One of my favorite lenses of all time is the Olympus 12-100mm f/4 PRO. For micro four-thirds shooters, this lens offers an amazing focal range with a constant aperture. It’s got great picture quality in a fairly compact footprint, making it perfect for a wide variety of uses.
It makes sense, then, that the new M.Zuiko 8-25mm f/4 PRO offers some of the same benefits … and then some. The lens comes in at a rather odd focal length — a full-frame view of 16-50mm — but that’s really what makes it great.
Just like its older 12-100mm cousin, the 8-25mm is a versatile lens offering a range of views because of its focal length. Coupled with some great picture quality and a very compact size, it’s hard to beat. It’s simply a great option for photographers looking for a slightly wider angle.
On the outside, there’s nothing really surprising about the 8-25mm. The size and weight are great, making it easy to fit in a small bag or carry around for a day trip. It couples perfectly with my OM-D E-M1 Mark III camera, and is very well balanced.
The only thing that Olympus shooters will find new is a retracting lens design. This allows the lens to be shrunk down smaller in a “locked” position. Once you get out of the “locked” position and to 8mm, you’ll see the lens expand about 1.6 inches. This is the longest it expands, and as you zoom in with the lens, you’ll see the lens contract a bit to roughly 1.3 inches (at the 18mm mark).
The build quality here is just as you’d expect. It follows the lead of the 12-100mm with the same 72mm lens thread. There’s only one button though — a customizable L-Fn button on the left side, closest to the body.
Why a 8-25mm?
This is something I asked myself at first, too. After all, does 4mm on the wide end really make a difference over the 12-100mm?
But then I remembered back to some of the trips I remember taking when I first got into the micro four-thirds system. At the time, I had the 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens — another one of my favorites. While this certainly worked well for me, there were times I found myself needing that wider view. When you’re on vacation in huge crowds, it’s often not the easiest to back up to fit your scene in.
Frankly, I don’t see the 8-25mm as a competitor to the 12-100mm lens. I see it as an alternative. For those photographers who love travel, cityscapes and landscapes, put this lens on your list. While it doesn’t have the telephoto reach of the 12-100mm, it’ll give you that wider view that’s often necessary. Plus, the smaller form factor means it’ll be easier to take with you.
- Focal length: 8-25mm (full-frame field of view 16-50mm)
- Lens construction: 16 elements in 10 groups
- Weatherproofing: Yes; IPX1 when used with an Olympus splashproof body
- Angle of view: 107–47 degrees
- Closest focusing distance: 0.23m
- Maximum image magnification: 0.07x (wide) / 0.21x (tele)
- Aperture blades: 7
- Aperture range: f/4–22
- Filter size: 72mm
- Weight: 411 grams
In the field
I tested the 8-25mm in the nearby town of Lowell, MI, capturing some landscapes and buildings. The lens was rock solid throughout all my tests, with sharp picture quality and fast autofocus. While you won’t get the beautiful bokeh here you might often find with Olympus’ larger aperture lenses, you’ll still get some nice background separation.
But that’s not the goal of the 8-25mm.
Simply put, the 8-25mm is a travel photographer’s lens. You’re not going to use it in really dark scenes or with fast movement. It’s great for capturing what’s in front of you. I had no real problems with the lens — it just worked really, really nicely.
And while there was a little distortion at the wide end, it seemed to be reduced compared to other lenses I’ve used. I’m not sure what special magic Olympus is using with this lens, but whatever it is … it works very, very well. All of these photos were leveled (because I was either too low or not shooting straight). But none had distortion correction applied.
Olympus continues to show why it’s in the game
Lenses like the 8-25mm f/4 PRO show why Olympus has stuck around for so long, and continues to do so. Despite a sale at the start of this year, the company hasn’t skipped a beat. The 8-25mm is a great example of how the company continues to innovate and utilize its technologies, while buckling the trends other camera manufacturers seem to be stuck on.