Review: The Olympus Zuiko Digital ZD 12-100/4 Pro

For the last year, the question I’ve been asked most frequently is when will I review the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-100mm F4 lens? The reason this has been pushed back so long is because I knew I was exiting Olympus, and I wanted this review to be written after I had left the company. While Olympus never restricted me, during my time there, in saying anything I wanted to about their cameras or lenses, I just felt that being completely independent would make it easier to write freely.

The Olympus 12-100 F4 lens is ambitious in design, covering a 35mm equivalent focal range from 24mm to 200mm. Looking at existing full frame lens options, you will need at least two lenses to equal the range afforded by the Olympus 12-100mm lens. As a consequence, this is not a small lens and measures in at 117cm in length, takes a 72mm filter and weighs about 567g, which is on the larger and heavier end of the Micro Four Thirds lens spectrum. The Olympus 12-100mm F4 lens on an OM-D E-M1 Mark II body feels balanced, but it is now no different than holding a dSLR with a standard zoom lens. Some may argue the convenience of practically having two lenses in one is worth the sacrifice in compactness. The Olympus 12-100mm F4 is not aimed at photographers wanting to have a system set up with  the smallest possible footprint.

1/5sec, F13, ISO200, 12mm

The lens may not have the f2.8 at the wide end like everyone had hoped for, but it does have other useful features and capabilities. The built in 2-Axis Image Stabilization works hand in hand with the 5-Axis Image Stabilization of OM-D E-M1, E-M1 Mark II, E-M5 Mark II and the PEN-F cameras for steadier hand-held shooting. The minimum focusing distance is about 0.15m with a respectable magnification of 0.3x maximum, which is useful in close-up situations. Being a PRO lens, the lens is well constructed, all metal and is fully weather sealed (dust-proof, splash-proof and freeze-proof down to -10 degrees Celsius).

I had the opportunity to use the Olympus 12-100mm F4 Pro lens extensively, especially during shooting sessions for my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II review. All images in this article were taken with the E-M1 Mark II.

1/250sec, F4, ISO200, 35mm

1/80sec, F4, ISO200, 100mm

Crop from previous image

1/10sec, F6.3, ISO200, 100mm

Crop from previous image

I find the images shot with the Olympus 12-100mm F4 lens to be excellent in sharpness, with high levels of fine detail and contrast. The lens is sharp wide open at f4, and there is no visible corner softness. The lens maintains this sharpness from 12mm through 100mm, with no noticeable (at least to my eyes) degradation. The cost of creating a lens of such a large zoom range (12-100mm) with optimum optical performance throughout is the weight and size of it.

When using the Olympus 12-100mm F4 lens on the E-M1 Mark II any flaws in the lens may be automatically corrected via software processing. Therefore, there is no trace of chromatic aberration, barrel distortion or corner shading once the RAWs are put through the JPEG engine. It’s hard to say to what extent the software corrects the flaws but if you are shooting RAW this shouldn’t be an issue in all but the most demanding photographic circumstances. The autofocus of the Olympus 12-100mm lens is quick and reliable, and I didn’t see any flare when shooting directly into bright light.

Handling and comfort in use is an interesting issue to discuss. While I was perfectly fine using the Olympus 12-100mm F4 Pro on an E-M1 Mark II body, I cannot say the same for other smaller Micro Four-Thirds cameras. Using the 12-100mm lens on the smaller E-M10 Mark II, or the PEN-F was uncomfortable. Shooting for long hours hand-held with such a setup is likely to cause wrist strain (I felt it using my own E-M10 Mark II with the 12-100mm lens).

Honestly, besides the large lens size and weight, there really is nothing to complain about with this lens. Optically it is extremely well controlled, and delivers pleasingly sharp images.

1.3sec, F13, ISO200, 25mm

5sec, F9, ISO Low, 12mm

Crop from previous image

6sec, F11, ISO200, 12mm

Olympus claims that you can achieve up to 6.5 stops stabilization by using the Olympus 12-100mm F4 PRO on the E-M1 Mark II. Basically the 5-Axis Image Stabilization in the body works in tandem with the 2-Axis Image Stabilization in the lens to achieve greater stabilization benefits.

