The Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 lens for butterfly photography — a user experience review

Some months back I purchased an Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 lens (officially, the M. Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens) and MC-14 1.4x teleconverter for my E-M1 body.  I’d given them some exercise on a road trip previously, but when an opportunity came up for a “Tripod Session” at a local butterfly pavilion, I thought I could give them a real workout on the facility’s residents.

Paper Kite

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Monet Pool Fiori

Another piece of art glass by Dale Chihuly (two pieces, actually), currently located in the Denver Botanic Gardens‘ Monet Pool:

Monet Pool Fiori

This arrangement is one that absolutely looks better at night.  In the daytime, you’re distracted by people and plants and benches behind the piece (from this vantage point).  At night, the lighting on the glasswork helps isolate it from what would otherwise be clutter.

EXIF info:
Oly 12-40mm f/2.8 lens at 21mm and f/4.5 on E-M1 camera
1/25 sec at ISO 1600

Leaving Albuquerque

On a recent trip to Albuquerque to take care of some family business, I managed to get aboard a very well-timed flight home on a “puddle-jumper” turboprop aircraft.

Leaving Albuquerque

As we headed north from the airport, the sun was just setting, so I got a nice mix of lighting colors.  And, of course, flying in a small aircraft means everybody gets a window seat.

For locals and the curious, the Osuna interchange with I-25 is about at the image’s center (I-25 runs from the bottom right corner toward left center).

Morning comes to Flores

Sunrise in Flores, Guatemala:

Morning comes to Flores

We didn’t get to spend much time in Flores on our autumn trip to the Yucatan — really, just a night sandwiched between the ruins of Tikal and our flight east to Belize.  But we had a great night on the island, and were greeted in the morning by this amazing sunrise.

The original part of Flores (where we stayed) is an island in Lake Peten Itza — it was once the last Maya holdout (from the conquistadors) in the Yucatan peninsula.  Now the island is connected to the mainland by a causeway, and the town of Flores covers more ground there than on the island.

Wide zooms (for micro 4/3 cameras) compared

For a brief period of time, I owned three wide zooms that worked well on my Olympus E-M1 body — so I thought I should take the opportunity to compare their performance on a quick walk around a neighborhood park.  Actually writing up this review took a bit of time, and was prompted by an excellent comparison of two of these lenses over on Small Camera Big Picture.

A warning to pixel peepers: what follows is a real-life experiential comparison.

Wide zooms compared

The lenses, as you can see, were the Olympus 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 (4/3 system) lens on an MMF-3 adapter, the new Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 lens, and the Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8 lens.  The 12-60 I’ve had for years, the 12-35 was a “gap-filler” purchase (for use while waiting for the 12-40mm to ship), and the 12-40mm my planned go-to lens going forward.

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The Olympus E-M1 and long exposures

I stumbled across something interesting on micro-4/3 camera forums, and thought it worth pursuing.  It’s been said (here, and here, and here) that the Olympus E-M1 has a problem with long exposures.  I’d noticed what looked like grain in my E-M1 images, so thought maybe it had a similar cause.

Since I’ve got an E-M1 and an E-M5 camera, and a bit of history with debugging, I thought I was well-placed to do some characterization testing.  To get a fair comparison, I first ran pixel mapping on my E-M5 and E-M1 bodies (to take care of any obviously “hot” pixels on the sensors), then took dark images (with the lens cap on) under the same conditions with both bodies:

  • ISO 200
  • 60 second exposure
  • Noise Filter set to Standard

I did this twice for each camera body — once with Noise Reduction off, and once with it on.  I took all 4 RAW images, converted them to JPG using Olympus Viewer 3, then grabbed a 400×400 pixel crop out of the center of each.

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Plein air

On our recent trip to Chicago, we did our usual tour of the local botanic gardens (one of the benefits of being married to a garden-loving woman).  While wandering through the Chicago Botanic Garden, I spotted an in-progress plein air watercolor:

Plein air

Sadly, the artist was nowhere to be found, so I couldn’t chat with them.  Just the same, I liked this composition…