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Hands on: OM System M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro II review

The OM System M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro II is a 24-80mm equivalent with unrivaled IP53 weather sealing

OM System M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro II
(Image: © James Artaius)

Early Verdict

In almost every respect, the OM System M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro II is identical to the original Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro. The key difference is that it boasts incredible IP53-rated weather sealing (up from the standard IPX1), and obviously features the new OM System branding. Otherwise, this is the same fantastic 24-80mm f/2.8 equivalent lens that's bright enough to shoot almost anything and light enough to shoot almost anywhere.

Pros

  • +

    Extremely compact

  • +

    Weather sealed to IP53

  • +

    Manual focus clutch

Cons

  • -

    Same formula as 12-40mm I

If it ain't broke, don't fix it? The OM System M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro II begs to differ. This fantastic standard zoom lens, with a 35mm equivalent 24-80mm field of view, takes everything that was great about the original Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro and makes a massive new improvement.

The OM System M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro II is one of two lenses boasting IP53-rated weather sealing to complement the new Olympus OM-1 (opens in new tab) (the other being the new OM System M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/4 Pro). 

• Read more: Olympus OM-1 review (opens in new tab)

This standard of weather proofing is a first in the industry, enabling professional shooters to take the 12-40mm f/2.8 II (with the OM-1) into more challenging conditions than ever before. 

More than just a feat of engineering, though, the new lens retains the same tried, true and terrific optical formula as its predecessor.

OM System M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro II: Specifications

Mount: Micro Four Thirds
Lens construction: 14 elements in 9 groups
Aperture blades: 9
Weather sealed: Yes (IP53)
Maximum magnification: 0.3x (0.6x 35mm equivalent)
Minimum focusing distance: 0.2m
Filter size: 62mm
Dimensions: 69.9 x 84mm

Olympus OM-1 + OM System M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro II (1/640 sec, f/2.8, ISO200) (Image credit: James Artaius)

OM System M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro II: Key features

This is a pro-grade optic that's one of the "holy trinity" lenses, offering a fast, fixed f/2.8 aperture and full weather sealing. (Indeed, as noted, it offers the best weather sealing in the business.) 

Its IP53-rated seal protects against ingress of dust and water, and the lens is freezeproof down to 14°F / -10°C. This enables you to shoot in the most inhospitable environments, whether that's dust, rain or snow. 

A new fluorine coating also repels water, oil and dust, while also reducing friction, making it easier to keep the lens clean with a blower or cloth. Meanwhile, the same anti-reflective ZERO coating as the original resists backlighting.

The optical formula is the same as that of the original Olympus-branded 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro, with 14 elements including 4 aspherical lenses for aberration correction, flare reduction and coast-to-coast sharpness – making it an excellent choice for the 50MP or 80MP High Res Shot mode offered on select Olympus cameras.

Olympus OM-1 + OM System M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro II (1/100 sec, f/6.3, ISO200) (Image credit: James Artaius)

OM System M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro II: Build and handling

This standard zoom is smaller than a soda can, giving you a professional-caliber 24-80mm equivalent zoom lens with a constant f/2.8 aperture in a ludicrously compact form factor. 

The all-metal construction is sturdy, solid and resistant to being banged around in your bag or bashed about on your shoots – it really is made to withstand the rigors of pro working environments. 

If you want to shoot macro or old school, the focus ring features a clutch that snaps back to reveal a focus scale and enable manual mode. And unlike most modern fly-by-wire focus rings, it has hard stops at each end of the scale for instinctive control.

Olympus OM-1 + OM System M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro II (1/100 sec, f/2.8, ISO200) (Image credit: James Artaius)

OM System M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro II: Performance

While we haven't had the chance to conduct our full lab tests, our experience thus far reveals a lens that performs every bit as admirably as its predecessor. Images are sharp even wide open at f/2.8, and even when shooting at 50MP or 80MP resolution – making this an excellent option for high resolution stills and video. 

In fact this is a great lens for all-purpose video, thanks to the quick and quiet autofocus, the honest and fine-tuned manual focus, and particularly the near total absence of focus breathing.

The AF was able to keep up with both fast-moving subjects and the rapid-fire pace of the new Olympus OM-1, which can reel off bursts of up to 120fps. So if you need to keep up with the action, the 12-40mm f/2.8 II won't let you down.

Olympus OM-1 + OM System M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro II (1/100 sec, f/5.0, ISO200) (Image credit: James Artaius)

OM System M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro II: Early verdict

In almost every respect, the OM System M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro II is identical to the original Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro. The key difference is that it boasts incredible IP53-rated weather sealing (up from the standard IPX1), and obviously features the new OM System branding. Otherwise, this is the same fantastic 24-80mm f/2.8 equivalent lens that's bright enough to shoot almost anything and light enough to shoot almost anywhere. 

Pre-order the OM System M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro II at Adorama (US) (opens in new tab)
Pre-order the OM System M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro II at B&H (US)
(opens in new tab)Pre-order the OM System M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro II at Park Cameras (UK)
(opens in new tab)Pre-order the OM System M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro II at Wex (UK)
(opens in new tab)Pre-order the OM System M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro II at Ted's Cameras (AU) (opens in new tab)

Read more: 

Best Olympus lenses
(opens in new tab)Best Micro Four Thirds lenses
(opens in new tab)Best Olympus cameras (opens in new tab)

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James Artaius
James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.