Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro Lens review

The Olympus M.Zuiko ED 12-40mm f/2.8  Pro lens was launched at the same time as the O-MD E-M1.

In 35mm terms, it equates to a 24-80mm f/2.8 so an extremely useful range especially with a constant f/2.8 aperture.

Olympus have thrown everything at this lens design so it has very fast focussing, the very latest optical design and coatings and it is weatherproofed so an ideal match for the OM-D E-M1 and E-M5 which are both weatherproofed too.

The 12-40 has 14 elements in 9 groups one Aspherical ED element, two regular Aspherical elements, one DSA element, two normal ED elements, one HD element and two HR elements. Zero coating is applied to eliminate flare – which works very well.

With seven curved diaphragm blades the 12-40 provides lovely out of focus areas (bokeh) ideal for portraits, close-ups and subject isolation generally

For a micro 4/3rds lens it is quite big – roughly as long as the current 12-50 lens – but quite a bit fatter. It is not large or heavy when compared to the 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses available for full frame cameras of course weighing in at 382g and measuring 70x84mm – taking 62mm filters.

Olympus have provided caps and a lens hood in the box for the 12-40 which is very welcome indeed.

The 12-40 is the first ‘PRO’ lens from Olympus for Micro 4/3rds and will be joined at some stage by three mouth watering stable mates – the 40-150mm f/2.8 (80-300mm f/2.8 equivalent) and the 7-14mm f/2.8 (14-28mm equivalent) then a prime 300mm f/4 (600mm f/4 equivalent).

In use, the lens balances perfectly on the OM-D E-M1 and is a little front heavy on the E-M5.

Zooming and focussing are extremely fast and operate very smoothly.

The 12-40 has a nifty focus clutch mechanism that means just pulling back on the focus ring will switch you to manual focus immediately. Manual focus is accomplished with a nice feel to the ring as well. There are hard stops at each end of the focus scale and if you set a manual focus distance then return to AF then the lens remembers your MF position. If using video you can therefore pull back on the focus ring at any time to instantly set the lens to that focus point.

Optics are simply stunning. Images are pin-sharp right across the frame from 12-40mm at f/2.8. Stopping down to f/4 increases sharpness a tiny amount at the edges and this is maintained at f/5.6. At f/8 performance is still superb but at f/11 and lower the effects of diffraction start to reduce sharpness a tiny bit.

Of special mention are the excellent close-up abilities of the 12-40. Olympus have designed the lens to focus down to 20cm at all focal lengths meaning you can fill the frame with an object only 48x36mm – a reproduction ratio of around 1:3.

So, if you are looking for the best standard zoom for your micro-4/3rds camera then look no further – it would be very hard to improve on this lens in any area so it comes highly recommended.

You can purchase the 12-40 from Park Cameras here or together with the OM-D E-M1 as a kit here.

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