The Olympus 9-18mm Micro Four Thirds lens is the second ultra wide angle lens for the Micro Four Thirds market after the Panasonic 7-14mm lens.

It is priced very aggressively at almost half the price of its expensive Panasonic rival. Olympus did this by keeping the build material lower than the Panasonic, but it is still good to most photographers’ standard.

Olympus 9-18mm Micro Four Thirds

Lens Score (Micro Four Thirds Sensor)
Optical Quality: (4 / 5)
Build Quality: (4 / 5)
Value for Money: (4 / 5)

Visit Website

Obviously the two lenses were made for different photographers in mind. The Panasonic was made for serious photographer who needs the solid build quality for their Micro Four Thirds camera.

And the Olympus 9-18mm Micro Four Thirds was made for casual photographers who enjoy carrying light, compact and sharp lens wherever they go.

So how does this Olympus 9-18mm Micro Four Thirds compare to the Panasonic in terms of performance?

Based on my testing (you’ll see the complete test below) it is on par with the more expensive Panasonic 7-14mm lens.

It is sharp both on the center and on the borders at any aperture. Apart from 9mm, distortion and vignetting is very well controlled and Olympus really nailed it with the chromatic aberration control.

The only thing that Panasonic win from this lens is the 7mm wider focal length and better build quality.

If you are looking for a compact, light, solid and sharp for your landscape and street photography needs using your Micro Four Thirds camera, then get this lens by all means.

There is no need to splash the cash on the more expensive, $1K Panasonic 7-14mm unless you have a very clear reason why.

Bottom line is: I highly recommend this lens.

Read my the full Olympus 9-18mm Micro Four Thirds review below.

Technical Specifications

Official Name:
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm f/4-5.6

Focal Length Markings:
9, 11, 14 and 18mm

Features:
Micro Zuiko – Only compatible with Micro Four Thirds camera

ED – Extra Low Dispersion – Technology to maximize the image sharpness by minimizing the wavelength dispersion.

Full Technical Specs (from Olympus’s website):

Technical Specifications
Groups / Elements 8 / 12
Angle of View 100 – 62
Number of Blade Diaphragm 7
Minimum Aperture f/22
Minimum Focusing Distance 0.25m
Filter Thread 52mm
Weight 155g
Dimension (Diameter x Length) 56.5 x 49.5mm
Macro Magnification Ratio 0.1X

Optical Performance

Sharpness

On the center, the Olympus 9-18mm Micro Four Thirds lens is very sharp, even at the widest aperture.

Same goes with the borders. To get the sharpest result, use the f/5.6 aperture.

To see the full sharpness test, look at the tables below.

Sharpness Scale (from Best to Worst):
(5) Excellent
(4) Great
(3) Good
(2) Fair
(1) Poor

Center Sharpness

Focal Length / Aperture f/4-4.6 f/5.6 f/8 f/11
9mm Excellent Great Great Great
12mm Excellent Great Great Great
18mm n/a Great Great Great

Border Sharpness

Focal Length / Aperture f/4-4.6 f/5.6 f/8 f/11
9mm Great Great Good Good
12mm Great Great Good Good
18mm n/a Good Good Good

Distortion

At 9mm, distortion is apparent which is typical for any ultra wide angle lens.

It is not to the extreme degree and can easily be correctable via post processing.

At 12mm, distortion is greatly reduced and at 18mm it is virtually non-existent.

See the distortion test result for this Olympus 9-18mm Micro Four Thirds lens at all focal lengths below.

Distortion Test at 9mm

Distortion Test at 9mm

Distortion Test at 12mm

Distortion Test at 12mm

Distortion Test at 18mm

Distortion Test at 18mm

Vignetting

Vignetting control is good, but not great. Typical for an ultra wide angle lens, it is most pronounced at 9mm. Stopping down to f/5.6 will greatly help when you are using this focal length.

At 12mm and 18mm, the vignetting is greatly reduced, although it is still visible slightly. This can easily be fixed during post processing.

See the full vignetting test result for Olympus 9-18mm Micro Four Thirds lens below for all focal lengths.

Vignetting Test at 9mm

Vignetting Test at 9mm

Vignetting Test at 12mm

Vignetting Test at 12mm

Vignetting Test at 18mm

Vignetting Test at 18mm

Chromatic Aberration

I am actually quite surprise to see that this lens handles chromatic aberration very well.

At 9mm and 12mm it is very low throughout any aperture ranges. And at 18mm you can ignore it completely.

