Using the Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 PRO lens is quite a joy for the urban geometry and street photographer: it’s got a small form factor and doesn’t at all taint the reputation of Olympus’s glass. As the third addition to the company’s lineup of PRO lenses, this one is perhaps my favorite for many reasons though it indeed has its flaws.
Like everything by Olympus, it’s sharp, contrasty just enough, saturated, fast to focus, built incredibly well, and feels great in the hands.
But also like everything Olympus, there is also a bit of a drawback.
Pros and Cons
- Very sharp
- Relatively low distortion
- Small form factor that will make this lens almost permanently attached to your camera.
- f2.8 is awesome for light gathering abilities.
- Fast focusing
- Weather sealing
- Super wide landscapes and buildings at one end while street photography ready at the other end
- Bulbous front element is easily affected by the rain or any other sort of precipitation that you take this lens and camera out into.
The Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 PRO lens was used with the Olympus Pen F, Olympus OMd EM5, and the Adorama Flashpoint Zoom LiOn flash.
Tech specs taken from the B&H Photo listing of the lens for $1,099.
|Dimensions (DxL)||Approx. 3.11 x 4.17″ (78.9 x 105.8 mm)|
|Weight||1.17 lb (534 g)|
|Package Weight||2.0 lb|
|Box Dimensions (LxWxH)||8.1 x 5.6 x 5.5″|
Taken from the site’s first impressions post
The Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 lens is the zoom offering and also the much more expensive and higher end option in this post. It has a fixed lens hood attached to protect the massive front element. Most wide angle lenses have this standard as a feature. It comes with a lens cap that goes over all of that.
The lens features two control rings: a manual focus ring towards the front and a zoom ring on the back. Both rings are grippy in their feel and made of plastic though the rest of the lens is composed of metal.
Like the other Olympus PRO lenses, the focusing ring also does double duty. Snap it back and you’ve got yourself a manual focusing lens. At that point, it comes complete with a distance meter.
The lens can be considered an internal zoom lens because it never leaves the lens hood, but even then the front element goes back and forth.
Here is an image of the front element tucked deeper into the lens body. This is what you should expect when zooming in or out with the lens.
The Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 PRO lens has rings on the outside that feel like some sort of metal/plastic composite but is well built overall. Almost the entire lens is built to be gripped well due to the textured focusing and zooming rings.
Oh yeah, and it can stand up to the rain.
Beyond that though, my big issue has to do with the bulbous front lens getting precipitation on it too easily at the wider end.
Here’s a picture of what I’m talking about. Unfortunately I don’t think that it can be fixed. If you’re in the rain, you’re best off shooting at 28mm and if you have to go wider then cover the lens.
Ease of Use
This lens is incredibly straight forward to use. Mount it to the camera, point, shoot and enjoy. That’s it. If you want to manually focus the lens then you can snap the focusing ring back and have at it.
Again though, watch the front element–you’ll get closer to things than they may appear.
With both the OMD EM5 Mk I and the Pen f, this lens focuses very quickly and accurately. With older cameras, it’s bound to have a few more problems in dark conditions with little contrast. But it’s still snappy to focus and proves to me that there is very little reason for me to give up on my OMD EM5 with the exception that I often need to work the files more than with my Fujifilm and Sony cameras.
But that has nothing to do with the focusing…
Consider the fact that this is also a wide angle lens and wide angle lenses tend to focus quicker at a given aperture and distance because of the way that physics works.
The Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 PRO lens is a stellar one when it comes to image quality. Quite obviously, it’s designed for wide angle shooting: which means landscapes, architecture, interiors and at the longer end you can probably squeeze in a portrait or two if you don’t put the subject near the edges.
One of Olympus’s strongest features has always been its lenses. There isn’t a single one that isn’t tack sharp. Everytime I handle one I always end up saying to myself “Damn, how do they do this?”
Of course, part of it is the mixing of the four thirds sized sensor combined with the glass quality.
It’s really, really tough to get any sort of bokeh with this lens. You’re best off shooting at the longer end and getting really close to your subject. But even then, keep in mind that it’s got the depth of field equivalence of f5.6 on a 35mm full frame sensor when shooting wide open due to the Four Thirds sensor.
Again though, I don’t really recommend this lens for the bokeh. It’s more about capturing all encompassing scenes.
With the Pen F, you’re going to get deeper colors right out of the camera that may not need very much tweaking. In fact, when the RAW files can be edited in Lightroom you’ll be able to apply a camera color profile and call it a day. With the OMD, you’ll need to do a bit of tweaking even with the profiles.
This lens, like many of Olympus’s other wide angle lenses, is very saturated with its colors. The image above needed quite a bit of fixing in the yellows, blues and reds to get it to look natural.
In my tests, I couldn’t find a terribly large amount of color fringing right from the camera. It keeps it down quite a bit; and it shouldn’t spoil your image. Problems like this are also easily fixed in Adobe Lightroom because its 2016 and technology is good.
One of Olympus’s biggest strengths has always been just how incredibly sharp their lenses are. Hands down, nothing compares with the exception of Zeiss and Sigma. Their lenses are incredibly sharp.
Considering that this lens at f2.8 is basically like f5.6 when it comes to the depth of field on a full frame 35mm camera, there is no real need to stop it down. F5.6 is the most I’d go generally. To that end though, the image above was shot with a flash and the sharpness is rather remarkable.
Extra Image Samples
- Excellent image quality
- Fast to focus
- Great build quality
- Great feel in the hands
- Almost never need to stop this lens down; so shoot in aperture priority to your heart’s content.
- Bulbous front element can make shooting in the rain not so fun even though this piece of kit is essentially designed for it.
This lens is absolutely incredible. It handles distortion well, it’s sharp has great colors, focuses quickly, has a small form factor that makes it a true companion lens, and is so very capable for many photojournalists. It’s also great for landscapes, food, interior, oh so much!
There is very little to complain about here and what’s there is just an adjustment in the way that you shoot.
The Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 PRO lens receives five out of five stars; but doesn’t earn Editor’s Choice because of the high price tag and the front element problems I encountered with use. Check out the B&H Photo listing for the latest prices.
Recommended Cameras and Accessories
Olympus OMD EM5 series: the cameras that are in the middle of the road for Olympus are also the ones that will make the best use of what this camera has to offer. The EM1 sure will to, but I much prefer the ergonomics of the EM5 series.