Join the world of ultra-wide photography!
April 19, 2012
This is the most expensive lens I've bought for my E-P1 so far, but it's well worth the cost, especially if you can find it on sale. Olympus has pulled off an engineering miracle in creating such a compact ultra-wide zoom.
This tiny lens is about the same size as the 14-42 kit zoom and it also shares the same collapsible design. This means the tradeoff for the size is having to open the lens when you need it, then collapse it again when done. This is a small price to pay, but keep this in mind if you dislike the collapsing design of the kit zoom in the first place. When in shooting mode, the lens is considerably longer, but it doesn't vary much in length throughout the zoom range. Another trade-off is the f/5.6 at the 18mm end--that's quite slow and is really only usable outdoors.
This lens corresponds to 18-36mm based on full frame 35mm. Photos taken with it are very crisp, sharp, and well saturated. Distortion is noticeable (as expected for an ultra-wide) when you're at the wide end and you tilt the camera. But if you keep everything level (easy using the levelling indicator on the E-P1), you can't even tell an ultra-wide was used. The perspective and freedom you get with an ultra-wide is so liberating--you can make things stand out; even boring shots of flower bouquet have more depth.
There's not much downside to this lens. Sure it's rather expensive, but it's equivalent to what you'd pay for a similar lens for a Canon and Nikon. And the comparable Panasonic 7-14 (which is a bit wider) costs considerably and and is larger and heavier. Olympus did cheapen out by not even including a lens hood or pouch. I bought a hood off eBay for $10--a fraction of what the Olympus hood costs. The one thing that annoys me though is the focal length overlap: since I already have the kit zoom and the 14-150 zoom, I'm "only" getting 9-13mm in reality, because I already have (two) lenses that cover the 14-18mm range, with a larger aperture within that range too.
Some of you might wonder: "Which lens should I buy first--the 9-18 or 14-150?" I have both and I'll have to say my 9-18 gets more use than the 14-150 "superzoom". It gives me photos and perspectives that I simply cannot get with any other lens. I use to hold off on this lens, thinking I could simply shoot a panorama if I needed to capture a wider angle. While that may be true, this lens gives you far more creativity than simply capturing "more" in your frame.
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