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Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD Interchangeable Lens Review

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD Interchangeable Lens Review - A standard zoom lens for Four Thirds format SLRs with a silent focusing motor covering a range equivalent to 24-120mm on a 35mm camera.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD
Price : £940
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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD
Gary Wolstenholme takes a close look at this standard zoom for Four thirds SLRs from Olympus.

This 12-60mm lens offers a field of view equivalent to a 24-120mm lens on a 35mm camera, with a relatively bright maximum aperture of f/2.8-4. Costing around £940, this lens fits into Olympus' mid-to-high end range of lenses and promises to provide the world's fastest autofocus speeds, thanks to the silent SWD focusing motor.

Alternatives for Four Thirds SLRs include Olympus' 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 II lens, which costs around £580 but has a slightly narrower zoom range, and no silent focusing motor. Panasonic's 14-50mm f/2.8-3.5 may also be a suitable alternative, costing around £785, although this also lacks the range and silent focusing motor of the Olympus 12-60mm.

In this review we will investigate how well this optic performs.

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD: Handling and features
Weighing 575g, this lens isn't overly heavy and balances nicely on the Olympus E-3 used for testing. High quality materials have been used in the construction and the lens feels very solidly put together, plus it is also sealed against dust and moisture.

The lens accepts 72mm filters and as focusing is performed internally, the filter thread doesn't rotate, making polarising filter easy to use. As the lens is zoomed in it extends by just under two inches. The zoom mechanism is smooth and has enough resistance to prevent zoom creep when the camera is pointed towards the ground.

The manual focus ring is well damped, making it easy to make fine adjustments. Auto focus is extremely quick and virtually silent on the Olympus E-3 used for testing and the minimum focus distance of 0.25m is useful for frame-filling close ups at 60mm.

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD: Performance
At 12mm and f/2.8 the sharpness in the centre of the image area is already very good, and the quality towards the edges isn't too far behind. Peak quality across the frame at this focal length is achieved at f/5.6, where the sharpness in the centre is outstanding, and the quality towards the edges approaches excellent levels.

With the lens zoomed to 25mm, the sharpness in the centre is excellent from maximum aperture, and the quality towards the edges isn't far off good. Peak quality across the frame is also achieved at f/5.6 at this focal length, where the sharpness is excellent in the centre of the image, and very good towards the edges.

Finally at 60mm, sharpness at f/4 is good in the centre and the quality towards the edges isn't too far behind. Again, peak quality across the frame is achieved at f/5.6, where the resolution is excellent in the centre and good towards the edges of the frame.

Resolution at 12mm Resolution at 25mm
Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD Resolution at 12mm Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD Resolution at 25mm
Resolution at 60mm How to read our graphs
The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on an Olympus E-30 using Imatest.
Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD Resolution at 60mm

Chromatic aberrations are well controlled throughout the zoom range. At their most prominent fringing can cover up to 0.64 pixel widths, which shouldn't pose an issue, even in very large prints or harsh crops from the edge of the frame.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners is well controlled. At 12mm and f/2.8 the corners are 1.33 stops darker than the image centre and visually uniform images are achieved at f/5.6. At 60mm the corners are only 0.662stops darker than the image centre at f/4 and visually uniform images are achieved at f/5.6.

Imatest detected barrelling of 3.9% at 12mm, which is quite pronounced and may be an issue when photographing subjects where straight lines are paramount. At 60mm, the barrelling is replaced with 0.779% pincushion distortion, which will rarely be noticeable. At both ends of the zoom range the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, which should make it simple to correct in image editing software afterwards.

Chromatic Aberrations at 12mm Chromatic Aberrations at 25mm
Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD Chromatic Aberrations at 12mm Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD Chromatic Aberrations at 25mm
Chromatic Aberrations at 60mm How to read our charts
Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on an Olympus E-30 using Imatest.
Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD Chromatic Aberrations at 60mm

During testing there were few issues with flare or loss of contrast. When shooting directly in to the sun a slight loss of contrast can be seen, but not to the extent that may be found with other similar lenses. A petal shaped hood is provided with the lens, which does an excellent job of keeping extraneous light from causing problems.

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD maximum magnification
  Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD shooting into the light
Maximum Magnification – ISO100, 1/125, f/8, 60mm   Shooting into the light – ISO100, 1/125, f/8, 12mm
Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD wide-angle   Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD telephoto
Wide Angle – ISO100, 1/250, f/5.6, 12mm   Telephoto – ISO100m 1/125, f/5.6, 60mm

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD: Verdict
Overall this lens performs very well indeed. In terms of resolution, control of chromatic aberrations, focusing speed and the build quality it is an excellent lens. The barrel distortion at 12mm may be an issue for some, but this is generally to be expected with a high zoom ratio like this.

The flexibility offered by the high zoom range, close focusing and relatively bright maximum aperture should help this lens find many a fan amongst Four Thirds format SLR owners.

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD
A great choice for those looking for a high quality, general purpose optic for Four Thirds.
Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD: Pros

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWDExcellent build quality
Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWDGood optical performance
Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWDFast focusing
Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWDUseful minimum focus distance

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD: Cons
Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWDBarrel distortion at 12mm

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD
VALUE FOR MONEY
OVERALL Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD: Lens specification
Price £940.00
Contact www.olympus.co.uk
Filter size 72mm
Format Four Thirds
Construction 14 elements in 10 groups
Angle-of-view 84 - 20 °
35mm equivalent focal length (on APS-C body) 24-120cm
Internal focusing Yes
Image stabilisation No
Minimum focus 25cm
Maximum aperture f/2.8-4
Minimum aperture f/22
Weight 575g
Size 79.5 x 98.5mm
In the box Operating Instructions, Warranty Card, Lens Caps, Lens Hood

The Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD costs around £940 and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD

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Comments


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25 Jun 2012 5:13AM
Hi-I have a very newbie question and thank you for bearing with me.
I have an Olympus OM D E-5 and saw some very good reviews on the Olympus 12-60 F2.8-4 zoom.With an adapter can this or other lenses designed for full(not micro) 4/3?Any drawback except size?I guess I want it all-convenience of a zoom and VG IQ.Thanks for your help.
Any other suggestions on a wide-mod tele zoom and a tele zoom?

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