I have tested the Olympus 12-100mm F4 lens in multiple challenging scenarios, and the image stabilization was impressive. Personally, I managed to hand-hold (while bracing myself against something) up to 5 second long exposures for a wide angle shot, and got away with reasonably sharp results. 5 second shutter speeds allow me a lot of room for creative photographic execution, such as light trails along a highway. Just being able to hand-hold the lens for a second or two allows me to smooth moving water, or capture the motion blur of smoke, as shown in the images above.

The benefits of image stabilization open up a world of possibilities. I am not saying that you should not bring a tripod, nothing can truly replace a sturdy, reliable tripod to get that critically sharp image. However, if you want a fuss free setup, convenience and quick execution, the Olympus 12-100mm lens can confidently stretch the possibilities of hand-held shooting, even in extremely challenging circumstances.

1/125sec, F4, ISO1000, 21mm

1/320sec, F4.5, ISO200, 25mm

1/250sec, F8, ISO200, 100mm

1/30sec, F4, ISO200, 81mm

1/80sec, F5.6, ISO640

1/180sec, F5.6, ISO1600, 13mm

So how does the Olympus 12-100mm F4 Pro lens compare to Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens?

I have not done a side by side comparison between the 12-100mm and 12-40mm, but from my extensive shooting experience and memory using both lenses, I did feel that the newer 12-100mm F4 Pro lens is slightly sharper, but not by a significant margin. I need to verify this but that would have to be a separate article if I can manage to get my hands on both lenses again. Nevertheless, in Malaysia, the Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 lens costs about half as much as the 12-100mm F4 Pro lens. This means, for the cost of a 12-100mm lens, you can get a 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens, which by itself is a respectable standard zoom lens, and you can add on another lens, such as a 60mm F2.8 macro lens. While the wider constant aperture of the 12-40mm is advantageous, in my recent discussions with Ming Thein, we both agreed that we would rather take an optically superior f4 lens over an f2.8 lens that was a notch or two below.

1/20sec, F8, ISO200, 41mm

From time to time I have been asked if I was to own only one lens for my Micro Four Thirds system, what would that lens be? Surely the idea of not having multiple lenses with me is not something that’s likely to happen, but let’s play along – that one lens, I’m sure, will be the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-100mm F4 Pro lens. It is versatile and optically capable of delivering pleasingly sharp images. Finally, the image stabilization helps stretch the hand-held shooting possibilities, for both stills and video.

However, let’s take a quick reality check and we’ll admit that it’s rare to own just one lens.

The biggest motivation for many Micro Four Thirds users is the significantly size and weight advantage. Using the 12-100mm lens on an E-M1 Mark II takes this away quite a bit as it is no different from using a dSLR with a standard zoom lens. Therefore, I would realistically opt for a smaller sized lens selection, such as 12-40mm F2.8 PRO, and another prime lens, depending on shooting preferences and needs.

I am sure some of you already have this lens, and may have used it for quite some time. What are your thoughts on the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-100mm F4 IS Pro lens? RW

Additional thoughts from MT: I too found this lens to be excellent – the one lens for M4/3. It is an impressive performer throughout the range, and has a better out of focus rendition than the 12-40 that preceded it. This property, combined with the dual stabiliser, makes it ideal for handheld video work. I have to agree with Robin that if you had to have only one lens for the system – and perhaps to cover everything – this would be it. There are very, very few compromises, and I never once felt any of them were optical. The only problem is the size: it’s very un-Micro Four Thirds, and combined with an E-M1.2 body (for best balance and full dual IS functionality) – it’s nearly the same volume and weight as an X1D and 45mm. I suppose when you consider the effective range (24-200) and relatively fast constant aperture (4) – that changes things a bit. Scalpel or Swiss Army knife? Down to individual preference, I think. The trickier question is whether within the same M4/3 universe you’d be better served by a few faster primes at similar cost; I think this is a tricky one to answer and depends on how often you shoot in low light or inclement weather situations (the primes are not as well sealed as this 12-200). Still merits a recommended rating from me. MT

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 12-100mm F4 IS PRO Lens is available here from B&H
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is available here from B&H


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Images and content copyright Robin Wong 2017 onwards. All rights reserved


  1. I have them all but find that the 12-100 is extremely useful as a niche lens. I do wildlife photography taking just this lens and the PL 100-400. It covers everything you could want beautifully. In this context it is a very convenient setup indeed.

