Compared to...

Compared to the Olympus M ZD 9-18mm F4-5.6 and Olympus ZD 9-18mm F4-5.6

Here's a comparison shot of the three wideangle zooms which will fit and autofocus on Micro Four Thirds. On the left is the Olympus ZD 9-18mm F4-5.6 for Four Thirds SLRs mounted on the appropriate adapter, in the middle Olympus's native Micro Four Thirds version of this lens, the diminutive M ZD 9-18mm F4-5.6 in it's retracted configuration, with the Panasonic 7-14mm F4 on the right. (This represents the smallest size each lens can be when mounted on the camera; click here for a similar picture without the adapter, but with lens caps, to compare the space they'll take up in a bag.)

The Panasonic 7-14mm is clearly not as portable as Olympus's baby, but in practical terms it's about the same size as the Four Thirds lens, which itself is easily the smallest wide zoom that can be fitted to an SLR camera. This means it's dramatically more portable than any other zoom offering such a wide angle of view, such as the Olympus 7-14mm F4 for Four Thirds or Sigma's new 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 for APS-C.

The Four Thirds lens is obviously fully compatible with Olympus's DSLRs, but a side effect of this is that autofocus is slow and hesitant on Micro Four Thirds cameras. The Panasonic lens is much wider than the two from Olympus and has a constant F4 maximum aperture, but on the other hand it doesn't accept filters. As usual, the Panasonic and Olympus lenses zoom in opposite directions - clockwise (from the photographer's perspective) to zoom in with the 7-14mm, but anti-clockwise with the two 9-18mm lenses.

The table below compares and contrasts the vital statistics of the three lenses.

7-14mm F4
Olympus M ZD
9-18mm F4-5.6
Olympus ZD
9-18mm F4-5.6
Price $1100 $700 $475
Focal length 7-14mm 9-18mm 9-18mm
35mm equivalent FL
14-28mm 18-36mm 18-36mm
Diagonal Angle of view 114º - 75º 100º - 62º 100º - 62º
Maximum aperture F4 F4-5.6 F4-5.6
Minimum aperture F22 F22 F22
Lens Construction • 16 elements/12 groups
• 4 ED glass elements
• 2 aspherical elements
• 12 elements/8 groups
• 1 ED glass element
• 1 HR glass element
• 3 aspherical elements
• 13 elements/9 groups
• 1 ED glass element
• 2 aspherical elements
No. of diaphragm blades 7, rounded 7, rounded 7, rounded
Minimum focus 0.25m 0.25m 0.25m
Maximum magnification 0.15x 0.1x 0.12x
Filter thread n/a 52mm 72mm
Weight 300 g (10.6 oz) 155 g (5.5 oz) 280 g (9.9 oz)
Dimensions 70 mm / 2.8" diameter
83 mm / 3.3" length
56.5 mm / 2.2" diameter
49.5 mm / 1.9" length
79.5 mm /3.1" diameter
76 mm / 3.0" length
Lens Mount Micro Four Thirds Micro Four Thirds Four Thirds

Compared to Panasonic Lumix G 14-45mm F3.5-5.6 OIS

To give a second impression of the 7-14mm's size, here it is alongside the familiar 14-45mm F3.5-5.6 OIS kit lens that comes with the Panasonic G1 and GF1. The wide zoom is clearly a bit larger, with that bulbous element 'up front' shielded by the built-in hood, but it's not huge by any means. In reality, it's scarcely bulkier than a typical 18-55mm DSLR kit lens.