The M Zuiko Digital 14-150mm F4-5.6 is Olympus’s fourth lens for its Pen series cameras, and the first to venture into the telephoto region. Its 10.7x zoom ratio places it firmly in ‘superzoom’ territory, covering a very useful 28-300mm equivalent range, and making it ideal for general purpose ‘walkaround’ or travel use. (Indeed Olympus says that with it on your camera ‘you will never miss a photo opportunity’, perhaps begging the question as to why the company still makes other lenses.)
Like all superzooms the 14-150mm uses a complex optical formula, with 15 elements in 11 groups including 3 aspheric elements (one of which is made from ED glass) to correct aberrations. But unlike others, it’s a fairly lightweight lens, tipping the scales at less than 10 ounces. It’s relatively small too – Olympus boasts that the volume has been reduced by 35% compared to its analogous DSLR lens – maintaining the Pen series’ emphasis on portability. The autofocus system has been designed to meet the demands of movie shooting, and employs just two lens elements for focusing which promises fast, silent AF. There’s a circular aperture diaphragm to give smoothly blurred backgrounds but, in what’s becoming something of a trend for the Pen line, the lens hood is an optional extra.
One feature missing, though, is built-in optical stabilization, simply because Olympus uses in-body stabilization for its Pen cameras. This means that Panasonic G-series owners won’t get any form of stabilization at all with this lens, which is an important consideration for a relatively slow long zoom. This is the key distinction relative to the most obvious alternative, Panasonic’s own Lumix G Vario HD 14-140mm F4-5.8 OIS; however the additional complexity of the stabilized lens results in a rather higher price. Let’s see how the Olympus performs.