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Olympus ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm 1:4.0 review Gordon Laing, July 2006 / updated June 2007
 
Olympus ZD 7-14mm design and build quality

Pictured below from left to right are the ZUIKO DIGITAL 50mm macro, the older 14-45mm and 40-150mm kit lenses, and the 7-14mm. With a length of 120mm and diameter of 87mm, it's clearly the largest of the group, and weighing 780g, the heaviest too. This contrast is even greater when compared against the latest compact kit lenses for the E-400, E-410 and E-510. Certainly the lens feels a little unbalanced when mounted on the tiny E-400 and E-410.

The extreme wide angle coverage of the 7-14mm lens means there's no option to attach a filter, although it features a built-in petal hood and comes supplied with a metal cap which slips over it.



Olympus ZUIKO DIGITAL 50mm macro, standard 14-45mm, 40-150mm and 7-14mm lenses




 


The build quality of the 7-14mm is excellent and of a significantly higher standard than the kit lenses commonly bundled with the Olympus D-SLRs. Sporting a metal housing, the 7-14mm feels reassuringly solid and well-built with smooth zoom and manual focusing rings. Olympus claims the 7-14mm and other lenses in its Pro and Top pro categories are both dust and splash proof, and certainly during our test period it felt like it could stand up to any knocks.

Below is the 7-14mm zoomed-out to 7mm on the left and zoomed-in to 14mm on the right. As you can see, there's very little difference between the two states, with the highly curved first element moving only slightly during the zooming motion.

 
 
Olympus ZUIKO DIGITAL 7-14mm at 7mm and 14mm
 

The optical design consists of 18 elements in 12 groups including two aspherical, two super ED and one ED glass elements. It features internal focusing and a fixed aperture of f4.0 throughout the entire range. Focusing is fast and quiet.

Like other ZUIKO DIGITAL lenses, the 7-14mm employs motorised manual focusing. Since Olympus bodies like the E-500 and E-510 can switch between clockwise or anti-clockwise operation of the focusing ring, this can result in quite an eerie effect where the ring could be turned one way and the distance markings in the lens window turn the other. Fitted to an Olympus DSLR, the lens focus also resets itself to infinity when you power the camera down.

Some photographers find the fully motorised focusing system works fine, while others prefer a direct mechanically-linked system. Either way, it's not a significant issue for the 7-14mm which enjoys such wide coverage and large depths of fields, that it's hard to get an out-of-focus result. See our Olympus E-410 review for more details on this subject.

All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2014 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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