I remember when I first picked up a wide angle lens to use. I hated it, absolutely hated it. It made everything look so small. I had visions of seeing these wide-open spaces portrayed elegantly with my new fangled lens. I got rid of that lens.
The problem, of course, was the photographer, not the lens. After I learned how to use one, many years later, I always made sure to have one in my kit. For the last few weeks, I’ve been debating on whether to buy the Panasonic 14 mm f/2.5, or the Olympus 12 mm f/2.0. I’d read so many different articles and opinions. I did some experiments to see what was the difference, in field of view, between a 12 mm and a 14 mm, or 24 and 28 mm equivalents for 35 mm cameras. In the end, it came down to just a difference between seeing the whole room, or most of the whole room.
I decided to get the 12 mm. The price difference was rather large, with the Panasonic going for about $325 new and the Olympus, $800. As you can see, more than double the price for only 2 mm difference and a half an f/stop, if that. I liked the idea of a matched lens to the camera, so I went kind of the middle and bought a used 12 mm for $600, not quite twice the price. The lens is only available in the silver color, but it is a nice, professional looking lens, has a decent weight to it, and feels well made.
For a quick switch to manual focusing, should you desire, it has a nice pull ring around the barrel. Pull it in, it disengages the auto focus, pull it back out, AF reengaged. This is really nice for those close focusing situations when the AF might be a bit confused about which edge you wish to focus on.
Included in this post are a couple of shots from the lens. I was very interested in the cloud formation, which was actually steam from the neighborhood nuclear power plant. I took several shots, at f/5.6 with featuring the clouds. Like most wide angle lenses, this lens has depth of field to spare; however, the nice thing about it is that if you open the aperture wide enough, you can still put the background out of focus, which is kind difficult to do on small sensor cameras.
I’ve shot it nearly wide open, at f/2.8, and as you can see, the DOF trails off nicely, at least I think so. It’s not the prettiest bokeh that I’ve ever seen, but it certainly isn’t ugly.
Also, what’s nice is that there’s not so much distortion, although there is some, but I come to expect that and like it, especially the distortion near the lens. I’ve not tried it on architecture, just yet, but then again, I don’t take many architectural shots. If you shoot in JPG, the camera will make automatic corrections for this, and other Olympus lenses to correct for barrel distortion, etc. Also, I believe that Lightroom makes some corrections, too.
I did experiment with it for a few shots, taking some self-portraits, none of which I kept, but they weren’t bad, actually. They weren’t distorted in the manner that I imagined … this is a well adjusted lens, unlike its owner.
The colors that it delivers seem to be pretty neutral. I have, however, turned off the Olympus warming mode, so to speak.
I really like the lens. My arsenal is nearly complete. I have one of the lenses on the E-M1, the other, the 45 mm f/1.8, on the E-M5. I’m ready for battle.