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Olympus m.ZD 12mm f/2.0 lens

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  • a unique lens which is great for travel photography but at $700 is not cheap
  • Canon APS-C and Nikon DX dSLR users do not have a wide aperture 24mm equivalent prime lens available to them for under $1000, not to mention that this Olympus lens effectively becomes image stabilised on an Olympus camera - this gives Olympus users a big advantage over dSLR users who must either resort to ultra-wide angle zoom lenses with slow apertures or very expensive 14mm pro lenses.
    • hand held for static subjects on the E-M5, this lens gives 4-5 stops low light advantage over a Canon 7D using a 10-22mm at f/4 to give the same field of view, and even if they used a super expensive 14mm f/2.8 pro lens, the Olympus would still have a 3-4 stop advantage hand held!
    • a full frame dSLR with a 24mm f/1.4 pro lens will give shallower DOF but still the Olympus may have a 1 stop advantage hand held taking into account better high ISO of the full frame. Of course, the full frame will win hands down with the f/1.4 lens when it comes to stopping subject motion blur in low light.
  • furthermore in optical quality (but not ability to blur the backgrounds) it competes very well with the 24mm f/1.4 pro lenses on full frame dSLRs at a 1/4 price and weight!
  • will compliment the Sigma 19mm, Panasonic 25mm f/1.4, Olympus 45mm f/1.8 and Olympus 75mm f/1.8 brilliantly, giving a very light, compact system of relatively wide aperture primes with 35mm film focal length equivalents of 24mm, 38mm, 50mm, 90mm and 150mm - and all image stabilised with Olympus cameras, and optimised for HD video with the world's fastest AF, what more could one want in a high quality compact system?


  • a high end, high quality, bright aperture, compact ultra wide angle lens for Micro Four Thirds system optimised for silent, fast AF (MSC designated) for movies and stills as well as providing new manual focus features not available on other compact digital lenses for mirrorless camera systems.
  • a premium quality wide angle lens (equivalent to 24mm on a full frame camera), optimised for HD video, with ZERO (nano coatings) and a wonderful manual focus functionality with an analog-like manual focus ring mode with DOF markings - perfect for hyperfocal style street photography although perhaps a little too wide angle for some.
  • great for travel, indoor interiors, landscapes, infrared and night photography but it is expensive at about $799
  • it is not going to give as shallow a depth of field as a much more expensive 24mm f/1.4 pro lens on a Canon or Nikon full frame dSLR, but when combined with 5EV IS of an OM-D body will give better low light performance for stationary subjects such as interior shots of palaces, etc on your holidays.


  • 12mm focal length = 24mm field of view on a 35mm full frame camera
  • f/2.0 - f/22 aperture
  • MSC silent, fast AF for HD movies and stills
  • “ZERO” (ZUIKO Extra-low Reflection Optical) coating
  • “snapshot focus” design for improved manual focus experience including DOF scales and distance indicators
  • 46mm non-rotating filter thread
  • 11 elements in 8 groups inc. 1xDSA, 1x aspherical, 1xED and 1 Super-HR element
  • 7 circular aperture blades
  • close focus 0.2m for max. magnification 1:12.5 = 0.08x
  • internal focusing
  • 43 x 56mm
  • 130g
  • optional LH-48 square shaped lens hood
  • RRP $US799

DOF calculations

at f/2.0

  • lowest light level handheld at ISO 1600:
  • hyperfocal distance 4.8m (ie. set focus at that point and you will have most of the scene in acceptable sharpness from 2.4m onwards)
focus distance near DOF far DOF blur circle at far DOF range blur circle at 4m
1m 0.2m 0.3m 13nm 50nm
2m 0.6m 1.4m 6nm 18nm
4.8m 2.4m 2km 15nm 3nm
50m 45m infinity 1nm 17nm

