Lens review

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60 mm f/2.8-4.0 SWD

3 November 2009
Szymon Starczewski

3. Build quality

At the beginning let’s look at the dimensions and the weight. The Olympus’s 12-60 mm dimensions are 79.5 x 98.5 and it weighs 575 grams. When you compare it with its rivals (their parameters can be found here) we can notice that the Olympus doesn’t differ against such a background either positively or otherwise. From the whole group only a Sigma 24-135 mm can compete with the Olympus when it comes to the focal range and fastness. The Olympus is equipped with the SWD motor and is sealed - two features the Sigma model lacks. When the rivals are sealed as well or boast a fast ultrasonic motor, like in the case of a Canon 24-105 IS or a Nikkor 24-120 VR, they give in to the Zuiko either in the range or fastness field. A Sony 24-105 mm is the smallest and the lightest (physically) from the whole group but it loses to the Olympus in the field of range and fastness; it also lacks weather-sealing and a quick autofocus motor. To sum up, although the Zuiko is not significantly smaller or/and lighter than its full frame competitors, in every case it offers us more than them.

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60 mm f/2.8-4.0 SWD - Build quality

When it comes to the build quality, it is really beyond reproach. The lens has two very comfortable rubber-coated rings: first a manual focus ring, second a zoom ring. Both of them are well-damped and allow you to set the required parameters with precision. Between them we also find a clear distance scale. From one side the Zuiko ends with a metal bayonet mount, from the other – with a non-rotating 72 mm filter thread.

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Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60 mm f/2.8-4.0 SWD - Build quality

The lens extends almost twice with the increase of the focal length; the front elements is extended on a telescopic tube which, fortunately is made of one piece and looks very solid. Will the extending allow the dust ingress inside the construction? Our test lasted too shortly to give you an unambiguous answer so it’s really hard to tell right now. Certainly those users who will work with the device for at least several months, will have more to say.

Finally you can ask how the lens’s aperture changes with the focal length increase. The manufacturers often present us with a very attractive graph but then it turns out that a very good aperture is kept only at the very beginning and then it decreases dramatically. Fortunately it is not the case of the Olympus – the aperture decrease is quite linear with the increase of the focal length, which can be seen in the chart below.

12 mm 14 mm 16 mm 18 mm 20 mm 22 mm 25 mm 30 mm 35 mm 40 mm 45 mm 50 mm
f/2.8 f/2.9 f/3.0 f/3.1 f/3.2 f/3.3 f/3.4 f/3.5 f/3.7 f/3.8 f/3.9 f/4.0

When it comes to the inner construction, in the case of the Olympus 12-60 mm we deal with 14 elements in 10 groups. Olympus didn’t stint on special elements for sure: the lens boasts one extra-low dispersion (ED) glass element which is aspherical, two other normal glass elements, aspherical as well, two additional ED glass elements and one more, made of Super ED glass. The overall picture is complemented by a 7 diaphragm blades aperture which can be closed down to f/22.

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60 mm f/2.8-4.0 SWD - Build quality

At the end it is worth adding that the lens comes with a petal-type lens hood and a soft pouch included in box.

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60 mm f/2.8-4.0 SWD - Build quality