  2. I myself use the Panasonic-Leica 12-60 mm + Olympus Pro 2.8 40-150 mm (in combination with my GH 5 Body)!

  3. Dear Robin

    I have been using the 12-100 IS on my EM5 Mk2 but there one thing I am not sure of.

    – Does ‘Sync-IS’ work with the EM5 mk 2?
    – Or is Sync-IS exclusive to the EM1 Mk2 only?

    Thanks and I hope you can offer your guidance.


    • Robin Wong says:

      the 5-Axis Sync IS works with E-M1, E-M5 Mark II, PEN-F, E-M1 Mark II and E-M1X. You have to make sure your E-M5 Mark II has the latest firmware, because the 12-100mm PRO lens was released 2 years after the E-M5 Mark II. Without the firmware update, the lens will have stabilization and focusing issues on older bodies.

  4. Dear Robin and Ming, nothing to do with tbis specific article, but perhaps you can do me favour: the articles are virtually not legible on my mobile phone LG G4 in firefox browser. On Robins blog-site, this was not a problem at all. Can you please adopt page layout from Robins blog-site to yours?
    Thanks aot in advance, because I really love to read your articles.

  5. When reviewing M43 lenses, it would be helpful (well, to me anyway!) if you could comment on what the situation is using (in this instance) the Olympus lens on say a Lumix G9 with regard to AF performance, IS, IQ and so forth.

  6. Nitin Jayanand says:

    Hi Robin
    Thanks for all your reviews. Your real world photos and narration has been a great help in deciding my lenses. I have an omd em5 mk2 with 12-40 pro +40-150 pro +7.5mm samyang. Very much appreciate your effort and support towards fellow photographers.
    Hope to read more of your reviews.
    Thanks many.. Nitin

  7. Thanks for your insights re: this lens. I actually used it to photograph a concert in a poorly lit venue and was surprisingly pleased with the results. I agree that the E-M1 Mark II is the best body for this lens. Tried it on my Pen-F and didn’t like the feel at all.

  8. Andreas Yankopolus says:

    Curoious how you’d compare this lens to the 14-150 II as a travel/hiking lens to leave on the camera. OIS gives the 12-100 an edge in low light. Maybe it depends on the body? I have a couple small primes, but swapping between them gets inconvenient at times, and none are weather sealed.

  9. david mantripp says:

    I’ve been tempted by this lens, but finally it just doesn’t seem to fit in any obvious niche. It’s big, heavy and expensive, and while the sample photos I’ve seen are indeed very nice, in my opinion Olympus has a better all-round travel lens in its catalog: the 14-150 MkII. I acquired this lens by “accident” – it came an E-M5 MkII shop demo (flawless) being sold at such a ridiculously low price that I couldn’t NOT buy it as a back u to my E-M1. Since then, probably 80% of my m4/3 travel photography has been done using the 14-150, despite my shelf full of m.Zuiko primes and PRO lenses. So long as you don’t shoot wide open, and add a smidgeon of contrast in post, honestly in real world terms it doesn’t lack much. Apart of course from half the weight / mass, and half the price of the 12-100. Yes, the 12-100 + E-M1 MkII has this incredible IS, but frankly, at those dimensions, even I would be wondering why I didn’t get an FF DSLR instead. I’ve been using Olympus Digital continuously since 2003, and I’m concerned I’m seeing them make exactly the same mistakes as with the original Four Thirds. The compact, beautifully designed E-1 morphed into the E-3/E-5 tank, prices shot up and weight increased. The comment that the E-M1 MkII / 12-100 combination is about the same size as a Hasselblad X1D really should give for for thought…

    • Robert Gonzales says:

      The reason you did not buy the FF DSLR and equivalent lens?
      total wt of e-m1 mk II + 12-100 = 1135g. weight distribution is close to 50/50.
      total wt of full frame Canon 5DMkII + Canon 70-200 f 2.8 IS II = 2290 g. weight distribution is 65% lens/35% camera
      So the mft setup is half as heavy, overall smaller in size, easier to handle due to 50/50 weight distribution. Plus this mft combo costs significantly less overall. BTW, I have both and love the mft setup for casual travel and concert shooting. I use the FF when shooting blue hour landscapes. Lately, the mft setup is getting much more use. If today, I could only buy one setup, it would be the mft.

  10. Great review, Ming. I have this lens for a while and it pairs with OMD EM1 Mii to create magic. I am able to take night scene shots at base ISO with shutter speed as low as 8 seconds handheld at 12mm. The image quality is excellent with no/little noise even at ISO 2000. I even tried it on the 5 year old EM5 with lens IS on. It seems to me that even with the EM5, shutter speed as low as 1s becomes manageable, 2s if with great care, although Olympus has announced previously older models like EM5 do not with the 12-100 IS. Just wondering if you have tried?

  11. Karl Withakay says:

    One lens vs two lenses: In M4/3, if you want full, continuous coverage from 12-100mm, you can’t do it with any combination of premium lenses any lighter or cheaper than you can with the Olympus 12-100 PRO (561g $1300).

    Pairing the Panasonic X 12-35 F2.8 (305g, $700 USD [ver I]) & 35-100 F2.8 (360g $1100 USD) yields a 665g combo for $1800 USD.

    The difference of 104g & $500 USD can get you low light options of either a Panasonic 20mm F1.7 with $300 USD to spare or a Leica 15mm F1.7 Summilux on sale for just an additional $50 USD

  12. Great review. With respect to the size of a kit consisting of this lens and the E-M1 MK II, I agree it goes against the ethos of Micro Four Thirds, but I also think it is best judged in terms of the ratio of total capability to total weight. In this respect, it’s impressive. The camera, lens, plus a tripod (for high res mode, for still life an architecture) and a modest flash setup is going to deliver impressive capability in a kit that will mostly fit in what counts as the second (small) piece of hand luggage on many airlines.

  13. Thanks for the extensive review! 🙂

    You may want to correct the typo. I have not seen the lens for real, but I doubt it really is a 117cm 😉

    Best regards,

  14. Thanks for the review.
    It confirms my decision to acquire one, as a travel lens.
    Doesn’t look unbalanced to me. I use the PL 100-400 on a G85 body and that works fine.
    Once you get a decent lens it’s hard to go back to the relative softness and flatness of a cheapie.

    • It is so true, once you have tasted a higher grade lens, there is no going back to lower alternatives.

  15. michaellyblog says:

    I liked your subject a lot and how you organize your photos.

  16. Gerner Christensen says:

    Robin. Ming already made a fantastic workflow video working with smaller sensors with lesser DR than the big shot cameras and mega senors. May I suggest you make a video with your workflow and put it up under the video sales here on the blog?

  17. Michael Presley says:

    Enjoyed your thoughts on this lens. I’ve had it for a few months now and use it on the GX7. The 12-100 along with my Panny 7-14 is my travel kit. The primes I have are for use otherwise.It is indeed a superb lens!

    The statements of being unbalanced has never made sense to me. I support the camera/lens with my left hand under the lens. The right hand is not holding any weight to speak of – so it doesn’t matter how large the lens is to me.

    • Glad that you find the 12-100mm lens working great on your Panasonic camera body. If the lens feels balanced for you, then it is good, but that may not be case for everyone.

  18. creativefamily3 says:

    Thank you, it was really informative.

