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Olympus 12-100mm f/4 PRO Dual IS Lens Review


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Background
This lens was one of those that was always in the back of my mind to get one day. Not going to lie, I was partially being cheap about it.

 

Not wanting to pay full retail for a new one, I waited my time for the prices of them to drop on used ones and kept an eye out.

 

Local camera store finally had one in for a good price, so I decided to finally pull the trigger and see if this lens is everything owners of it say it is. Will this live up to the legendary status it has been given? Will it be another example of Olympus engineering and quality?

 

DISCLAIMER: Not all these images are straight out of camera JPGs. I process images and see what is possible to get out of a camera and lens combination. I do run the images through Lightroom and sometimes through Topaz Sharpen AI or Denoise AI. If I do that, I will denote that with the image.

 

Let’s get into it!

 

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Handling/Size/Weight
Some may say that the lens is large. As I always like to point out large is relative to the camera system and to the person using it. I do not consider this a large lens, especially for what it provides in features and functionality. Compared to m43 prime lenses in the f/1.8 through f/2.8 it could be considered large.

 

The size of the lens does not bother me, but your interpretation of it may lead you to other conclusions.

 

On the EM1 series cameras or even any other OMD with a grip, this lens feels very well balanced. It is not an internally focusing lens, but even extended out it still never gets front heavy for me.

 

If you think about the field of view you get, weight is rather negligible. An equivalent field of view of 24-200, is rather an expansive range. If you think about all the other lens combinations you’d need for this, it very well could be a wash if we are looking at f/1.2 primes or f/2.8 zooms.

 

As a travel lens, this very well could be the only lens you need take with you. Once camera and lens, a small bag for extra batteries/memory cards and you could be good to go.

 

The lens sports a function button on the left side, which is programmable in Olympus cameras.

 

Focus can be overridden using the manual focus clutch mechanism. Some people like this, other do not. I like it – as I like being able to change critical settings mechanically on the camera or lens versus menu diving.

 

The zoom ring is large and easily falls under the hand when holding the lens.

There is a lock button on the lens hood and so far it appears to keep the hood on when reversed or on when used as intended.

 

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This image was hand held with no supports like tripod or leaning on a tree.

 

Weather Sealed
This is a weather sealed lens. I’ve always appreciated the level of weather sealing that Olympus incorporates into their PRO cameras and lenses. The 12-100/4 lens appears to have the same level of weather sealing as the other PRO line lenses. You should have no doubts or concerns in this department.

 

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Image Quality
Here is where we find out the worth of this lens. Looking into this site, you’ll see that I’ve owned, used and reviewed most of the Olympus and Panasonic PRO lenses, and quite a few of the m43 systems super zooms. I’ve used some of the best lenses in other systems from Nikon and Fuji.

 

I will have to say this right up front that the Olympus 12-100mm f/4 Dual IS is the best super zoom I’ve ever used. In image quality and resolving power, it ranks right up there with the best there is. I can’t really tell a difference between the 12-100 and the Olympus 12-40/2.8
 

If there are doubts regarding this lens and it’s ability to give you a great image, then please – if you trust my words, judgements and past reviews, then trust me when I say that if you want a lens that can do 90% of the jobs you need, this is the one. If you need faster aperture than f/4, then you could supplement with some fast primes.

 

Image quality wide open is spectacular, and stopping down some enhances it very little – it is that good wide open. Any focal length is stellar as well. I found wider is relatively better than the tele end, but we are really getting into the nitpicking territory here. I mean, you’d have to really be the pixel peeper of all pixel peepers to find faults here.

 

Please judge the lens not only on my words here, but on the images you see scattered throughout this review.

 

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Focusing
It locks on quickly and accurately. Even when using the lens in AF-C or video, the auto focus works as you’d expect.
I feel like this lens’ focus is just as fast as the Olympus PRO lenses like the 40-150/2.8 and the 12-40/2.8.

 

In this respect, you can expect the same awesome performance as most other m43 lenses.

 

Single point AF is sure and true, with no hunting. Even in lower light, the speed slows down a little, but not much and accuracy is still there.

 

Continuous AF is rather dependent on the cameras the lens is attached to, and using a PDAF capable Olympus camera will give you similar results to the PRO lenses that I have already mentioned above from Olympus.

 

If macro is your thing, then this lens may interest you as well. While not true macro, the capabilities of close focusing are present. Look at the image below and you’ll get an example of how close you can get. Very useful and utilitarian.

 

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IS (Image Stabilization)
This lens has IS built into it. On top of that, it also has the ability to use the Dual IS system with compatible camera bodies. This means that the capable camera can sync the in body stabilization along with the lens stabilization. This increases the effectiveness of the overall stabilization.

 

Being honest, I’ve always considered Olympus to have the best image stabilization in the business. The OMD EM1 series having the most effective. On the EM1 Mark II, Dual IS can provide 6.5 stops of stabilization, while on the EM1 Mark III or the EM1X you’ll get 7.5 stops of stabilization.

 

It is rather incredible to behold the effectiveness of the stabilization in person.

 

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Another image hand held and slow shutter speed – 1.6 seconds to be exact. This is the slowest that I could do hand held without blur. I tried it at 2 seconds and there was some blur there. Image was not cropped. Rather impressive.

 

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Bottom Line

I rarely have regrets, but I do have only one in regards to this lens. That regret is that I waited so long to get it. As an everyday, walk about street or travel lens it is very hard to beat the versatility, stabilization capabilities and weather sealing when paired with a similarly sealed camera.

 

This lens has a lot going for it. I look forward to utilizing it and the m43 system for many years to come.

 

I believe that this is the best “do everything” lens there is or perhaps ever was up to this day. If you are looking for the best in this category – this is it.

 

You could pair this lens with a wider angle lens like the Olympus 9-18/4-5.6 and a longer telephoto like the Olympus 75-300/4.8-6.7 II and have quite the range for many applications (my personal setup right now). If aperture speed is more of a need for you, then you could go fast primes or zooms on the wide and telephoto – something like the Panasonic 35-100/2.8 or the vast options for the wide angle zooms like the Panasonic 7-14/4 or one of the Olympus PRO wide angle options.

 

Bottom Line = Highly Recommend!

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See my content here:

http://www.visualohio.com | BESTLIGHTPHOTO BLOG | 500px Profile & Pics

 

I shoot Nikon, Olympus, Minolta, Pentax and Leica.  Probably not enough!  LOL

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I did enjoy this lens when I owned it. Took it with me to Cape Town on holiday in 2019. Very useful focal range indeed. Sadly I was forced to sell mine when the world went nuts and decided that I couldn’t earn an income anymore. :( 

  • Grimmace 1
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