We all know a lot is riding on what OM Digital Solutions offers up in their early days as a producer of lenses and cameras. We’ve finally been graced with their first lens, the OM SYSTEM 20mm f/1.4 PRO.
This lens has a lot of photographers excited, and rightly so. A small, fast, weather-sealed prime that plays to the strengths of the platform, the OM SYSTEM 20mm f/1.4 PRO has delighted us during our time with it. However, there are a couple of issues prospective buyers need to know about. Find out all about this lens in our full review.
- Small and light
- Incredibly sharp
- Rapid and silent autofocus
- Great color and bokeh rendition
- No distortion
- IPX1 Weather sealing
- It’s $800
- Heavy chromatic aberration at times
- Some vignetting
OM SYSTEM 20mm f/1.4 PRO — Technical specifications
All of the technical specs are from the official Olympus website:
- Focal length: 20mm, 35mm equivalent focal length: 40mm
- Lens construction: 11 elements, 10 groups (1 Super ED, 3 ED, 2 Super HR, 2 ASPH lenses)
- Dust & drip proof
- Focusing system: High-speed imager AF (MSC)
- Angle of view: 57 degrees
- Closest focusing dist: 0.25m, 9.84-inches
- Number of blades: 9 (Circular aperture diaphragm)
- Max and min aperture: f/1.4 — f/16
- Filter size: 58 mm
- Dimensions: ⌀63.4 × 61.7mm
- Weight: 247g (without lens cap, lens rear cap and lens hood)
OM SYSTEM 20mm f/1.4 PRO — Ergonomics and build quality
Old Olympus PRO lenses always excelled when it came to their ergonomics, design and build quality. The first lens with the new OM SYSTEM moniker is no exception. Perhaps the first thing you’ll notice is just how tiny the OM SYSTEM 20mm f/1.4 Pro is. The lens has a length of 2.49-inches and has a diameter of 2.42 inches. The lens also only weighs 0.54lbs!
It’s crazy that such a fast f/1.4 prime can be this small and light. This is what makes the micro four-thirds platform so wonderful. The lens is super portable while not giving anything up when it comes to its build quality. Despite its small size, the lens feels fantastic in the hand and it isn’t hard to get a good grip on it. The only control on the lens is the manual focus ring.
The OM SYSTEM 20mm f/1.4 PRO is solid. The lens features a full metal body with plenty of weather sealing throughout. It’s rated as IPX1, which means it can withstand vertical water drops and dust. I was not able to test it in the rain due to only having a non-weather sealed camera. Still, I wouldn’t hesitate to take this lens out in the rain as long as I have a weather-sealed camera.
I took this lens with me on a long rocky hike. It took a couple of knocks and still looks brand-new. It has been out on several blustery Oklahoma days with dust blowing everywhere, and it has been with me on frigid mornings. The lens hasn’t missed a beat. You’ll have no issues with this lens. It’s built to last.
OM SYSTEM 20mm f/1.4 PRO — In the field
I haven’t had had as much fun with a lens in a long time. The OM SYSTEM 20mm f/1.4 PRO is fantastic when in use. The small size and weight and the excellent build quality just make it a delight to use. This 20mm (40mm equivalent) lens has been designed to be out on the streets, but it’s just as comfortable in documentary settings, on trails and in studios.
There’s nothing to this lens. It’s as simple as they come. There are no controls on the lens apart from the manual focus ring, which is silky smooth when in use. Unlike some Olympus Pro lenses, the OM SYSTEM 20mm f/1.4 does not feature the manual focus clutch where you pull back on the focus ring to engage manual focus. You will have to switch between auto and manual focus via the camera body.
There’s no stabilization in this lens. However, IBIS in your camera will help you handhold this lens down to one second with no issues whatsoever. Thanks to the fast maximum aperture of f/1.4 you can help your camera’s micro four-thirds sensor gobble up tons of light, which means you can keep your ISO lower. Simply attach this lens to your camera and go to town.
OM SYSTEM 20mm f/1.4 PRO — Autofocus performance
Rapid and silent. Those are the two words I would use to describe the autofocus performance of this lens. Even when the lens was paired up with the contrast-detect E-M10 IV, the lens was blazing fast and accurate. So, I would imagine that the performance would be even better on cameras like the E-M1 III, E-M5 III and the E-M1X that all feature hybrid phase and contrast autofocus systems.
The lens is a confident performer in good and low-light situations. I didn’t notice any loss in speed or accuracy when the lights went low. Whether you’re using single point, multi-point. single shot or continuous focus, the lens delivered across the board. It worked great with human eye autofocus as well. You won’t be disappointed with its autofocus performance.
