Olympus 12-200mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED Review
Jan Paul Mioulet,
The Olympus 12-200 mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED is the most versatile real all-in-one for consumers in the Micro Four Thirds system. With a range of 24-400 mm (full-frame equivalent), you can see everything from wide landscapes to small birds with this lens. The Olympus 12-200 mm is light, compact and has an acceptable brightness. You don't buy a lens with such a huge range if you're looking for the highest image quality. But if you don't like changing lenses and you want the convenience of such a huge range, then this is a great choice.
TEST RESULTS Olympus 12-200mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED:
Extremely versatile range
Compact and lightweight
Good image stabilization
Good Close-Focus mode
Contrast and sharpness decrease at longer focal lengths
Chromatic aberration at longer focal points
Real all-in-one: Olympus 12-200mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED
The Olympus 12-200 mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED is the zoom lens with the biggest range of all lenses in the Micro Four Thirds system. Olympus already has an all-in-one or travel zoom in the form of the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro 12-100 mm f/4. This lens has a smaller range and is bigger, heavier and more expensive. It is also brighter in the telephoto range and offers very good image quality over the entire zoom range. Panasonic has the compact Panasonic Lumix 14-140 mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH Power OIS. A very nice compact lens, much lighter than the Olympus 12-200 mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED, and with good image quality. But the Panasonic has a smaller range than the Olympus on both the wide-angle side and the tele-side. The Panasonic has a range of 28-280mm, FF equivalent. With its range of 24-400 mm, the Olympus offers both more wide-angle and more telephoto. And that difference is quite large. The Panasonic has a 10x zoom range; the Olympus almost 17x.
That such a lens scores slightly lower optically than lenses with a smaller zoom range is almost inevitable, but it is something that many users will also accept. You buy a lens like this for convenience. With the Olympus 12-200 mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED on your camera, you do not have to think about which focal point you need, and you therefore need to anticipate much less what's in front of your camera. You simply look through the viewfinder, turn the zoom ring until you're satisfied and print. It's just that simple. Zooms with such large zoom ranges are actually only possible thanks to the corrections that modern cameras can already perform on the files. You see quite considerable differences in the test results between the RAW files and the jpegs. But that won't really interest the average user either. You don't buy a lens like this to do heavy post-processing on your images. This is a real point-and-shoot lens. And the jpegs that you get just look great.
BUILD AND autofocus
The Olympus 12-200 mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED is nicely light and compact. With a weight of only 455 grams, it is more than an ounce lighter than the Olympus 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO, which only has half the range. So you would expect that the build quality to be much lower. Even so, it's a pleasant surprise. Although more plastic is used for the Olympus 12-200 mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED and zooming is just a little less smooth, the Olympus 12-200 mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED is weatherproof. For a Micro Four Thirds lens, that might not be that unusual, but for an all-in-one zoom, it is. You can therefore use the Olympus 12-200 mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED in the rain or on the beach without having to worry about moisture or dust in the camera. The lens does not have additional controls such as switches for AF/MF or image stabilization. It has a focus ring and a zoom ring, and that's it. The two rings clearly differ in width and texture, so you can easily tell them apart with the camera at your eye. At the shortest zoom setting, the lens is nice and short, but when you zoom out, it becomes almost twice as long. The tube has little play, and that is a good sign.
World-class autofocus speed: from infinity to 1.5 meters in 33ms!
The autofocus is also very fast. The time we noted in our standard test with the Olympus 12-200 mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED was really very short: 0.033 seconds. This is therefore also a great lens to take to sports matches. From action right along the line to a goal across the field, with the Olympus 12-200 mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED, you get it all. The filter size is an acceptable 72 mm, and the shortest setting distance is 10 centimeters in the wide-angle mode. The maximum magnification measure is therefore 0.23x. In comparison with full-frame cameras, 0.46x. With this lens, you can also get very small subjects full in frame.
