Olympus M.ZUIKO 12-100mm f4.0 IS PRO
Early Look, Featured Photographers 9

First Look at the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-100mm f4 IS PRO

What a thrilling week, shutter-friends. Huge Photokina announcements from many of our favorite camera brands, and where our friend Steve Huff recently wrote that Olympus “stole the show.” I agree. Not only does the OM-D E-M1 Mark II look to be one of the most exciting Micro Four Third cameras available for this and the next few years, but Olympus has also added  three new lenses to the M.ZUIKO roster.

Olympus M.ZUIKO 12-100mm f4 IS PRO sample image by Alex McClure

Olympus M.ZUIKO 12-100mm f4 IS PRO @ 12mm, 38mm, & 100mm

The one I feel will have the biggest impact is the M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-100mm f4.0 IS PRO which, when paired with the E-M1 Mark II, will give shooters 6.5 EV stops of compensation during low light performance, all while boasting tack-sharp images across its entire 24mm-200mm zoom equivalence. This right here is the definition of versatility. You could travel around the world and never need a second piece of glass (though if you’ve tried the 300mm f4.0 IS PRO or the 8mm Fisheye PRO, you won’t be doing that). And the price?

At under $1,300 (MSRP), it’s a pretty significant value for anyone with a Micro Four Thirds camera system.

Now, we here at Steve’s will have to wait another month or so to get our hands on one of these out in the field, so to give you folks an idea how how this lens performs, I reached out to my good friend and Olympus Trailblazer, Alex McClure to check out his pre-production unit sample images as well as his first impressions of what it’s like to work with this new M.ZUIKO lens. Before we get there, let’s first dive into the lens itself.

Olympus M.ZUIKO 12-100mm f4 IS PRO


Dustproof, splashproof and freezeproof (down to 14°F/-10°C), the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-100mm f4.0 IS PRO combines 17 Dual Super Aspherical, High Refractive index, and Super-High Refractive lens elements to help reduce color fringing and correct aberration, all while using fewer elements to make this lens quite compact (77.5×116.5mm) and maintain edge-to-edge sharpness from wide angle to telephoto. There are seven aperture blades, which can be set to a maximum f4.0 or a minimum f22. Further, the new 12-100mm f4.0 IS PRO boasts a minimum working distance of 1.5cm, a maximum shooting magnification of 0.6x (35mm equivalent), and built-in image stabilization that, as described above, works in tandem with the 5-axis IS in Olympus’ other OM-D camera systems. Like many M.ZUIKO PRO series lenses, the body features a physical ring-clutch for engaging manual focus, an Image Stabilization on/off switch, and a customizable L-Fn button. Lastly, should you need a protective filter, such as the Olympus ZUIKO PRF-ZD72 PRO, the filter diameter is 72mm.

Olympus Trailblazer, Alex McClure

Olympus Trailblazer, Alex McClure


Steve’s Digicams: Alex! Thanks so much for taking the time to sit down with us today to talk about one of Olympus’ most exciting Photokina 2016 announcements. When we last spoke, you were teaching classes and hosting photo walks in and around Phoenix, Arizona while doing commercial shoots, and serving as an ambassador (Trailblazer) for Olympus. What’s new with you?

Alex McClure: Nothing new really. I’m still doing all the same photography, but right now I’m really excited about the new lenses that are out from Olympus!

Olympus M.ZUIKO 12-100mm f4 IS PRO sample image by Alex McClure

Olympus PEN-F – 12mm @ f/4 ISO 200 1/4th second

You were one of the first people in the world to get your capable hands on the M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-100mm f4.0 IS PRO. Understanding that you likely have a pre-production unit, tell us about your first out-of-the-box impressions.

Yes, this is a pre-production unit and the first thing I noticed was how small it is. In fact, it’s only about 1-1/4″ taller than the M.Zuiko 12-40 f/2.8 Pro lens.

Olympus M.ZUIKO 12-100mm f4 IS PRO sample image by Alex McClure

Salt River – 21mm @ F/4 ISO 200 1600th second

What did you shoot first and where?

The desert.  As soon as I got it I headed out to the Superstition wilderness and photographed some places I like to hike. It was about a 110° that day, but like all my Olympus equipment it had no problem with the heat.

Olympus M.ZUIKO 12-100mm f4 IS PRO sample image by Alex McClure

Snake – 100mm @ f/4 ISO 200 1/15 second

How did the lens perform in the field?

 With most wide range zooms you have a great end and a good end, meaning one side is super sharp and the other end is just sharp. 
That is not the case with the M.Zuiko 12-100mm f/4 Pro IS lens. It is super sharp from 12mm all the way though to 100mm.

Olympus M.ZUIKO 12-100mm f4 IS PRO sample image by Alex McClure

Golden Sand Dune – 23mm @ f/20 ISO 200 1/60th second

With such a long zoom range and constant aperture, this may very well become the most popular M.Zuiko PRO lens because of its overall versatility. Tell us about the image quality you’ve experience so far — color, sharpness, bokeh, etc. — and how it fits into the PRO Series lineup.

Yes, this going to be a great Pro lens for people who travel, hike, backpack or just want to lighten their load. It is also a nice macro lens. The sharpness is perfect, color is great.

