Ever since I got my hands on their OM-D E-M10 Mark II camera, I’ve been a faithful convert to Olympus. Their Micro Four Thirds system is stellar and has freed me of the cumbersome carry that can often come with DSLRs, all while being able to take impressively high-quality shots with a relatively compact and lightweight camera. Recently I had the chance to try one of Olympus’ PRO lenses for the first time – specifically the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO. Having seen plenty of praise for this lens, I was pretty excited to give it a go.
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO Lens
The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO Lens has a nice, sleek look that works well with the camera bodies in the OM-D line. With a metal barrel construction, it feels premium, and so it should considering it’s a pro lens. Despite how solid it feels, it weighs in at only about 380 grams, which in addition to the camera body, never feels like a strain to carry around. I had it on both the E-M5 Mark II and E-M10 Mark II. With the lens on the former, it all feels very balanced in terms of the weight. On the latter, it does feel quite front heavy, but never unusable or too awkward. When comparing to other lenses, the 12-40mm F2.8 PRO Lens is noticeably bigger and heavier than the Olympus prime lenses and pretty similar in size to the new 25mm F1.2 PRO.
The lens comes with a few, equally as solid-feeling accessories too. Included in the box is a lens hood, which nicely locks into place, and an elegant case. It also, of course, comes with a lens cap, but a much sturdier one than we’re used to. Again, being a professional level product this is to be expected.
If you’ve heard anything about this 12-40mm F2.8 PRO Lens, you know that anyone who’s used it can’t stop exulting at just how versatile it is. And in this regard, we wholeheartedly agree. For day-to-day shooting, this lens has us more than covered. From wide shots through to close-ups and everything in between, it works beautifully. I’ve found it to be especially useful for the times I don’t want to have to carry multiple lenses around and be constantly switching between them, such as when I’m going to an event or just walking somewhere on the weekend. I’m in the habit of taking my camera with me everywhere I go, so the functionality it delivers, being able to capture a whole array of different kinds of shots, is ideal.
Additionally, when it comes to macro shots, the lens is surprisingly impressive. It wasn’t one of the main reasons I wanted this lens, it was only when I was testing it out and realised I could get closer and closer to the subject and still get a good shot that I discovered its abilities here too, boasting a minimum focusing distance of just 20cm.
The below shots were taken with the Olympus OM-D E- M5 Mark II & OM-D E-M10 Mark II with M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO Lens.
Constant F2.8 Aperture
One of the main reasons I prefer this lens to many other zoom lenses is the constant F2.8 aperture throughout the zoom range. What this means is you get some really nice shallow depth of field shots when zoomed in all the way to 40mm, or anywhere there abouts, which allows you to achieve a really beautiful and smooth bokeh effect. If you are looking for a lens that’s purely needed for shots with a shallow depth of field, there are, of course, better options. The Olympus M. Zuiko Premium prime lenses with F1.8 aperture, for example, or the new 25mm F1.2 PRO too. Having said that, the 12-40mm F2.8 PRO Lens does an amazing job in most scenarios and I’ve found it’s been residing on my camera body more and more due to its versatility and impressive results across the spectrum.
Sharpness, Speed & Focal Length
Using this Olympus lens at any level of zoom resulted in terrifically sharp and clear shots. Furthermore, it can focus exceptionally quickly on a subject, which means you don’t miss out on fleeting moments that need to be captured. Its accuracy is impressive and is just another reason why this is such a stellar lens.
Since the Olympus cameras utilise the Micro Four Thirds system, measurements for the focal length of the lens are different when compared to the traditional full frame / 35mm system. Essentially, to get the equivalent, you double the number of the Micro Four Thirds system. So our Olympus 12mm zoom is 24mm in the 35mm system, and 40mm is 80mm.
The below two shots of the ocean are an example of the wide focal length of the lens. The first image demonstrates a landscape that’s zoomed out to 12mm, while the next image is taken from the same position but zoomed in to 40mm.
I tested the limits of the lens with the image of the stairwell below as well. The space proved to be too small to capture at 12mm, so you’d need something wider if you plan on taking a lot of shots of really small spaces. On the other hand, shooting at 12mm worked really well for the other spaces we shot, like the bottle shop pictured below.
The Wrap Up – Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO Lens Review
The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO Lens is a phenomenal piece of gear. The convenience, versatility, and high-quality that it delivers has made it a daily essential for me. If like me, you take your camera with you wherever you go and you’re not sure what you’re going to encounter throughout the day, it really is the ideal lens. From wide shots through to macro, it’s a great all-rounder lens that performs well in all kinds of situations.
Head to olympus.com.au for more info.