The Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO adds the ultra-wide angle range to the PRO line of f/2.8 zoom lenses recently introduced by Olympus for the Micro 4/3 system. The 7-14mm f/2.8 is a faster and supposedly superior optic to Panasonic’s excellent 7-14mm f/4 lens that has been a staple of the Micro 4/3 system for many years. The extra speed and quality comes at a price, however, with a $1299 cost of entry for this versatile wide-zoom. Is it worth the extra dough?
Construction and Handling
When compared to other micro 4/3 lenses, the 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO is a hefty beast. It’s significantly larger than any other ultra-wide for the system, and has a substantial and bulbous front element. However, you’ll find it’s similar in size to many other ultra-wide lenses for other mirrorless systems, such as the Fuji 10-24mm f/4 and the Sony FE 16-35mm f/4. The lens is made for the serious shooter, and is really intended for use on the cameras with more substantial grips, such as the Panasonic GH4, Olympus OM-D E-M1 and so on.
I tested the camera using my Olympus OM-D E-M5 with the horizontal grip, which made the lens easy to handle in the field. The width of the main barrel of the lens does make clearance a bit tight with this grip, but it’s not bad at all. I wouldn’t recommend the lens for use with the smaller bodies such as any of the Olympus PEN series or the Panasonic GM series.
The lens is constructed predominantly of metal, and the overall build quality is very good. The large permanent lens hood is made of plastic, and feels a bit cheaper than the rest of the lens, but the overall impression is one of quality. The zoom and focus rings move smoothly, with nice damping, though the zoom ring sort of ‘snaps’ into the 7mm setting. It’s a minor thing to note, but it did take away slightly from the otherwise excellent haptics.
The 7-14mm features a focus clutch mechanism like the other PRO series zooms, providing instant access to manual focus by pulling back the ring. This also reveals a focus scale and has hard stops for the ends of the focus range. Manually focusing is easy, and the focus ring provides adequate resistance for a nice focus feel. The 7-14mm, like many Olympus lenses, features a programmable L-Fn button that can come in handy for quick access to settings on the camera.
The lens is sealed against dust and moisture, and while I didn’t have an opportunity to thoroughly test the weather sealing, I have confidence in it given the strong showings Olympus has shown in this area with all of its sealed Micro 4/3 lenses.
There’s not too much to talk about with regards to autofocus, given the very wide field of view. The focus throw of such a lens is always going to be short, so it’s no surprise that the Olympus 7-14mm PRO is a very fast focusing lens. In essentially any lighting situation, I found the 7-14mm very quick and very accurate with regards to autofocus. Certainly nothing to worry about here.
The 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO does not have an optical stabilizer, as all Olympus Micro 4/3 bodies have in-body stabilization. For Panasonic shooters, it’s still not anything that is really too much to worry about, especially given the performance at f/2.8. While stabilization is always nice, it’s not essential on a fast ultra-wide angle lens.