Together with the Olympus 40-150 mm f/2.8 Pro, the Olympus 1.4x teleconverter was released. I enjoyed that, because I have a weakness for teleconverters. A teleconverter offers a solution when I sporadically need an extreme telephoto lens with a focal length of (converted to a full-format sensor) 400 mm or more. Some converters offer a lot of value for the money. I was initially extra-enthusiastic because the Olympus 1.4x converter MC-14 is the first teleconverter for the micro-43 platform. I cheered a bit too early, because this 1.4x converter only fits on the Olympus 40-150 mm f/2.8 Pro.
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 1.4x Teleconverter MC-14
Olympus 40-150 mm f/2.8 Pro + 1.4 x converter @ 190 mm f/4, 1/800 sec, 200 ISO
Rather than—usually for nothing—lugging along a heavy telephoto lens, or leaving it at home due to its size and weight, I take a high-quality short telephoto lens with a teleconverter along. If you use a teleconverter on an average lens, then you visibly lose quality. But in combination with the best lenses, the loss of quality from applying a good teleconverter is really very small.
Build: "Dust-, splash- & freeze-proof"
The Olympus 1.4x converter is very solidly built and has no play in it at all. This teleconverter consists of 6 lenses in 3 groups and weighs just 1 ounce. Even so, the teleconverter is also dust- and splashwater-tight and suitable for use in freezing cold weather. That is exceptional for a teleconverter. This 1.4x converter is specially designed for use in combination with the 40-150 mm and the 300 mm f/4, which is expected next year. In the picture, you can see why this converter is not for use as a universal teleconverter: the front lens element of the converter sticks out. The advantage of this construction is that the 40-150 mm f/2.8 zoom lens practically never becomes longer when you use the teleconverter.
Auto focus The Olympus 40-150 mm f/2.8 Pro has a unique, dual PCM AF system that consists of two separate AF systems, each with its own AF lens group. This makes it possible to focus fast and accurately. We only tested the converter in the single-AF mode. The AF speed of zoom lens with converter is comparable to that of a good SLR camera with a 400 mm f/4 lens.
Sharpness Olympus 40-150 mm f/2.8
Olympus 40-150 mm f/2.8 Pro + 1.4 x converter @ 210 mm f/4, 1/800 sec, 200 ISO Click (2 times) on this illustration for a (compressed for the internet) version at full size.
The image quality is very good. At the longest focal length, we see a bit lower sharpness in the corners and on the edges if we compare the sharpness with the Olympus 40-150 mm f/2.8 without converter. The loss in image quality at the longest focal length is so small that you really shouldn't go out without taking this teleconverter along. Until the Olympus 300 mm f/4 appears, the Olympus 40-150 mm f/2.8 with the Olympus 1.4x converter is the best telephoto lens with a focal length (converted to full frame) of 400 mm or more.
Olympus 40-150 mm f/2.8 Pro + 1.4 x converter @ 210 mm f/4, 1/640 sec, 200 ISO Move your mouse over this picture for a partial enlargement at 100%. Click on the picture for a comparison with a shot taken with converter and a shot taken without converter and digitally enlarged by interpolation in Photoshop. The shot taken with the teleconverter (right) is sharper.
Distortion, vignetting, chromatic aberration and bokeh
For the other image-quality parameters (vignetting, distortion) as well, there is little to criticize. They are just very good. Chromatic aberration in uncorrected RAW files is more visible. That is to be expected according to the theory. In the jpg files, you see, due to in-camera correction, none of it. With the longer focal length in combination with the high center sharpness, you isolate a subject even better from the background than when using a lens without the converter.
This ape was swinging so fast through the trees that I decided to make a video, in which both the teleconverter and the image stabilization of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 came in handy. In most of the shots, the ape disappears behind a branch, or its face was not visible. Because with video you shoot 25 images per second (in a lower resolution), and you can just let the camera run, the result was a shot that I otherwise would not have been able to make.
Conclusion Olympus 40-150 mm f/2.8 PRO with OM-D E-M1
Look in our list of reviewed lenses or in our list of reviewed micro-43 lenses in order to compare the performance of this lens with that of other lenses.
WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens when you store the files in the camera in jpg format, including in-camera lens corrections (distortion, chromatic aberration). This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
Pure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens when the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera. If you make use of Photoshop, Lightroom or SilkyPix for converting RAW files, then the RAW scores for chromatic aberration and distortion are the same as the jpg scores.
Compact, light and flawless build quality
Dust-, splash- & freeze-proof
Very good image quality
Fast and accurate AF
1 stop light loss
Currently only usable with the Olympus 40-150 mm f/2.8 Pro
An absolute must-have for any photographer with an Olympus 40-150 mm f/2.8 Pro
I have a weakness for good teleconverters. And this is one of them. A miniscule insertion weighing 100 grams that you keep in your photo bag and that will save your bacon when you need a big telephoto lens. No lugging, a lot of fun. When the quality is good, at least. And that is the case. The build quality is flawless, and the AF works perfectly in combination with the Olympus 40-150 mm f/2.8 and an Olympus OM-D E-M1. And the image quality is very good. The loss in image quality at the longest focal lengths is so small that you really shouldn't go out without taking along this teleconverter. Until the Olympus 300 mm f/4 appears, the Olympus 40-150 mm f/2.8 with Olympus 1.4x converter is the best telephoto lens with a focal length (converted to full-frame) of 400 mm or more.
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.