Reviews |OM System M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro

OM System M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro Review

Olympus OM System M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro review
Review

Price when reviewed

£649.99

$799
Check current price

Our Verdict

Although we saw a couple of examples of fringing, the OM System M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro is generally a very good performer. It focuses quickly and silently, isn’t troubled by focus breathing and it’s impressively sharp throughout most of its aperture range.

For

  • Wide aperture
  • Fast, silent AF
  • Dust and weather-proof

Against

  • No customisable controls
  • No focus switch or clutch
  • No distance scale

What is the OM System M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro?

The OM System M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro is the first lens to be launched under the OM System brand that was launched after the Olympus camera business was sold off and OM Digital Solution was created. Consequently, it’s the first lens to feature the OM System name.

As a Micro Four Thirds lens its 20mm focal length produces framing equivalent to a 40mm lens on a full-frame camera, making it a standard prime optic and suitable for a wide range of applications including street, travel and portrait photography.

Specification

  • Product type: Standard prime lens
  • Mount: Micro Four Thirds
  • Format: Micro Four Thirds
  • Focal length: 20mm (40mm camera equivalent 90mm)
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.4
  • Minimum aperture: f/16
  • Construction: 11 elements 10 groups with 2 aspherical, 1 ED, 1 Super-ED and 2 Super High Refractive elements
  • Coatings: Fluorine-coated front element
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.25m
  • Maximum magnification: 0.11x (Micro Four Thirds), 0.22x (35mm format)
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 9
  • Filter size: 58mm
  • Weight: 247g
  • Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 63.4 x 61.7mm

OM System M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro price

The OM System M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro went on sale at the end of December 2021 with a price of £649.99/$799.

Olympus OM System M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro review

Features

The OM System M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro is constructed from 11 elements arranged in 10 groups with two aspherical, one ED (extra-low dispersion), one Super-ED and two SHR (Super High Refractive) elements. This combination of elements is designed to make the lens fairly compact while maintaining image quality across the frame with reduced chromatic aberration.

As well as sealing the lens against moisture and dust, OM Digital Solutions has applied a fluorine coating to the front element to help it shed water droplets, finger prints and general grime.

The M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro’s aperture is formed by nine rounded blades to create attractive ‘feathered’ bokeh.

OM Digital Solutions supplies the M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro with a petal shaped lens hood and it can accept 58mm screw-on filters.

Olympus OM System M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro review

Build and handling

The OM System M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro has the metal barrel, weather-sealing and high-end feel that we expect from and Olympus Pro optic. The mount is also made from metal and there’s a seal around it to keep dust and moisture out of the camera.

However, there are none of the fripperies that we’ve started to see on some lenses. There’s no L-Fn button for example and the single broad, ridged ring that occupies much of the lens barrel can only be used for manual focusing. Some manufacturers have started to put an addition ring on their lenses to adjust key features such as exposure compensation and aperture, alternatively they enable the focus ring to be customised to adjust such features when the autofocus system is engaged.

In the absence of a focus switch or clutch on the lens, the focus mode must be selected via the camera. However, when AF+MF is set to ‘On’ in the menu of OM-D E-M1-series cameras, the focus can be adjusted manually using the ring even though the autofocus system is engaged.

The ring moves smoothly, not taking much effort to rotate but equally not feeling too sloppy either. The focusing is internal, which means the lens doesn’t change length as it focuses. It’s also by wire so there are no physical stop points to the focusing system. In addition, if you rotate the ring quickly, there’s a large adjustment in the focus distance, while turning the ring slowly allows gradual, precise focusing which can be aided by the activating the camera’s MF assist options. When ‘Magnify’ is activated, the image in the viewfinder or on the screen enlarges as soon as the focus ring is moved.

At 61.7mm in length from the mount, and just 247g in weight, the 20mm F1.4 Pro looks and feels great on a camera like OM-D E-M1 Mark II or OM-D E-M1 Mark III, and it’s not excessively large on the smallest OM-D series camera, the OM-D E-M10 IV.

Olympus OM System M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro review

Performance

One thing I noticed straightaway about the M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro is that it’s a snappy focuser. Even in low light on the OM-D E-M1 II, which has hybrid focusing, it gets most subjects sharp quickly. Switching to an old OM-D E-M10, which relies on contrast detection, sees it slow down and become less assured in low light, but in more average conditions, it’s fast.

Further good news is that the lens doesn’t struggle unduly when the subject is near to its 25cm closet focusing distance.

Videographers will also be pleased to learn that the M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro focuses silently and I was unable to see any focus breathing.

OM System M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro image quality

The M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro doesn’t let its Pro status down with regards to image quality as it shows a good level of sharpness even at maximum aperture and there’s only slight and very gradual fall off towards the corners. The sharpest results are produced at around f/5.6 while the poorest are at f/16 when the impact of diffraction becomes evident, but not excessively so. That said, I’d aim to make f/11 the smallest aperture I use whenever possible.

There’s a profile applied automatically to raw files when they’re opened in Adobe Camera Raw and that does a good job of dealing with vignetting and distortion so that straight lines appear straight and there’s just a suggestion of corner shading at the widest apertures.

When faced with a low sun that had a habit of finding its way into the image, you will see some flare but the M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro isn’t overly troubled by it.

Fringing also doesn’t appear to be a major issue but I experienced some green fringing around some out of focus branches in the background of a  couple of shots I took on an overcast day, so it’s worth keeping your eyes open for it. Thankfully, it’s usually easily dealt with by the Defringe tool in Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom.

Out of focus areas are pleasantly rendered with attractive bokeh with highlights remaining circular into the corners.

Olympus OM System M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro review

OM System M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro sample images

Follow the link to browse and download full-resolution images from the OM System M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro on the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II.

OM System M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro image gallery

Verdict

The OM System M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro combines an attractively versatile focal length with a large aperture in a nicely sized and weighted lens. It would be nice to see an L-Fn button on the barrel, and perhaps a focus switch or clutch for those cameras that don’t have the OM-D E-M1-series AF+MF option in the menu.

While the green fringing spotted in a couple of images is a little disappointing (and easily dealt with), the M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 Pro generally produces high quality images and has fast, silent autofocusing.

guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments