Olympus’ Four Thirds system has many advantages, but when it comes to taking wide-angle shots it comes a cropper – literally. With a 2x crop factor, the focal length of any lens strapped to the E-410 or E-510 is instantly doubled, turning what would be a nice wide-angle on another snapper into a zoomed-in standard shot.
World’s widest lens
So what’s Olympus done to solve this optical conundrum? Only gone and made the world’s widest angle DSLR lens, is what.
At 7-14mm there’s some serious physics-defying know-how at play to enable it to produce the same results as a 10.5-21mm lens on any other DSLR, or a 14-28mm lens on a film-based camera. How wide is that? Let’s just say very, very wide.
Try taking a snap of your car side-on with a standard lens and you’ll find yourself on the other side of the street. Take it with this and you can stand so close you can almost touch the paintwork. When it comes to fitting in as much as possible – foreground, background, anywhere-you-like-ground – in a tight space, this lens can’t be bettered.
The price of bending light
The downside to this remarkable feat of engineering is the stupendous cost. It’s not cheap bending light in a way nature never intended and, at over a grand, it’s fair to say you need to really, really love your wide-angle photography to justify the cost.
Thankfully, the results aren’t a let-down. There’s none of the shady, dark corners we’d expect to see on a lens of this type, and the inevitable distortion has been kept well under control.
Hold it at a funny angle to your subject and you can get some funky, wrong-end-of-the-binoculars effects. But hold it straight-on and the lines are near straight – and easily smoothed out in Photoshop if you know how.
Built for the professional
This is one of Olympus’ pro-range lenses and the build quality shows. Like its brethren, it’s dust- and splash-proof and feels extremely solid. However, protecting the bulbous front element with a UV filter, or fitting any other kind of filter like a polariser, is impossible, unless you employ some Tool Time home engineering – it just sticks out too much.
Other than that, you’re seriously spoilt by this lens. It is quite possibly the best wide-angle glass you’ll ever get your hands on – and even worth jumping over to the Four Thirds system for, if you can afford it.
Make it any cheaper and we’d snap your arm off for one. But as it stands, it’s for die-hards only.