Top positive review
So how does it compare to the Lumix 7-14?
June 11, 2010
I made an emotional leap and bought the Lumic G 7-14 right when I got my GF1 a while back. I had dabbled with wide-angle photography and found the images very compelling so I went for it.
For a long time I only had the 7-14 and the 20mm pancake and I have to say it changed my picture taking. Limited to this range, with no long zoom, I began to seek wider perspectives, and ways to use depth of focus to pull out an object that would otherwise be lost in its surroundings. Soon, my portraits, especially of groups, started to swim in context, something so often lacking in portrait photography. But most notably both lenses produced fabulous images, rich and deep in color, crisp and worth taking time to really study, rather than glance at.
I still longed for a telephoto, but was unsure whether the current 45-200 would meet the same optics standards as the 20 and 7-14 so I held off.
Then came the Olympus 9-18. Initially I dismissed news of the lens as covering an area I already had well in hand, but then I read reviews and began to think about it. Deciding to take the plunge I ordered the lens pretty much the day it came out and was surprised when it came very quickly. It is stunningly small, not to pile on but it is something to remember because it takes BIG images. Sweeping shots that encompass the scene and deliver it in one big, satisfying mouthful to the viewer. At the end I could find little to differentiate the images from the 7-14 barring the added range at the bottom end, which should not be discounted. But soon I found I was not carrying the 7-14 anymore. It was larger, more specialised. The 9-18 with my GF1 would hang around my neck with my 20mm in my bag and I would find myself forgetting to switch to the pancake, as the 9-18 came close to touching its range anyway.
So what am I saying? For those that enjoy wide angle shooting as a standard, the 9-18 is spectacular and will possibly become your go-to lens, especially during the day when you can keep your aperture as low as possible. For thiose that only dabble in big sky shots, the 7-14 has more of that fabulous bottom range and the images are a touch more vivid, crisper in the center, slightly more satisfying.
They both have their place, depending on what your desires are, but ironically I would recommend the 9-18 to the true lover of wide angle, and the 7-14 to the big shot tourist, even though that may seem counterintuitive. 9mm is that sweet spot of 90 degree horizontal view, and really where you want to be before barrel distortion becomes the main theme rather than a feature. So pick your poison and enjoy.