Shootout Olympus 50-200/2.8~3.5 SWD vs 40-150/2.8

Lupin 3rd

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When I wanted an Olympus 40-150/2.8 but could not afford it I got an Olympus 50-200 SWD instead. And it has proved itself a great lens, especially for the price. I see them go for $300-350 (USD) and with a 43 to m43 adapter ($100-150) you can get a nice setup for a fraction 1/2 ~1/3 of a 40-150/2.8.

I thought the SWD was only tele for me but of course fate has its own plans and I got really lucky with an auction and now I have a 40-150 as well.

So let's look at the pros/cons of each lens:

50-200 SWD:
+ cost: 1/2 ~1/3 of a 40-150/2.8;
+ range: The 40-150 needs a 1.4 tc to match;
+ mechanical focusing: turning the focusing ring directly affects the focusing mechanism.
- AF speed: acceptable with E-M1 & E-M5ii not with E-M5;
- variable aperture: slightly annoying;

40-150:
+ AF speed: very fast with all bodies even the original E-M5;
+ size: internal zoom;
+ constant aperture;
- cost;
- range: needs a 1.4 TC to match the 50-200.

With the 1.4 TC on the 40-150 and the adapter on the 50-200 they're pretty much matched in size.
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The 50-200 zooms externally (trombones). Does it really matter? I think it's a personal preference.
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While I always shoot jpeg + RAW, I rarely have the time to work on a RAW file and only do so when the photo really matters to me. Usually for a family pic to improve on it and/or if I have to crop a lot.

For that reason all these comparisons are done with SOOC jpegs. 99% of my photos are SOOC jpegs and that's how I roll. When my kids go to college and I suffer from empty nest syndrome I promise I will only shot raw and massage each file to get the highest quality. So let's get on with the photos.

Let's start with both lens near each end of the zoom range and widest aperture.

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Not much to say for me, though to be honest I rarely use the lens this wide, but I'm more than happy with the quality.

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Same thing at 200mm. I'm more than happy with the output. The 40-150 has a slight advantage, but no so much to make or break a photo.

Finally I mounted both to the E-Mii and took a photo in pixel shift. Both are at f/5.6 and 100mm for the 40-150 (with TC) and 92mm for the 50-200, ISO 200 and manual WB. So pretty close to mid zoom range, stopped down and cropped to the central area of the frame for the best quality.

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Here the advantage of the 40-150 becomes a bit more noticeable, the 50-200 seems a bit more noisy. Not sure how much this is due to the sub-optimal light in this test, but that's how it looks.


In the end, and IMHO, I think the main difference between the two lens comes down to cost and focusing speed. If you want a budget setup and are okay with slightly slower AF speed, then the 50-200 is an amazing lens for the price. If you want to show off to your fellow photographers and/or compensate for other shortcomings (not my case) then get the 40-150.

Hope this helps.
 

KeithT

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Nice comparison and pretty much what I had hoped for i.t.o. the 50-200mm

I was in pretty much the same boat (budget wise) so got the 50-200mm non-SWD (for $205.00) and then later both the TC14 and TC20.

More than good enough for me but I realise that I do need to calibrate the lens . . . . one of these days... just need to make the time.

Would I prefer the 40-150mm + 1.4 TC .. yes I would, but at the price I paid for the 50-200mm I have no room for complaints.
 

AussiePhil

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I own a 50-200SWD and a 40-150Pro and there is a significant difference if your using the faster burst modes on the EM1 series .... the SWD slows down the burst rate significantly in my experience.
My EM1mk1 and 12-60SWD, 50-200SWD set is on loan to my son and he does enjoy it... one day when he buys his dreamed for sony kit i'll keep the 50-200 maybe, depends what Olympus releases in the lens roadmap to come.
It does mean i can't retest it on the EM1X yet :)
IQ wise it's tough to pick the differences.... made very clear as i'm just editing an old pile of tennis images taken with both and it's only exif data that separates them.
 

wolfie

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I'd have thought AF speed would have been a major factor in such a choice - I know that from my 40-150 on an E-M5 MKII that it is very quick and positive, even with the MC14. How does the 50-200 fare in that regard?
 

