Lens review

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 12-40 mm f/2.8 ED PRO

18 December 2013
Arkadiusz Olech

4. Image resolution

The resolution test of the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 12–40 mm f/2.8 ED PRO was based on RAW files from the Olympus E-PL1. In the case of that body the highest results, reached by the best fixed focus lenses, amount to about 80 lpmm. ‘Pancake’ type lenses, produced by Panasonic, could get results as high as 70-75 lpmm. The decency level is set near 44 lpmm.

Let’s check how the tested lens compares here. The graph below shows its performance in the frame centre.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 12-40 mm f/2.8 ED PRO - Image resolution

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The results are very interesting – noticeably different than those of the rival Panasonic G X VARIO 12–35 mm f/2.8 ASPH. P.O.I.S. as in its case at every focal length the values improved on stopping down from f/2.8 to f/4.0. In the case of the Olympus at shorter focal lengths the lens doesn’t have to be stopped down at all. The highest MTFs – meaning here very high values indeed – are seen already at the maximum relative aperture, a truly sensational performance!

It is clear, though, that the exceptionally good performance in the 12-25 mm range was paid for by weaker results at the maximum focal length. That makes the Olympus a lens with a much less even performance than the Panasonic which, from f/4.0 onwards, had basically the same results at all focal lengths. The Olympus performance at 40 mm is still above the decency level but, to tell you the truth, it would be difficult to call it very good.

Let’s check how the lens fares on the edge of the frame.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 12-40 mm f/2.8 ED PRO - Image resolution

Once again in the 12-25 mm range the lens can be praised a lot. The maximum results amounting, to 62-69 lpmm, are reached from f/2.8 to f/4.0. In this case performance at 40 mm doesn't differ so much from the other focal lengths than in the case of frame centre. What’s important, even at the maximum relative aperture the MTFs go to almost 45 lpmm so they are on the decency level borderline. Such a performance is a bit better than that of the Panasonic which, by f/2.8 aperture and at 35 mm focal length barely exceeded 40 lpmm.

It would be difficult to pick the clear winner in the Olympus vs. Panasonic duel. The Olympus is noticeably better near the maximum relative aperture and has a bit wider focal range. The Panasonic’s performance is a bit more even as the lens can get slightly higher results on stopping down – it seems you should simply choose an option you personally care more about.

At the end, traditionally, we present crops taken from photos of our testing chart, saved as JPEG files along with RAW files, used for the analysis above.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 12-40 mm f/2.8 ED PRO - Image resolution