First Impressions: Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 PRO and 8mm f1.8 Fisheye

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A while back, Olympus took a bunch of journalists on a trip to Whistler, CA and allowed them to play with two new lenses: the 7-14mm f2.8 PRO and 8mm f1.8 fisheye for its Micro Four Thirds system. Both of these options are on the wider end of the spectrum and when you consider the 2x crop factor then you get 14-28mm and 16mm accordingly. We don’t exactly consider 16mm to be a fisheye these days, but in the right situations it surely did perform like a fisheye lens.

Please note that these images were taken with prototype lenses, and that they weren’t the final production, though they were darn close.

Tech Specs

7-14mm f2.8

Specs taken from the B&H Photo listing for $1,299

Performance
Focal Length 7 – 14mm
Comparable 35mm Focal Length: 14 – 28 mm
Aperture Maximum: f/2.8
Minimum: f/22
Camera Mount Type Micro Four Thirds
Format Compatibility Micro Four Thirds
Angle of View 114° – 75°
Minimum Focus Distance 7.87″ (20 cm)
Magnification 0.11x
Elements/Groups 14/11
Diaphragm Blades 7, Rounded
Features
Autofocus Yes
Physical
Filter Thread None
Dimensions (DxL) Approx. 3.11 x 4.17″ (78.9 x 105.8 mm)
Weight 1.17 lb (534 g)

8mm f1.8 Fisheye

Specs taken from the B&H Photo listing for $999.00.

Performance
Focal Length 8mm
Comparable 35mm Focal Length: 16 mm
Aperture Maximum: f/1.8
Minimum: f/22
Camera Mount Type Micro Four Thirds
Format Compatibility Micro Four Thirds
Angle of View 180°
Minimum Focus Distance 4.72″ (12 cm)
Magnification 0.2x
Elements/Groups 17/15
Diaphragm Blades 7, Rounded
Features
Autofocus Yes
Physical
Filter Thread None
Dimensions (DxL) Approx. 2.44 x 3.15″ (62 x 80 mm)
Weight 11.11 oz (315 g)

Ergonomics

7-14mm f2.8

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

8mm f1.8 Fisheye

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Like the 7-14mm PRO lens, the 8mm f1.8 Fisheye has a fixed lens hood. It surely needs it with a massive front element.

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Since this is a prime lens, don’t expect a lot of movement with the front element. Instead, just remember that it’s rather bulbous as you go around shooting.

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The lens has a single control ring designed for focusing. Many photographers think that you don’t need to focus a fisheye lens but you indeed need to.

Autofocus

7-14mm f2.8

7-14mm f2.8

In our tests when using the lenses with the Olympus OMD EM5 Mk II, we found the lenses to autofocus very quickly and in most situations pretty accurately too. The only trouble that we had involved low light combined with fast moving subjects and lack of contrast in a scene. To be fair though, these lenses are incredibly wide, and when you consider the depth of field that they have when shooting wide open, you’ll have a large area of your scene in focus to begin with.

Build Quality

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Both lenses feel exceptional in terms of ruggedness, though in the hand I’m a much bigger fan ot the 7-14mm f2.8. It just felt nicer and is actually smaller than the f1.8 fisheye lens.

Image Quality

Considering that these are prototype lenses that we tested, we can’t comment yet on final image quality. But as far as what we see so far, we’re quite impressed.

7-14mm f2.8

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 first impressions photos (19 of 19)

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 first impressions photos (18 of 19)

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 first impressions photos (17 of 19)

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 first impressions photos (16 of 19)

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 first impressions photos (15 of 19)

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 first impressions photos (14 of 19)

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 first impressions photos (13 of 19)

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 first impressions photos (12 of 19)

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 first impressions photos (11 of 19)

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 first impressions photos (10 of 19)

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 first impressions photos (9 of 19)

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 first impressions photos (8 of 19)

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 first impressions photos (7 of 19)

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 first impressions photos (6 of 19)

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 first impressions photos (5 of 19)

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 first impressions photos (4 of 19)

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 first impressions photos (2 of 19)

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 first impressions photos (1 of 19)

8mm f1.8

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Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 8mm f1.8 fisheye first impressions photos (7 of 7)

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 8mm f1.8 fisheye first impressions photos (6 of 7)

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 8mm f1.8 fisheye first impressions photos (5 of 7)

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 8mm f1.8 fisheye first impressions photos (4 of 7)

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 8mm f1.8 fisheye first impressions photos (3 of 7)

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First Impressions

Given the fact that we played with prototype lenses and got images that we were incredibly happy with, we’re very excited to play with the production versions. We’ve got very little doubt that they’ll be incredible given how good the company’s other Pro lenses are.