  19. I have been using this lens on my E-M5 Mark II comfortably and with success. Yes, it is bulky, but so is the 40-150 PRO. The E-M5 Mark II handles the weight OK. I love the lens when I am traveling with family members who meander about and make swift turns in varied directions. Keeping up with them and taking sharp candids near and far become possible when this lens is mounted. Switching lenses would lose me to the group. In a dim lit aquarium boosting ISO to 3200, images were sharp and not grainy. Nice surprise. I have lots of primes, plus the 12-40, but the swell range of this is lovely for a an 86 year-old camera bravissima.

    • Glad to find out that the lens works well for you! and yes with the E-M5 Mark II you can enjoy the 5-Axis Sync IS. You are right about not having to switch lens, that is a huge convenience factor in some situations, and it can really make a difference!

  20. I have used the 12-100mm f4 solid for 3 weeks on my em10-mark2, while on holiday in Italy this summer. I have the external grip fitted and found the combination to work perfectly well both handling as balance wise. Yes, its a heavy lens but a prize I glady paid for the benefit of having the long zoom range constantly at hand without having to swap lenses. I use a peak design clip to clip it to my backpack and have done many hikes and city walks during these 3 weeks. Images are stunning! I used to own multiple primes but have now sold them to just own the 12-100, the 14-42 for really light and compact situations and the 25mm f1.8 prime for low light. Haven’t touched the 25mm since buying the 12-100. Hesitant to sell the 25mm just yet.
    Thanks for the review, Robin. You confirmed my experiences with the 12-100mm completely. A fabulous piece of glass!

    • Glad to find that the 12-100mm F4 is working out great for you! And it is the lens that is more than adequate for most usual shooting circumstances, unless you shoot often in extremely low light conditions of course. Nonetheless, I am glad to hear that it works well with the E-M10 Mark II. yes indeed, the external camera grip is a necessity!

  21. Peter Wright says:

    Robin, Good review, thanks. You discuss the advantages/disadvantages with respect to the 12-40 Pro, but I am wondering what your impressions are with respect to the 40-150 Pro. Clearly with the latter, we get the extra stop and more reach, especially with the tele extender, but how does it compare for sharpness etc. And are there any subjective impressions? I am mostly a prime rather than zoom user, but I got the 12-40 and 40-150 earlier, and am considering a swap for the 12-100 (less to carry when I do want of go zooming). I appreciate your comments.

    • 40-150mm PRO is a very specific, telephoto zoom lens. In terms of sharpness, I’d think both lenses are very much similar. However that extra reach, and ability to use the 1.4x teleconverter adds a lot more versatility for telephoto shooting, which the lens is designed for. Not really a fair comparison. If you have 12-40mm and 40-150mm, I suggest keeping both!

  22. I guess it depends on your needs. I imagine that combined with one or two primes for nighttime shooting, this would be a great travel lens, especially if the stabilization is good enough to save you the hassle of lugging a tripod around. I love the idea of being able to capture motion without a tripod.

    Just to follow up, if you’ve got a stable grip, how reliably can you get 4-5 second exposures? What would you say your hit rate is like? Also, if you’re shooting indoors (e.g., in a Gothic cathedral or something like that), do you think the stabilization good enough to shoot at base ISO? I imagine this might be possible at 12mm but is unrealistic at longer focal lengths?

    • The image stabilization is NOT a replacement for tripod, and I should have emphasized that I do not encourage hand-held shooting at dangerously slow shutter speeds. A tripod is still high recommended for such difficult conditions, for long exposure shooting. The image stabilization allows you to get shots, in case you do not have the tripod, and it boosts the confidence of getting the shots hand-held, say at 1/10 second or 1/2 second shutter speed. Anything slower than that, get a tripod!

    • You usually won’t need the stabilisation or a tripod for shooting action as action is shot with short shutter speeds.

  23. I got this lens, and the Em 1.2, just before a 2 week trip around northern Italy. One lens, one body, both smaller than the Nikon D810 and x2 zooms I would have taken otherwise. What a joy! And as a combo, combined with a variable ND filter/polariser, the creative opportunities were phenomenal. And it isn’t as if the files are a major issue either…despite typically shooting in challenging light, I am more than happy with the output. Superb. The only thing I really miss is quality wide angle. Nothing less than e24mm seems up to standard, from what I have seen, and the 12-100 f4 has some issues at the wider end as I have experienced so far (not sure if it is field curvature, but there is definitely some weirdness going on with focal plane at the edges). Some ugly ghosts shooting contra-jour too…but hey, I don’t expect everything!

