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75 of 76 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2008
Verified Purchase
Pros:
Very Small, Very Light, fits easily in a jacket pocket
Ultra-wide angle is very useful
Image stabilization available on-camera
Noticeably better construction than my other Olympus standard grade lenses
Wide filter ring prevents vignetting (use just one filter)
Good image quality, except for:

Cons:
Barrel distortion at wide end (correctable in Photoshop)
Last few pixels not quite as "sharp" as center
Practice required to keep horizon level, not create weird perspective
Construction not as good as Olympus "pro" lenses
There are wider lenses for other brands (that weigh 2x more... hehehe.)
There are better ultrawide zoom lenses (in the $1500 range... haHaHA!)

My stuff for reference: E-410, 9-18mm, 25mm pancake, 35mm macro, 40-150mm (small), 14-54mm, 70-300mm (14-42mm and 18-180mm lenses sold)

I bought the Olympus system to get great image quality at a small size and price, I wouldn't have if not for rumors of this lens. When it was announced it seemed better than I hoped! I bought it early for a trip to China (I normally wait for the price to drop), it is a good thing I did, because I used the 9-18mm about 70% of the time! I also took the 14-54mm and the 40-150mm kit lens, thus making a small, quality, versatile package that I always carried in my pockets and hand/neck.

The 9-18 is ideal for travel, it fits in a pocket or can be carried attached to your camera all day and not be tiring. More importantly, when you get to touristy places, you can stand very close to your subject (if you don't mind the perspective), thus you will be in other people's photos, rather than them being in yours! Plus, there are a surprising number of subjects that can only be photographed whole or with no obstructions with an ultra-wide angle lens. Great for "spy" pictures of people who think you are pointing the camera somewhere else. And, you can lower shutter speeds to 1/20s and still have sharp pictures, a huge benefit for cameras with no IS. Imagine what it would be like on a camera with IS!

Image quality is good, but there is noticeable barrel distortion towards 9mm. Otherwise I would say IQ is between the 14-54 and 40-150, but closer to the 14-54. Lens flare was not a big problem for me, but more than my 14-54 (and I like placing the sun in the frame). Keeping the lens clean helps a lot with flare. Contrast (something I like) is much better than the 40-150, but not as good as the 14-54mm. Chromatic aberration happens, and is slightly worse towards the edges, but is not too bad. Sharpness I am less attuned to because all Olympus lenses are sharp and I rarely view the corners of my pictures full size, but it is sharp from f/4 to ~f/10, about/nearly as good as the 14-54mm. The 14-54 seems to experience less corner variation from f/2.8 to f/8 than this lens from f/4 to f/8, but this is a very minor consideration.

Other thoughts: construction quality is better than my other Olympus standard grade lenses, including texturing on the whole exterior and a less plasticky sound when you hit the limits of the zoom range. Zoom travel is very short and is of the out-in-out variety. I now think my 14-54mm is too big, and got the 25mm pancake to anchor the gap between the 9-18mm and 40-150mm. With the 9-18mm, 40-150mm and any of the <Olympus 14-54mm, Sigma f/2.8 18-50mm, Olympus 25mm pancake, or Sigma 30mm> you will have a small yet extraordinary setup with the E-420, E-520, or E-620. Alternatively, use the 9-18mm, 35mm macro, and 70-300mm for landcapes/macro/wildlife. You will see many tourists walking past with a Nikon D300 or Canon 50D and a large lens, that weigh more than your camera and three lenses together despite having less zoom and smaller aperture. You will wonder what delusion they are under that they think they are making better pictures (of the same thing)!

Update: I returned to China for a longer stay, and have been using the 14-18mm range quite a bit to take pictures of people around town. I am glad that the good image quality occurs across the zoom range. I have found that this lens is now the anchor of my small lens collection. Things I notice even more after a few months are, the 9-18 is contrastier than the 40-150mm, and the construction quality is far higher than the 40-150mm or other standard grade lenses (except the 25mm pancake?). My 40-150 has a quite a few nicks in it. The 9-18 has just 3 hairline scratches which are difficult to see even on close examination.