The Olympus 12-200 mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED, unlike the Olympus M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS, does not have its own image stabilization. The Olympus 12-200 mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED therefore needs the image stabilization in the Olympus cameras. Fortunately, that is very good, as we know. Olympus is the leader in image stabilization. Thanks to the built-in image stabilization in the bodies, you easily gain around five stops. That is a good stop less than the 12-100 mm, but still very good. Better than you can expect from other brands. At longer focal lengths, you would of course do well to pay more attention to your camera technique (using faster shutter speeds, properly supporting the camera, breathing shallow and pressing the button at the right time), but that applies to all long lenses.
VIGNETTING, FLARE AND DISTORTION
Some vignetting is visible in the wide-angle mode in RAW, although we don't find such a three-quarters of a stop to be very much. However, it does not decrease much after stopping down. In jpeg, that's halved in the camera, and then it's actually not that relevant anymore. On this point, the Olympus 12-200 mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED does quite well.
The Olympus 12-200 mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED is slightly more troubled by distortion. In RAW, it is about one and a half percent barrel-shaped in the wide-angle mode and just over one percent cushion-shaped in the middle range. Then the distortion decreases slightly. The corrections in the camera can largely handle this, and you hardly see any distortion in the jpegs over almost the entire range. The only exception is at 12mm. Even after corrections, you still have more than one percent barrel distortion. Anyone bothered by that can of course still get rid of it in post-processing.
An all-in-one zoom like this Olympus 12-200 mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED is not easy to design. If you want to fit such a big range in a compact and affordable lens, you have to compromise somewhere. And you usually see that in sharpness and then often in the longest range. And that is exactly what we also see with the Olympus 12-200 mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED. The sharpness at the shorter focal points is actually quite good, in both the center and the corners. But the further you zoom out, the lower the scores become. This is mainly because the contrast decreases. With some extra contrast, you can make the results a lot better, and that’s also partly what happens in the jpegs. They also look acceptable, although you have to settle for slightly lower sharpness in the corners. Even at 200mm, the center sharpness of the jpegs is almost at the level of the shorter focal points. That will be good enough for many users, we guess. Shorter zooms might score better, but your subject stays a lot smaller, so you end up seeing less of it. With the Olympus 12-200 mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED, we occasionally see some chromatic aberration. It’s not much, but it’s striking because other Micro Four Thirds lenses are hardly bothered by it.
Olympus 12-200mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED SAMPLE IMAGES
Curious about the performance of the Olympus 12-200 mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED in practice? Click on the button below and visit our renewed web gallery with sample images. The images can be downloaded in full resolution to be viewed at 100%.
ConclusiON: Olympus 12-200mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED review
With the Olympus 12-200 mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED you can photograph almost everything, from landscape to birds, from cityscapes to air shows..
The Olympus 12-200mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED is a lens that offers a whole lot of range in a compact and lightweight package. And that's the most important reason to buy a lens like this. You can photograp practically everything with it, from landscape to birds, from cityscapes to air shows, without having to change lenses once. That's nice when you're on vacation and just want to capture what you find interesting, instead of constantly having to worry about your equipment. It can also be an advantage in dusty environments where you don't want to take the lens off the camera. The low weight of the Olympus 12-200mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED ensures that you can easily carry the camera around all day without having sore shoulders in the evening. On the other hand, this lens does not set the highest standards for sharpness. That's not really strange, and in comparison with other zooms that have a similar range, it doesn't do badly at all. If you are looking for the convenience of a nearly 17x zoom, then this Olympus 12-200mm f/3.5-6.3 M.Zuiko Digital ED is a fine choice.
Jan Paul Mioulet is zelfstandig fotograaf sinds 1994. Hij heeft zich beziggehouden met veel vormen van fotografie, van portret tot sport, van bruidsfotografie tot reclamewerk. Inmiddels is hij al bijna vijftien jaar gespecialiseerd in architectuurfotografie. Hij is een van de oprichters van DAPh, de Dutch Architectural Photographers, een collectief van een aantal van de beste Nederlandse architectuurfotografen. Van 2010 tot 2014 was hij hoofdredacteur van PF, Professionele Fotografie, het magazine voor de Nederlandse en Vlaamse vakfotograaf. Naast zijn fotografie schrijft hij voor PF en CameraStuffReview over techniek en allerlei bijzondere wetenswaardigheden rondom fotografie en camera’s.