on July 25, 2011
Please be aware the lens does not come with the hood. That must be purchased separately. The picture, on this page, is a bit misleading.
We'll start of with the greatness of this lens. This lens is the best constructed m4/3 yet. It is optically amazing and fast. The autofocus is ultra silent and quick (I only have Pani bodies). The feel of this lens is magnificent. When you pull back the ring to manual focus, it has hard stops and the focus speed is variable depending on how fast you turn the ring. While not up to the quality of Leica (what is?), this lens is a true gem. There are currently only 2 m43 lenses that go this wide (7-14 and 9-18) and they are bigger, heavier, and 2 stops slower. I am not sure why the m43 bunch is caught up on the 28mm length but this lens is a welcome step in the right direction.
So if this lens is so nice, then what is the dilemma? The answer to that would be the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5. The 14mm is not in the same league as the 12mm for build quality. However, it is much smaller and cheaper. (Not that the 12mm f/2 is that big in fact it is tiny for what it is, the 14mm f/2.5 is just tiny.) If you don't need the extra Field of View (FOV) of the 12mm then the 14mm is a very good alternative. I just got back from shooting at two automotive museums and the 14mm performed admirably. It was rare I needed a wider FOV. However, for tight location shooting this thing is an absolute gem and now offers a m43 shooter a real professional alternative to a Nikon or Canon equivalent. Now it would be possible to tote the D7000 w/ 70-200mm f/2.8 and a G3 w 12mm f/2. Much lighter than another Nikon DX body with 14-24 f/2.8 or FX body with 24mm f/1.4.
Overall, if you don't know why you would need this lens over the Pani 14mm f/2.5, then you don't. However, if you need the 9 deg extra FOV or you merely want to use a world class lens then you will be very happy with 12mm f/2. Bravo Olympus. Now please make a 35-100mm f/2 for m43.
Great 24mm equivalent focal length
By far the best build quality of any m43 lens yet
Fast silent autofocus
Best handling of any m43 lens yet
Beautiful to look at and hold
Quite a bit pricer than the Pani 14mm f/2.5 (It is actually reasonably priced if you compare it to Voigtlander, Zeiss, or even Nikon and it will get cheaper)
Bigger than Pani 14mm f/2.5 (Takes a Panasonic G3 out of the compact camera size into Mega Zoom camera size range)
There are no real cons of this lens as it is outstanding. However, for most people the Pani 14mm will be the smarter purchase (14mm + 20mm still cheaper than 12mm)
on January 14, 2012
At the time of writing this is the widest native prime lens available for the Micro Four Thirds (M43) system. With its f2 aperture (wide open), it's also the fastest lens in the wide to ultrawide category.
The M. Zuiko 12mm f2 has several features that set it apart from other M43 lenses.
Firstly, its all-metal body is stunningly attractive. Its silver finish and deep-set engraved markings help make it the best-looking M43 lens by far.
Secondly, it is unique among M43 lenses in providing for zone focusing with a depth of field scale and aperture ring. This allows the user to focus without recourse to the live view screen or viewfinder, which is handy for street and landscape photographers.
Thirdly, it is easily the most expensive prime lens in the M43 stable, with an RRP of $899 and street prices typically running $800+.
It is this third point which stops the 12mm f2.0 from being a four or five star lens, because frankly it is is not sharp enough to justify the price tag. Granted, it is fairly sharp. But is not as sharp as the $350 M. Zuiko 45mm f1.8, the $400 Panasonic 20mm f1.7 or the $550 Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4 DG, all of which are brighter and considerably cheaper.
I was a little disappointed with the 12mm f2.0 out of the box because I could not achieve the sharp images I was used to getting from the 45mm f1.8, which only cost me a little more than half as much money. I discovered that only by mounting the 12mm on a tripod and stopping it down to f4 - f5.6 could I get results that were acceptably sharp across the frame. Those apertures constitute the sweet spot for this lens. It is sharpest in the centre at f4 and sharpest in the corners at f5.6. Colour rendition is very good. There is a hint of chromatic aberration (purple fringing) at times, but not enough to bother correcting in Photoshop. Some geometric distortion is evident when shooting straight-line architecture, but it is not noticeable in nature / landscape / street photography.
The distance scale and focus ring are a joy to play with - and genuinely useful in some situations. I often zone-focus the 12mm f2 for landscape shots, especially when the live view screen is washed out by bright sunlight or I have placed the camera in an awkward position(I like to shoot low to the ground).
To summarise, the M. Zuiko 12mm f2.0 is a good lens with some unique features, but it is not sharp enough to justify an $800 price tag. I think $500 would be a more realistic price for this lens.
I bought mine for $600, and even at that price I think I paid a little too much.
Finally, a fast wide angle lens is here for the Micro Four Thirds system. The other two lens that can shoot at 12mm are the Olympus 9-18mm and Panasonic 7-14mm, both start at f/4.