Update #2: After a year and a half this lens has become widely traveled and I am getting better at using it with time. I have never had a complaint about the final image quality of pictures with this lens. The only complaint I ever had is barrel distortion, because I hate fixing it in Photoshop. Contrast still doesn't equal the 14-54, but that never seems to matter. It is still holding together perfectly, showing no signs of abuse, even though I have sometimes abused it (in a wide variety of ways).
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2008
The Olympus 9-18mm f/4.0-5.6 Zuiko is an excellent ultra wide zoom in a reasonably small and light weight form factor. The quality of its images is comparable to those the Olympus standard lens series. The Dual Super Aspherical (DSA) front element enables the lens form factor. I purchased this for use on my Olympus E-520 because I wanted a relatively light weight ultra wide system with live view.

For those who might want to compare this lens to the Olympus 7-14mm f/4.0 Zuiko, I have one that I use with my Olympus E-3. The Olypmus 7-14mm Super High Grade is really an extraodinary lens just as is the Olympus 14-35 f/2.0 and the Olympus 35-100mm f/2.0 that I happen to also use with my Olympus E-3.

But, if you want an ultra wide zoom for the E-520 (or E-420, E-510, E-410, E-500, E-330, E-300) that is easy to use and works as a well balanced system with excellent image quality then you should seriously consider this lens!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2009
Verified Purchase
Olympus glass is out of this world... literally. The camera aboard the international space station is made by Olympus.

If this lens were to cost twice as much (as many equivalent lens by Nikon and Canon do), it would still be a bargain.

The 9 and the 18 stand for the zoom range, from 9mm to 18mm. 9mm is known as wide angle, or ultra-wide angle. In relation to old lenses used for 35mm cameras, this lens spans 18mm to 36mm.

The glass is exceptional, yielding little distortion even at the widest angle. Color aberration, only present at the extreme edges, is virtually non-existent (I have compared the color aberration to my lenses that cost over $1100 and found no difference).

If you photograph indoors a lot, this is the lens for you. If you photograph architecture a lot, this is the lens for you. It's even good for landscapes and makes magnificant panoramas (as long as the scenery is not too far away).

I like this as a "people" lens; you can sling your camera around your neck and "shoot from the hip" at virtually any time. You don't need to peek through the viewfinder. In sunlight or open shade, even without using auto-focus, this lens will be in focus from about four feet to infinity, meaning you are able to photograph crowds of people as you walk amongst them. That person that you see standing three feet in front of you? Yes, their entire image from head to toe is within the frame.

As a street lens, it yields a very intimate view of life.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2009
Wide angle lenses are extremely useful for shooting large objects (like buildings) in congested areas. You simply cannot stand far enough away to get the whole thing in the frame if you are using a normal lens. This sort of lens is also great for shooting indoors when you want to photograph a large group in a small space.

One quick word about focal lengths on 4/3 cameras. A 9-18mm lens on a 4/3 camera will provide the same viewing angles as an 18-36mm lens on a 35mm film camera because the sensor is smaller than a 35mm film frame. So 4/3 will have a 2X "crop factor." 18mm is considered very wide. 36mm is almost a normal view. You probably already know this if you are reading this review, but some new 4/3 users may not be aware of it.

With this lens Olympus has given us an alternative to the $1700 7-14mm f/4.0 at less than 1/3 the price. It's not quite as wide, and the build quality isn't as high, and it isn't weather sealed, but it's also only $500. The important thing is that image quality is really excellent.

I really love using this lens. It is lightweight and focuses quickly on my E-30. And it lets me reach way under my 14-54mm lens when I need something wider. The difference between 9mm and 14mm is HUGE; much more than you might think. A 14mm lens gives you a 75 degree angle of view. Move to a 9 mmm lens and you now have 100 degrees of horizontal view. Those 5 extra milimeters give you a 30% wider view!

