Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 MSC Lens

    leadpic_MFT-12mm

    User Score 9
    Photo Review 7.5
    User Rating: 9/10 (1 votes cast)

    Thank you for rating!

    You have already rated this item, you can only rate it once!

    Your rating has been changed, thanks for rating!

    Log in or create a user account to rate.

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 MSC Lens

      In summary

      A fast, solidly-built, wide-angle prime lens for Micro Four Thirds System cameras.The M.Zuiko Digital ED 12m f/2.0 lens is a 'fast' prime lens that covers a field of view equivalent to a 24mm lens on a 35mm camera. Ideal for landscape photography, its wide maximum aperture also makes it suitable for candid and street photography in poorly-lit situations. Unfortunately, its high price tag could deter many potential purchasers. . . [more]

      Full review

      leadpic_MFT-12mm

      The M.Zuiko Digital ED 12m f/2.0 lens is a 'fast' prime lens that covers a field of view equivalent to a 24mm lens on a 35mm camera. Ideal for landscape photography, its wide maximum aperture also makes it suitable for candid and street photography in poorly-lit situations. Unfortunately, its high price tag could deter many potential purchasers.

      Built for the Olympus PEN series of Micro Four Thirds System cameras, this lens is also usable on Panasonic's G-Micro cameras and operates almost silently, thanks to Movie & Still Compatibility (MSC) technology. It also supports continuous re-focusing during movie recordings without the noise of the focusing motor being picked up by the camera's microphones. The front of the lens is threaded to accept 46mm filters and angle-critical attachments can be fitted as focusing is fully internal.

      MFT-12mm-Lens

      The M.Zuiko Digital ED 12m f/2.0 lens. (Source: Olympus.)
      The optical design of this lens is quite sophisticated, with 11 elements in 8 groups. A number of exotic components are used, including Dual Super Aspherical (DSA), Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) and Super High Refractive index (Super HR) glass elements. It's also the first Olympus lens with Zuiko Extra-low Reflection Optical (ZERO) coating, which claims to reduce internal reflections by up to 50%.

      The iris diaphragm is assembled from seven blades and closes to a circular aperture to provide pleasing bokeh (out-of-focus backgrounds). However, although the maximum aperture of f/2 qualifies as 'fast' with respect to light capture, it provides a similar depth of field to f/4 with the smaller MFT sensor, which means you can't expect this lens to provide the same bokeh as a 35mm (or even APS-C) lens. In fact, it's difficult to see much difference in depth-of-field in shots taken at apertures smaller than f/4 (examples are provided below).

      Build and Handling
      This lens is built to match its high price tag and has a full-metal body and robust metal mounting plate. For the price, it should also be weatherproofed, although no mention was made in any information sheets supplied with the lens, so it probably isn't.

      In addition, no lens hood is supplied, which we consider very poor form, given the price of this lens. A lens hood is available (LH-48) but it's not listed on the local Olympus website so you may need to look off-shore if you want it.

      The front of the lens protrudes approximately 43 mm in front of the lens mounting plate. This makes the camera+lens combination too large to fit easily into a pocket.

      The focusing ring is located 15 mm from the front of the lens. It's 5 mm wide and is ridged to provide a secure grip. This ring uses Olympus's new 'snap focus' system for switching between auto and manual focusing.

      Pulling the ring back towards the camera body sets into manual focus mode, which uses focus-by-wire and a quick-clutch mechanism. Focusing speeds depend on how fast the ring is turned but the system is a bit less responsive than normal mechanical focusing.

      MFT-12mm-focus-ring

      The two positions for the focusing ring. (Source: Olympus.)

      The ring will only move between the focusing limits, which involves just over a quarter of a turn. A distance scale with settings from 0.2 metres to infinity is revealed when the ring is in the manual focusing position.

      Pushing the ring forward switches the lens to autofocusing and covers the distance scale. Unfortunately, it's a bit too easy to shift the ring backwards inadvertently and end up with a sequence of unsharp shots. No infrared index mark is provided.

      Ribbed sections are also provided on the camera end of the lens barrel to provide a secure grip when the lens is being removed and replaced.

      Performance
      Imatest testing showed the review lens to be a good, though not stellar, performer on the basis of JPEG files from the PEN E-PL3. Best performance was at f/2.5. There was a gradual decline in resolution from f/5.6 on as apertures were reduced, as shown in the graph of our Imatest results below.

      12mm_Olympus_MDig-Res-vs-LA-graph

      Edge softening could be seen at wider aperture settings and this was expected as a result of our Imatest testing. However, it was barely visible from f/4 on. Diffraction kicked in around f/9 and optical performance deteriorated markedly thereafter. We wouldn't recommend using this lens stopped right down.
      Lateral chromatic aberration was mainly low, just dipping into the negligible level between f/2.2 and f/2.8,
      where the lens delivered its best resolution. In the graph below, the red line marks the boundary between 'negligible' and 'low' CA.