Build quality for this lens is excellent. It is full metal with a smooth finished surface. It weighs 130g, just slightly twice that of the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 lens. It's also twice as tall but still smaller than the kit zoom lens. As wide angle lens go, this is as small as it can get - the beauty of the Micro Four Thirds system.
The lens doesn't come with a lens hood which you have to pay (heavily) for.
There's a 46mm filter thread, similar to the Panasonic 14mm and 20mm. I have a 2-stop ND filter that I can re-use here. Nice.
Autofocus speed is snappy and operates silently.
The focusing ring is great. It can be pulled back to go into manual focus mode instantly, and push back to go back to auto-focus - no need for menus if you're using a touchscreen camera. When it's at the back, it reveals a distance indicator. This lens can focus from 0.2m to infinity. So you can either manual focus with the distance indicator (fast), or manual focus the focus-by-wire way (slow), I prefer the former.
The optical performance is remarkable. At wide open, it's sharp at centre and corner. It's sharpest at f/2.8 though, but the difference between this and f/2 is possibly visible only at 100 per cent view. Chromatic aberration and vignetting are not really noticeable. Distortion is controlled really well, even for faces near the edge of the photo.
I'm using this lens more for landscape (typically buildings) and street shooting. The f/2 is a huge advantage when shooting inside buildings (tight spaces) where lighting is low most of the time. f/2 can give you some depth of field but only when your subject is very close, in-your-face close. In typical usage, the depth of field is minimal.
Composition with this lens is challenging, but you can always crop, which will be most often the case if you don't get close enough. If you don't like shooting so close to people, you might want to use a lens closer to 35mm or the 50mm equivalent.
I find that a zoom at wide angle is more flexible, for me anyway, but sometimes the low light just hinders the chances at getting shots. I was once in a bar with the 7-14mm and I had to put the camera on the table to get non-hand-shaken shots at high ISO, at least now, I can get two stops of advantage with this 12mm lens and not shoot off a table, or tripod.
Yes this lens is pricey, but it's worth it. If you need the low light wide angle lens, you have that option now.
At a glance
+ Excellent build quality
+ Small, light & portable, relative to DSLR equivalent
+ Very good sharp image quality
+ f/2 aperture is great for low light shooting
+ Fast and silent focus
+ Focusing snap ring can be used to get into manual focus instantly
+ Accepts 46mm filters
+ Worldwide warranty
- No lens hood included
- No lens pouch included
- Pricey but worth it
Update 2 Jan 2012: I've put links to videos I shot with the lens in the comment section below.
on August 29, 2014
I might have a different opinion of this lens, based on physics rather than price. Wide angle lenses, and this is borderline ultrawide, are just never going to be as sharp in the corners as their longer cousins. It has more to do with physics and bending of light, reality rather than the price of the lens.
All my very to ultrawide lenses are like that, some better than others. I am a professional, and have also studied and practiced Physics as an Engineer. It is a whole lot easier to make a 75mm lens, like the Oly to bend light properly without severe astigmatism. (which is colors not focusing at the same exact spot).
They all have this problem, despite the size of sensor or film they are used for. I would agree that lenses are different, but not as different in this category as some claim.
I find nothing in this lens that was not expected, softer corners included. It yields high quality pictures, and some distortion in the pictures are the signature of the very wide angle lens, and why pro's use them. Color and IQ are as good as any Olympus lens. The build quality is off the charts. Personally, I like and use the focus clutch.
I would caution the inexperienced photographers who expect this to behave and perform like the 25mm - 75mm Olympus primes to avoid this lens. The 17mm and especially this 12mm lens do not have flat fields of focus. Barrel Distortion is present, as well as Chromatic Aberration. They behave like wide to very wide angle lenses, not like normal lenses.
I do photography for a living now, and don't use wide angles lenses to get in the whole picture. Distant objects shrink to unidentifiable blobs, and usually too much sky will underexpose the remaining picture every time. You get too many distractions and your original subject, if there was one, is not the focus of the picture. Took me a while to figure out that a very wide angle lens is more useful for a different type of photography.
The proper use of these lenses is to get up and very close to your subjects, and let the inherent distortion of the wide angle make a very interesting picture for you. The kind that is impossible to do otherwise. The depth of field in these used properly will result in another dimension of photography. And that is about the only way to get the "Bokeh" or out of focus highlights. Get to within a foot or less, whatever the lens allows, focus there and let the rest of the world be distorted and blurry. OK, that's what the Pro's do, but it's a free country. These lenses are also sometimes good at ground level, as the depth of focus is incredible.
I could care less about review sites and dpreview. I take pictures for a living, and I don't waste my time on taking pictures of test charts. I rarely look at MFT Charts (Modular Function Transfer Charts) which interpret contrast of lines per mm.