    • Robin Wong says:

      I did not notice anything out of the ordinary with the wide angle end of the 12-100mm, but then again the Olympus software may have corrected everything, so you may not get that benefit using any other processing software. Nonetheless, you are right, there should be some compromises and minor flaws there and here, considering how ambitious the lens is.

      • Gerner Christensen says:

        I think Ian is on to something here. The lens (as much I could judge on skewed samples) shows increasing sharpness and lesser distortion the longer focal length you use it at.

  24. Gerner Christensen says:

    Sorry Robin and Ming, that for now I can’t find the same brilliant performance as you did. I am running on my second sample which is a flawed as can be. The first were terrible misaligned and skewed, the second the same. Olympus refused to repair the lens under warranty, so both my sample are bought. The second sample Olympus accepted to take a look at, but since there no Olympus outlet or service here it will take a long time before I see it again (3 months or so) without I have any guarantee I’ll receive a better lens. So until now, for me it was a downer trying out this universal and praised lens.

    • Ouch. Sorry to hear this, Gerner. It’s a complex beast with all that glass in it, and I’d expect some sample variation…but two duds is really unlucky! Why did they not accept there was a problem? This is rather…disappointing.

      • Gerner Christensen says:

        Yes most unlucky Ming. Olympus Service Singapore told me it was within the specified tollerances and did not see any errors. Heh…

        • Robin Wong says:

          Gerner, may I ask what the problems were with the lens? Misalignment, meaning you get out of focus images, or uneven sharpness/softness across the frame?

          • Gerner Christensen says:

            Hi Robin. Both the first sample I had of it and the second showed a very blurred or ghosted left side of the frame, worse in the lower left corner, Where it was almost impossible to see what was going on there, just blur. Whereas the right side of the frame was and is pinsharp and detailed. I wonder how I could have gotten two samples with the same behaviour. My first sample was bought in Singapore and was at service there and got refused and found OK. Really don’t figure how they could oversee such a mega skew? They told me to buy a new sample if I wanted it differently !!!
            I did then, but this time in Austria and the dealer at lest agreed to have a look at it.

            With the sample I still have I tried to insert a small piece of baking paper under the lens mount on the lens. That averaged the unsharpnes out so the images showed the same sharpness across the frame, but not as sharp as the right side was before. So clearly both sample are skewed.

            I hope I will have better luck with Olympus service in Europe which is in Prague.

            • Thanks for the clarification and explaining what happened. Appreciated the details.
              Here is a possibility, which I hoped the service center have tried and resolved. All cameras before the release of the 12-100mm F4 IS PRO require firmware update to allow the IS to work properly. If you have E-M1, E-M5 Mark II and PEN-F, this is especially crucial. If your firmware is outdated, you will have a lot of issues with autofocus, as well as the 5-Axis Sync IS stabilization.
              For other cameras, you also need the firmware update, mainly to tell the body to use which Image stabilization.
              I have strong reasons to suspect this was not an issue of misalignment, if it happened to one lens, possible, but two lenses, maybe it was the IS system messing up.
              Well, if you have updated your camera firmwares to the latest, I have nothing further to add. Perhaps it was a misfortune of purchasing some lemons! So sorry if that happened.

              • Gerner Christensen says:

                Thanks so much Robin for your follow up and help in my case here. Much appreciated.

                The lens has FW 1.1 which is the latest and the EM1.2 has 1.3. which also seems to be the latest body FW. I think I will keep the body innocent since all my other Oly lenses are just perfect (well yes there was this 25/1.2 which was another dog and I got it replaced with a new another dog, but Olympus Singapore have though accepted to have an extra look at it again).

                A good test if your camera and eventual IBIS is totally OK is to make some shots with the Nocticron 42,5. If there isn’t 100% resolution and sharpness from corner to corner, most probably there’s a flaw in the body.

