Customer Review

42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid wide angle performance, July 26, 2011
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This review is from: Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Lens for Micro Four Thirds Cameras (Electronics)
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.
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Tracked by 1 customer

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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 1, 2012 9:55:06 AM PST
Parka says:
Videos shot with the lens:
Book Launch for Urban Sketchers Singapore Vol. 1

Sketchwalk at Amoy Street, Telok Ayer

Posted on Mar 29, 2012 4:13:29 PM PDT
If you only keep one lens, would you keep the Panasonic 7-14 mm or the Olympus 12 mm? Thanks for your thought.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 29, 2012 6:07:46 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 29, 2012 6:08:45 PM PDT
Parka says:
Probably the 12mm. I use this more often. I like the bright f/2 which is more useful such as shooting indoors where lighting can be challenging. If it's purely outdoors and not at night, then the 7-14mm might be a good choice.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 13, 2012 11:30:30 AM PDT
CP says:
I know the new Panasonic 12-35mm is a bit larger in size, but I wonder how these two compare now?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 13, 2012 12:31:14 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 13, 2012 7:46:10 PM PDT
Parka says:
I've not shot any photos for testing both lens yet so I won't comment on the quality too much. But without pixel-peeping, both image quality are close.

12-35mm, when used on Olympus cameras, have more observable chromatic aberration in the form of purple fringing.

12-35mm is 305g vs 12mm at 130g. The zoom lens is significantly heavier.

f/2 is matched by the IS of 12-35mm so I'll call it a draw.

Depth of field difference of 1 stop is negligible, especially at 24mm.

12-35mm is more versatile with its zoom range. And with that zoom, it also commands a higher price. 12mm can be challenging to use if you're not into wide angle. Whereas with the 12-35mm, you don't have to shoot that wide if you don't want to.

Video is a big plus for 12-35mm. Especially if you're using it on a camera like Gh2 with EX Tele Mode which gives it 3x zoom. That means it covers 24-70mm and 72-210mm range. Incredible. I use this feature A LOT for videos.

The main points to consider would be weight and video. If you're unsure what you shoot and have budget, get the 12-35mm. If you wanted just a dedicated wide angle lens, then get the 12mm, not that their image quality differ by much.
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