Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO Lens Review

When deciding on a lens for my new Panasonic Lumix GH4 camera body, I chose the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f2.8 PRO lens over a Panasonic lens, and I have been extremely happy with my decision. I just recently started shooting Mirrorless and after years of using only high quality Canon lenses, I was a little concerned about finding mirrorless lenses that would measure up. This lens sure does!

The Olympus M. Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens is a really good choice lens for wide-angle shooting - as well as close focus wide angle - in any condition.

One of my first happy surprises was the image and color quality while shooting in the low light conditions - just before sunset. The images were so crisp and vibrant at a time when most lenses would just give me flat, muted results. In the example to the left I took a simple picture of my dog, but I really liked the result - there are so many colors on the beach, the reflections on the water and even in the sky… colors that other lenses and even many times the human eye, might miss. This was great news for me since I am an underwater photographer/videographer where lighting and color are always challenging. For example - the shipwreck had very challenging light, but even with the extreme light at the top, the details can still be seen in the darker areas.

Speaking of taking it underwater - this involves being around wet conditions. So it’s very comforting that this lens includes weather sealing in 11 locations.

Another refreshing change from my DSLR lens is the Olympus 7-14mm lens includes amazing close-up shooting capabilities, with a minimum working distance of just 7.5cm. This is a great feature, especially while shooting underwater and there isn’t the option to switch lenses. The lens port I use is pretty big, so I could not even get the lens closer than it’s focus range. But I was able to get at least within a foot of the subject and still had crisp focus.

I am also really happy with the size and weight of this lens. It is bigger than many other mirrorless lenses, but for the quality, it needs to be. Even though it’s bigger, the weight is still pretty light. For me, it seems really lightweight coming from DSLR lenses. It weighs just under 19 ounces. For underwater, I use the Nauticam NA-GH4 housing with a Nauticam 180mm Optical Glass Dome Port and the N85 to N120 55mm Port Adapter. I was also using an arm system with two iTorch c92 video lights (Read review here). I added two medium sized 10Bar floats to the arms - that  combined with the amount of air around the lens, made the system close to neutrally buoyant.

At first I was a bit concerned that the hood on the lens is permanent. But, this has not been an issue and I have actually come to appreciate it. It’s pretty brilliant how the front dome lens element moves back and forth independent of the hood. Since the front lens moves forward as you go wider (toward 7mm), it prevents vignetting at the widest focal length. But, the lens does not extend beyond the confines of the top/bottom of the hood, so there is still some protection and shade provided. Another bonus, the pinch-style lens cap that is included to fit over the hood is deeper than most lens caps, so it fits much more secure.

Something that was new to me is the MF “clutch”, I must say, it does make it quicker & easier to switch back and forth - rather than a little button on the side of the lens like I’m used to. But, you also have to be more careful to not accidentally have it in the wrong mode - especially if you are putting it in an underwater housing.

I would definitely recommend the Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 lens and I look forward to creating many more images and videos with it.