compared to a Canon EF-S 10-22mm lens on a Canon 7D

  • COC = 0.019mm = 4.3 pixels

at 15mm focal length wide open at f/4

  • lowest light level handheld at ISO 1600 and 1/25th second as no IS available: 0 EV (ie. scene must be 5-6 stops brighter than is possible with the E-M5)
  • hyperfocal distance 3m (ie. set focus at that point and you will have most of the scene in acceptable sharpness from 1.5m onwards)
  • this combination has the worst of all worlds for low light work, but may be OK with tripod or flash - if it will AF at these light levels and you can see through the optical viewfinder.
focus distance near DOF far DOF blur circle at far DOF range blur circle at 4m
1m 0.2m 0.5m 19nm 43nm
2m 0.8m 3.8m 19nm 14nm
3m 1.5m 225m 19nm 5nm
50m 47m infinity 0nm 13nm

compared to a Canon 24mm lens on a Canon 5D Mark II

  • COC = 0.030mm = 4.7 pixels

at f/1.4

  • lowest light level handheld at ISO 3200 and 1/25th second as no IS available: -4 EV (ie. static scene must be 1-2 stops brighter than is possible with the E-M5)
  • hyperfocal distance 13.6m (ie. set focus at that point and you will have most of the scene in soft but perhaps acceptable sharpness from 10.7m onwards)
  • clearly this combination gives much narrower DOF if that is what you want, and much greater local and distant out of focus blurring
  • it will also allow much faster shutter speeds to reduce subject blur if that is needed in low light
  • BUT you can't get the out of focus areas as sharp when used wide open, so this will be an issue for low light handheld scenes, to achieve that you will have to stop the aperture down and this means long shutter speeds, subject blurring and need for a sturdy tripod.
focus distance near DOF far DOF blur circle at far DOF range blur circle at 4m
1m 0.1m 0.1m 38nm 417nm
2m 0.3m 0.3m 27nm 206nm
13.6m 6.7m 1.8km 72nm 30nm
50m 39m infinity 8nm 94nm

at f/2.8

  • this would give similar fast shutter speed capabilities to the 12mm f/2.0 for low light (as full frame will allow 1EV higher ISO)
  • let's see if we get enough DOF
  • hyperfocal distance = 6.8m = much better than at f/1.4, and much more scene sharpness as would be expected but still no where near as sharp as the 12mm f/2.0 at 4m or at infinity
focus distance near DOF far DOF blur circle at far DOF range blur circle at 4m
1m 0.1m 0.2m 35nm 156nm
2m 0.5m 0.8m 21nm 52nm
6.8m 3.4m 3.8km 21nm 30nm
50m 44m infinity 4nm 47nm


    • show at f/2.0 it is sharper in the central 1/3rd but less sharp in outer 1/3rd than a Canon 24mm f/1.4L II lens on a Canon 5D Mark II at either f/1.4 or f/2.0 click on link for more details and comparison with the Nikon 24mm f/1.4 lens
    • slight distortion, moderate vignetting, very sharp, some CA in corners.
    • overall, an impressive lens with nice manual focus capability and silent for video
    • “mechanical implementation is fantastic and matches e.g. the Zeiss ZM or Voigtländer VM series”
    • “new “snapshot focus” design for switching between AF and manual focusing is nicely executed and a joy to use”
    • “optical quality of the M.Zuiko is impressive”
    • “absolutely beautifully crafted based on a metal lens body and a metal mount but no (explicit) weather protection”
    • “Upon first contact you will fall immediately in love with the Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm f/2 ED”
    • “beautifully crafted, all-metal”
    • “attractive combination of edge-to-edge sharpness and fast aperture speed”
    • “commendably sharp wide open but performance peaks at f/4-f/8”
    • cons: “considerable light loss in the corners at f/2, as well as some purple fringing along contrasty edges near the borders of the frame, plus a disappointing amount of barrel distortion .. although distortion is corrected in-camera so you won't even notice it”
    • “outstanding sharpness peaking at f/4”
    • “proved itself highly resistant to flare and loss of contrast, yielding contrasty images, even in harsh contra-lighting situations.”

DRTV - Kai's video review:

my photos taken with this lens

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photo/olympusmzd12mm.txt · Last modified: 2016/06/14 19:48 by gary1

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