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Hands-on with the new OM System M.Zuiko Digital ED 20mm F1.4 PRO

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Hands-on with the new OM System M.Zuiko Digital ED 20mm F1.4 PRO

OM Digital Solutions – the company that’s bought the Olympus imaging division – has just launched the M.Zuiko Digital ED 20mm F1.4 PRO. The new 20mm becomes the first lens released under its new brand, ‘OM System’ which replaces the legacy Olympus branding.

Appropriately perhaps, the new brand debuts with a lightweight (247g / 8.7oz), compact, and weather-sealed lens – characteristics which have exemplified the best M43 optics going back to the inception of the system.

New branding

The same, but different. The new ‘OM SYSTEM’ logo replaces the legacy ‘Olympus’ branding, but should be extremely familiar to long-time Olympus fans. The subtle way that the O and M of ‘OM’ run together is unchanged since the inception of the OM system in the film era, back in the 1970s.

Compact and lightweight

As you can see, the M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 is very compact, despite offering a fast maximum aperture of F1.4. In depth of field terms this lens is equivalent to a 40mm F2.8 on full-frame, but like other fast ‘PRO’-branded lenses in the M.Zuiko line, the 20mm F1.4 is designed to deliver attractive ‘feathered bokeh’ when shot wide open. This should make it ideal for portraiture.

Externally, the 20mm F1.4 couldn’t be much simpler. The focus ring is the only ‘control’, and unlike some other Micro Four Thirds lenses, there’s no mechanical clutch for manual focus (you’ll have to set that up via the camera).

Optical construction

Inside the high-quality plastic and metal body, you’ll find 11 elements in 10 groups, including three ED (extra low-dispersion) elements, one ‘Super ED’ element, two super HR (high-refractive) elements and two aspherical elements. The optical formula is complex, and OM Digital Solutions claims that performance has been optimized for high-resolution imaging: specifically, shooting in High Res Shot mode, using one of the recent generations of Olympus-branded OM-D cameras.

OM Digital Solutions has employed what it calls ‘ZERO’ coating, to “reduce lens flare and ghosting for greater contrast and color fidelity when working in strong lighting conditions”.

Weather-sealing

The concave rear element sits very far to the rear of the optical group. This shot also shows the thin rubber grommet which runs around the lens mount, helping to prevent moisture and dirt from making its way into the camera.

Weather-sealing is extensive, as we’ve come to expect from ‘Pro’-branded M.Zuiko lenses, and the front element of the 20mm F1.4 is fluorine coated to help repel contaminants.

Compared to OM-D E-M5 Mark III

The compact M.Zuiko Digital ED 20mm F1.4 Pro pairs very well with Olympus-branded OM-D E-M5-series ILCs. We’re showing the lens next to the OM-D E-M5 Mark III here, and the total package weighs in at 661 g (~1.5 lb).

Summing up

With the 20mm F1.4 attached to the OM-D E-M5 Mark II, the total package is really well-balanced, and the lens matches the camera in terms of build quality. Focus is reasonably fast and silent, and manual focus (by wire) is very positive, via the large, knurled focus ring.

The M.Zuiko Digital ED 20mm F1.4 Pro will be available starting next month for $799.


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