Hands on: Olympus M.ZUIKO 12mm f/2.0 lens review

15th Jul 2011 | 10:51

Hands on: Olympus M.ZUIKO 12mm f/2.0 lens review

Our first look at the new 12mm prime lens from Olympus

First impressions

The new M.ZUIKO 12mm f/2.0 lens was announced by Olympus at the same time as its new PEN line-up of cameras and is designed for use with the micro four-thirds mount.

Featuring an all-metal construction, the 12mm lens – which produces a view equivalent to a 24mm on a full-frame camera - has been billed as a 'street photography' lens.

The snap focusing ring around the centre of the lens barrel can be pulled back to reveal depth-of-field and distance indicators for use when focusing in manual mode.

The lens has multi-layer coating which promises to halve the effect of ghosting and flaring, compared with conventional coatings.

With an RRP of £700, this is a serious piece of kit to invest in. However, the lens is versatile, offering a maximum f/2.0 aperture allowing for creatively blurred backgrounds. The premium build associated with fixed length lenses is usually associated with higher quality images and with the range of subjects that this lens is well suited too, you may find it's hardly ever off your camera.

Handling

Using the 12mm lens is quick and easy, with the manual focusing ring operating smoothly. The snap-focus ring is a quick way to switch between the two modes, proving handy when speed is of the essence.

The distance indicators and depth-of-field indicators really come into their own when shooting from the hip, allowing you to judge with a relative degree of accuracy whether or not your subject will be in focus without having to check the back of the screen.

The all-metal casing lends the lens an air of quality, while still maintaining a low weight to keep the overall weight of the system down while in use. A good walkaround lens, the 24mm equivalent length is good for a variety of subjects. In practice, we found it worked well for portraits, landscapes, street shots and more, producing sharp images with minimal drop off towards the edge of the frame.

Olympus 12mm lens review

Coupled with the ultra-quick 35 point autofocus system housed in all of the new Olympus PEN cameras, focusing using this lens is quick and easy – locking onto subjects with the minimum of fuss, which is especially useful for street shooting or blink and you'll miss it moments.

The major selling point of this lens is its maximum wide aperture of f/2.0 which allows for some creative blurred backgrounds shooting. This combines well with the creative art modes that can now be used while in aperture and shutter priority on the new PEN line-up, and it makes this a really fun lens to shoot with.

Full testing of the lens is still needed, but so far, the results are very promising.

Sample images

All images were shot using the Olympus PEN E-P3.

Click any image to view the full resolution image.

Olympus 12mm lens - sample image

Olympus 12mm lens - sample image

Olympus 12mm lens - sample image

Olympus 12mm lens - sample image

Olympus 12mm lens - sample image

Olympus 12mm lens - sample image

Olympus 12mm lens - sample image

Olympus 12mm lens - sample image

Olympus 12mm lens - sample image

Olympus 12mm lens - sample image

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