As our results pages show, the 7-14mm exhibits virtually no geometric distortion, impressively low vignetting considering its extreme coverage, and is sharp in the corners throughout its focal range. It’s also very well-built and designed to stand-up to professional use. There’s admittedly some coloured fringing in the extreme corners at wide angle, but otherwise no other technical aspect we can fault it on.
While owners of Four Thirds cameras like the E-410 and E-510 currently have no choice but the ZUIKO DIGITAL 7-14mm if they’re after an ultra-wide zoom with sub-20mm equivalent coverage, it’s still worth comparing the focal range, specs and price with the options available for other camera systems. After all, if you’re an extreme wide-angle fanatic who’s not already invested in a Digital SLR, the choice and price of suitable optics will greatly influence the body you go for.
Nikon Digital SLR owners have the Nikkor AF-S DX 12-24mm f/4G, equivalent to 18-36mm. Owners of Canon Digital SLRs with EF-S mounts like the 400D / Rebel XTi or 30D can go for the EF-S 10-22mm f3.5~4.5, equivalent to 16-35mm. Alternatively, owners of Canon full-frame bodies like the 5D have the EF 17-40mm f4.0L or the pricey EF 16-35mm f2.8L II.
Clearly the Olympus 7-14mm with an equivalent range of 14-28mm is wider than them all, but it’s also by far the most expensive. It’s more than double the price of Canon’s 10-22 and 17-40mm alternatives, and slightly more expensive than even Canon’s optically fast EF 16-35mm f2.8L II. In its favour, the Olympus 7-14mm is better-corrected than the ultra-wides we’ve tested from other manufacturers, but there’s no getting away from its high cost.
Indeed for the same money as the Olympus lens alone, you could alternatively buy yourself the Canon EF-S 10-22mm and throw in an EOS-400D / Rebel XTi body to go with it. Of course this combo goes neither as wide as the Olympus 7-14mm, nor is as well-corrected, but it’s worth considering none-the-less. Existing Olympus owners on a budget who don’t demand the widest coverage could alternatively consider the ZUIKO DIGITAL 11-22mm f2.8~3.5, equivalent to 22-44mm.
Ultimately though, the Olympus ZUIKO DIGITAL 7-14mm remains an extremely impressive package. It may be expensive compared to ultra-wides for rival DSLRs, but sports wider coverage and better-corrected optics.
Indeed, rather than just describing it as the only ultra-wide option for Four Thirds owners, we’d go as far as to say it’s a compelling reason to buy a Four Thirds body in the first place. Certainly if you’re a well-healed ultra-wide fanatic looking to invest in a new DSLR system, it should sway your decision towards Four Thirds. We particularly enjoyed testing the ZUIKO DIGITAL 7-14mm and, reservations about price noted, can highly recommend it.
NEW: For an overview of the headline features of this lens, check out our Olympus ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm video tour
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