Hands on with the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100 F4 IS Pro
The Olympus 12-40 Pro is a great lens—it was the optic of choice to go with my Panasonic GX8 for shooting at Photokina this year. But occasionally you are left gasping at the long end with the 80mm equivalent. If only we could have a few more millimetres.....
Well now you can. The M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100 F4 IS Pro brings all the same features and image quality that you get with the standard zoom. It also comes without a dramatic weight or size penalty. In fact, the extra bulk is quite manageable and I could envisage carrying this lens around with little more thought than I give to the 12-40.
The only snag is that the maximum (although constant) aperture is only f/4 compared with the brighter f/2.8 of the 12-40. That makes quite a difference, particularly for indoor shots such as I’ve been taking at Cologne these past few days. For general travel, though, this could be the ideal lens to buy.
There is a current trend to all-in-one zooms, wide enough for architecture in crowded cities but long enough to make you feel you don’t need to carry a second lens. Fuji’s XF 18-135 f/3.5-5.6 is a similar lens which has proved very popular. But, while directly comparable with the new Olympus at the tele end (206mm against 200mm), the M.Zuiko is actually much more usable because of the wider 24mm equivalence. Those four millimetres make a great deal of difference in a tight corner as any photographer will tell you. The 12-100’s constant f/4 aperture will impress in this company too.
I had a brief hands-on with the Olympus 12-100mm at Photokina and noticed almost no handling difference between it and the 12-40 I had been using most of the day. With an improved 5-axis IBIS, the lens is claimed to offer up to 6.5 stops of stabilisation. As further evidence of its all-round capabilities, the 12-100 offers a minimum focus distance of 1.5cm from the front element at 12mm and 27mm at the long end.
Ergonomically, the new lens is identical to the other zooms in the Pro range, particularly the 12-40mm. It features the push-pull focus mode ring which reveals a depth-of-field scale in manual focus mode. In common with the other Pro zooms, this lens is weather resistant to make a good combination with the new OM-D E-M1 Mk II or the Panasonic Lumix GX8 (with which these test shots were taken).
This is an incredibly talented lens and could well supplant the ubiquitous 12-40 for general photography, particularly for travel. I can imagine this lens paired with a good, fast prime will provide all the glass you will need.
The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100 F4 IS Pro is likely to cost just under £1,000 in the UK.