AussiePhil

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I'd have thought AF speed would have been a major factor in such a choice - I know that from my 40-150 on an E-M5 MKII that it is very quick and positive, even with the MC14. How does the 50-200 fare in that regard?
on the EM1 mk1 and mk2 I really didn't pick much of a difference in real life use though the 40-150 is snappier. I'd need to retry the 50-200SWD again to be really sure.
I shoot a lot of 18fps bursts with the 40-150Pro - the 50-200SWD was definitely not as fast in fps, slow enough that it was frustrating using it for tennis :)

The 50-200 is a stellar lens and worth it if the 40-150Pro is out of the price range.
 
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In the end, and IMHO, I think the main difference between the two lens comes down to cost and focusing speed. If you want a budget setup and are okay with slightly slower AF speed, then the 50-200 is an amazing lens for the price. If you want to show off to your fellow photographers and/or compensate for other shortcomings then get the 40-150.
You’re not considering the maximum achievable burst rate, one of the biggest limiting factors of 4/3 lenses IMO. They can’t shoot at more than about 4-5fps, making the 10fps of your E-M1 II or E-M1 X sports/wildlife camera useless, since you’re limited to what the lens can achieve.
 

Lupin 3rd

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I'd have thought AF speed would have been a major factor in such a choice - I know that from my 40-150 on an E-M5 MKII that it is very quick and positive, even with the MC14. How does the 50-200 fare in that regard?
As you can see from the videos I posted, the 50-200 focused best on the E-M1, but the E-M5 mk II was pretty close. The E-M5 was the worst at focusing speed with both lens and you can really hear the focusing motor on the 50-200 moving back and forth as it approaches focus.

I've gotten some pretty decent shots with the E-M1 and 50-200 and found it acceptable for the price and age of the lens.

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Lupin 3rd

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You’re not considering the maximum achievable burst rate, one of the biggest limiting factors of 4/3 lenses IMO. They can’t shoot at more than about 4-5fps, making the 10fps of your E-M1 II or E-M1 X sports/wildlife camera useless, since you’re limited to what the lens can achieve.
Thanks for pointing this out, although I only have an E-M1 v1 and shoot at low burst for the IS and EVF refresh. But this may matter to someone who wants high fps.
 

Phocal

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You’re not considering the maximum achievable burst rate, one of the biggest limiting factors of 4/3 lenses IMO. They can’t shoot at more than about 4-5fps, making the 10fps of your E-M1 II or E-M1 X sports/wildlife camera useless, since you’re limited to what the lens can achieve.
Actually that’s only true in CAF. In SAF it will shoot as fast as the camera is capable.
 
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Actually that’s only true in CAF. In SAF it will shoot as fast as the camera is capable.
True. But for subjects like sports, wildlife, etc. (which is what these lenses are really designed for), I would imagine that the vast majority of users would be shooting in (or at least prefer to be shooting in) C-AF, as it gives them the flexibility to maintain focus if/when the subject moves. With S-AF and a moving subject, you need to continually be re-pressing the focusing button, which is far from ideal.
 

Phocal

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True. But for subjects like sports, wildlife, etc. (which is what these lenses are really designed for), I would imagine that the vast majority of users would be shooting in (or at least prefer to be shooting in) C-AF, as it gives them the flexibility to maintain focus if/when the subject moves. With S-AF and a moving subject, you need to continually be re-pressing the focusing button, which is far from ideal.
I’m a wildlife shooter and 95% of my stuff is shot in SAF, even from a drifting kayak.
 
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I’m a wildlife shooter and 95% of my stuff is shot in SAF, even from a drifting kayak.
Yes, but what you shoot is not the same as birds in the air, race cars on track, or an athlete running at full-tilt.

All of those can be shot with S-AF. Hell, they could be shot with MF (@macro manages to capture some amazing BIF images with MF lenses). But as technology evolves, it makes the job of the photographer easier to capture the subject, particularly if the subject is in-motion. S-AF makes it easier than MF, C-AF makes it easier than S-AF, Tracking makes it easier than C-AF, etc.

Technology evolves, things change, and old hardware begins to show its limitations when compared against newer products that leverage the latest hardware and technology.
 
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To me it comes down to the camera size. I have both but you need one of the larger rigs to carry these lenses,such as a G-9 or EM1-ll. I seldom use all those fancy caf/ things where you have to review a hundred shots. I shoot repeated SAF . And only care if one shot is super good. Thus both lenses are fine. Don't shoot basketball games at night and expect 100% keeper rate. I have always thought that the SWD was a remarkably sharp lens.
 
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