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Review Olympus 9-18 mm f/4-5.6 ED M.Zuiko Digital (M43)

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There has been a short time when the Panasonic 7-14 mm, with a focal length equivalent to a 14-28 zoom lens on a camera with a full-frame sensor, was the only available micro-43 wide angle lens . The Panasonic 7-14 mm combines high image quality, a very modest size and light weight. But the Panasonic 7-14 mm also offered a high price tag. And then in the spring of 2010, there was an even smaller Olympus 9-18 mm zoom lens for micro-43. The Olympus 9-18 mm for Four-thirds was known for its high quality. But the micro-43 version is more compact than the Olympus 9-18 mm for Four-thirds and much cheaper than the Panasonic 7-14 mm. How does the quality of the Olympus 9-18 mm is the quality of the Panasonic 7-14 mm?

Olympus-9-18-mm-review

Olympus 9-18mm review
Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6 ED @ 9 mm f/4
The Olympus 9-18 mm offers you a 2x zoom range. In practice you will discover that the 9 mm focal length will be used predominantly. Set to a focal length of 9 mm, the Olympus 9-18 mm delivers an impressive viewing angle of 100 degrees. This is ideal for panoramic photographers, because you - taking into account sufficient overlap - only need 5 shots to make a 360 degree panorama. In this case, a single  image has been cropped to a panoramic format.

Construction and autofocus

 
The construction of the Olympus 9-18 mm makes a somewhat inexpensive impression. The lens mount is made of metal. The lens has a switch for locking the zoom lens down into the most compact position during transport

The lens is nicely balanced with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and focusing is fast, quiet and accurate. The silent internal focusing mechanism moves only one lens element, and is ideal for filming.

Specifications
Olympus 9-18 mm f/4-5.6 ED M.Zuiko Digital
Image Stabilization:-
lenses/ groups:12/8
length x diameter:50 / 57
filter size:52
Weight:155
Lens hood:-

Image stabilization

 
Olympus provides us with image stabilization which is built into the camera ("IBIS"). The Olympus IBIS is highly effective, as we have seen during testing of the Olympus 45 mm 1.8 and the Olympus OM-D E-M5. When we reached at longer focal lengths through the IBIS a profit of 4 stops.

With a focal length of 18 mm and the Olympus 9-18 mm on an Olympus OM-D, the profit thanks to 3-stop Image Stabilizer: One with the Olympus 9-18 mm from the hand-made image made with a shutter speed of 1/40 second without stabilization is just set / unset as a image made with image stabilization and a shutter speed of 1/5 second.

Olympus-9-18-mm-review-IS-test

Vignetting Olympus 9-18 mm

 
Vignetting is kept low. Only at a focal distance of 9 mm at full opening there can be, in practice, a slight degree of visible vignetting. In all other cases, vignetting is negligible. Olympus-9-18-mm-review-vignet

Distortion

 
Only at 9 mm, there is visible barrel-shaped deformation. This is good software to correct afterwards. In the other focal length is no question of visible distortion. A very good performance for a zoom lens at wide range! Olympus-9-18-mm-review-distortion

Bokeh Olympus 9-18

 
If you focus the Olympus 9-18 mm at a distance of 2 meters, at a focal distance of 14 mm aperture and 5.6, then the sharp intake of 1 to 20 meters. With so much depth you will not get much bokeh against. But if you focus very close, you'll get nice bokeh as can be seen in this image. Olympus-9-18-mm-review-Bokeh-example

Flare

 
The Olympus 9-18 mm is equipped with multiple coatings on all lens elements and exhibits very little about radiation. Even a street lamp in a night scene did not ghosting on and a slight degree of over-radiation. In the same situation is much more expensive Panasonic 7-14 mm or ghosting,

Again this is a very good performance of the Olympus 9-18 mm!

Olympus 9 18mm review

Resolution Olympus 9-18mm

 
At all focal lengths and apertures makes the Panasonic in combination with the Olympus OM-D jpg files with a high center sharpness. With focal lengths from 9 to 12 millimeters is the sharpness at the edges slightly behind the center, above the sharpness in the center and corners practically equal. Nowhere does the resolution below 1000 LW / PH and thus, many lenses, including fixed focal length, trumped by the Olympus 9-18 mm.

Click on the image to see the other measurement results.

Olympus 9 18mm review

Chromatic aberration Olympus 9-18 mm

 
Chromatic aberration is, despite the application of Extraordinary Dispersion (ED) and High Refractive (HR) glass, a point of attention. Here, performance is not bad for a wide angle lens, but chromatic aberration is visible. See for example the following two images. Chromatic aberration is easy to correct afterwards, using photo editing software. Panasonic does it for her lenses in the camera. Why not Olympus?

Click on the image to see all measurement results for chromatic aberration.

Olympus-9-18-mm-review-CA
 5190026 CA-example2-olympus-9-18mm

Conclusion Olympus 9-18mm review

Olympus-9-18-mm-review-produkt1

Look in our list of reviewed lenses or in our list of reviewed micro-43 lenses to compare the performance of this lens with that of other lenses.
ECWYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens when you save the files in the camera as jpg, including all in-camera lens corrections (distortion, chromatic aberration). This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
9
18
6.3
6.4
5.5
9.0
6.4
12
24
6.8
6.3
5.7
9.2
9.7
14
28
6.6
6.1
6.1
9.2
9.0
18
35
7.1
6.8
6.6
9.1
8.2
Overall
Overall
6.3
6.1
5.8
9.1
8.0

Pros

  • Compact and light weight
  • High optical quality: high resolution, low weight and limited distortion
  • Large viewing angle
  • Low price

Cons

  • Visible chromatic aberration
  • Construction feels cheap

You will not regret the purchase of an Olympus 9-18 mm lens. This lens, like the Olympus 45 mm 1.8, is an inexpensive lens that offers first class optical performance: a very high resolution, low distortion and low vignetting. Chromatic aberration visible at 100% cropping, which you can easily  correct afterwards,  is the only disadvantage when you evaluate it's optical performance.

Perhaps the Olympus 9-18 mm feels somewhat light and cheap. But the huge viewing angle delivers a lot of fun. And the image quality of the pictures you'll make with the Olympus 9-18 mm, beats many much more expensive lenses, including many lenses with fixed focal length. In terms of optical performance, this lens is approximately equal to the much more expensive Panasonic 7-14 mm, as shown by our test. The wider viewing angle of the Panasonic 7-14 mm seems the only reason not to choose for the much cheaper Olympus 9-18 mm.

Ivo Freriks
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.

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