 56-210 range. It's worth noting that Tom Stirr has switched to the 100-400+MC-14 as his go to BIF lens.
 
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Thanks for this. I had the 50-200 SWD and used it extensively to shoot kids soccer games, where it performed quite well. However, I later got the 40-150 Pro and both MC teleconverters, and then got the 100-400. I sold my beloved 50-200 SWD kit as a result.

I got the MC-20 for exactly the same reason you did. I tried the 40-150 Pro+MC-20 on BIF and I think I had similar results as you at 300 mm, wide open or nearly wide open. I thought I was imagining things when I saw the halo along the edges. Thanks for confirming that I'm not the only one. Nonetheless, I've seen people like Tom Stirr get great results with this combination. So, I figured it must be me. However, I bought the 100-400 and use it "naked" and find that I get better results with that than the 40-150+MC-20. The 40-150+MC-14 works great, so I use this lens for the 56-210 range. It's worth noting that Tom Stirr has switched to the 100-400+MC-14 as his go to BIF lens.
Here are several shots, one with the 40-150 Pro+MC-20 combo and two with the 100-400. I don't think I'd call them the best examples of each lens, but they're what I could dig out of my Flickr albums just now. Like I said earlier, my results aren't as good as Tom Stirr's were. He's just a better photographer.

With EM1 III and 40-150 Pro+MC-20 at 300 mm, ISO 800, 1/1250, f8. Handheld, IIRC.
50031102568_5ce6880d61_c.jpg
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EM1 III w/100-400 at 400 mm, ISO 800, 1/1250, f7.1, cluster AF. Probably on Wimberley Mono-gimbal.
51185519670_43ea31f512_c.jpg
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EM1X w/100-400, 400 mm, ISO 800, 1/1250, f7.1 with Bird AF. Probably on mono-gimbal.
51229052297_a86c5c18bf_c.jpg
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Here are several shots, one with the 40-150 Pro+MC-20 combo and two with the 100-400. I don't think I'd call them the best examples of each lens, but they're what I could dig out of my Flickr albums just now. Like I said earlier, my results aren't as good as Tom Stirr's were. He's just a better photographer.

With EM1 III and 40-150 Pro+MC-20 at 300 mm, ISO 800, 1/1250, f8. Handheld, IIRC.
View attachment 898259

EM1 III w/100-400 at 400 mm, ISO 800, 1/1250, f7.1, cluster AF. Probably on Wimberley Mono-gimbal.
View attachment 898260

EM1X w/100-400, 400 mm, ISO 800, 1/1250, f7.1 with Bird AF. Probably on mono-gimbal.
View attachment 898261
Thanks for sharing this. I'm currently on vacation with just my phone but I'll take a closer look when I get back to the computer. But from what I can see so far the 100-400 is the better tool for the job.

Thanks for letting me know you also see halos with the MC-20. So you don't see that on the MC-14? Do you find the MC-14 better than cropping for the same field of view?

Thomas Stir's results with the 40-150 2.8 + MC-20 helped push me to get the MC-20. I'm no Thomas Stir lol.
 
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Thanks for sharing this. I'm currently on vacation with just my phone but I'll take a closer look when I get back to the computer. But from what I can see so far the 100-400 is the better tool for the job.

Thanks for letting me know you also see halos with the MC-20. So you don't see that on the MC-14? Do you find the MC-14 better than cropping for the same field of view?

Thomas Stir's results with the 40-150 2.8 + MC-20 helped push me to get the MC-20. I'm no Thomas Stir lol.

I think (no scientific proof) that the MC-14 has a barely detectable effect on the IQ. I don't see what we might call a "halo" effect. The MC-20 has a larger effect, but as my friend said, it's a trade-off. You get more length, but slight degradation of the IQ. It's important to understand that teleconverters are a trade-off. I believe focal length trumps cropping, no matter how good the naked lens might be. Having a high-quality teleconverter is better than trying to crop down an image. And in the hands of someone like Tom Stirr, one can get excellent images with the MC-20. But, since I needed even longer than 300 to capture those birds, the 100-400 proved to be a better tool and I can use it without teleconverters (although it will take them too). Tom Stirr uses his 100-400 with an MC-14. And, if I need extra extension, I have those teleconverters.
 
