Keeping it Prime Time Part 1: Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm f2 Review

It’s Prime Time!  In that title I’m referring to my almost exclusive use of the M.Zuiko µ4/3 prime lenses in my everyday shooting. I will spend the next few blog posts writing about each one of the primes that I use and how I feel they are a benefit to my photography. I will cover not only the pros, but also the cons, though admittedly there aren’t too many cons. So let’s start at the wide end with the Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm f2.

Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm F2.0, Prime Lenses, Review, Jamie MacDonald

Notice the focus ring and distance scale on the Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm f2? Nice!

 

The Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm f/2 is what I would consider a wide angle lens, which covers the same field of view as a 24mm lens on a 35mm full frame system.  There are certainly much wider offerings for µ4/3, but not a single prime is wider unless you pick a fisheye.

 

Astrophotography

I use the Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm f2 in my photography for a surprising number of things. As of late its primary use has been in astrophotography and night time landscape shooting where the f/2 aperture makes shooting star filled skies a treat. It allows me to get a very wide open aperture, which gathers a lot of light where I don’t have to keep the shutter open too long. This is important when shooting stars because once you get around the 30 second mark in your exposure the movement of the earth causes the stars to blur.

Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm F2.0, Prime Lenses, Review, Jamie MacDonald

Wide and bright at f/2. A subject where the Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm f2 shines

Another feature I really get a lot of use out of is the manual focus ring on this lens. The M.Zuiko 12mm has a ring that you can slide back exposing a distance scale for manual focusing. It also automatically puts the camera into manual focus mode! Again, handy for my nightime shooting or even during the day when I want to pre-focus on a subject or establish hyperfocal settings. If you take a look at the product photo above you can see the focus ring and scale I am referring to.

 

Not So Great

My biggest gripe with the Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm f2 is the lack of weather sealing. I don’t often venture out in inclement weather, but I pursue the occasional severe weather system in hopes of getting some shots or  like to be at the waters edge when waves are breaking. When those days come along I am forced to either shoot from inside my car or rig up some sort of protective covering for the lens. This might not be something that everyone will find a problem with, but for me it can be.   My other complaint is like many of the Olympus µ4/3 lenses it does not come with a lens hood. With a lens this wide a hood is a good idea. I like lens flare as much as the next hipster, but I like it when I control it. ;)

Going wide on the Atlantic

Going wide on the Atlantic

Conclusion

The Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm f2 is an awesome landscape photography lens that also has merit in shooting indoor events thanks to it’s f/2 aperture and wide field of view.  I will not hesitate to recommend this lens to anyone looking to add some speed and width to their collection.

Follow the link below and order this lens now for a great price!
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Lens for Micro Four Thirds Cameras

 

If you have the Olympus 12mm f2 or another wide angle lens, please let us know what you think by commenting below.  Also feel free to jump over to our Flickr group and share your photos.  You may even have the opportunity to be featured in our weekly Flickr Fridays collection.  Also remember to connect with us over at Google+, Twitter, and our new Facebook Page to keep up with the latest news and stories. 


Jamie A. MacDonald
Olympus Visionary Photographer
http://www.jmacdonaldphoto.com
This is who I am: http://about.me/jamie.macdonald/bio

 

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About Jamie MacDonald

Jamie MacDonald is a nature and stock photographer living in Michigan’s lower peninsula. A husband and father of two boys who describes his love of photography as one that is, rooted in the desire to move people to see the world around them in new ways.

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16 Responses to Keeping it Prime Time Part 1: Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm f2 Review

  1. Rob Knight April 25, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    Good write-up of a great lens, Jamie.
    It’s worth noting that the “snap focus” ring does NOT offer smooth manual focusing or true hyperfocal focusing. If you zoom in while you are focusing with the ring pulled back you will see that the focus actually “steps” from one focus distance to another. I learned this the hard way by trying to focus using the distance scale and getting a card full of out-of-focus shots.
    It’s still a great lens, but the Snap-Focus ring is not exactly as advertised. The Snap-Focus ring on the 17mm f1.8 works a lot better.
    Cheers!

    • Jamie MacDonald April 25, 2013 at 11:43 am #

      Is it this way on all copies of the 12mm? I haven’t taken out a yardstick to test the distance scale to that level of accuracy in all honesty. For 99% of what I shoot (landscapes) I have been able to get a good crisp focus by estimating distance and setting focus that way.

      You have me concerned now. Thanks for the heads up and I guess I’ll be doing some investigation!!

      • Rob Knight April 25, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

        The problem is not that the distance isn’t exactly right, it’s that the scale on the lens doesn’t allow you to set the hyperfocal distance like a traditional manual focus lens with a distance scale. Of course most folks don’t do that anyway, so it’s not that big an issue

        • Jamie MacDonald April 25, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

          Now I see where your going with this. LOL.

          I use this to calculate it ;)

          http://dofmaster.com/iphone.html

          • Rob Knight April 25, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

            That’s great as long as you want one of the “steps” along the lens markings. I would prefer a real hyperfocal scale.
            That said, it is still one of my favorite lenses :)

    • Steven Lynch April 25, 2013 at 12:41 pm #

      Rob what do you mean here? Zoom? This is a prime lens and doesn’t zoom. Think everybody just needs a little clarification here. :)

      • Jamie MacDonald April 25, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

        I think Rob is referring to using the magnify mode (like on the OM-D) to get a close up view of the focusing as it takes place.
        Is this correct Rob?

        • Rob Knight April 25, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

          Yep! sorry if I wasn’t clear :) I should have said magnify mode, not “zoom”

          • Jamie MacDonald April 25, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

            So have you verified this across multiple copies of the lens? Or is it a “known issue”? Because this is frankly news to me, and as I stated above hasn’t seemed to pose a problem for me yet.
            Keep me posted!

          • Rob Knight April 25, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

            If I remember correctly, the first I heard of this was the DigitalRev review of the Oly 17mm f1.8. They mentioned that the 17mm “snap-focus” ring operated like a proper manual focus ring, unlike the 12mm. That’s when I tried mine and saw what they were talking about.

  2. Tony Smallman August 16, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

    Hi.I’m interested in the Olympus 12mm f2 and after having some problems on my gh2 20mm pancake -banding- would like to know if the olympus has a similar problem and at what point that might set in….1.000,3.200 or only at higher values.I have been shooting starscapes on moonless nights.

    Thanks for any help or advice on this.

    • Jamie A MacDonald August 17, 2013 at 9:29 am #

      Tony,

      I haven’t pushed it to the point where banding becomes evident with this lens.
      Here is a 10 second shot at ISO6400 with no banding visible on any of my screens.

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/sl33stak/9485275913/

      I have other shots at the same ISO but longer exposures without banding. So I would have to assume that banding occurs beyond 6400. I don’t really ever shoot that high though. :)

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