Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm F4.0 Pro Review
The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm F4.0 Pro is a compact, lightweight and weather-sealed ultra-wide-angle to standard zoom lens for the Micro Four Thirds system.
Featuring a 35mm equivalent focal range of 16-50mm, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm F4.0 Pro offers a constant maximum aperture of f/4 throughout its zoom range, plus fast and quiet auto focusing.
It has an optical formula comprised of 16 elements arranged in 10 groups, including one DSA (Dual Super Aspherical) element, one ED (extra-low dispersion) element, two aspherical ED elements, one Super ED element, one HR (high-refractive index) element, one Super HR element, and one HD element.
Other highlights include a minimum focusing distance of 23cm and a maximum magnification of 0.21x, with a ZERO (Zuiko Extra-low Reflection Optical) coating to control aberrations, ghosting and flare and a Fluorine coating to protect against dust, water droplets, grease, and dirt.
The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm F4.0 Pro lens is available now priced at £899.99 in the UK and $1099 in the US. The 8-25mm F4 is manufactured in Vietnam.
Ease of Use
The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm F4.0 Pro is a weather-sealed wide-angle zoom lens with a dedicated Micro Four Thirds mount that is made of metal, with a rubber seal around the mount. Communication between lens and camera body is provided through eleven electrical contacts.
Note however that in order to take full advantage of the weatherproofing, you will need to mount it on a similarly weather-sealed body, like the new flagship OM System OM-1 camera that we tested it with.
Tipping the scales at 411g and measuring 88.5mm in length and 77mm in diameter, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm F4.0 Pro is a compact and lightweight ultra-wide-angle to standard zoom lens.
When it's unlocked and zoomed out to 8mm, though, it does gain another 3cm in length. It's actually a little shorter in length when set to 25mm than at 8mm.
The OM System OM-1 used for this test is a very good match for the lens, offering good balance, fast auto focus, and full environmental seals.
The M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm F4.0 Pro lens is very well built, fully living up to the PRO designation that Olympus have given it.
In terms of features, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm F4.0 Pro provides most of the same controls offered by some of the bigger, faster Olympus Pro lenses.
As with all Olympus M.Zuiko lenses, the 8-25mm F4.0 Pro does not offer image stabilisation. Instead this is provided by the camera body, in this instance the frankly amazing 5-axis system in the OM-1, which provides 7 stops of compensation when paired with this lens.
So while the lack of in-lens image stabilisation is a non-issue for Olympus camera users, owners of other manufacturers products who don't offer in-camera image stabilisation in some of their cameras, like Panasonic, may want to consider a different lens.
With the 8-25mm lens attached to an OM-1 body, focusing proved to be very quick in most situations. This combination is capable of locking focus on a subject almost instantly, even when alternating between close and faraway subjects.
In extreme low-light situations you may experience a little focus hunting at the long end, where a lens with a faster f/2.8 constant aperture would help avoid this.
Manual focusing is done in a traditional fashion, with the adequately sized focus ring mechanically coupled to the moving lens elements, although there are no hard stops at either end. Focusing is fully internal and the filter thread does not rotate on focus.
There is a moderately sized focusing ring around the lens, which you can use when manually focusing the lens. You can snap back the focusing ring to change from auto focus to manual focus in an extremely quick motion, snapping it back again if you want to switch back to using autofocus. When in the manual focus position, you'll see several focal distances are displayed in both meters and feet.
Just below the zoom ring at the base of the lens is a function button, marked L-Fn, which can be customised via the camera's main menu to control a number of different actions. One useful function is depth of field preview - this allows you to see how your image will look at the selected if you hold down the L-Fn button, and is particularly handy when working with narrow apertures.
The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-45mm f/3.5-6.3 EZ lens features a 72mm filter thread and a front bayonet for attaching the supplied LH‑76E petal-shaped lens hood, which twists into place to lock and release it from the lens. The filter thread does not rotate on focus, which is great news for anyone intending to use a polariser or ND grads.
The 8mm focal length provides an angle of view of 107 degrees.
The 25mm focal length provides an angle of view of 47 degrees.
Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are not too much of a problem with the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm F4.0 Pro lens, except in areas of very high contrast.
With the lens set to its maximum aperture of f/4, there is some light fall-off in the corners, requiring you to stop down by at least 2 f-stops to completely prevent it.
The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm F4.0 Pro doesn't exhibit too much barrel or pincushion distortion, as you can see in the photos below.
Sunstars and Flare
The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm F4.0 Pro is capable of producing nice sunstars when stopped-down to f/22, as shown below, although the lens is susceptible to flare when shooting directly into the sun, even with the supplied lens hood fitted.
The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm F4.0 Pro is not really a macro lens, but it does offer a usefully close focus point of 23cm / 9.05in across the entire zoom range from the sensor plane and a maximum magnification of 0.21x.
Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc.
Olympus have paid close attention to this aspect of lens use, employing a 7-segment diaphragm with rounded blades for fairly pleasing bokeh.
In our view, their efforts have been pretty successful for an ultra-wide to standard zoom lens - see the examples below to judge for yourself.
In order to show you how sharp the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm F4.0 Pro lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.