Olympus M.ZUIKO 12-100mm f4 IS PRO sample image by Alex McClure

Wild Horses – 100mm @ f/4 ISO 200 2500th second

Were there any drawbacks to the F4 max aperture, or any sign of fringing or chromatic aberrations?

Well at f/4 you’re going to lose some bokeh compared to a f/2.8 lens of course.
 Other than that, this is exactly what people expect from an Olympus Pro lens!
 You know, Olympus has been making amazing lenses for 80 year now!

Olympus M.ZUIKO 12-100mm f4 IS PRO sample image by Alex McClure

Beach After Sunset – 38mm @ f/6.3 ISO 200 1/200 second

What types of photographers should consider this lens?

Anyone who wants to lighten their load! This is a well built, light weight lens that’s ready to go to extremes for you!

Olympus M.ZUIKO 12-100mm f4 IS PRO sample image by Alex McClure

Cactus – 100mm @ f/4.5 ISO 200 1000th second

Has it surprised you in anyway?

Yes! For macro photography, this thing is awesome! The high-magnification means you can shoot a subject at 12mm at the crazy range of 1.5mm. I don’t even know how to measure that.
Also, at 100mm you have a focus range of around 10 inches, which is incredible. I have included a few macro shots and one of my PEN-F. The lens hood of the M.Zuiko 12-100mm f/4 Pro is resting on the PEN.

How is the low-light performance? Could you do Astro-photography with this lens? Have you done any Live Composite light-painting?

This lens is great in low light. The PEN-F photo was shot in my kitchen at f/4, 2.5 second and a ISO200 hand held. The Elvis Church was shot at 1/6th second and was also shot hand held.
 I haven’t done any Astro-photography with it yet, but it will be great lens for Live Composite and light painting.

Olympus M.ZUIKO 12-100mm f4 IS PRO sample image by Alex McClure

White Sands – 47mm @ F/8 ISO 200 1/60th second

How many OM-D bodies have you tested with it? Were there any variances in the way the lens performed?

This lens has been on my Olympus E-M5 Mark II, my E-M1 and my PEN-F. If there are any variances, I haven’t noticed them.

Do you have any planned trips or projects where you plan to use this this lens? IE, what’s next for you and the M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-100mm f4.0 IS PRO?

Oh yes! I’m doing a photowalk out in the Superstitions with the AZ Photo Guild, before I head to the Bay Area. I’m speaking at Looking Glass Photo on October 8th. It’s a great store with amazing people in Berkeley, California.
After that, I’m heading to Sedona, Arizona for a few days to shoot fall colors.
 In November, I head to the Olympus InVision Photo Festival November 4-6. I’m also hoping to find some time to head to Death Valley, once the weather here in the Southwest cools down.

Olympus M.ZUIKO 12-100mm f4 IS PRO sample image by Alex McClure

Elvis Church – 21mm @ f/4 ISO 200 1/6th second


Thanks again to Alex and Olympus for setting up this interview and for sending along some snazzy sample images! The M.ZUIKO 12-100mm f4.0 IS PRO will be available in late November with a $1,299.99 MSRP. We’re hoping to get our hands on one (and an OM-D E-M1 Mark II along with the other two new lenses) a little earlier, so stay tuned for that. If you’d like to know more about Alex or find out how and when join him on a photo walk, check out our previous interview with him, and look Alex up at AlexMcClurePhotography.com. Cheers!

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  • […] Steve’s-Digicams: First look at the olympus m zuiko digital ed 12-100mmf4 is pro […]

  • Snaphub says: September 24, 2016 at 5:54 am

    Nice! I love 12-40 PRO Olympus lens. I need f/2.8 because of wedding photos in church but if go travel, then definitly i will consider 12-100 lens and nothing more… in montains it is hard to climb and change lens and there is a big welcome for this small monster.

  • Greg says: September 24, 2016 at 11:00 am

    Why no shots at f/8? That’s a realistic aperture for landscape.

    • Michael Palmer says: September 24, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      Second to last sample image: “White Sands”

    • Ian Crocker says: September 24, 2016 at 8:08 pm

      Because as with the 12-40 pro this lens will be extremely sharp across the frame, centre to edge at @f4, @ f8 lens diffraction starts to soften photos with m43.

  • GroundGlasser says: September 25, 2016 at 1:34 am

    This looks like a nice lens, but I can’t imagine bringing an F4 as my *only* lens. As far as sharpness goes, it’s hard to tell from the photos; however, some of the backgrounds have an unusual look–the photo with the horses, the background has sort of a water color look.

    • Joe Dimagio says: September 29, 2016 at 1:57 pm

      The photo with the horses is shot 100mm at F4, max focal length and max aperture. What do you expect the distance background would look like?

  • Stephen Rudolph says: October 8, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    i am using my OMD with a 12-40 2.8 and a panasonic 40-175 (3.5-5.6) when i travel.
    i am wondering if i should , if i upgrade to the Mark II, use only this 12-100 f4.
    i’d lose 100-175, and some light gathering….
    but i would get a better quality lens.. faster autofocus , and better stabilization to help make up for giving up that 2.8. (i dont care about bokeh)
    tough call no ?… or a no brainer ?

    • Michael Palmer says: October 9, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      Definitely a tough call because every piece of glass has its own advantages…

      But, I can see 12-100 being perfect for situations (weather, etc) where swapping out lenses might be problematic. Plus, by having an Olympus lens, you’ll get better AF and IS performance. Cheers.