Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 ‘Pro’ Zoom

Comprehensive review coming after I’ve had a chance to really put this lens through its paces

The Olympus M Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro was introduced at the same time as the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Compact System Camera with 16MP and 3-Inch LCD – Body Only. With the 12-40mm comes a new type of lens, the Pro lens that Olympus is marketing at (you guessed it) the professional crowd. If all goes according to plan these lenses will be the first ‘pro quality’ lenses available for the m4/3 format. Olympus ranks the ‘pro’ lens higher than the prime lenses (think 12mm, 48mm, etc) that it released last year.

The Olympus 12-40mm is also the first of the m4/3 line of lenses to be Splash-proof, Dust-proof and Freeze-proof. The Olympus MSC ED M. 60mm f/2.8 Lens (macro) and the Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 EZ are Olympus’s only other “weather proof” lenses available for the m4/3 format without an adapter. The 60mm macro lens is a must have if you’re looking for a high quality macro lens for your micro four thirds (m4/3) camera, the 12-50mm lens on the other hand is best skipped over for the new 12-40mm from Olympus or the excellent Panasonic H-HS12035 LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm/F2.8 ASPH X Series Lens (reviewed here). But I digress…

Some Details

One of the things I really like about this lens (and a couple of other Oly lenses) is its manual focus “clutch” which just means the focus ring can be slid back and forth to select either manual focus or auto focus. What’s more is Olympus finally listened to their customers and are including a lens hood as well as a center pinch lens cap (clap, clap, clap). The lens comes in just under $1,000 which is important considering its main competition is the Pana 12-35mm that costs at least $200 more. Incidentally, if you own the Pana 12-35mm now is a good time to sell it and put in your pre-order for the Olympus M Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro before the price of the Pana drops in order to compete (from the test shots I’ve seen thus far I can confidently tell you the Oly is the better glass).

There are 14 elements, 1 aspherical element, 1 dual-sided aspherical element, 2 ED glass elements, 2 HR glass elements, 1 EDA glass element, 1 HD glass element. The lens will have a constant aperture of f/2.8 which should excite you. The lens does not have image stabilization built-in which is fine for the OMD owners out there but not so much for the Panasonic owners (who need image stabilization built into the lens since the Pana camera bodies don’t). The minimum focus distance is about 8″ (7.87″) with a max magnification of .3x (the lens could achieve decent macro shots if need be).

Current Reviews

Understand that these reviews may be favorable due to the relationship between the reviewer and/or blog and Olympus, obviously they aren’t going to tell you the lens is terrible and risk not receiving gear to review before the general public in the future. Keep an open mind and review the sample images but remember that the review is going to be skewed a bit. Stay tuned to PhotolisticLife for a non biased review after using the lens extensively.

First Impressions: The Phoblographer


Lens review: The Olympus 12-40/2.8 M.Zuiko PRO (Ming Thein)


Whether or not you are planning on purchasing a new lens or camera be sure not to fall into the “waiting for new gear” slump… This is where you put your photography on hold until your sparkly new gear shows up in the mail. Stay frosty and get the camera gear you have now out of your closet and participate in a photo contest (here) or a photo challenge (also here). Enjoy!

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5 replies on “Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 ‘Pro’ Zoom”
  1. says: Neil

    I’d just like to caution the original poster to be mindful of making statements like the one above: “Understand that these reviews are favorable due to the relationship between the reviewer and/or blog and Olympus, obviously they arenโ€™t going to tell you the lens is terrible and risk not receiving gear to review before the general public in the future.”

    Such reviews may or may not be skewed, but the above statement is worded as “fact.” Stating that the reviews in question “are favorable due to the relationship” leaves no room for the possibility that the review is favorable because the product is deserving of praise.

    Olympus is a company with an almost legendary reputation for spectacular lenses… a reputation that is well earned. The statement above implies that reviewers who receive an advanced review sample are “in the pocket” of Olympus and that their opinions can’t be trusted.

    Obviously, as you’ve already said, take ALL reviews with a grain of salt… but don’t assume that a favorable, or even glowing review, is inherently biassed just because the company sent them a review sample and therefore have a “relationship” with the reviewer.

    I have no affiliation with Olympus so don’t assume I’m “offended” by the statement… I’m just a stickler for saying what you mean and meaning what you say. There are people who will read that statement and take it as fact. Anyone with a “voice” that people listen to should, IMO, be very careful about their choice of words so as not to mislead or leave room for obvious misinterpretations.

  2. says: Neil

    By the way, I had a chance to use this lens on an EM1 for a couple hours… I can’t comment on the sharpness yet but it does seem very well built. Focus is very fast and very quiet. The zoom ring is fully mechanical and it’s not as smooth as a Canon L lens but it’s not unpleasant in any way. I was impressed to see that the interior lens barrel that extends when you zoom was also made of metal… not even the canon lenses are metal all the way through! That doesn’t say anything about image quality but it does suggest Olympus means business. The focus clutch mechanism also has a very “manual” feeling. I imagine this would work quite well with a follow focus gear system in a video rig. In talking with the Olympus rep, he revealed that Olympus’ official position on video is that “they are happy to let Panasonic be the leaders in video while they focus on leading in stills.” Although the EM1 is not aimed at serious video professionals, I’m confident in the EM1 and 12-40mm as a very capable video system for web-delivered content. I plan on buying both as soon as I can. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. says: John Barbiaux

      I have not had a chance to put this lens through its paces but I’m happy to hear the positive feedback, if the Olympus lens beats the Panasonic lens in the image quality department I’ll be very impressed. I still believe a strong argument could be made for the Panasonic 12-35 being the best m4/3 lens available (pre oly 12-40mm since we don’t yet know the quality of a post production sample). I’ll be looking at the sharpness compared to the Panasonic lens to determine if the oly lens is a contender. Thanks for your input.

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