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

April 2010 | By Andy Westlake


The M. Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm F4-5.6 is Olympus's third lens for the Micro Four Thirds system to reach the market, covering the wideangle end of the spectrum. It was first announced at the same time as the E-P2 in November 2009 (alongside a forthcoming 14-150mm superzoom), with more details appearing coincident with the E-PL1's launch in February 2010. Its headline feature is undoubtedly its miniscule size - it adopts the same collapsing design as Olympus's Micro Four Thirds 14-42mm kit zoom to realize dimensions of just 2.2" x 1.9" (57 x 50 mm) when retracted, and an extremely light weight of 5.5 ounces (155g). This makes it the smallest wideangle zoom lens on the market by some considerable margin.

The lens's optical formula is clearly strongly related to that of its Four Thirds cousin, the Zuiko Digital 9-18mm F4-5.6, which we reviewed (and liked) in February 2009. If anything, though, it's even more exotic - the 12 element, 8 group design now utilizes two dual-surface aspheric elements to form the front cell, and Extraordinary Dispersion (ED) and High Refractive (HR) glass elements are employed to combat chromatic aberration. The focusing is internal, and takes a leaf out of Panasonic's book by using a single element for maximum speed; it's also designed to provide silent operation for movie recording.

While the Micro Four Thirds format may still be relatively young, the 9-18mm F4-5.6 will by no means be the only choice for wideangle enthusiasts who use the system. Most obviously it's up against the Panasonic Lumix G 7-14mm F4, which is considerably wider, but larger and more expensive. However the aforementioned Four Thirds 9-18mm can also be used on the Micro system via an adapter, which is likely to make it most attractive to photographers who also use Olympus or Panasonic DSLRs. In this review we'll take a look at how these three lenses compare.

Headline features

  • Ultra-wideangle zoom range (18-36mm equivalent)
  • Exceptionally compact and lightweight collapsible design
  • F4-5.6 maximum aperture
  • Micro Four Thirds mount for Olympus and Panasonic cameras

Angle of view

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

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

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

Price • US: $700
• UK: £530
Date introduced February 2010
Maximum format size Micro 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 • 12 elements / 8 groups
• 1 ED glass element
• 1 HR glass element
• 2 dual surface aspherical elements
• 1 aspherical element
Number of diaphragm blades 7, rounded
Minimum focus 0.25m
Maximum magnification 0.1x
AF motor type Micro Motor
Focus method Internal
Image stabilization via camera body where available
Filter thread • 52mm
• Does not rotate on focus
Supplied accessories* • Front and rear caps
Optional accessories • LH-55B Lens Hood
Weight 155 g (5.5 oz)
Dimensions 56.5 mm diameter x 49.5 mm length (retracted)
(2.2 x 1.9 in)
Lens Mount Micro 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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