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Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO Review

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO Review - Gary Wolstenholme puts the Olympus ultra-wide angle 7-14mm lens for MFT systems to the test.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO
Price : BUY NOW£999
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Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Oympus 7 14mm M Zuiko PRO (2)
 

This ultra-wide angle zoom lens for Micro Four Thirds (MFT) system cameras provides an angle of view equivalent to a 14-28mm lens used on a 35mm format camera and sports a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture throughout the zoom range. The lens is also dust and splash proof and is available from around £1000 at the time of writing. In this review we'll take a look at how it performs.

 

Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO Handling and Features

Oympus 7 14mm M Zuiko PRO (1)
 

The lens barrel is constructed from high quality, robust materials with a glossy finish and the bayonet is metal with a rubber gasket to prevent the ingress of dust and moisture into the camera body. Despite the robust construction and constant f/2.8 aperture the lens only weighs 534g. This makes the lens an ideal companion for the Panasonic Lumix G6 body used for testing.

Focusing is performed internally, although due to the bulbous front element, necessary to provide such a wide field of view there is no filter thread. Sliding back the focus ring reveals a distance scale and automatically changes the camera to manual focus mode, which is ideal for applying quick adjustments. However, it is quite easy to nudge this by accident when changing lenses, so care needs to be taken to ensure the lens is in the correct mode for shooting. The minimum focus distance is 20cm throughout the zoom range, which is ideal for close ups, or shooting in claustrophobic environments.

 

Oympus 7 14mm M Zuiko PRO (3)
 

Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO Performance

At 7mm sharpness is already outstanding in the centre of the frame and excellent towards the edges. The performance of the lens at this focal length is limited by diffraction, so there is nothing to be gained in sharpness by stopping down.

Zooming to 10mm results in a slight reduction in sharpness at maximum aperture, although performance is still excellent across the frame at maximum aperture. Stopping down to f/4 results in outstanding sharpness in the centre of the frame and excellent clarity towards the edges.

Finally, at 14mm sharpness is very good in the centre and good towards the edges of the frame at maximum aperture. Stopping down to between f/4 and f/5.6 results in excellent clarity in the centre and very good performance towards the edges for this focal length.

MTF@7mm
MTF@7mm
 
MTF@10mm
MTF@10mm
MTF@14mm
MTF@14mm
 

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 G6 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are extremely well controlled throughout most of the zoom range for this kind of lens. Fringing barely exceeds half a pixel width, which should make these chromatic aberrations difficult to spot.

CA@7mm
CA@7mm
 
CA@10mm
CA@10mm
CA@14mm
CA@14mm
 

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 minimise the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix G6 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are extremely well controlled throughout most of the zoom range for this kind of lens. Fringing barely exceeds half a pixel width, which should make these chromatic aberrations difficult to spot.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners is also well controlled. At 7mm and f/2.8 the comers are 1.52 stops darker than the centre of the image and at 14mm the corners are only 1.27 stops darker than the image centre. Stopping down to f/5.6 results in visually uniform illumination across the frame throughout the zoom range.

Distortion is well corrected in camera, but without corrections applied, Imatest detected 1.73% barrel distortion at 7mm which reduces to 0.61% at 14mm. The distortion pattern is uniform across the frame throughout the zoom range, which should make applying corrections in image editing software afterwards fairly straightforward.

A petal-shaped hood is built onto the front of the lens, which does a reasonable job of shading the lens from extraneous light that may cause issues with loss of contrast or flare. Strong sources of light in the frame, such as the sun can cause flare and a noticeable loss of contrast.


Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO Sample Photos

Value For Money

Currently, this lens is available for around £1000, which is good value for a lens of this quality. There is no direct equivalent currently available for Micro Four Thirds cameras, with the closest alternative being Panasonic’s 7-14mm f/4 lens, which costs around £800.

 

Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO Verdict

Given the ‘Pro’ moniker assigned to this lens, expectations of its build and performance should be high. During testing this lens proved itself worthy, by delivering images with outstanding sharpness, whilst handling well and sporting a robust dust and moisture resistant construction. The lens may be a little prone to flare, but given the extreme angle of view on offer and the compact size of the lens, this flaw may be something many will be able to forgive, or even forget.

Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO Pros

Outstanding sharpness from maximum aperture
Relatively compact and lightweight
Robust build
Dust and splash proof
Quick access for manual focus
Good value
Excellent control of CA

Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO Cons

Manual focus control easily nudged when changing lenses
Quite prone to flare

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

The Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO delivers images with outstanding sharpness and is good value for money. 


Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO Specifications

ManufacturerOlympus
General
Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
Lens
Focal Length7mm - 14mm
Angle of View75 - 114
Max Aperturef/2.8
Min Aperturef/22
Filter SizeNo Data
StabilisedNo
35mm equivalent14mm - 28mm
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Focusing
Min Focus20cm
Construction
Blades7
Elements14
Groups11
Box Contents
Box ContentsLC‑79 Lens Cap, LR‑2 Lens cap MFT (rear), LSC‑0914 Lens Case, Warranty Card, Instruction Manual
Dimensions
Weight534g
Height105.8mm

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Comments


dannyr 7 46 United Kingdom
9 Jul 2015 1:15PM
I thought about to winging about how Olympus are pandering to the pro's and forgetting about us poor folks, but there is such a rich collection of lenses out there anyway, its actually nice to see the pro range getting some attention.
Its an impressive lens, well done Olympus.


(Although I am sure Olympus management must be depressed they couldn't charge people for an overpriced lens hood!).

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RamblinSam 3 24 United Kingdom
15 Jul 2015 9:58PM
What has not been mentioned is that over 11 years ago, Olympus made a version of this for their E-1 body. Back in June 2005, I bought one of these wonderful beasts, and now also own an E-M5 and E-M1. Rather than selling my existing 4/3rds lenses, I bought some of the MMF-3 adaptors. These 'do what they say' admirably, especially with the E-M1 which has two types of focussing system, and automatically switches to the most effective one when 'old' 4/3rds lenses are attached. However, the 7-14mm f4.0, with the adaptor, is one hell of a monster, as you will see from the statistics and images below:

590g New 7-14mm f2.8 - (118mm long x 82mm wide inc caps.)

242869_1436992350.jpg



930g Old 7-14mm f4.0 - (145mm long x 90mm wide inc MMF3+ caps.)

242869_1436992493.jpg



If you feel the new Olympus just isn't small enough or too heavy, there is also the Lumix version, which is dramatically smaller and lighter. (Sorry, haven't got this lens!)

300g 7-14mm f4.0 Lumix - (83mm long x 70mm wide inc caps.

You could of course use either of these Olympus lenses on Panasonic Lumix cameras, but most of these do not use an in-camera body stabilisation systems, as Panasonic fits this into their lenses. The Lumix version is not as weather-proofed and built as solidly as the Olympus version, but as you can see, there is a significant weight and bulk saving to be made from purchasing the Lumix. I would say, the Olympus is undoubtedly worth the extra expense, whilst on the other side of the coin, the Lumix is certainly well-built and the carefully chosen plastics they use, and have a well-proven track record, so your choice is more down to how harsh the environmental conditions you are going to be using these lenses in.

Getting back to the Olympus models, when you put the original 7-14mm f4.0 with the MMF-3 beside the new 7-14mm f2.8 lens, the difference in their sizes becomes all too obvious. It doesn't snap into focus quite as fast as the new f2.8 version does, but it's not enough to be that noticeable unless the lighting levels you are in, are pretty low. The improvements wrought by over a decade of lens design, are very slightly less image 'smudging' at the edges of the frame, maybe an improvement in the evenness of the exposure between the edge and centre of the image, (With the old lens this is variation is about 1.7 f-stops, whilst the new version, is 1.5 f-stops.) plus the new coatings are better, so flare is reduced a bit. One other thing which hasn't been mentioned, is that the new lens has a snap-on lens cap, which is a big improvement on the original's slip-on front lens-cap, which can be easily improved by increasing the padding inside the cap.

242869_1436992755.jpg



Finally, if, (and it's a big if, because they don't appear very often!) you see the old version for sale at a decent price secondhand, and it's weight and bulk aren't an issue, I'd say definitely go for it, as I can certainly confirm that it's one hell of a performer, and you'll be hard-pressed to see much of a difference, even when pixel-peeping.

242869_1436993790.jpg



Correction needed in the "Performance" section: starts with "At 12mm..." but it should read "At 7mm".
joshwa Plus
6 803 United Kingdom
15 Dec 2015 9:50AM
Update, thanks

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