Ultrawide angle zoom lenses for Micro Four Thirds

Written by Gary on May 29th, 2010

Please read my older post on this topic for more details and comparisons with what is available on Canon and Nikon dSLRs as I will try to avoid repeating that content here, but instead highlight the differences, now that dpreview has published their excellent technical reviews on the two MFT lenses.

One of the almost unique characteristics of Micro Four Thirds is that it allows creation of beautifully compact, high image quality ultra-wide angle zoom lenses which are perfect for travel, but like everything, there are compromises – in this case, the compact design results in lower image quality in the corners and more distortion than with a Four Thirds equivalent lens. Fortunately, these issues are corrected in-camera (by Panasonic bodies) or can be easily corrected in supported RAW converter software.

Note: the following image comparing the Four Thirds 9-18mm, MFT 9-18mm and MFT 7-14mm is from the dpreview website:

comparisons

I have compared 3 ultra-wide zoom lenses but note there is  a fourth option shown above – the Olympus ZD 9-18mm Four Thirds lens which is cheaper (~$US475), but bigger (uses a 72mm filter) and heavier than the MFT version.

Olympus ZD 7-14mm f/4 Four Thirds
Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 MFT
Olympus ZD 9-18mm f/4.0-5.6 MFT
dimensions 86.5mm x 119.5mm 70 mm diameter x 83 mm length
56.5 mm diameter x 49.5 mm length (retracted)
weight
price
780g

$US1800

300 g (10.6 oz)

$US1000

155 g (5.5 oz)

$US700

diagonal angle of view on 4:3 ratio

35mm equivalent focal length range to give similar angle of view

114º – 75º

14-28mm

114º – 75º

14-28mm

100º – 62º

18-36mm

filters not possible
not possible 52mm, non-rotating front element
autofocus no AF on Panasonic MFT, slow AF on Olympus MFT, normal AF on Four Thirds good AF on all MFT, cannot mount to Four Thirds good AF on all MFT, cannot mount to Four Thirds
construction 18 Elements / 12 Groups, ED Asph, ED, Super ED

weatherproof, dustproof, pro quality

16 elements / 12 groups, 4ED, 2Asph 12 elements / 8 groups, 1 ED, 1HR, 2 dual surface Asph, 1 Asph, collapsible design for compact travel
image stabilisation in camera (Olympus only) in camera (Olympus only) in camera (Olympus only)
diaphragm 7 rounded 7 rounded 7 rounded
minimum focus 0.25m 0.25m 0.25m
use with teleconverter yes no TC available for MFT yet
no TC available for MFT yet
use with extension tubes no no no
image quality superb even without post-processing

flare visible if strong light sources hit convex front element

very sharp but some softness in corners wide open at either end of focal range

flare visible if strong light sources hit convex front element

very sharp but some softness  in corners

flare is usually not an issue unless light sources string front element obliquely.

geometric distortion minimal +3.4% at 7mm, -0.3% at 12mm and -1.2% at 14mm

corrected in-camera when using Panasonic MFT cameras

+4.7% at 9mm, +0.5% at 14mm, -0.1% at 18mm

corrected in-camera (Panasonic) and by supported RAW converters

chromatic aberration minimal – mainly in corners at extreme contrast situations particularly visible in corners at wide angles

corrected in-camera when using Panasonic MFT cameras

particularly visible in corners at all focal lengths
light falloff minimal? some at f/4 but minimal at f/5.6 minimal
official website Olympus America
Reviews my blog post dpreview dpreview
who is it for? those wanting the highest image quality, professional build quality, weatherproofing primarily for their Four Thirds dSLR those wanting widest view on their MFT camera for creative use and travel but not needing to use filters those wanting wide angle on MFT but not needing the ultra-wide angle, and preferring ability to use filters for landscape work

this is perhaps the most practicable lens for most people

 

Comments Closed

Comments are closed.