The Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro is not a new product but for many photographers, it is still a great favorite zoom lens considering its versatility, its quality image output and even its reduce size compare to its sibling into the 24X36mm sensor format (24-70mm F2.8, I won’t argue about the equivalent F-stop and its annoying debate).
True to say it is not a tiny or a pancake lens but for its focal length range it is a good compact optic especially if you combine it with a standard size MFT camera model. We know already many of the big advantages of using aa Olympus Pro series lens. Better construction, larger controls and grip, better quality selected glasses, constant aperture (most of the time), weather resistant (WR) protection, etc. But the Pro lenses are also larger, heavier and… more expensive. Usually their variable focal length latitude is narrowed compare to the standard Olympus zoom series counterparts. I am not a big fan of larger size lenses that can be intimidating for your subject by their lack of discretion. The only added credibility you can expect from other people when using this type (pro) of lenses usually came from persons without real knowledge of photography (especially press credential personal!).
The Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro is in fact an average zoom lens with a weight of 382g and a physical length of 84mm at its smallest setting. Its constant maximum aperture of F/2.8 is an usual standard for this kind of “pro” product.
The Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro is an impressive piece of glasses in particular if you apply the compactness standards of the m4/3 format. To properly use it you may need a camera model with a greater potential handle grip to be able to use it with confidence and comfort. But I must add that the lens is still usable without add-on grip. As a “Pro” design lens its primary destination is without a doubt the Olympus OM-D E-M1 (in both variations). With the OM-D E-M5 (original & Mark II) the optional vertical power grip will help you in certain situations like in studio or for action shooting assignments. That can be said also when you are using the OM-D E-M10 (original, Mark II & III).
The feeling of the 12-40mm F/2.8 lens reveals its high class all weather construction especially if you compare it with the kit zoom lenses such as the M.Zuiko 12-50mm or the diminutive M.Zuiko 14-42mm. Control rings for zooming and focusing are fairly larger and can be easily distinctive by the touch. On the spot manual focusing operation is possible by pulling the focus ring very conveniently (Manual Focus Clutch). We also appreciate that the lens hood is part of the included accessory packaged with the lens.
One of the big advantage of the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F/2.8 is surely its focal length variation starting with a real wide setting of 12mm (84 degrees of angle of view) up to an extended narrowed angle of view ( 30 degrees) at 40mm.You can consider as a short telephoto. At that point you get a magnification ratio of 1.5X compare to your naked eye. The Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro should be an excellent complement to the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F/2.8.
Like I have said earlier the bigger dimensions of “Pro” lenses can sometimes generating intimidating reactions from spontaneous subjects. It is a price to pay and you may have to earn the confidence of the people you want to photograph prior to the shooting itself. Even the non-initiated person in photography will be aware of the “pro” level of your photo taking device.
The performance of the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm lens is on the upper lever flirting with the stellar performances seen on the prime (focal fix) lenses. It is a good substitute product to the 12mm, the 17mm, the 25mm and the 45mm prime lenses although all theses lens models offer a significant larger maximum aperture (F1.2, 1.8, 2.0) which support a better depth of field control.
The extended focal range of the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro qualify it as a good urban and traveler optic to keep at hand more than on your case. And yes, it can be a good action lens.
If you are looking for a basic “pro” zoom lens, the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro will be a strong contender to fulfill the task. And the image results will speak by themselves.
(First Published in December 2016, Revised in May 2019)