Pro's just can't sell those pictures, and they are subject to interpretation anyway. I ask: am I taking pictures that other people want to buy?
The final answer: yep I can with this one used properly.
Don't buy this for taking pictures of test charts, or trying to look at pixels in Photoshop. Not what it's for!
Cons and four stars, Lens Hood which is needed desperately is not included. Otherwise for very wide angle is worthy of five stars.
on October 16, 2011
I am using this lens with a Panasonic GF-1 and it works great. Despite it being metal, it still is pretty light too. However, when I put it down on a flat surface it tips forward which can be problematic if you are setting up a timer shot. One thing to note on the GF-1 is that if you pull the manual focus ring on the lens, the camera will automatically switch to MF; but, when you turn the focus ring, it does not automatically zoom in for you like it does with other Panasonic lenses. If you go through the menu to switch to MF and keep the focus ring on the 'AF' setting, it will zoom in. Weird. Perhaps a firmware update will clear this up in the future?
The Panasonic 14mm f2.5 is similar in focal length and it is also a very good, cheap, and light lens. But the Olympus is excellent. The difference is in the materials, speed, and that small bit of focal length. For what you get, the price difference is appropriate. I took the 12mm on a trip and I think those 2mm can make a big difference in some situations. I never had to back up to get more in the shot. Also, if you got the kit lens with your camera, chances are you have the 14mm focal length covered, albeit at f3.5.
The other question is the difference between f2.5 and f2.0. This actually amounts to almost a full f-stop (one full f-stop is f2.0 - f2.8). That won't quite halve your shutter speed, but it certainly comes close. Just some informal tests showed my camera metering the Olympus at 1/100 and the Panasonic at 1/60 shutter speed.
Image quality is tough for me to judge. Both lenses produce great, sharp images without noticeable artifact. For more scientific looks at sharpness and chromatic aberration, take a look at dpreview.com.
Finally, how can you resist the silver lens? With all these black lenses everybody's making, the silver lens just looks cool. All-in-all its an awesome, quality lens that looks cool and puts out great images.
on August 13, 2011
After using this lens for a couple of weeks on my GF3 and GH2, I can say the sharpness is amazing. At least equal to, if not better then the pany 20mm Prime.
Be aware that there is some minor vignetting (darkening of corners) when used wide open at F2.0. This is not uncommon in a lot of lenses.
Close down your aperture a bit to get rid of this. I usually try and shoot around F6.3 to reach my own personal sweet spot for this lens. I rarely need/desire the shallow depth of field you get at F2.0.
on January 18, 2012
If you've been following along, you know I am a fan of the Olympus 4/3 cameras. The new version, the EP3 is actually one of my favorite cameras. I carry one pretty much everywhere I go.
But finding good, pro-quality lenses for the micro 4/3 system has been a challenge. I've been longing for a super wide, super fast lens with great optics and it appears Olympus has been listening. Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Lens is just what I've been waiting for.
The first thing I noticed about this lens is that it offers classical manual focus or autofocus. It even includes the aperture marks on the lens ring - old school. The focusing scale means that you can set this lens for hyperfocal distance focusing and forget it. If you're a landscape shooter or street photographer this is a blessing of the highest order. Shoot at between F/8 and F/11 and everything from about two feet away to infinity will be in focus.
As with the other lenses designed to work with the EP3, the autofocus is razor sharp, fast and utterly silent. The silence is important if you want to use this as a video lens.
The image quality is fantastic. Wide open there's some minor distortion and vignetting but both are well within tolerable norms. Stop down to F/2.8 and those problems go away - it's amazing. The lens is literally sharp wide open or stopped down. There's hardly any noticeable flare and distortion is well-controlled. The build quality is fantastic and the lens is lightweight compared to other fast super-wide angle lenses I have used.
In my opinion, in order to really enjoy this lens you need the Olympus VF-2 Electronic ViewFinder. This ads about $225 to the cost of the kit. That is very expensive to be sure but well worth it if you're going to use this lens regularly.
If I have a gripe its that at this price, Olympus is too cheap to throw in the LH-48 lens hood. It's a metal hood that in cases like this where flare is an issue, should just be in the box.
I haven't spent a great deal of time with this lens but I can already tell it's great. If you need a low-light, wide-angle lens for a micro 4/3 camera system and can afford it, there's no reason to delay. Pull the trigger. It is very expensive. Especially considering the fact that Olympus doesn't even provide a hood or so much as a lens pouch to go with it. But if you want good optics, and who doesn't - this is your lens.
There are cheaper alternatives - but they are in my opinion - not better simply because they are less expensive. The 14mm lens from Panasonic can't touch this one so while you may fool yourself into thinking your getting ROUGHLY the same quality if you go that route, based on my experience you are wrong.
