Olympus 12mm review at Lenstip


Yesterday we linked you tot he polish review of the new Olympus 12mm f/2.0 lens. Today the english version of the review is up at Lenstip (Click here). They were not so happy with the corner sharpness wide open: “The maximum MTF values could have been a bit higher and they weren’t – it is one thing that you might regret. Lower values can be forgiven in the case of “pancakes” because we know what we get instead. Although the Olympus 2/12 is not big, it is definitely not a “pancake” lens so we expected that its performance would be closer to that of the Leica 2.8/45 than that of the Panasonic 2.5/14.

But overall this is a very good lens: “So far our summary was rather harsh. To keep the balance we must emphasize the fact that it is definitely a lens worth considering. Buying it you get a really wide angle of view, fast aperture, good image quality – everything packed neatly inside a slight but very solid, metal casing which can ensure you many years of problem-free usage.

Click those search links to check the lens price and availability at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, Olympus US store, FocusCamera, eBay.

P.S.: The White and Black E-P3 are in Stock at Amazon (Click here).

  • RW

    That’s disappointing. This one looked like one of the the first “pro-style” lenses for m43. I expect an $800 prime to be sharp across the entire frame though. Image quality across the frame is one of the key reasons for using primes IMO.

    • Don’t sweat it. The first thing I did when I got mine was test it wide open on a “brick wall test”. The corners are a bit soft wide open, but the results are still passable for an 11×14″ print. What’s more, is wide open it just simply produces extremely smooth out of focus regions. I just love the look it produces. Examples:



      Then when you stop it down to f/2.8-5.6 the results are as sharp across the frame as anyone should ever need. It really is a fantastic lens. It’s one of those lenses that makes photography fun. If you’re thinking about getting one just do it.

      • Starred

        Great shots. Which camera do you have?

        • Thanks. I shot one of those with an E-P3 and another with my G1.

          Absolutely loved my friends E-P3, but sadly I can’t get an Olympus until they decide to make a body with an EVF built in (I regularly use RF triggers).

          • Starred

            Which Camera you prefer, the G1 or the EP3?

            • Oh the E-P3 without a doubt, even without a built in EVF, but I don’t like it so much more that I’d be willing to give up my built in EVF. If you don’t have a built-in EVF requirement I wouldn’t hesitate on buying an E-P3 (unless you just want to wait for a price drop). It’s an amazing little fun camera that can do anything I require a camera to do aside from trigger RF triggers.

              However for me, I’ll just keep on buying lenses and wait and see what becomes of the Pro PEN and Pro GF.

      • Bob B.

        I am waiting until the price drops…$800 no case, no hood. I love that the the reviewer at lenstip said….”If Pentax Limited can include a hood & case so can Olympus.” It is a MFT lens after all and should have a lower price point. After you buy the lens hood and a pouch and pay for shipping you are up to about $900. IMO that is too much money for a very good (not great) lens. If this performed the way the Full-Frame Zeiss 21mm does…. then yeah..it might be worth it.

        • For what it’s worth I haven’t had any flare issues without a hood…of course I just always use a trick I learned in college when I’m worried about that; your left hand makes a damn fine lens shade in a pinch.

          But yeah, I agree that I can’t believe Oly didn’t include a hood for that price. Even their 14-42mm comes with a hood.

          • Michael Meissner

            Ummm, the 14-42mm that came with the DSLRs had a hood. I don’t think the 14-42mm that comes with the micro 4/3rds cameras does (at least the 14-42mm that came with my E-P2 didn’t). It is a shame, it was one of the little things that drew me to Olympus when I plunged into the world of DSLRs in 2004.

            • Doh. My mistake. I was thinking it did. I guess Olympus has decided if Canon doesn’t have to include them they don’t have to either. That’s a shame.

        • MK

          i am hoping that panasonic comes with a 12mm pancake, it can be a little slower but smaller – and in the $400 range. my opinion remains that 800 is unrealistic and all of these reviews just reaffirm that.

          • littorio

            Yeah, of course. In the $150 range. Having a thickness of a penny. And IQ of Canon L- primes.

            Pls do a little investigation – if you had cropped Canonikon or Sony, how much would you pay for 24mm fast prime with good IQ.

            • @MK
              The rumor is Sony is going to ask $1,000 for the new E-Mount Zeiss 24mm….and that’s a 36mm eqv lens; I’m sure if/when they come out with a fast wide angle Zeiss prime it will be even more.

              As far as the $800 price tag on the Oly goes; you just have to decide how much build quality and handling matters to you. A lens can only be *so* good. The Panasonic 25mm looks great, and I will probably pick on up myself, but I’d gladly pay more for an Olympus 25mm f/1.4 even if the IQ is no better just for the manual focus ring alone. I personally love metal lenses, and in the world of metal lenses $800 isn’t too bad of a price for a 24mm eqv f/2.

              A Pentax 15mm f/4 (23mm eqv) is $600, and it is an f/4 lens and still relies on a screw drive for AF. How about Zeiss ZM rangefinder lenses? Be prepared to pay at least $1000 for any of them, and while some are great, some are no better than the Oly 12mm. Of course, then there’s Leica…

              • Tim

                Eric, I agree.

                Olympus needs to release a 25mm f1.4 with the same build/features!

    • I wouldn’t worry about it. I think its a great lens. I was able to take these lanscape shots wide open with very little distortion or chromatic abr. These are HDR shots but other than that I didn’t do any sort of processing or distortion correction.

      Note: The last 2 pictures were taken with different lenses.

  • I believe SLRgear more than Lenstip. In their test the corners have 2 blur units fully open. This is a very good result for a lens of this type. It’s better than both the 25/1.4 and the 20/1.7 wide open. Actually it’s almost the same as the 25/1.4 at f/2.0. And besides, when do you need corner sharpness fully open? When you shoot fully open, the corners are usually not in focus anyway.

