Olympus PEN E-P3 and 12mm f/2.0 samples

We hope to have a the new Olympus 12mm f/2.0 in for a more formal review, but in the meantime we've posted some sample shots for our time with one at the European press launch in Vienna.

Even from our limited time with the lens it's easy to see from the results that this is highest performing lens yet from Olympus for their PEN series. All our sample shots were taken with a PEN EP-3 (there were none of the other cameras announced available at the time), but the E-P3 is the current top-of-line camera and uses the latest (TruePic VI) processor.

Most improvements in image quality lately have been made through advances in processing rather than new sensor technology. A fact perhaps underlined by the insistence of Olympus to stay with the 12-megapixel LMOS chip. However, the faster readout from the sensor has brought about a dramatic increase in AF speed.

Not only is this noticeable with the updated 14-42mm kit lens (both MSC variants) but with the completely new 12mm f/2.0 (24mm equivalent). The barrel and body is metal, and far superior in build to the 17mm f/2.8 and offerings from Panasonic (although they're not bad for what they are).

Optical quality is very impressive indeed. All of the images shown below are in-camera JPEGs with no additional processing. The price is expected to be around £700, and should be available soon (in July).

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Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 12mm f/2.0 ED MSC (equivalent 24mm f/2.0)

Flowers, wide-open at f/2.



Vienna Skyline, 12mm f2 @ f/5.6




Ground level, 12mm f2 @ f/5.6



< Snapshot, 12mm f2 @/f5.6

Updated images added July 15
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This is a 100-percent actual pixel crop of the top left hand image from above (taken at f/5.6) showing some slight lateral chromatic aberration on either side of the highlighted pillar.The magenta fringing is more noticeable but there's some cyan too.

This is an in-camera JPEG. Olympus Pens don't remove CA in-camera like the Lumix models either, but they do correct distortion on the fly, meaning even the image in the viewfinder and screen is corrected in real-time. In popular Raw workflow programs such as Lightroom and ApertureRaw files are corrected as well.
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Fortunately, the 12mm's fringing is quite easy to remove. This is the same image with a -27 correction using the Red/Cyan CA slider in Lightroom 3.

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Resistance to flare (veiling glare) is excellent (but not up to T* or Nano coat standards perhaps), there's some loss of contrast (restricted to the steeple) and ghosting patches are practically non-existant. If you take a look at the figure wearing a blue sweat there's one green patch but it's very slight.

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Focusing is extremely fast on the E-P3 making the combination highly desirable for street photography. Best of all however is the image quality, the lens has superb micro-contrast, excellent gradation from highlights and shadows and a very attractive drawing style. If I get chance, I'll try demonstrate the in-camera distortion correction.

Support our site and buy from our affiliates

Olympus E-P3 pre-order at B&H Photo ($899 with a choice of 17mm f/2.8 or new 14-42mm zoom)
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 (24mm equivalent) pre-order at B&H Photo ($799).

Buy the 12mm f/2.0 from Adorama ($799) or UK readers can buy from Wex (£699 inc VAT).

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