Real estate photography is a large piece of my overall business — I’ve been shooting real estate intensely for the last eight years. To give you an idea, I photograph nearly 1,000 homes per year. Meaning, if there’s one genre of the photography industry that I have a good handle on, it’s wide-angle lenses and their use in real estate photography.
Which brings us to today’s lens review, the Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO.
I love Olympus’s PRO line of lenses. What makes them so great is they’re sleek, beautifully designed and are put together with laser-like precision. To my eye, they have the look and feel of an expensive watch or piece of jewelry.
Coming in at 1.17 pounds, the 7-14mm feels like a feather weight! Especially for an ultra wide like this. The barrel is made out of metal, the focus and zoom rings are supremely well dampened and ribbed with a nice quality feel. The rings themselves have the perfect amount of resistance. Olympus has done a superlative job with the focus ring clutch mechanism that allows me to switch between manual and auto focus with a simple tug on the ring, it’s refined and executed perfectly.
On the downside, because the front element is as massive and rounded as it is, standard screw on filters unfortunately aren’t an option. Apart from that nit, the 7-14mm is a physical specimen that doesn’t tip the scale.
- Focal length: 7-14mm
- Aperture range: f/2.8 – f/22
- Aperture blades: 7, rounded
- Elements/Groups: 14/11
- Dimensions: 3.11 x 4.17 inches
- Weight: 1.17 pounds / 534 grams
- Angle of View: 114° to 75°
Ease of use
Another benefit of shooting with manual focus is though the 7-14 is “fly by wire,” the focus ring has a proper focus distance meter. This is a great feature for filmmakers that’s either missing or poorly executed by other camera/lens manufacturers. This allows for precise manual focus when shooting video. No one executes manual focus better than Olympus in my experience. And if you need it, autofocus is blazingly fast and deadly accurate.
The 7-14mm and Olympus’ professional camera bodies are engineered to withstand the harshest of weather conditions. This gives me a lot of confidence because in Florida, we know how to do thunderstorms, and if I get caught in the rain with my Olympus gear I’m rarely concerned. Coming from a Nikon D750 and the Nikon 14-24mm, harsh weather is something that can potentially ruin my camera.
Size and weight are benefits as well, if you’re like me and you’re reading this review, you know what it’s like to wield a tripod along with a heavy camera and lens all day. Olympus has given me the ability to achieve a desired result, without the need of a daily painkiller.
Stylish, lightweight, great weather sealing, silky smooth focus and zoom rings and snappy AF — but how are the optics? I think they’re sublime!
On micro four-thirds cameras and lenses, I find that I’m most often shooting wide-open. With a wide-angle lens like this though, I’m trying to get everything in focus. Edge-to-edge sharpness and details are paramount to me. Which means, I’m going to stop down out of necessity. On a full-frame camera, I’ll shoot real estate at f/8. To get a similar depth of field on a micro four-thirds camera and lens, I can shoot at f/4. My results will be similar.
When shooting at f/4, I’m pleased to say the Olympus shines! Images are tack sharp across the frame. Distortion is well controlled, but that’s likely because Olympus has in-body lens aberration corrections. What this also means, is there’s little to no chromatic aberrations in the images as well.
All in, the optics of the 7-14mm rock!
Last up is value, and if there’s a fly in the ointment, it’s value. Because as great as I think the 7-14mm is — and it IS — it does come at a premium price. This makes sense to me, because the 7-14mm is a premium lens with some amazing attributes. Extraordinarily wide, yet lightweight and well built. Nevermind stylish good looks and simply fantastic optics. My clients are always impressed with the resulting images that I get with the Olympus 7-14mm.
Now, there are some more economical options out there, but each has its own set of shortcomings. Notably, the Panasonic 7-14mm f/4, a great lens in it’s own right, but it’s max aperture is only f/4 and it’s an aging design. The Panasonic 8-18mm is about the closest lens to the Olympus, but it has a variable aperture and it is a bit less wide. The Laowa 7.5mm f/2 has a wider aperture, is considerably less expensive and has nice optics, but it’s completely manual.
The bottom line is, if you shoot micro four-thirds and you want a top shelf lens for wide-angle shooting, it just doesn’t get much better than the Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO.
- Lightweight for something in the ultra wide category
- Build quality
- Stunning optics
- Weather sealing
- Fast/accurate autofocus
- Great implementation/execution of manual focus clutch mechanism
- Price — relative to other similar lenses for micro four-thirds
- Front element size prevents standard screw on filters