Compact lens, sharp in centre, less so in corners
January 05, 2014
The Olympus 12mm f:2 is an amazingly light and compact lens, which fits comfortably in a shirt pocket, even with the hood attached. In my tests, compared with the Pany 12-35 f:2.8 and 7-14 f:4, at 12mm the lens is as good in the centre, but softer in the corners by at least 10-15% (one step on the res chart) at all apertures tested, which is rather surprising since one normally expects a single-focal lens to be sharper in the corners than a zoom lens. However it is much lighter and more compact than either zoom lens, and gives a 1 EV or 2 EV (respectively) edge in aperture and hence low-light noise. The Lumix GX7's in-camera IS makes this lens ?safe? in my hands at 1/8 second, identical to what is safe with the 12-35 and the 7-14 at that focal length. So the trade-off is the extra 1-2 EV in aperture (plus substantial size and weight difference) versus the loss of corner sharpness. The optional $90 hood (which isn't really optional IMO for a 12 mm lens) is rather expensive; the Pany 12-35 comes with a reversible hood, and the 7-14 has a built-in molded petal hood on the body. However both those lenses are currently $500 more expensive than the Olympus. If you want a (relatively) affordable, fast, and very portable fixed-focal-length wide-angle lens and don't mind some loss of corner sharpness, this is a good choice.
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