                Robin, I just think I’ve been unusual unlucky. I trust of course you findings and so many users here confirmation as well. Wil shit happen once, it will also happen twice 🙂

        • Gerner Christensen says:

          BTW Gents, if it doesn’t work for me either this time to be the happy owner of the lens, I would not have more attempts should service also fail with the next one I bought. The first one I tossed out in the garbage bin. But what’s positive is I bought a new sample of the 12-40 because I dropped the old one on the floor. It was beyond impossible to repair it. The new one is just so much better than the one i dropped, I can’t believe my own eyes. Perfect lens and one get to learn to deal with the field curvature this lens shows. You want the blur as close to the edges as possible and not in the middle of the frame 🙂

    • I never buy a lens before testing it first . . .

  25. I own an E-M1.2 and the 12-100mm/4.0. I also have a few fast primes to go with it.
    The zoom is my standard lens for every day use; in most cases it does an excellent job and I am really happy with it.
    Its weight is no issue for me – I used to have a full format Nikon with a 24-70G and 70-200G. This is MUCH heavier, and changing lenses is time-consuming and in the field opens the risk for dust on the sensor.

  26. Let me begin my first ever comment on any of the many photography-related sites I have been reading daily for many years now by underlining that I respect everything posted for what it is, be it a personal opinion, a fact, a concealed advertisement, a..s.o.
    Even so, I think it is about time to point out that countless comments on M4/3 equipment dimensions are not really just simple, neutral comparisons, but also based on personal expectations. How often have certain lenses been criticised because of their size and weight? Recently, to a lesser degree, this has even extended to the 2 top-of-the-line camera models. It seems that in the back of their minds most of the bloggers have the equation – a small format must result in small equipment. No doubt this is also influenced by marketing statements made during the early years of the system.
    Of course it is true that a smaller format allows designing smaller components than for a larger format – provided all other parameters of the comparison are the same! But you don’t get lens speed, long focal lengths, large zoom ranges, not to mention quality for free in any format. Nobody can seriously expect e.g. a 42,5/1.2, a 25/1.2, a 12-100/4, a 40-150/2.8, a 100-400/4-6.3 to be a small M4/3 lens, especially if high imaging performance is a given. Of course there are smaller M4/3 lenses, but these are not as fast, or they don’t have the same zoom range. And of course there are smaller lenses for larger formats – but definitely not if compared to models with similar angles of view, zoom range and speeds. If compared with those, the respective M4/3 lenses are smaller by a large margin.
    And, yes, a long and heavy lens can become uncomfortable to hold and carry sooner or later – in any format. But its always a trade-off, if i prefer a smaller and lighter lens without being willing to sacrifice my system’s total focal length range, I have to tote additional lenses around. That is very quickly at least as uncomfortable, besides, it inevitably leads to missing shots due to the necessity to change lenses. In the end, in every situation its always a personal choice how to balance convenience, versatility, and quality. And price of course.
    BTW: I find using a wrist loop very helpful, it lets me carry my not too light everyday body-zoom lens combination for hours on end without it getting annoying in any way.

  27. Re distortion & CA correction and, can we assume that this is included in RAW files and so available in Panasonic bodies and Lightroom?

  28. Well Robin, first of all, 117 centimetres is one beast of a lens. 🙂
    And then: I wonder that you, coming from FT already before you signed you Olympus deal, claim that size and weight is the main reason for µFT users to use this system. And that the 12-100 is to big and heavy for all the µFT Oly cameras below the E-M1 MKI / MKII. I don’t remember you writing that the 12-60 SWD was tpoo big for youe E-620.
    Furthermore, There are quite a lot of µFT users who have other reasons to use µFT than the compactness and low weight of the stem. The same reasons that already made them use FT. Or have you forgotten why you opted for using FT in the first place.

    • Robin Wong says:

      You must have had your history mixed up. I have never owned a 12-60mm lens, and I’ve never even used an E-620 before. I’ve used E-5, and I had 11-22mm wide angle and the venerable 50mm F2 macro.