The other end of this lens - 18mm is "narrow" enough to be very useful as a walk around lens for street photography. So you can go from "pretty wide" to "normal" without swapping lenses when you are visiting tourist spots or new cities. This is one of my favorite lenses and I get good results using it. See my sample images!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2009
I received this as a gift this year before my wife and I took a trip to Germany and France over the holidays. Last year we received the Olympus E-510 with the two kit lenses and it has worked very well for us for our typical use. Before we took this trip, however, I wanted to see if there was a different lens that would be more useful and the common recommendation was a wide angle lens, which I don't have experience with in the past (this was my first SLR). However, I took a risk and got this lens without having seen it.

The build is very similar to the kit lenses, though with a larger glass element in the front, and a metal plate in the back where it connects to the camera. It feels a bit heavier than the kit lenses, but it doesn't throw off the balance of the camera as some of the heavier lenses might. It's also very compact which is important to my wife, who has smaller hands and likes the Four-Thirds system since it's easier for her to work with than the other systems we looked at.

Once we got to Europe and we used the lens, it opened up a whole new world in what I could shoot. We toured many buildings and other historical sites while there and this lens allowed me to capture everything in the frame, very important in those cases where you really can't back up any more and want to capture the scope of how large something might be for people. I had considered the 11-22 lens for the larger aperture, but I never ran into an issue where I needed that to capture a shot, and most places we visited inside allowed no flash. Being able to capture the entirety of a castle or statue in an image let me take picture that will be very nice to print out and hang on my wall.

The only issues I had with the lens are that I had to get used to getting very close to people if I wanted them to be a decent size in the picture relative to the background. Additionally, I never noticed this when shooting, but when I looked at the images at home I could notice some distortion on images at the 9mm range, but it was confined to the edges of the shot and not too noticeable. I imagine I could correct it in Photoshop as well if I took the time to teach myself how. Sometimes I wanted a bit more reach without having to bother changing lenses and might try out the 12-60mm lens in the future, but it's much heavier and couldn't have captured many of the images that I got with this. I'd highly recommend it if you have a good use for it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
As a real estate agent I have often found myself needing to capture a wider angle of view than the kit lenses that came with my Olympus E-510 provided. Since this lens costs about as much as I spent on my camera body and two kit lenses combined, it took me awhile to budget this purchase decision. Now I'm glad I did.

The construction of this lens is more robust than my two kit lenses and is slightly heavier, but it's not weather-proof. This lens mount is metal, not polycarbonate, as the mounts are on my kit lenses. Initially it had a discernibly tighter fit on my camera body. Compared with either of my kit lenses which use 58 mm filters, the front of this lens is HUGE, requiring a 72mm filter.

With this lens I can now capture the essence of an entire room with a single shot, take close-up shots with an amazing depth-of-field and not need to stand in the middle or other side of the street to capture the entire exterior of a building or home. Although the lens appears to be large, it doesn't throw my camera out-of-balance or make it uncomfortable to be hanging from my neck.

Using this lens at its widest angle-of-view without producing excessive distortion takes some practice. My best architectural results come from holding the camera absolutely level in both planes, so I am shooting straight ahead, not up or down and with no tilt left or right. Otherwise I will have distinctly converging or diverging lines that'll need to be adjusted in Photoshop or another perspective editing program.

Aside from capturing building interiors, I've found this lens unbeatable for capturing vistas and giving me far more flexibility about where I can position myself to capture it all. Although I haven't made any scientific resolution comparisons between my lenses, this lens seems slightly sharper and somewhat snappier than my kit lenses, which I've found to be very good.

At the widest angle of zoom I can take sharper photos at lower shutter speeds because the lens doesn't magnify camera shake. On occasion, I've sometimes found that the lens hood causes slight vignetting at the widest zoom range with interior shots. When that happens, I just remove the hood. I protect the front of this lens with a standard 72mm UV filter (highly recommended) which causes no vignetting at all.

The front of the lens is also large enough to get in the way of my on-camera flash. When I am shooting in low-light conditions, without nearby reflective surfaces to bounce the light, the lens will cast a noticeable shadow from the on-camera flash. The solution is to use a shoe-mounted bounce flash instead.

