Wide, sharp, and flawed

Started 5 months ago | User reviews thread
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NZ Scott
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Wide, sharp, and flawed
5 months ago

At the time of writing, Micro Four Thirds shooters have a choice of two native ultrawide zooms - the Panasonic 7-14 and the Olympus M. Zuiko 9-18.

I chose to pair my Olympus E-P3 with the Panasonic lens to take advantage of those extra 2mm at the wide end.

The build quality of this lens is inferior to Panasonic's f2.8 zooms, but is still pretty good. Tolerances are tight and the plastics give the impression of durability.

The lens is razor sharp when stopped down a bit and also shows good control of distortion despite being the widest rectilinear lens available for any mirrorless system.

However, the 7-14 does come with its share of irritations, namely:

1) Horrible purple "flare-blobs" and even "purple noise" that ruin many shots. This is partly because the Olympus body/Panasonic lens combination does not properly filter out ultraviolet light.

2) The lens is significantly bigger and heavier than the M. Zuiko 9-18 and the Sony NEX 10-18, despite the fact that the latter was designed to cover a larger sensor.

3) The lens does not natively take filters, unlike the M. Zuiko and Sony.

4) At the Panasonic's price point, and considering the fact that it is often used outdoors as a landscape lens, it would be nice to have weather-sealing.

During a month of fairly intensive use, I've found that fully one-third of my shots have been ruined or severely compromised by the first issue given above.

The Panasonic otherwise performs very well.

Other users have reported that the "purple" issues are controlled better when the lens is paired with a Panasonic camera.

If you have a Panasonic body, then I would recommend the lens if you do not mind the fact that it is relatively large, does not take filters and is not weather-sealed.

If you are shooting with an Olympus camera and are willing to forgo some width, then I would think strongly consider the M. Zuiko 9-18 instead.

Some sample images:

Finally, an example of what I call "purple noise":

S

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My kit: E-P3, 12/2.0, 17/1.8, 45/1.8, 60/2.8 Macro, 7.5 Fisheye, 7-14, 12-35 f2.8, 14-42 IIR, 40-150 ED, 75-300 II

 NZ Scott's gear list:NZ Scott's gear list
Olympus PEN E-P3 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G II Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4 ASPH Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm 1:4-5.6 +11 more
NZ Scott's score
3.5
Average community score
4.4
Olympus PEN E-P3 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4 ASPH
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