After much breath holding, the Olympus 12mm f/2 I bought showed up. It is used. I was nervous. it was fine.
Olympus 12mm f/2: f/4, 1/100s, ISO200
I had some concerns as I’ve read a number of reports of owners getting one or even two copies with slight decentering or where the sample was just unacceptably soft before they finally got a good copy. Not a comprehensive test, but after a few brick wall photos and probably another 30 or so other test pictures, this appears to be a good copy. Very limited experience here, but I am impressed by how sharp it is at f/2. Stopped down I am a little less impressed. The center of the frame is very sharp f/2 on. The corners are very good at f/2, but never really reach an excellent level. I only notice a slight difference from f/2 to f/5.6 in sharpness. That is pretty much by way of saying wide open, the amount of resolution is excellent for being wide open. For f/5.6, the resolution is merely very good. It is significantly sharper than my Olympus 17mm f/2.8, I can say that much for sure. Compared to the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 I sold…wide open the 12/2 is definitely sharper than the 14/2.5 is. Stopped down…not so sure. The 14/2.5 might have a slight edge in the corners, but the center the 12/2 is probably still sharper. definitely lower CA on the 12/2 though, much, much lower. Focusing speed is fast, but I’d say slightly slower than my 45/1.8 and 25/1.4. At least as fast as the 14/2.5 and 30/2.8 were. Obviously much faster than the 17/2.8 and it is probably also the quietest focuser of all of the lenses I have/have had.
Olympus 12mm f/2: f/2, 1/40s, ISO400
The 12/2 will NOT be challenging my 25/1.4 (at least stopped down slightly for the 25/1.4 corners) or my 45/1.8 in resolution, not that I expected it to as those other two lenses are extremely sharp. Overall, early still, but I am very happy with the 12/2. Sure, I wouldn’t have minded if it was $200 less for the quality it does provide, but I got it for almost that much less used anyway. It is also the only game in town if you want a rectilinear (prime) lens wider than 14mm. I needed something wider than 14mm and rectilinear…so there you have it.
Olympus 12mm f/2: f/2, 1/20s, ISO400
Oh, and I do really like the pull back focusing ring. Not that I think I’ll use it very often and I do notice the “discrete” focusing steps it takes, instead of constant adjustment as you rotate (there a very large number of discrete steps, and especially if you are stopping down slightly and not shooting super close to the MFD, this matters little), but I can see how it would be useful to adjust focus either when it won’t lock in really low light, or when you need to tweak focus. It makes me very interested in the implementation on the 17/1.8, which does do continuous focus adjustment through the range. It also makes me really wish all Olympus (at least prime) lenses had this functionality. I could see it being even more useful on something like the 45/1.8 or 75/1.8.
Olympus 12mm f/2: f/2, 1/320s, ISO200