Zuiko Pro grows: New 12-100mm f/4 IS Pro, 25mm f/1.2 Pro expands lineup; E-PL8 makes debut


posted Monday, September 19, 2016 at 12:01 PM EST


Olympus 12-100mm f/4 IS Pro

Back in 2013 alongside the E-M1, Olympus' first Zuiko Pro lens, the 12-40mm f/2.8, made its debut. This 24-80mm-equivalent lens gained a telephoto counterpart some time later in the form of the 40-150mm f/2.8. These two optics made for a rather versatile combination that provided a constant f/2.8 aperture over a range of 24mm to 300mm equivalents.

The downside with that setup was you had to carry along two lenses to get that range of focal lengths. If you'd like to have a single-lens solution, but still want the top-notch image quality of a Zuiko Pro lens as well as the rugged, weather-sealed build quality, the new 12-100mm f/4 IS Pro lens might be your solution.

With a 24-200mm-equivalent range of focal lengths, the 12-100mm f/4 IS Pro features an impressive amount of versatility for landscapes, portraits, wildlife, and pretty much anything else in between. You do have to give up that bright f/2.8 aperture seen on the other Zuiko Pro zooms, but on the other hand, you gain powerful 5-axis Sync I.S image stabilization, which when combined with the sensor-shift I.S. from a compatible Olympus body, can provide up to 6.5-stops of compensation on the E-M1 II! By itself (i.e. when using a camera not compatible with Sync I.S.), the optical image stabilization is said to provide up to five stops of compensation. While you lose some light-gathering capabilities by going to an f/4 aperture, you still maintain an impressive ability to shoot in lower light situations.

Olympus 12-100mm f/4 M.Zuiko Pro

Sporting a total of 17 lens elements situated into 11 groups, including one dual-sided aspherical element, five ED elements, two Super HR lenses, one HR lens and three traditional aspherical lenses, the Olympus 12-100mm f/4 Pro is quite a complex lens. The exotic lens elements help combat against chromatic aberrations as well as provide sharp image quality across the entire frame. Olympus' Z Coating Nano applied to the lens elements further help produce sharp, clear images with reduced flare, glare and ghosting.

Like other Zuiko Pro lenses, the new 12-100mm's metal exterior is completely weather-sealed against dust, moisture and freezing temperatures down to 14ºF (-10ºC). Despite the complex optical formula, as well as its weather-sealed construction and versatile zoom range, the lens is still surprisingly compact at only 1.24 pounds (561 g) and just around 4.5 inches long (116.5mm).

Other amenities include a 72mm front filter thread, excellent close-focusing capabilities -- 15cm at 12mm, 45cm at telephoto -- and a 7-bladed circular aperture diaphragm should provide smooth out-of-focus areas.

Set to ship in November of this year, the Olympus 12-100mm f/4 IS Pro lens, along with a lens hood, bag and caps, is slated for an estimated street price of $1,299.99 USD (CAD $1,599.99).

Olympus 25mm f/1.2 Pro

For those portrait shooters out there, Olympus has another new offering that should certainly pique your interest. How about a professional-grade 50mm-equivalent prime with an ultra-fast f/1.2 aperture?

Olympus' fastest Zuiko Pro lens yet, the new 25mm f/1.2 Pro appears to be quite a technical feat, with an impressive 19 total lens elements all crammed into a lens that's only about 3.4 inches long and just under a pound (410g). In the past, a 50mm lens has, more or less, followed a similar optical formula, but Olympus has completed re-worked this new 25mm f/1.2 from the ground, as you can clearly see given this impressive number of lens elements.

Olympus 25mm f/1.2 M.Zuiko Pro

Special attention has been given to combating all forms of chromatic aberration, a particularly troublesome area for ultra-wide-aperture lenses. Olympus has designed this 25mm f/1.2 to used wide open, so special care has been taken to provide sharp images, even at f/1.2. A Super ED element and two ED lenses help combat purple fringing along out of focus edges, while E-HR (special high refractive index) and HR lenses help fight peripheral CA. Z Coating Nano technology helps correct against flare and ghosting as well as increase image clarity. The optical design also help combat against comatic aberration, making this lens a great choice for astrophotographers. The aspherical element and high-resolution glass help eliminate this distortion on bright points of light, such as stars.

Despite its complex optical formula, the Olympus 25mm f/1.2 is designed to focus very quickly. In fact, only a single, small lens element is used for focusing, as opposed to the large, heavy elements seen in typical fast-aperture glass. The 25mm f/1.2 Pro gets Olympus' MSC designation, for smooth, fast and quiet focusing for both stills and video.

Hitting store shelves in October, the Olympus 25mm f/1.2 will have an estimated street price of US$1,199.99 (CAD $ 1,499.99).

Olympus 30mm f/3.5 Macro

Advanced amateur photographers who want to explore the world of macro photography, as well as entry-level users wanting a lens for easy close-up photography, get a new option from Olympus in the form 30mm f/3.5 Macro lens. Positioned as the little brother to Olympus' more advanced, weather-sealed 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens, the new 30mm macro lens is not only very compact but also very affordable.

And yet, despite it's rather entry-level pricepoint of just $299, the Olympus 30mm f/3.5 Macro lens has capabilities beyond a standard 1:1 magnification macro lens. Offering a class-leading 2.5x magnification ratio with a close-focus distance of just 95mm, the new Olympus 30mm macro lens outperforms competing entry-level, short focal length macro lenses from Panasonic, Nikon and Sony.

Olympus 30mm f/3.5 Macro

Utilizing just seven total lens elements, including three aspherical elements, the Olympus 30mm f/3.5 should offer impressive sharpness and high detail across the frame. The rounded aperture diaphragm should offer pleasing, smooth and circular defocused areas.

Autofocus performance is also a highlight feature of this budget-priced lens, with Olympus stating a 20-30% improvement in autofocus speeds compared to competing lenses. According to Olympus, the 30mm f/3.5 takes only 0.18 seconds to focus from 1m to infinity and 0.8 seconds to slew from minimum focus distance to 1m.

Also going on sale in October, the Olympus 30mm f/3.5 Macro will sell for US$299.99 (CAD $399.99).

Olympus E-PL8

Last but not least, Olympus unveiled the newest member of the PEN family, the E-PL8. Sporting a redesigned, stylish exterior with more rounded edges, the new Olympus E-PL8 not only looks great, but feels great in the hand, too.

The body gets a slimmer, smaller grip, which Olympus says makes taking selfies much easier, which is nice since the E-PL8 has a tilting touchscreen LCD that can flip a full 180 degrees down to face forward. The design, as a whole, has been simplified, with cleaner lines, less decoration, more leather-like textured material around the body, and an embossed "Olympus PEN" logo on the front.

Olympus E-PL8 shown with 14-42mm EZ lens

The E-PL8 is based around a 16MP Four-Thirds Live MOS sensor and a TruePic VII image processor, similar to its predecessor. It sports a host of creative filter modes, in addition to traditional PASM-based exposure controls. With Full HD video recording, built-in Wi-Fi, Fast AF technology and continuous burst rates up to 8.5 frames per second, the Olympus E-PL8 packs a lot of features and performance into a small and stylish package.

The Olympus E-PL8 will go on sale in October in black, white and brown color options for an estimated price of US$549.99 (CAD $649.99) for body-only, or kitted with the 14-42mm IIR zoom lens for US$649.99 (CAD $749.9). For more information, check out our Olympus E-PL8 preview.