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Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm 1:4-5.6 review

February 2009 | By Andy Westlake


The Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm 1:4-5.6 is Olympus's latest all-new lens design, announced in May 2008. It sits in the company's 'Standard' series of lenses, and offers ultra-wide angle capability to the more budget-conscious user. In this regard it costs around 15% less than the venerable 'Pro' series Zuiko Digital ED 11-22mm 1:2.8-3.5, while offering significantly wider angle coverage, but giving up a stop with regards to maximum aperture and featuring lower build quality (most notably no water/dust sealing).

The lens features an extremely compact and lightweight design for a wideangle zoom, realising one of the benefits promised by Olympus for the Four Thirds system on its launch. This is achieved with an optical formula of 13 elements in 9 groups, including an ED glass element to minimise chromatic aberration and extensive use of aspherical lens surfaces (the front element is 'Dual Super Aspherical', no less). Also making an appearance is Olympus's 'focus-by-wire' system, with no direct mechanical connection between the manual focus ring and the motor-driven internal focus group.

The 9-18mm's only direct competitor in the Four Thirds system is the Sigma 10-20mm 1:4-5.6 EX DC HSM, which at the time of writing is rather cheaper and features ultrasonic-type focusing, but loses at the wide end where every millimetre of focal length counts (9mm offers an extra 5 degrees angle of view over 10mm). The Sigma will be subject of a future review; for now let's see how the 9-18mm fares in our tests.

Use of the Panasonic L10 as Four Thirds test body

We have chosen to use the Panasonic L10 as our standard test body for Four Thirds lenses purely because it gives the highest numbers in our resolution tests (which we believe is most likely due to it having a relatively weak anti-aliasing filter); this is intended simply to provide the fairest comparison to other manufacturers' systems. This remains the case despite the recent release of the 12 Mp Olympus E-30 and and the Micro Four-Thirds Panasonic DMC-G1, and we've therefore chosen to continue with the L10 for the sake of consistency (although the difference compared to these cameras is minimal). The samples gallery contains images shot with the Panasonic L10, Olympus E-30 and Olympus E-3 bodies.

Headline features

  • Ultra-wideangle zoom range (18-36mm equivalent)
  • F4-5.6 maximum aperture
  • Four Thirds mount for Olympus and Panasonic DSLRs
  • Fits Micro Four Thirds cameras via adaptor

Angle of view

The pictures below illustrate the focal length range (from ultra-wide to merely wide):

9mm (18mm equivalent) 18mm (36mm equivalent)

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm 1:4-5.6 specifications

Street price • US: $525
• UK: £440
Date introduced May 2008
Maximum format size Four Thirds
Focal length 9-18mm
35mm equivalent focal length
18-36mm
Diagonal Angle of view 100º - 62º
Maximum aperture F4-5.6
Minimum aperture F22
Lens Construction • 13 elements/9 groups
• 1 ED glass element
• 2 aspherical elements
Number of diaphragm blades 7, rounded
Minimum focus 0.25m
Maximum magnification 0.12x
AF motor type Micro Motor
Focus method Internal
Image stabilization None
Filter thread • 72mm
• Does not rotate on focus
Supplied accessories* • Front and rear caps
• Lens Hood LH-75C
Weight 280 g (9.9 oz)
Dimensions 79.5 mm diameter x 73 mm length
(3.1 x 2.9 in)
Lens Mount Four Thirds

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area

Foreword / notes

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read some of our Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / recommendation / ratings are based on the opinion of the author, we recommend that you read the entire review before making any decision. Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of them, click to display a larger image in a new window.

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Dpreview use calibrated monitors at the PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally also A, B and C.

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