Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO Lens
The 7-14mm f/2.8 lens is an impressive performer and a worthy addition to the Olympus M.Zuiko PRO range.
The relatively high price tag reflects both the build and optical quality of this lens. Neither comes cheap but if you’re prepared to pay the price and you need an ultra-wide zoom lens for your OM-D camera, you’re unlikely to regret it.
The M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO completes the Olympus trio of fast (f/2.8) professional quality lenses for serious enthusiasts and professional photographers. Adding an ultra-wide zoom range to the current M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm PRO and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm PRO lenses means photographers can cover a combined focal length range from 14-300mm equivalent in 35mm format. The relatively light weight of 534 grams suits all OM-D camera bodies.
The new M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens. (Source: Olympus.)
The optical design of the lens consists of 14 elements in 11 groups, with two aspherical ED (extra-low dispersion) elements, one DSA (Dual Super Aspherical) element, one aspherical element, three Super ED elements, one ED element and two HR (high-refractive index) elements. Proprietary ZERO high performance multi-coatings are applied to surfaces to minimise flare and ghosting.
A dissected view of the lens showing the position of the various elements and groups. (Source: Olympus.)
The fast f/2.8 maximum aperture applies across the entire zoom range, while a seven-bladed iris diaphragm closes to a circular aperture for attractive bokeh. The minimum focusing distance of 7.5 cm allows scope for creative close-up shooting and the lens is dust-, freeze- and splash-proof to match the OM-D E-M1 and E-M5 camera bodies.
Autofocusing is driven by a linear stepping motor system that is fast, smooth and quiet, while the Movie and Still Image Compatible (MSC) designation indicates this lens can be use to photograph fast-moving subjects and for video applications. A clutch-type manual focusing ring provides easy switching between auto and manual focusing modes.
A petal-shaped lens hood is permanently attached and the lens cap is cup-shaped to fit over it. Push clips on either side of the cap make it easy to fit and remove. The lens is supplied with a soft carrying pouch.
Who’s it for?
The viewing angles of this lens (equivalent to a 14-28mm lens on a 35mm camera) make it ideal for landscape, reportage and architectural photography as well as capturing ‘big picture’ views of sporting action, particularly if such events involve some video recordings. High optical quality at wide apertures makes it easy to shoot handheld in low light levels. Distortion is minimal at all zoom settings.
Like all Olympus PRO lenses, the price of this lens is relatively high. But buyers obtain superior build quality and light-capturing ability, weatherproof sealing, optical sophistication and top-quality performance, a combination not possible with cheaper lenses.
Like all Olympus PRO lenses, this lens is best matched with an OM-D body as this allows photographers to take advantage of the camera’s sophisticated sensor-shift stabilisation. Owners of Panasonic cameras will also be able to use this lens on their cameras, although only the GX7 provides in-camera stabilisation.
Build and Ergonomics
Build quality is similar to the M.Zuiko Digital 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO and 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lenses and is definitely at a professional standard. Interestingly, the 7-14mm lens is larger and heavier than the 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, which measures 69.9 x 84 mm and weighs only 382 grams.
Like its siblings, the barrel of the 7-14mm PRO lens is made mainly from lightweight metal alloy and it has a solid metal mounting plate. Metal alloy is also used for the ribbed aperture and zoom rings and the lens meets the same dustproof, splashproof and freeze-resistant standards as the OM-D E-M1 and E-M5 (Mark I and II) camera bodies.
It also includes the same programmable Function (Fn) button on the side of the barrel, which can be set to control one of 27 different settings. Another shared feature is the manual focus clutch mechanism, which allows quick switching between auto and manual focusing in situations where precise focusing is critical. It also makes the lens more usable with gloved hands.
The focusing ring is approximately 11 mm wide and located 50 mm behind the front edge of the larger ‘petal’ on the lens hood. It is finely ridged to provide a secure grip. When this ring is pulled back to engage manual focusing it reveals a distance scale with settings for 0.2, 0.4 and 1 metres plus 1 and 2 feet as well as an infinity position. In manual focus mode, tuning the ring will engage either a magnified view or peaking display, depending on which focusing aid you’ve selected.
The zoom ring is 25 mm wide and located just behind the focusing ring when the latter is pulled back. It carries a 20 mm wide band of ridged strips and its trailing edge is marked with the 7mm, 8mm, 9mm, 10mm, 12mm and 14mm focal length positions. This ring turns through roughly a quarter of a circle, extending the inner barrel to position the dome-shaped front element of the lens mid-way between the hood’s ‘petals’. The weight and balance of the lens don’t change during zooming and both zoom and focusing rings are well damped with just enough resistance to enable precise settings to be made.
The programmable L-Fn button is located just behind the trailing edge of the zoom ring and slightly off-set to the left to it falls just under your thumb when you cradle the camera plus lens with your left hand. No provision is made for fitting filters, either to the front of the lens or behind the rear element.
As well as making subjective assessments of test shots, because the lens has very low rectilinear distortion for its angles of view we were able to conduct our regular suite of Imatest tests. Autofocusing was very fast and completely silent in all AE modes as well as being very accurate.
