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Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Micro Four Thirds Lens Review

Gary Wolstenholme reviews the premium Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 lens.

|  Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 12mm f/2.0 in Interchangeable Lenses
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Handling and features

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 12mm f/2.0

This premium optic from Olympus for Micro Four Thirds system compatible cameras costs around £650 and offers a wide field of view equivalent to a 24mm lens on a 35mm camera, internal focusing and a fast f/2 maximum aperture.


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Those looking for a wide angle prime lens may also be interested in Panasonic's 14mm f/2.5. Although it isn't as wide, offering a field of view equivalent to a 28mm lens on a 35mm camera and the maximum aperture isn't as fast at f/2.5, it is much more compact and only costs around £290.

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 12mm f/2.0


Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Handling and features

Although this lens isn't the most compact on offer for Micro Four Thirds system compatible cameras, it is still relatively compact and lightweight at only 130g. The build quality is excellent, with a retro metal finish and it makes a perfect companion for the Panasonic Lumix G3 used for testing.

This lens sports Olympus' Snapshot focus mechanism, which allows the photographer to change between auto and manual focus by sliding the focus ring back and forth. The system works well providing quick access to manual focus control and the mechanism has a premium quality feel to it, gliding into place. When manual focus is engaged, a hyperfocal scale is revealed, which is a nice touch.

Auto focus is performed internally so the 46mm filter thread does not rotate, making this lens perfect for use with graduated and polarising filters. Autofocus is quick and virtually silent too. The minimum focus distance of 20cm is quite useful, allowing you to get in quite close to your subject. A new lens coating developed by Olympus also promises to suppress instances of ghosting and flare.


Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 12mm f/2.0   Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 12mm f/2.0


Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Performance

The premium status of this lens doesn't stop at the build quality and features. Sharpness in the centre of the frame at maximum aperture is outstanding and good towards the edges of the frame. Peak quality across the frame is achieved at f/4 where the clarity in the centre is still outstanding and approaching excellent towards the edges. Stopping the lens down further reduces sharpness due to diffraction, but sharpness is still very good across the frame down to f/11.


Resolution @ 12mm
Resolution @ 12mm

How to read our charts

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 a Panasonic Lumix G3 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are well controlled, just exceeding half a pixel width between f/5.6 and f/8 towards the edges of the frame. This low level should pose few issues, even in large prints or harsh crops from the edges of the frame.


Chromatic Aberration @ 12mm
Chromatic Aberration @ 12mm

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 a Panasonic Lumix G3 using Imatest.

As falloff and distortion are corrected by the camera's image processing engine when shooting JPEGs, falloff and distortion will only be easily visible when shooting in RAW format.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is well controlled, especially for a wide angle lens with a fast aperture. At f/2 the corners are only 1.1 stops darker than the image centre and visually uniform illumination is achieved by f/4.

Distortion is kept low for a wide angle lens, with Imatest recording 1.12% barrelling. As the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, this should also be easy to correct in image editing software afterwards.

In use, this lens proved itself highly resistant to flare and loss of contrast, yielding contrasty images, even in harsh contra-lighting situations.

The first four images were taken with the Panasonic G3 used for testing. The last four were taken with an Olympus E-PM1.

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 12mm f/2.0 Sample Photos


Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Verdict

Although this lens comes at a premium price point, you get premium build and premium optical quality.

The wide aperture is very useful for taking images in low light conditions and this dinky metal lens makes a perfect companion for street photography due to its compact size and excellent performance at fast apertures.

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 offers a premium build and premium optical quality.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Pros

Superb metal build quality
Good AF/MF control
Hyperfocal scale
Excellent optical performance in the centre at fast apertures


Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Cons

Premium price (although in this case, you get what you pay for)
No hood or case provided



Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 12mm f/2.0 Specifications

Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
Focal Length12mm
Angle of View84°
Max Aperturef/2
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size46mm
35mm equivalent24mm
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Min Focus20cm
Box Contents
Box ContentsOlympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12mm 1:2.0, LC-46 Lens Cap, Micro Four Thirds lens rear cap (LR-2), Warranty Card, Operating Instructions

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lemmy 15 2.9k United Kingdom
12 Oct 2011 10:33AM
That looks to be a little beauty of a lens. The micro 4/3 seems to be where it's all happening these days.

I have 3 Panasonic lenses, the 28, 20 and 14-140mm and each and every one of them is a class performer.
joshwa Plus
11 927 1 United Kingdom
12 Oct 2011 11:12AM
There are additional sample photos from the Olympus 12mm f/2.0 lens here:
User_Removed 18 17.9k 8 Norway
12 Oct 2011 7:48PM
Y U M !!!!
appysnappy 12 1 United Kingdom
13 Oct 2011 9:20PM
I`m lusting after this already, for my newly aquired EPL3, which I bought as a `kneejerk`reaction `just to go on holiday with`!Dont know how I`m gonna break it to my E3 though!

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