The Olympus M.Zuiko ED 9-18mm F4-5.6 zoom lens is a small optical elf into the M.Zuiko lens line-up. Considering its focal length latitude, it is so compact that many won’t regard it seriously as a true super wide angle zoom lens. But it is a such optic despite its very modest maximum variable aperture of F4-5.6. Its angle of view ranges from 62 to 100 degrees which certainly classify the 9-18mm as a real practical wide-angle lens. Weighing only 155g and with a front lens filter diameter of 52mm, its compactness is obvious. Its polymer construction can be deceptive and the M.Zuiko ED 9-18mm is part of the very first Olympus Micro Four Third (MFT) lens series introduced more than twelve years ago!

The M.Zuiko ED 9-18mm lens is also a strange fellow optic by today’s standards. It is a retractable lens (a very old feature on past lenses of the last century) with a locking focal length stop. After its “opening”, the lens will physically extend by more than one third compare to its retracted rest position. Thankfully, the lens is doted of a metal rear mount. There is a provision for a dedicated bayonet mounted lens hood, but no lens hood is included with the lens (and so, you have to buy it separately).

After all these material considerations, we can concentrate how the Olympus M.Zuiko ED 9-18mm F4-5.6 will perform optically and how it handles on the field. It is not a “swiss knife” optic that will suit every photographic subjects or contexts and that it could be enough versatile to be a one lens option except if it corresponds to your specific creative vision of this world. Moreover, it is a more difficult lens to apprehend because of its exaggerated perspective it generates compare to our usual eyesight. At the 18mm focal length, it can be used as a moderate semi-wide angle lens which is very interesting if you are working into tight urban or interior areas and want to get more latitude into your subject cropping. 

At 9mm focal length setting (which is one of the main reasons you may have bought the Olympus ED 9-18mm zoom lens), the Olympus super wide zoom lens is really a “proximity” optic offering a very large angle of view (100 degrees) that allows you to create beautiful contextual spatial picture. You can explore many architectural designs or environmental graphic arrangements. You can also be near if not in contact with people (when the situation doesn’t have any pandemic preoccupation that are preventing proximity) providing that some facial deformations will be tolerated or simply avoided.

The very modest maximum variable aperture of the Olympus ED 9-18mm which is ranging from F4 at 9mm focal setting up to F5.6 at 18mm and will give you a safety marge of deep of field for focusing your main subject but the price to pay is a less lens ability to subtract this very subject from the foreground and the background. Considering that most of my privileged subjects are architectural, design or spatial arrangements, a larger deep of field is becoming an advantage but that can be different for other photographers.

As I have already mentioned, the Olympus ED 9-18mm lens can be difficult to apprehend first and some will be rapidly discouraged to use it in that special perspective. A special attention to the foreground as a participating part of your main subject or your complete picture context can be a key of success when a wide-angle lens view such as the Olympus ED 9-18mm is selected. The position of the photographer can be also a strong factor to get pleasant results. Although every “zoom” lens are reframing optics, the discriminating effect is harder to conciliate with the inclusion or exclusion of the foreground. 

When you are setting a longer focal length and especially starting from the 12mm setting, the Olympus ED 9-18mm is acting more as a moderate wide-angle lens up to its 18mm position which is almost a normal angle of view (62 degrees). At this point, the optic proves to be enough versatile to be keep on the camera for a complete journey venture providing you don’t want to be more discriminate or prefer to use a real telephoto optic. If you have the chance to work simultaneity with two camera bodies, the Olympus ED 9-18mm can be easily your first or second first chosen lens of the day. It can be also a very good “interior” lens if you accept to parameter your camera with a higher ISO or leave it on its automated ISO selection. (If you choose to light your subject with an electronic flash, be sure that its coverage angle will meet the one of the focal lengths selected on the zoom lens in order to get an even light distribution).

Depending on your picture taking position, it is easy to register converging and undesirable graphic lines. That can be totally or partly corrected by activating the Keystone functionality (which is acting as an optical electronic Tilt-Shit) present in many different Olympus camera models. This handy program permits you to re-establish parallelism to the vertical and horizontal lines. By using the Keystone correction, you must be aware that your angle of view will be reduced, and the definition of your picture may be altered in a certain degree but it worth the try and the experimentation.

What I am missing the most after more than one pandemic year (2020-2021) is the possibility to travel even locally to explore and experiment new photographic subjects in different contexts. A lens like the Olympus ED 9-18mm is the perfect tool to do so if you are interested to create images with story of people, of things, of mood and atmosphere. Micro Four Third format cameras and lenses can be awesome daily companions to do so because of their compact presentation and their nonintrusive factor to the subject. I hope we can be able soon to use again the Olympus ED 9-18mm at its full potential.

The Olympus M.Zuiko ED 9-18mm F4-5.6 super wide zoom lens is not an optic that everybody will appreciate, of course, because of its difficulty to apprehend easily and many will avoid its exaggerated perspective that include too many aspects of the subject with a spatial obvious extension. But if you like to do wide angle photography, the Olympus ED 9-18mm could a competent and valuable compact tool available at a more accessible price level.