Imatest showed the resolution of JPEG files was capable of meeting and at times exceeding expectations for the E-M1’s sensor at the 12mm and 14mm focal length settings between f/2.8 and f/8. The highest resolution we recorded was at f/3.5 with the 14mm focal length.
Performance with the shorter focal lengths (between 7mm and 10mm) wasn’t quite as good, with a progressive decline as the angle of view increased. Significant edge softening was identified at wider aperture settings although subjective assessments of test shots showed corner softening was just detectable. The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests.
Lateral chromatic aberration was negligible at nearly all lens apertures and focal lengths, as shown in the graph of our Imatest results, below, in which the red line indicates the boundary between negligible and low CA. We found no evidence of coloured fringing in any test shots.
The combination of lens hood and ZERO coating was effective for minimising flare and preserving fine contrast at most focal length settings. No veiling flare was observed, although diffraction artefacts were found in some shots, even when a bright light source was outside the frame.
These were probably caused by light entering at a low angle across the lower hood ‘petals’ and creating internal scattering. This is common in lenses with many internal elements as they contain multiple surfaces at which unwanted internal scattering occurs. Focal length appeared to have no effect upon their occurrence in the review lens.
Slight vignetting was seen at f/2.8 across the zoom range in raw files, although it was gone by f/4. Diffraction artefacts can be seen in our test shot taken with the 7mm focal length. Since vignetting is easily corrected in image editors and most raw file converters so we don’t see it as a significant issue.
Distortion was generally well controlled and, aside from slight barrel distortion at the 7mm to 9mm focal lengths, negligible through the remainder of the zoom range. Provided the camera is square to the subject, it is possible to record vertical and horizontal lines that are parallel to the edges of the frame, an impressive feat for such a wide-angle lens.
The seven-bladed lens diaphragm appears to close to an almost perfect circle, making this lens capable of producing smooth and pleasing bokeh for a lens of its type with the widest lens apertures. Stopping down to f/5.6 increased the chance of background irregularities showing up and by f/11 background details were clearly visible.
The 7-14mm f/2.8 lens is an impressive performer and a worthy addition to the Olympus M.Zuiko PRO range. The relatively high price tag reflects both the build and optical quality of this lens. Neither comes cheap but if you’re prepared to pay the price and you need an ultra-wide zoom lens for your OM-D camera, you’re unlikely to regret it.
Picture angle: 114 degrees to 75 degrees
Minimum aperture: f/22
Lens construction: 14 elements in 11 groups (including two aspherical ED, one DSA, one aspherical, three Super ED, one ED and two HR elements)
Lens mounts: Micro Four Thirds
Diaphragm Blades: 7 (rounded)
Focus drive: Linear stepping motor with MSC (Movie and Still Image Compatible) support
Stabilisation: In camera bodies
Minimum focus: 20 cm
Maximum magnification: 0.11x
Filter size: n.a.
Dimensions (Diameter x L): 78.9 x 105.8 mm
Weight: 534 grams
Standard Accessories: Front and rear caps, soft carrying pouch (lend hood permanently attached)
Based on JPEG files straight from the camera.
Vignetting at f/2.8, 7mm focal length. (Taken from an uncorrected ORF.RAW file.) Note the diffraction artefacts.
Vignetting at f/2.8, 10mm focal length. (Taken from an uncorrected ORF.RAW file.)
Vignetting at f/2.8, 14mm focal length. (Taken from an uncorrected ORF.RAW file.)
Rectilinear distortion at 7mm focal length. (Taken from an uncorrected ORF.RAW file.)
Rectilinear distortion at 10mm focal length. (Taken from an uncorrected ORF.RAW file.)
Rectilinear distortion at 14mm focal length. (Taken from an uncorrected ORF.RAW file.)
7mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/125 second at f/5.6.
10mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/125 second at f/5.6.
14mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/125 second at f/5.6.
7mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/30 second at f/5, an example of the lack of distortion when the camera is square to the subject.
14mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/2000 second at f/2.8.
14mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/500 second at f/5.6.
14mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/125 second at f/11.
14mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/60 second at f/22.
Strong backlighting; 7mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/100 second at f/5.6.
Strong backlighting; 14mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/100 second at f/5.6.
Diffraction artefacts; 14mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/320 second at f/5.6.
Close-up; 14mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/3200 second at f/2.8.
7mm focal length, ISO 3200, 1/80 second at f/7.1.
14mm focal length, ISO 2500, 1/60 second at f/7.1.
13mm focal length, ISO 3200, 1/3 second at f/5.6.
12mm focal length, ISO 3200, 1/3 second at f/4.5.
7mm focal length, ISO 3200, 1/8 second at f/5.
7mm focal length, ISO 3200, 1/40 second at f/5.
8mm focal length, ISO 6400, 1/20 second at f/6.3.
RRP: AU$1699; US$1299
- Build: 9.0
- Handling: 8.8
- Image quality: 9.0
- Versatility: 8.8