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Lens review

Olympus M.Zuiko ED 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO

14 February 2017
Szymon Starczewski

3. Build quality and image stabilization

In any mirrorless system designed for a smaller sensor there are simply no lenses with the same or at least similar parameters to the parameters of the Olympus, tested by us here. That’s why, out of sheer necessity, the following chart presents just a group comprised of other lenses with similar but not the same angles of view and aperture values.

A comparison to older, full frame 28-200 mm constructions, presented here, is interesting as well. All of them are physically lighter and smaller than the Olympus 12-100 mm but you have to remember the Olympus provides a wider angle of view and better fastness; apart from that it is dust- and splash-proof and features an image stabilization unit.

In the photo below the Olympus 12–100 mm f/4.0 is positioned next to other PRO series models so the 12–40 mm f/2.8 and the 1.2/25.

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Olympus M.Zuiko ED 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO - Build quality and image stabilization


The tested lens starts with a metal mount which surrounds lens contacts and a black, plastic ring with an inscription “Made in China”. A rear element, which doesn’t move, is situated on the same level as the contacts and is 24 mm in diameter.

Olympus M.Zuiko ED 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO - Build quality and image stabilization


A black, immobile ring made of metal is the first part of the proper barrel; it features a red dot, making an alignment with a camera easier, the name and parameters of the lens, an L-Fn button and a stabilization switch (IS ON/OFF). On the other side you see the serial number of the lens, its focusing range (0.15m/0.49ft–∞) and information that the lens is splash proof.

Then you see a ribbed zoom ring, as wide as 33 mm; it includes focal length marks at 12, 18, 25, 35, 50, 70 and 100 mm. The ring doesn’t move evenly; the resistance is less pronounced in the 12-25 mm range and more distinct for the rest of the focal range.

Olympus M.Zuiko ED 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO - Build quality and image stabilization


Further on you find a manual focus ring, 22 mm wide, with fine ribbing covering most of its surface. It is a Manual Focus Clutch mechanism - it works in different modes depending on its position. When the ring is close to the front element it works as a focus-by-wire mechanism. When you press it toward the mount it reveals a distance scale and mechanical manual focusing is engaged. Its performance is beyond reproach – smooth and properly damped. Running through the whole distance scale in the mechanical mode takes a turn through an angle of 100 degrees.

Then you see an immobile part of the casing with the name and parameters of the lens and two narrow stripes – a blue and a gray one.

Olympus M.Zuiko ED 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO - Build quality and image stabilization


The next part is a front element system with a hood bayonet mount going around it. With the increase of the focal length that system is extended on a smooth tube made of plastics so the length of the lens increases by 43 mm.

The front element is 54 mm in diameter and surrounded by a non-rotating filter thread, 72 mm in diameter.

Olympus M.Zuiko ED 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO - Build quality and image stabilization


When it comes to the optical construction you deal here with 17 elements positioned in 11 groups. The number of special elements is really impressive. There are as many as four ED (Extra-low dispersion) lenses, a high refractive index HR one and two other made of Super High Refractive index (Super HR) glass. There are also three aspherical elements and a dual super aspherical (DSA) one. The producer also boasts of using special Z Coating Nano to reduce ghosting and flare. Inside you find an aperture with seven diaphragm blades which can be closed down to f/22 at the maximum.

Olympus M.Zuiko ED 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO - Build quality and image stabilization


Buyers get both caps, a hood and a soft pouch in the box with the lens.

Olympus M.Zuiko ED 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO - Build quality and image stabilization

Optical stabilization

We conducted our optical stabilization test at 100 mm focal length using the Olympus E-M5 Mark II camera. For exposure times ranging from 1/200 to 1/3 of a second we took several dozen photos with the optical stabilization switched on and off; then we determined the percentage of out-of-focus shots for every time of exposure. That percentage was presented as an exposure time function graph, expressed in EV, where 0 EV is an equivalent of 1/160 of a second.

Olympus M.Zuiko ED 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO - Build quality and image stabilization


It is clear that the maximum distance between both curves reaches 4.3 EV and so we assess the efficiency of the stabilization unit. It is an excellent result, worth the best devices available on the market – a round of applause!