There are certainly costlier lenses available for my camera, but this one now completes the range of focal lengths that I find useful without breaking my bank account. Image quality is good enough to not fall apart at large magnifications. This lens, plus my two kit lenses and camera body all fit nicely in my new camera bag, including various accessories and a small tripod, yet everything is comfortable to carry. For the same focal ranges that I formerly had with my old 35 mm film camera this 4/3 combination is much lighter and easier to carry. I am very pleased with my purchase and the results.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2008
This is a lens that is light, smooth, sharp, and can open doors in your
photography if you've never had ultra wide lens before. You probably need to have a history of liking wide angle views, if you find your eye
concentrating mostly on telephoto shots, you may not get into the wide
angle world. If you like to be creative, capture images that you cannot
get with the "standard" wide, normal, and telephoto lens, then go for it.

Remember it may be difficult to use a polarizer filter on this lens without getting uneven blue sky effects. I bought a Nikon Slim polarizer
11 filter which I still use but mostly for helping to saturate colors and
take away glare in certain shots.

This probably is not an all-round lens for most people as the 14-54 lens
is more versatile. But it will inspire you to try new ideas, new angles
of view, and perhaps produce some of your all time favorite shots. By the
way, I'm not an expert on the "color rendition" of lens, but I've taken
some of my pictures, expecially with the polarizer, have great and deep
colors.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Verified Purchase
I wanted a lens that was effective on the wide angle end. This is mostly for interiors and landscapes. Speed isn't a particularly significant factor for this use.

The construction, as with all Olympus lenses I have owned since my OM-1 in 1980, is very good and solid. The 4/3 lenses seem large compared the ones for my little OM-4T 35mm film camera. But I digress... It has a well made positive interface with the camera, the lens hood goes on and off easily in both the deployed and storage positions.

The image quality is great. Of course. At the wide end there is a little distortion but the Olympus master2 software corrects the distortion very effectively. The long end is good enough to use as a moderately wide prime.

If there were something I would change, it would be to make the wide end 7mm. But that's asking a bit much at this price-point, isn't it?

It's light enough to be comfortable on my E-500 and E30 bodies. I think this is a great lens in this range and is well worth adding to the camera bag. It is certainly worth 5 stars.

Update May 2013: Since I upgraded my camera body to a E-30 in 2010 I remain very happy with this wide zoom lens. The larger-brighter viewfinder of the E-30 makes the shooting experience noticeably nicer with this and most other lenses. The E-30's built-in level is a big help at the wide end where being off-kilter often makes a big difference, especially with panorama work.

I still love it. It's a great lens for the wide at a good price.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2011
I never thought I was a UWA kind of photographer, especially since I preferred the use of my ZD 35 macro permanently mounted on my E-620, but since getting the 9-18, a new door to photography has opened.

Creative possibilities abound with such a close-focusing UWA lens.

Most of the time, I'm trying to exploit the large field of view, so the lens is effectively a 9mm prime, but occasionally, I do take advantage of the entire focal range.

Pictures are nice and sharp and contrast and colors are rendered nicely. What can I say - it's a Zuiko Digital lens.

The lens is also light and compact, however, the lens hood is another story - it's huge!

Regardless, it's true when they say that a lens effectively gives you a new camera. Of the four lenses I own (14-54/2.8-3.5, 35/3.5 macro, 40-150/4-5.6, and 9-18/4-5.6), the ZD 9-18 is close to being my new favorite.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2010
I've been using this lens for the past 8 months and am very happy with it. I was bouncing between this and the 7-14mm Zuiko, but settled on this for now - though at this focal length the extra 2 mm gives about 18 degrees of additional FOV. Image Quality is very good - crisp, acceptable CA, very good color rendition, very slight barrel distortion, but that is easily corrected in PP. I picked up two B+W filters - UV and polarizing. The polarizing filter causes some visible color shifts across the image due to the field of view, but I like it in most instances. The B+W UV is a good all around filter since there is a lot of glass sitting out there and you don't want to have it banging around.

Close focus is excellent and gives a dramatic view when at 9mm.
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