The Olympus Zuiko Digital 12-60mm 1:2.8-4 SWD was announced in October 2007, alongside the flagship E-3 DSLR. It’s a standard Four Thirds lens which means it will work on any Four Thirds body, including those from Olympus, Panasonic and Leica, although it’s physically best-matched to the larger models like the Olympus E-5xx series and especially the E-3.
The 12-60mm delivers a 5x optical range that’s equivalent to 24-120mm, allowing decent wide angle to respectable telephoto coverage – this makes it an ideal general-purpose lens. The f2.8-4 focal ratio is also brighter than most lenses from rival manufacturers with similar optical ranges. Like all Olympus lenses to date, there’s no built-in optical stabilisation, so if you want anti-shake, you’ll need a stabilised body like the E-510, E-520 or E-3.
The 12-60mm was one of first Olympus lenses to feature its Supersonic Wave Drive (SWD) focusing. At the time of writing, this feature was only available on three models: the 12-60mm, the 14-35mm f2.0 and the most recent 50-200mm, coincidentally all announced at the same time. SWD allows all three lenses to focus quickly and quietly and indeed Olympus isn’t shy of claiming the combination of the 12-60mm with the flagship E-3 yields the World’s fastest autofocus.
Unlike most Four Thirds lenses to date, the 12-60mm doesn’t employ motor-assisted manual focusing. Instead it uses a more traditional mechanically-linked system. So unlike the motor-assisted lenses, you can adjust the focus on the 12-60mm while the camera is powered down, although it also means the focus direction option available on some E-series DSLRs will have no effect.
The lens itself is tough and both dust and splash-proof, although for full sealing you’ll need a matching body like the E-3.
With a flexible range, fast focal ratio, quick and quiet focusing along with decent build quality, the Zuiko Digital 12-60mm sounds ideal for any Four Thirds owner who wants a premium quality general-purpose lens. But how does it perform in practice? Find out in our full review where we’ll test its optical quality and focusing speed, while pointing out any issues to be aware of. And as always, for a demonstration of its highlights, check out our 12-60mm video tour.
Notes: the lens tested was a final production model, serial number 230024806. We tested the 12-60mm using final production E-3 and E-420 bodies.