      12mm_CA-graph

      We detected a small amount of cyan fringing in shots taken with the 9mm focal length setting but none at other focal lengths. Barrel distortion was also apparent at this focal length, as you would expect, although the inherent distortion produced by such a wide angle-of-view is somewhat more visible.
      Vignetting (edge darkening) was evident at wide apertures but negligible from f/2.8 on. Slight barrel distortion could be found if you were looking for it. But it was seldom noticeable in normal shots. This is to be expected as distortions are automatically corrected in the camera on the basis of the stored lens profile.

      Autofocusing was nice and fast and very quiet. This makes the lens ideal for shooting video clips.
      Backlit subjects were generally handled well and the lens was almost flare-free as long as the light source was outside the frame. A lens hood would improve contrast in such situations. Bokeh was much as you'd expect from a wide-angle Micro Four Thirds format lens.

      Buy this lens if:
      - You want a well-built, wide-angle lens with quiet autofocusing for shooting video.
      - You'd like to explore the creative options of the wide maximum aperture.
      - You want good manual focusing.

      Don't buy this lens if:
      - You need close focusing and macro capabilities.
      - You require excellent edge-to-edge sharpness.
      IMATEST GRAPHS
      (based on JPEG files from the PEN E-P3)

      12mm_P9140019_YBL73_ca_JPEG
      12mm_P9140019_YAR37_cpp_JPEG
      12mm_P9140019_YBL73_cpp_JPG

      SAMPLE IMAGES

      12mm_P9140042-vignet-f2

      Vignetting at f/2.

      12mm_P9140043_vignet-f2.2

      Vignetting at f/2.2.

      12mm_P9280219_f2

      Depth-of-field at f/2 with a normal scene.

      12mm_P9280222_f4

      The same scene photographed at f/4.

      12mm_P9280226_f8

      The same scene photographed at f/8.

      12mm_P9280233_f22

      The same scene photographed at f/22.

      12mm_P9160079_fringing

      ISO 200, 1/500 second at f/5.6.

      12mm_P9160079_fringing-crop

      A crop from the above image enlarged to 100% showing traces of cyan and purple fringing.

      12mm_P9280239_close

      Close-focusing capability; ISO 400, 1/4000 second at f/2.

      12mm_P9280240_flare

      Flare in close-up shots; ISO 400, 1/4000 second at f/2.

      12mm-F2_P9160063_flare

      Flare with backlit subject; ISO 200, 1/400 second at f/4.5.
      Additional sample images can be found with our review of the Olympus E-PL3 camera.

       

      Specifications

      leadpic_MFT-12mm

      Picture angle: 85 degrees
      Minimum aperture: f/22
      Lens construction: 11 elements in 8 groups
      Lens mounts: Micro Four Thirds System
      Diaphragm Blades: 7 (Circular aperture diaphragm)
      Focus drive: MSC drive
      Stabilisation: No
      Minimum focus: 20 cm
      Maximum magnification: 0.08x
      Filter size: 46 mm
      Dimensions (Diameter x L): 56 x 43 mm
      Weight: 130 grams

       

      Retailers

       

      CamBuy

       

      www.cambuy.com.au
      Digital cameras, lenses and accessories with 100% genuine Australian manufacturer's warranties.
      Ph: (02) 9029 2219

      Camera House

       

      CH_Logo120

      www.camerahouse.com.au
      Ph: 133 686
      The largest speciality photographic retail chain in Australia.

      Camera Pro

       

      www.camerapro.net.au
      CameraPro Pty Ltd
      Suite 607, 180 Queen St, Brisbane 4000
      Tel: 07 3333 2900
      Australian owned and run company based in Brisbane.

      Camerasdirect

       

      CamerasDirect133

      www.camerasdirect.com.au
      Retailer of digital camera equipment and more.
      Secure online shopping and delivery across Australia.
      Ph: 1300 727 056

      Camerastore.com.au

      Camerastore.com.au
      Ph: 1800 155 067

      Camera-Warehouse

       

      camera-warehouse120

      www.camera-warehouse.com.au
      Comprehensive range of digital cameras and accessories online (www.camera-warehouse.com.au) and an online print service (www.royalexpress.com.au).

      Digital Camera Warehouse

       

      www.digitalcamerawarehouse.com.au
      174 Canterbury Road 367 High Street
      Canterbury Northcote
      NSW 2193 VIC 3070
      Ph: 1300 365 220

      Electronics Warehouse

       

      www.electronicswarehouse.com.au
      1300 801 885
      Australian retailer of Vapex rechargeable batteries offering factory direct prices and fast, free shipping Australia wide.

      Greg Smith's Photo Accessories

       

      www.dvdreamtime.com.au
      1800 50 80 82
      Big range of photographic accessories, Australia-wide shipping.

      Paxtons

       

      www.paxtons.com.au
      285 George St
      Sydney NSW 2000
      Ph: (02) 9299 2999

      Photographic Equipment & Supplies - Retail & Repairs. Click here for list of stores.

      Ted's Cameras

       

      Teds-Logo120

      www.teds.com.au

      1800 186 895
      Big range of cameras and photographic products with stores in most states and online.

      Rating

       

      RRP: $999

      Rating (out of 10):

      • Build: 9.0
      • Handling: 8.5
      • Image quality: 8.5
      • Versatility: 8.0
      • OVERALL: 7.5

      BUY

        No