  • bilgy_no1

    very different result from the slrgear.com review which only saw very slight corner softness wide open. still considering this lens; somehow it appeals more to me than the 9-18 or 14 pancake. the 7-14 is even more expensive and only f/4.

    The only other thing I’m interested about would be a 12-50 f/2.8 lens. But to be honest, this 12mm lens is very attractive.

    • Bob B.

      The 7-14mm is a great lens for the money.

      • Mr. Reeee


        The 7-14mm is also amazingly flexible. Wide open at 7mm is fantastic, if a bit tricky to manage, but well worth the effort.

  • Mikey

    The performance of the 12mm is excellent across the frame. It’s fully usable wide open. The innovative manual focusing on the lens means that tolerances for building the lens are much higher so that’s going to add to the price of the lens.

    Also, it’s unreasonable to expect a 12mm lens to perform at the level of a 45mm macro lens so I don’t know why lens tip even mentions that, kind of bizarre really.

    The most surprising part of the lens is the almost 6% distortion on uncorrected files. The Leica branded Panasonic lenses are not under designed and I would have expected the high end Olympus lenses to also not be under designed. In Olympus’s defense, the lens is very small and with the m43rd’s system it’s important to be small and light.

    Overall, I think the 14mm Panasonic lens is going to make people think twice. The Olympus is a bit faster, a bit better optically, a bit wider, and it has an innovative manual focusing system. But the Olympus is more than twice the street price and a bit larger physically. Oh the Olympus also has better build quality and looks fantastic.

    So you get a little bit more of everything with the Olympus but the price tag is a lot higher. Tough choices!

  • Kevin

    if I’m paying $800 it better be perfect. just my 2c

    • littorio

      C’mon, pls show me something built by Canon, Nikon or Sony for their cropped cameras with the same or better angle (16mm and less), speed (say, 2.8) and price!

      That new Zuiko is just a diamond for a price of glass ;)

  • RT

    My 12/2 is super sharp in the corners. Knocks the socks of the 14/2.5.
    Perhaps they had a bad copy. Don’t know, but it is better than some of my canon Ls

  • Robbie

    Yeah right.
    You buy a wide angle lens at F2 and you expect it sharp across the frame even at corners.

  • Brod1er

    The original post on this site which mentioned the polish review made the good point that this review site tests the uncorrected lens prior to the cropping and lens corrections performed by mft cameras. This is unfair as it does not reflect the intended output from the lens. I fear I will now have sparked another tired and parochial debate about whether optical or electronic lens corrections are preferable……zzzzzz-snore-zzzzzzzz-snore

  • Boooo!

    Lenstip (and their Polish version optyczne.pl) is the ONLY site that accurately measures lens data. Whatever they say is correct. If you think otherwise – it’s you, not them who’s at fault.

    This isn’t a bad lens, but it’s not a great lens, either. The quest for miniaturization ensures that you do, indeed, get some really bad optical issues, like unheard-of vignetting and huge distortion with this lens, or CA with others.

    $800 for the 12mm? That’s your m4/3 hipster premium. Olympus is the new Apple.

    To put things into perspective, I’ve just checked bhphotovideo – they are selling the 12-60 for $899, and that is a far, far, FAR better lens than this little toy, for only $99 more.

    • While I like optyczne.pl’s methods of testing, one problem I see in every site is that charts don’t always represent accurately what the images say. The other day it was already discussed that while the charts at SLRgear said that the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 was better than the 20mm f/1.7, the images didn’t agree and showed the 20mm to be better (wide open).

      Now the charts (either at SRLgear or Optyczne) show that the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 and the Oly 12mm f/2.0 are similar, but the images at SLRgear show that the Oly is quite better. So in the end you have to look at the images to have a precise idea about the performance. And I wish Optyzne would publish the test shots from where they take the measurements.

    • Starred

      Which 12-60 lens do you refer to?

      • Boooo!

        There’s only one 12-60 out there:


        It’s a weather-sealed zoom with superb optics and extremely fast focusing (well, not on a toy PEN), only a stop slower at 12mm than this little toy prime, and it sells for $99 more.

        Really puts things into perspective.

        Realistically speaking, this 12mm shouldn’t cost more than $400-500, but like I said, it’s the hipster price premium.

  • NaoyukiOi

    Please don’t blame Japanese company about the price of their products. I think Japanese yen exchange rate is totally ridiculous recently. You could have Oly 12/2 at $600 or 500euro a couple of years ago. It could have been 400euro 5 years ago (If the price in Japan was the same.)

    • Mr. Reeee

      Exactly! Blame idiotic US Government policies over the past 30 years driving the dollar, along with the rest of the country, down the drain.

  • I’d love seeing a photozone.de review of this lens. I trust those guys. So far it looks like we have a mixed bag. There are some almost-rave reviews and this good-but-not-great review from lenstip. And! Don’t forget about the images. The reviews might say this or that. But its the images that count. Or handling? Do any of the other lenses have a proper manual focus scale? Even on the wider picture of crop DSLRs, that’s something manufacturers seem not to care about.

  • Scott

    em I have never seen a perfect $800 lens

  • stopkidding

    The lenstip results are pretty consistent with the slrgear gear results. The sharpness is comparable to the 14mm f/2.5. Which itself is a fine lens. To expect an UWA lens to match the Panasonic 45mm macro or the 20mm F/1.7 is not realistic.

    I have the 12mm lens, its just fine the way it is….

    • napalm

      +1, focal length has to be considered

    • Are calling a 24mm lens an Ultra Wide Angle? Really?

      • Arthur

        Well no, but Olympus are emphasizing the retro aspect. Back in the 70s 24mm was considered ultra wide.

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