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For close focusing, I use a couple of 10mm and 16mm Meike electronic extension tubes. I think they cost me $25 for both a few years ago, and you can use them with any M43 lens. I put them on the 50-200 SWD to take this photo, allowing me to get within 30cm of the subject. I guess I could put the EC-14 on as well to get even closer. I personally find the 50-200 SWD the most flexible and useful lens in my m43 collection. I know that the 40-150 f2.8 is a tad sharper and focuses faster, but 200m is much more useful for wildlife, and the 50-200 is sharp enough from 50-135mm to be a great portrait lens.
_SBA0171.jpg
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For close focusing, I use a couple of 10mm and 16mm Meike electronic extension tubes. I think they cost me $25 for both a few years ago, and you can use them with any M43 lens. I put them on the 50-200 SWD to take this photo, allowing me to get within 30cm of the subject. I guess I could put the EC-14 on as well to get even closer. I personally find the 50-200 SWD the most flexible and useful lens in my m43 collection. I know that the 40-150 f2.8 is a tad sharper and focuses faster, but 200m is much more useful for wildlife, and the 50-200 is sharp enough from 50-135mm to be a great portrait lens.
View attachment 898881

I did something similar with my 40-150 Pro. Attached a Meike 16mm extension tube too just to try it out for "macro" shots. Here's one of them. These flowers are probably around 1/4" across.

EM1 III, 40-150 Pro+16 mm extension tube, ISO 200, 100 mm, 1/640, f4.
51139713700_7b3a89ded8_c.jpg
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I really liked my 50-200 SWD, but after I got the 40-150 Pro and the O100-400, I sold it. Too many overlapping lenses. :)
 
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Here are some more examples with the 50-200 f2.8-3.5 ED + EC-14
em1-3-20201110-103113-Edit.jpg
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em1-3-20210209-2092489-Edit.jpg
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em1-3-20210506-5061105.jpg
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em1-3-20210612-6123858-Edit.jpg
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Some more of the 40-150 f2.8 Pro + MC-20. I haven't had it for very long, so I don't have a huge amount to choose from.

em1-3-20210702-7022481.jpg
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em1-3-20210702-7022497.jpg
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em1-3-20210702-7022626-Edit.jpg
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em1-3-20210708-7080695.jpg
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em1-3-20210709-7091044.jpg
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em1-3-20210715-7150638.jpg
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It is a spectacular lens combo that is just a tad behind the m.zuiko 300mm f4 pro in sharpness and contrast but far more flexible.
_SBA3096_02.jpg
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jhawk1000

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I have the 40-150mm 2.8 with 1.4X converter and it is very sharp giving just a tad more reach than my 50-200mm 2.8/3.5 lens. Both lenses alone are incredibly sharp and the 40-150mm beats the 50-200 only on focusing. My wife uses the 40-150mm 2.8 with or without the 1.4x and I almost always use the 50-200 for sports which include football, kids baseball, University baseball, and basketball. We will be shooting the grand premiere of a new Opera next week in an air museum since the theme of the opera is early flight and the women in flight. I will more than likely use the wide-angle lenses for overall scenes and the wife will use the 40-150mm 2.8 without converter and possibly another camera with another wide-angle zoom for video.

Unfortunately, the 50-200mm is starting to be harder to zoom and feels a little gritty so I might have to replace it and I know what will be the replacement---another 50-200mm.

I do not do any meaningful testing of the lenses. If the picture looks good, the lens is great. My wife, on the other hand, wants sharpness since she makes her living from selling her images.
 
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