Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 lens review: A rugged, super-sharp zoom that’s perfect for pros (and the rest of us!)

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posted Friday, November 1, 2013 at 10:52 AM EDT

 
 
 
 

We've just published our Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 lens review over on SLRgear, and by all counts, this lens is an excellent chunk of glass. Yet-to-be released, this bright, fast zoom lens was introduced alongside the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and is part of the company's new "Zuiko PRO" line of professional-grade Micro Four Thirds lenses. The optic's 12-40mm focal range translates to a 24-80mm field of view in 35mm terms, and with a constant ƒ/2.8 aperture, it's very versatile and works great in low-light settings. The lens is also rugged, with splash-, dust- and freeze-proof construction, which makes it a great match with the equally-rugged E-M1.

By our tests, the new Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 delivers some very impressive results, particularly in terms of sharpness and distortion. Handling and build quality is fantastic as well. The lens features an all-metal construction that feels solid. While it's larger than your typical Micro Four Thirds lens, it's still much more compact than most full-size 24-70mm f/2.8 zooms geared for DSLRs. Nonetheless, it's still a lightweight, balanced lens that pairs nicely with both the larger Olympus E-M1 as well as with smaller bodies such as the Panasonic GX1 we use in our test lab.

Olympus clearly is trying to capture some of the professional market with its new E-M1 and a corresponding professional series of lenses. The typical 24-70mm ƒ/2.8 lenses are a favorite among photojournalists, for instance, and the relatively small size of the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 lens should be a big draw for these users -- as well as other photographers who are constantly on the go, shoot in harsh environments or simply need a rugged, fast zoom lens in a small package. With this glass, Olympus has shown that it can make a lens with the optical quality as well as build quality that such users demand, and professional and enthusiast shooters should take note.

Jump on over to SLRgear to read our full Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 M.Zuiko PRO lens review, and see all of our detailed test results.

If you're eager to buy one, the Olympus 12-40mm ƒ/2.8 Zuiko PRO lens is scheduled to ship in early December for $999, and can be pre-ordered from Adorama, B&H or Amazon. By purchasing this lens, or any other product, at one of our trusted affiliates, you help keep these reviews coming!

In the meantime, check out some sample photos below taken by Rob, our lens technician, with the lens mounted on our Panasonic GX1. You can view more sample photos, plus download the full-resolution files, over at our Flickr page.