Olympus M.Zuiko 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO - review / test report
Lens Reviews - (Micro-)Four-Thirds

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published May 2017

Introduction

Which single lens would you take to a remote island? The answer will, of course, vary according to the individual preferences but many would probably chose a long-range zoom lens. Traditionally such lenses had a problem ... or a couple of those - they were rather mediocre. Well, maybe with 2-3 exceptions: the Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 USM L IS, Canon EF 35-350mm f/3.5-5.6 USM L and the Leica 14-150mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH OIS. This short list (of DSLR lenses) may already give you an indication - long-range zoom lenses of decent quality come also with a hefty price tag. Olympus has just released their new interpretation of the topic - the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO - and yes, it doesn't come cheap at around 1300 US$/EUR either. However, the price is at least not outlandish when considering the fact that it is a member of Olympus' professional-grade (PRO) lineup.

The build quality of the M.Zuiko is certainly impressive. The tightly assembled, weather-sealed body is mostly made of metal. While the lens extends quite a bit when zooming toward the tele end of the range, there is no wobbling of the inner lens tube. The zoom- and focus-control rings operate smoothly. Some interested readers expressed their concern about the size and weight. Yes, it is certainly not the smallest zoom lens in the Olympus line-up but, honestly, it can't be and it shouldn't be. First of all - bigger is usually better in lens land and this lens is supposed to deliver a superior performance over the usual 14-150mm gang. Plus it has a constant aperture of f/4 throughout the range (vs f/3.5-5.6) and that limits the amount of downsizing compared to its more compact cousins.

The MSC AF motor is pretty fast and silent. As usual manual focusing works "by wire" but you barely notice the difference compared to a mechanically-coupled system. In fact precise manual focusing is probably easier than on most conventional lenses because the focus path is longer.

The M.Zuiko 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO is one of the few Olympus lenses with a build-in 2-axis image stabilizer. Olympus claims an efficiency of a whopping 5 f-stops. Interestingly the IS can be used in conjunction with the camera's in body-IS - assuming that the camera supports it (Olympus calls it "Sync-IS") - increasing the efficiency to an insane 6.5 f-stops (claimed). As of the time of this review the compatible cameras include the Olympus E-M1 II , E-M1 (with firmware update), E-M5 II (with firmware update) and the PEN-F. Unfortunately Sync IS is not compatible with Panasonic cameras. I'm a shaker so I don't quite reach those 6.5 f-stops but there are people up there who claimed they can. In any case it's pretty awesome but remember that Sync IS is not the solution to all problems - if there's motion in your scene, the moving objects will get blurred at slow shutter speeds and no IS will help you there.

Specifications
Equiv. focal length"24-200mm" (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperture"f/8" (full format equivalent in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction17 Elements in 11 Groups (3x Aspherical, 5xED, 1xDSA, 1xHR, 2xSHR)
Number of aperture blades7 (circular)
min. focus distance0.15m (1:3.33)
Dimensions (L x W)77.5x116.5mm
Weight561g
Filter size72mm
HoodPetal-shaped, supplied, bayonet mount
Other featuresDust- and splash-proof, ZERO coating, Focus clutch, L-Fn button