      E-5 was a larger and heavier than E-M1 and E-M1 Mark II, can balance larger and heavier lenses well.

      • Well, I remember that the E-5 was a gift by Olympus (for a test ?) and that you used another Oly before. May have been the E-520 or whatever but one of the smaller FT cameras. You never complained about a lens being too big or too heavy. And then, you tested a lot of cameras you didn’t own, so I was sure that the the 12-60 SWD was one of them. But even if this wasn’t the case, other FT users didn’t buy into the system due to a size / weightadvantage and even used SHG lenses on their E-4xx / 5xx / 6xx. The point is that I don’t understand why a small camera should be too small for big lenses if they weren’t in the past. I understand this claim if you are talking about your one-hand macro approach but usually, the left hand takes the major part of the weight and the right hand just the operates the control buttons and wheels.

        • I meant a lot of lenses, not cameras

        • Robin Wong says:

          I had an e520. I used the 1442mm kit lens on it. It was tiny. Of course I never mentioned anything about bigger lenses because I never had them!

        • Could that be a mixup with Ming Thein again?

          • Nope.

            • Robin Wong says:

              Please do understand that my FIRST ever camera review was the Olympus E-5. When I used any cameras before that, I only had my kit lenses, and the 50mm F2 macro. It was perfect, because of the small sizes, both camera and lenses. When I used the E-5, subsequently I went to acquire 11-22mm and 50mm f2. I did have the 50-200mm Non SWD version.
              The E-5 was NOT a small camera body, but that was a good thing because it can balance very well with the 50-200mm lens. I have not used anything bigger or heavier than that. If I have ever used the 12-60mm on any of the smaller bodies, surely I have written about it. I have not. Because I simply did not have the chance to try it.
              It is not about me changing minds, or having different opinion. I just never had the opportunity to try so many lenses. The relationship with Olympus started AFTER the E-5.

    • BTW why do you use the symbol for micron to stand for ‘micro’?

  29. I hate this lens, because after I bought it, I hardly use any of my other lenses. 😀

  30. Per Kylberg says:

    Just some “fact adjusting”: Sony FE 24-240 at 780g actually has a wider range. This lens does not get as nice reviews tested on a 42mpix A7R2, but down-sample it to 20mpix and comparison would be pretty similar – maybe…. The Sony is cheaper than the Olympus.

  31. I bought my OMD EM1.2 as a small system for family days out/holidays etc and for situations when the 1DX2 might draw too much attention (sometimes you get away with more “as a tourist”) and the 12-100 was the first lens I purchased. The image quality is fantastic and a credit to Olympus. If there are situations where I don’t want to carry a bag then I just take this lens – it covers most bases. It’s also nice to be able to use an ND filter handheld thanks to the incredible image stabilisation – images of busy places where the crowds could distract from the subject can be taken so the crowds and blurred – they are still there but it puts the focus back on the main subject. It is the perfect travel lens and although it’s bigger than some of the other M4/3 lenses it’s not too big. When I tested one of these lenses prior to purchasing it I was physically shaking the camera and the image in the viewfinder didn’t move a bit.

  32. This baby is on my shopping list and it will compliment my set of primes quite nicely. Personally I’m not overly concerned about the size or weight. I quite clearly works very well. The 12/100 will make a great travel lens. Many thanks for your well written product review.

    • Robin Wong says:

      Indeed, it is a great one lens to do it all, perfect for travel. Nonetheless, like MT, I will probably not bring just one lens. Hence the assortment of small prime lenses would be the way to go for me.

  33. Heng Liang says:

    Great photos as usual.

    Do you feel it’s much easier to get reasonably good 1.5 to 2 second shutter speed photos when this lens is paired with the EM-1 Mark 2 than with the Mark 1?

    • Robin Wong says:

      Yes, the new E-M1 Mark II does make a difference when dealing with crazy slow shutter speed.

  34. Awesome stuff.
    I’ve just picked up a E-M1 mark 1 body, so I’m looking at all the lenses now…. this may be the sole solution.


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