Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro

Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40MM F/2.8 Pro Lens Review 2019

In Gear by Stefano CaioniLeave a Comment

Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro

The Olympus 12-40mm F/2.8 Pro was my first Olympus lens.

I bought it in 2016 and I took it with me in a lot of trips, made heavy use of it and finally decided to write a review. Sorry if it took so long.

I love Olympus Pro lenses so much that I decided to create a section on this blog entirely dedicated to it and I want to review all of them in 2019 (if I’ll be able to get them :D).

Stay tuned for updates and make sure you subscribe to my mail list and you’ll get notified when a new article gets posted!

Before you read through, please notice that the Olympus 12-40mm F/2.8 Pro was released in 2013 together with the first version of their EM1 body. It was the first Olympus lens in the Pro line.

Also, in this review you won’t find laboratory test results or anything regarding the specs of this lens that hasn’t been said yet. I don’t have a laboratory or professional instruments to run scientific tests so I’m not going heavily into detail on how the lens perform optically, instead I’m going to highlight my experience and the day to day usability of this lens.

Who is this lens for?

Superbly built with a fast constant aperture zoom, this lens is built for professional use and sits at the heart of Olympus’s Pro line.

This lens is very important in the micro four thirds world because it convinced many professionals to “Jump the fence” and move away from Full Frame systems, or at least make of micro four thirds systems a viable option for certain types of work.
Many photographers have panic attacks if you ask them to grab a micro four thirds system and show up to a professional shooting.

But with a very small camera body, only slightly larger than a smartphone and a lens like this, thanks to its build quality and design (and of course specs) you won’t have problems in being taken seriously by your clients.

Landscape photographers, street photographers, portraits, action, you name it. The Olympus M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 is a pro lens made for all kinds of photography. Travel photographers certainly love it for its compactness, its size and portability are great.

Build quality and Handling

Weather sealed super rugged and built like a tank the M. Zuiko 12-40mm is a damn durable premium construction (all metal) lens. It comes in a nice pouch and it has a well designed lens hood that comes on and off pretty easily thanks to the well positioned release buttons.

You could think that its metal construction makes it quite “heavy” for a micro four thirds, but it’s still very light if compared to a Full Frame or APS-C sensor lenses.

  • Dust proof, Water proof, Freeze proof
  • Weight is 0.384 lbs (382g)
  • 62mm filter thread
  • Angle of View 84-30 Degree
  • Max. Image Magnification 0.3x (0.6x 35mm equivalent)
  • 14 elements in 9 groups and there are 7 aperture blades

It extends when zooming and the body of the lens has two smooth and refined rings one for zoom and the manual focus ring. The focus ring is a switch same as for the other Olympus M. Zuiko Pro lenses. When pulled down it will set the focus to manual even if the camera is set on autofocus.

It also has a function button that I’m going to explain in detail later.

Sharpness and Image Quality

The 12-40mm delivers amazing quality, not only for a Micro Four Thirds lens but also compared to a lot other lenses on the market. An amazing piece of engineering the Olympus M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 is sharp across the frame. It also renders amazing colors as you can see in the image below.

Roys Peak NZ Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8

Bokeh

Even though it has an amazing bokeh rendering and subject isolation, to achieve maximum results in your images you’ll have to shoot wide open at f/2.8, be very close to the subject and maximum focal length.

I own the Olympus M. Zuiko 40-150mm as well as the 12-40mm and I know it’s a bit of an unfair comparison, but honestly I prefer the 40-150mm the 12-40mm when it comes to bokeh thanks to the larger focal length. So not really a lack in quality from the 12-40, just different characteristics.

Learn how to obtain an amazing bokeh here Bokeh Photography Tutorial for Beginners.

Macro

The Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 is not built for macro, but it has great close distance shooting capabilities with very short minimum focus distance of 8 inch (20cm), making it also good for macro shots.

Autofocus 

Autofocus on the M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 is lightening fast. Essentially instantaneous. According to tests (not ran by me) it takes less than a second for the AF to go from minimum to infinity.

Super fast, silent and works well in low light. The brilliant autofocus is very accurate and according to many ex full frame shooters, even faster than many DSLRs or mirrorless full frame competitors.

The L-Fn Button

The L-Fn button close to the lens mount is a function button, configurable using Olympus cameras to assign useful settings not necessarily related to the lens itself. AF-stop, white balance adjustment or focus peaking. It’s located in a convenient location on the lens easily reachable with your left thumb.

Conclusion

Fantastic lens hard to go wrong with it. For a filmmaker I would recommend a stablized lens solution even though on a camera body such as the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II or the new Olympus OM-D E-M1X both with in-body IS this lens works absolutely fine.
I’ve spoken to some wedding photographers that recently moved to Micro Four Thirds after many years of shooting full frame and after shooting with the M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 they happily confirmed that the results looked as good as any other gear they used in the past.

I can only recommend the Olympus M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 as it’s a fantastic workhorse lens and probably one of the best lenses of its category.

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