OM SYSTEM 20mm f/1.4 PRO — Image quality
Overall, the optics in the OM SYSTEM 20mm f/1.4 PRO deliver images that will make you happy. Sharpness levels are off the charts and both colors and bokeh are nice. It’s not perfect, though due to some fringing and vignetting. Let’s break it down further below.
Distortion control and vignetting
In terms of distortion control, the OM SYSTEM 20mm f/1.4 PRO performs excellently. There’s no distortion to speak of. However, there is some vignetting when shooting wide-open. This isn’t uncommon on such fast standard length primes. Still, it’s easily corrected during post by enabling the lens profile. I like the vignette as I feel it adds some character. However, if you want it gone you’ll have to stop down to f/4.
Ghosting, flaring and chromatic aberrations
Now, ghosting, flaring and fringing (or chromatic aberration) is an area where the lens struggles a little. Everyone is different when it comes to ghosting and flaring. I don’t mind lenses having “character.” Still, a lot of photographers like these two things eliminated.
Shooting into bright light sources will create a fair amount of ghosting as you can see in the images of the sun through the trees. You’ll have to pay attention to this if you shoot into light sources a lot. The sun stars the lens produces are quite nice with defined tines.
Unfortunately, the OM SYSTEM 20mm f/1.4 PRO does suffer from harsh chromatic aberrations. I noticed both purple and green fringing in my images when shooting wide-open. You can see heavy purple fringing around the lens hood in one image, and green fringing along the edge of the lens in the close-up shot. The fringing can be removed during post most of the time. It’s not the worse performer I’ve ever seen, far from it, but the fringing is there and needs to be noted.
I don’t think lenses can get much sharper than the OM SYSTEM 20mm f/1.4 PRO. Shoot this lens wide-open at f/1.4 and you’ll be treated to images with centers and edges that are super crispy. Only the corners are ever so slightly soft at f/1.4. Stop down to f/2 and you have edge-to-edge and corner-to-corner sharpness down to f/9. Diffraction then starts to work its way in. Honestly, when you get the images you create back onto your computer and you zoom in, you’ll be shocked at just how sharp this lens is.
What quantifies as good or bad bokeh differs from person to person. So, we’ve provided several images above so you can see what you can get. The lens creates what OM Digital Solutions calls feathered bokeh. When you shoot wide-open and at the minimum focus distance of 9.84 inches, you’ll find that you can make the background melt away and that transitions are nice and soft. As you step further away from your subject, the bokeh remains nice but can become a little busy.
The nine rounded blades do a nice job of creating circular bokeh balls. Even toward the edges, when Catseye bokeh can form, the OM SYSTEM 20mm f/1.4 produces almost circular bokeh balls with just a slight bit of distortion. At the end of the day, you don’t generally buy lenses like this for the bokeh they can produce. However, this lens can produce when needed.
I’m pleased to say that you’re going to get gorgeous colors from the OM SYSTEM 20mm f/1.4 PRO. I noticed that the colors are a little more saturated than some other lenses, but they still look splendid. Tones are natural and they don’t lean to the cool or warm side. Skin tones are also excellent. I don’t think there will be many complaints at all when it comes to color rendering. Just for the record, all of the images in this post have only received minor exposure changes. There have been no changes to the colors.
OM SYSTEM 20mm f/1.4 PRO — It’s a stunner
If the first lens to feature the new OM SYSTEM name is anything to go by, fans of the company formerly known as Olympus are in for a treat. This lens, apart from a few issues with ghosting and fringing, is a stunner. The OM SYSTEM 20mm f/1.4 PRO is solid. It has an all-metal build and IPX1-rated weather sealing. The lens is blazing fast when it comes to autofocus, and it delivers when it comes to sharpness, colors and bokeh.
I had a ton of fun with this lens, and having fun with photography is what it’s all about. The lens was equally suited to being out on the trails just as much as it was on the streets. If you’re a street photographer or a documentarian and you want to keep things light while still being able to carry a lens with a fast aperture, the OM SYSTEM 20mm f/1.4 is the lens for you. How OM Digital Solutions is selling this lens for under $800 is beyond me. It’s a steal at this price.
OM SYSTEM M.Zuiko Digital ED 20mm f/1.4 PRO
The OM SYSTEM 20mm f/1.4 Pro is a stunning lens. For less than $800 you’re getting a pro-grade lens that features an all-metal build, IPX1 weather sealing, rapid and accurate autofocus, and colors, sharpness, and bokeh that will bring your images to life. Its fast aperture also makes low-light shooting a piece of cake. If you want to keep things light while out on the streets or while you travel, this is the lens for you.