In a word… Wow. What can I say about this lens that hasn’t already been said. When it was first announced I knew I wanted to get my hands on it, and in honesty, I had very high expectations. I didn’t expect them to be exceeded, but after using it extensively, they genuinely were.

  • The Good

    – Incredible image quality.

    – Rapid and accurate AF.

    – Fully weather sealed.

    – Smooth zoom ring and internal zoom.

    – 1.3m minimal focal distance to get up close, detailed shots.

    – Tripod collar/ring has set positions at 90° angles to allow smooth and easy switching between portrait and landscape orientation.

    – Unexpectedly good performance with 1.25x engaged and 2x TC.

    – So much lighter than I expected at 1.9kg!

    – Impressive IS.

    – More affordable than market equivalents.

  • The Bad

    – Slight vignette noticeable in certain circumstances.

    – Notable chromatic aberration on defined edges when 1.25x & 2x converter used.

    – Focus hunts a touch when 1.25x TC is engaged & either TC (1.4x or 2x) is attached.

    – Sold out until spring at the very earliest!

    – Not affordable for many.

    – Believe me, I tried to find more flaws or downsides…

Typically whilst I had the lens, the forecast was nothing short of appalling, but other than stopping me getting to a couple of sites due to low cloud cover, it didn’t stop me from being out every day putting it through its paces. I was even treated to the odd sliver of sun!

Image Quality

As Olympus is renowned for producing stunning optics, I expected this lens to perform and produce the highest quality images. It’s fair to say I wasn’t disappointed:

Olympus EM1X  |  150-400mm @ 356mm (TC not engaged)  |  1/3200th, ISO 400, f/4.5

200% crop, no PP sharpening.

Olympus EM1X  |  150-400mm @ 445mm (1.25x TC engaged)  |  1/320th, ISO 400, f/5.6

200% crop, no PP sharpening.

300% crop, no PP sharpening.

The announcement that the 150-400mm could be used with the 1.4x & 2x TC, to me at the time, was something that was more marketing spiel than anything that would have a practical application (2000mm at f/11, who would use that in the real world?!). Fast forward an hour of using it and frankly, I ate my own words.

HOW does this lens perform better than the 40-150mm AND the 300mm with the 2x TC?! I tested the 2x TC extensively prior to launch so had a good idea of what it was and wasn’t capable of, and I was genuinely shocked at how well this combination worked. Yes, it still has it’s limitations (you need good light and non erratic, fast moving subjects) but if used correctly, you can get incredibly close and still achieve great images.

Olympus EM1X  |  150-400mm @ 765mm (1.25x TC engaged & 2x TC attached)  |  1/320th, ISO 800, f/11

200% crop, no PP sharpening or CA removal.

Olympus EM1X  |  150-400mm @ 765mm (1.25x TC engaged & 2X TC attached) |  1/1250th, ISO 1250, f/11