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Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-45mm f/4.0 PRO Review

John Riley reviews the new M.Zuiko 12-45mm f/4.0 ED PRO lens, a compact zoom lens designed to be an ideal all-in-one zoom lens with high image quality, and a versatile zoom range. Find out how it performs in our review.

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Olympus M Zuiko 12 45mm F4 PRO Front Oblique View

There are a myriad of choices and alternatives available in most systems, and the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) format is certainly no exception. Here, an already diminutive set of lenses now has an even more miniscule offering, the sacrifice being the reduction in maximum aperture from f/2.8 to f/4. The price is also lower than the alternative f/2.8 optic. So for those who want the most compact lens for travel and indeed many other applications may well be tempted by Olympus's new lens. This does, of course, depend also on how well it performs and whether it lives up to its PRO designation, so let's have a close look, using the 20MP Panasonic Lumix G9 body.


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Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-45mm f/4.0 PRO Handling and Features

Olympus M Zuiko 12 45mm F4 PRO Veretical View At 12mm

First impression is of a positive jewel of a lens, a modest 254g in weight, resplendent in its glossy black finish and with a precise attention to detail. It is a beautifully finished object in itself. There is a provided petal lens hood that bayonets firmly into position and shows no sign of being able to be accidentally dislodged. Within the bayonet fit we find a standard 58mm filter thread.

The manual focus ring is slim but affords a good grip. It is electronic in operation and as smooth as silk. Focusing is down to 0.12m (12cm) or 4.72 inches, giving a maximum magnification of 0.25x or 1:4. Whilst not actually a macro lens, this very close focusing is extremely useful, especially at the 45mm end of the zoom.

The zoom ring does actually change the physical length of the lens, but remains very slick in operation, albeit it not quite as silky as the focusing. There are clear and accurate focal length markings at 12mm, 14mm, 18mm, 25mm, 35mm and 45mm.

And that is it for the lens controls, there being no switches at all. The bayonet is of high-quality metal and includes the usual electronic contacts. The fit is very precise and smooth.
Olympus M Zuiko 12 45mm F4 PRO On Lumix G9

Optical construction is 12 elements in 9 groups, including 2 Aspherical, 2 HR (High Refractive Index), 1 Super HR, 1 DSA (Dual Super Aspherical) and 2 ED (Extra Low Dispersion). The diaphragm comprises 7 circular blades for improved bokeh.

The lens is weather-sealed and is described as dustproof, splash-proof and freeze-proof. This is encouraging for a lens with so much potential for being out in the elements. The focal length range is also ideal for a multi-purpose standard zoom, the 12-45mm on MFT format having a 35mm-format equivalent field of view of 24-90mm. This effectively covers a fairly wide-angle, that would at one time have been considered ultra-wide, all the way up to an ideal portrait short telephoto. Out in the field, this is very versatile and removes the need to be constantly changing lenses. Handling is very satisfactory as the lens has so little to operate. It focuses, it focuses swiftly and accurately and it is a splendid companion with no particular vices.
Olympus M Zuiko 12 45mm F4 PRO Rear Oblique View

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25 Mar 2020 3:46PM
Unfortunately I have a full set of lenses so not sure how this would fit in .
Oly mft lenses are really good , I compare to my previous Cannon L lenses here .
I have complete confidence in these smaller lenses and now coupled with the latest EM 1 - my iii.
ChrisV 15 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
31 Mar 2020 10:13AM
As most lenses on ePhotozine get a minimum of 4.5/5, I’d equivalence (see what I did there?) a 4 on here as 2 - pretty damning. I’íve little doubt it’s sharp wide open (most mft lenses are, as noted they suffer more really closed down) and it performs well otherwise. Oly Pro lenses are well constructed, but I’m very wary of the mount. I dropped my 12-40 f2.8 from about 3ft on a hard floor and it sheered off. Not a mark on the camera (a GX80).

But six hundred quid for an f4 lens particularly for this format is absolutely outrageous. Especially at the wide end you’re only going to get subject isolation on very small objects. If you’re not the sort of photographer that worries, OK, but most would expect that facility in a ‘Pro’ lens. There’s also the issue of being able to double the amount of light potential with an f2.8 optic.

My go to standard zoom for the format is now the PanaLumix 12-60. Not a constant aperture, but a stop faster wide and f4 at 60mm - which is usefully a lot longer. I think it’s still too expensive for what it is (at around the same price as this), but apart from the physical size and a tad more weight, it has the Olympus best into a cocked hat. I know Olympus are struggling to make a profit and I’d hate to see them fall, but their pricing strategy means I for one have little interest in their products at rrp.

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