I hope that the trend of high-quality, fast primes for micro 4/3 cameras continues. I used to think this was a gimmicky format - not any more. Now that the glass has arrived in conjunction with well-designed and executed camera bodies like the EP3 I am a believer.
on June 18, 2013
I tested both versions of this lens (black and silver) and the black version seems to take better pictures. It seems to be better made and the focusing seems faster. When opened up, the black version seems to let in a bit more light. CA and distortion seem better controlled, as well. All in all, well worth the additional cost over the silver version.
In all seriousness, I do own the black version of this lens. I wish that Olympus released it without having to purchase it as a Limited Edition Set. They do not seem to have included the 12mm in the recent release of black primes (17mm, 45mm, 75mm) and I am not sure when/if they will do so. That being said, the hood, filter and additional lens cap (to use with hood) are of nice quality. However, they still did not include a lens pouch! I have not had issues with poor focus as others have stated with some silver versions. I am not sure if this is due to better QC or just being lucky. It takes a pretty vain person to pay an extra 40% (or more) just to have a lens match a black camera. I am that person. I guess if I was not into visually pleasing things I would not be into photography in the first place. Cheers.
on September 3, 2015
Very, very good but not as good as the reviews
I read a lot of reviews of this lens before buying it, I need a 12mm for large groups. I owned the 14mm Panny already, and was surprised that there was not a shred of difference in the image IQ except as noted below.
NB for 90 percent of the people reading this, you will be better off with the 14mm Panasonic which is as sharp as a Leica and as light as a feather. Buy it as part of a split kit on eBay for peanuts and laugh all the way to the bank. The 14mm is a marvel of engineering
Size--small, light, fits on the newer smaller cameras
Build: good, solid, nice finish, I slightly prefer the black color
Sharpness, very good, but not excellent. Certainly good enough for most photos and videos, but not tack sharp. Despite what you may read, this lens is not as sharp as the top offerings like the 75mm Olympus. However, it is 12mm which gives you that nice 24mm look
Color: color is excellent and i the best feature of this lens
Focus ring: there is a ring which you can click to change to manual focus. It doesn't work properly for long and complicated reasons, but if you are a street shooter you could click the ring and zone focus. You'd get better results with autofocus in most cases. It's a gimmick.
Motor for focus: smooth, fast, quiet, video ready
Others: the 12mm Olly zoom is just as sharp at 12mm. The Panny 14 is slightly (by the wing of a gnat) sharper in the middle, and the Olly is slightly sharper on the far edges.
Front element is non-rotating for filters.
Even more: on an IS body, this is a great living room snapshot lens. The 12mm focal lenthe allows you to take really nice photos in this situation down to 1/16 second. Great party/social cam
Landscapes: Very, very good, but not razor sharp. Shoot raw and you can sharpen up in post nicely
As a dedicated video lens for orchestras, stadium games, etc: the deep focus of 12mm will give you great video for large scenes with (relatively) small details--grass, crowds of people, strings on instruments, etc.
Decentering: my copy was not decentered, but ppl have complained about this.
I don't know if it was a factory coating, but my copy needed a very gentle cleaning with Eclipse solution and pecpads for the front element. The rear element is spring loaded so I advise not touching it at all. If you are not knowledgeable about lens cleaning, use a rocket blower, then a brush, then a Zeiss disposable lens tissue and you are good to go. You can buy all that on Amazon
Wrap up: as I said up at the top, the 14mm is better choice for most people. The is zero difference in the quality of the image, and the 14mm is smaller, lighter and cheaper. But, if you want the extra 12mm goodness, this is a fine lens
Want something like a 10mm? Put it on a GH2 body. You will be seriously amazed. Same goes for the 14mm if you want some extra width.
on June 1, 2012
This lens is a gem of a wide angle. I just wish the lens hood had been included for the price. Still getting used to it but so far after about 200 shots, I love it and it's becoming one of my favorite lenses alongside the Panasonic Leica 25mm. Well built, small, and fast and adds something special to the images it produces. The snap focus is great and easy to use, allowing you to focus manually. This is perhaps my favorite feature and a great tool for street shooting and its small size is a plus. Takes wonderful and sharp photos of buildings and architecture. Because it's bright and fast, it's also a great low light lens and thus takes wonderful interior shots too. I also love that it's all metal and while I originally wished it had been made in black, I now absolutely love the silver. It looks great on both of my black m43 cameras and the silver has a bit of gold/copper color in it. I wish the Olympus 45mm were also made in metal and had a build quality like the 12mm instead of shiny plastic but then it's half the price. I picked up a B+W nd filter with this lens that works great and am also thinking of getting a generic hood (jjc?). The only downside, besides the lack of a hood, is that because the lens is so well built and absolutely gorgeous, other lens pale in comparison. I certainly love my oly 45mm lens because it takes wonderful portraits but I hate the plasticky look and feel of it when compared to the magnificent quality of the 12mm.