First Impressions: Olympus 12-40mm f2.8

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Olympus’s brand new 12-40mm f2.8 is totally real. Earlier tonight, we had the chance to play with the new lens. When we were first in our meetings with Olympus talking to them about it, the company stated that the build quality of it is one that contains solid metal, full weather sealing, and a great overall feel. And on a personal note and as a Micro Four Thirds camera owner, I need to explicitly state that I’m more excited about this lens than the OMD EM1 announcement that was also made tonight. Offering a 24-80mm equivalent field of view, we’re sure that this is the lens that many photographers will go for.

Ergonomics

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Olympus’s 12-40mm f2.8 is the lens that many Micro Four Thirds users have been dreaming of. Besides the fast f2.8 aperture (though still kind of a slow aperture for the system), the lens has an extra 5mm of reach on Panasonic’s competing 12-35mm f2.8 lens. Additionally, the rings around it are also quite well textured.

When you’re not holding the rings though, your fingers will be around the metallic body–which actually feels like metal. If you’ve ever held a Zeiss DSLR lens, imagine what the company would do if they made a zoom lens for Micro Four Thirds. Indeed, this would be that lens.

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The 12-40mm f2.8 isn’t an internal zoom–and so zooming in and in will mean that the lens actually extends outward. Focusing, however, is all internal.

Build Quality

Once again, we’re going to reiterate and state that this lens’s build quality is nothing short of stellar and completely solid. The 12-40mm f2.8’s rings also have a bit of a textured feeling to them that can sometimes even be a bit sharp to the touch if gripped tightly enough.

Autofocus

In the dimly lit scenario where we worked with this lens, it seemed to focus in on subjects quite speedily. But we’re going to have to put it through the paces a bit more to get a final decision.

Ease of Use

Because of the total lack of switches on this lens, all focusing control will be done through the camera body. Otherwise, you just need to point it shoot it, and look at your images.

Image Quality

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Here are a couple of samples that we shot with the lens tonight.

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First Impressions

We spent around 7 minutes with the lens tonight, and we’re sure that it will be a stunner and win loads of awards. But in order to validate that, we’re going to need to spend more time with it. Stay tuned for a full review.

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