See the chromatic aberration test result for the Olympus 9-18mm Micro Four Thirds lens below.

Chromatic Aberration Scale (from Best to Worst):
(5) Negligible
(4) Very Low
(3) Low
(2) High
(1) Very High

Chromatic Aberration

Focal Length / Aperture f/4-4.6 f/5.6 f/8 f/11
9mm Very Low Very Low Very Low Very Low
12mm Very Low Very Low Very Low Very Low
18mm n/a Negligible Negligible Negligible

Build Quality

Materials

Made from high quality plastics. Pretty good compared to other Olympus Micro Four Thirds lenses.

Zoom Ring

This lens features a zoom lock transport mode that will make it compact and is very useful during transport.

Prior to taking pictures, you have to move the lens to the working position by zooming to 9mm, which is fairly easy to do.

If you want to put it back to zoom lock transport mode, simply go back to 9mm and switch back.

If you have used the Olympus 14-42mm lens, this should be familiar to you. Even if you haven’t used the 14-24mm lens, this is an easy thing to do.

The zoom mechanism is very smooth and easy to use.

Focusing

The focusing ring is small, but very smooth and easy to use. It works digitally with the camera body and will give you more precise focus (due to the high magnification view) compared to standard DSLR setup.

The autofocus on this lens is very fast and silent. It is also very accurate, typical of all contrast detect autofocus system.

Image Stabilization

If you are using an Olympus Micro Four Thirds camera, the Image Stabilization is installed on the sensor, not on the lens.

On the other hand, Panasonic install the Image Stabilization on the lenses. If you are using this lens with Panasonic Micro Four Thirds, then you will not get Image Stabilization feature.

Compatibility

This lens is only compatible with Micro Four Thirds camera: both Olympus and Panasonic Micro Four Thirds can be used with this lens.

The Olympus 9-18mm Micro Four Thirds lens is not compatible with regular Four Thirds DSLR camera.

Sample Image

Below are some sample images taken with Olympus 9-18mm Micro Four Thirds.

Sample Image 1

Sample Image 1

Sample Image 2

Sample Image 2

Sample Image 3

Sample Image 3

Sample Image 4

Sample Image 4

Sample Image 5

Sample Image 5

Conclusion

Here’s the overall conclusion for this Olympus 9-18mm Micro Four Thirds lens.

Being the second ultra wide angle lens for Micro Four Thirds format, this lens certainly did not disappoint during testing.

Sharpness are great both on the center and on the borders.

Optical defect are kept to a minimum as well on this lens. Besides the extreme 9mm focal length, distortion and vignetting are very well handled.

Chromatic aberration is superbly controlled as well.

The build is made from high quality plastics and is much better than the Olympus 14-42mm lens.

Focusing is very fast, silent and accurate.

All in all, I would recommend this lens for anyone looking for a compact and sharp ultra wide angle lens for their Micro Four Thirds camera and don’t want to spend $1000 for the more expensive Panasonic 7-14mm.

Below are my conclusions for this lens.

Drawbacks

  • Visible distortion at 9mm (typical for any ultra wide angle lens)
  • Pronounced vignetting at 9mm (again, typical for any ultra wide angle lens)

Positives

  • Great sharpness at any focal length and at any aperture and focal length
  • Good distortion control at 12 and 18mm
  • Good vignetting control at 12 and 18mm
  • Superb chromatic aberration control
  • Autofocus is fast, silent and accurate
  • Good value for money compared to the Panasonic alternative

Good For

  • Landscape photography
  • Street photography
  • Ultra wide to moderate wide angle lens for Micro Four Thirds format

Not So Good For

  • Shooting professional architecture due barrel distortion

What Others Are Saying…

by “S. Wilesmith”

I made an emotional leap and bought the Lumic G 7-14 right when I got my GF1 a while back. I had dabbled with wide-angle photography and found the images very compelling so I went for it…
Click here to see the full review

by “Neal Wagner”

The small size of the 9-18mm is the first striking observation when I unpacked the lens — it’s only slighty larger than the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens and much smaller (in its retracted position…
Click here to see the full review

Where to Buy

Olympus 9-18mm Micro Four Thirds

Lens Score (Micro Four Thirds Sensor)
Optical Quality: (4 / 5)
Build Quality: (4 / 5)
Value for Money: (4 / 5)

Visit Website

Below are some links where you can get the Olympus 9-18mm Micro Four Thirds lens for a really good price:

Thanks checking out my Olympus 9-18mm Micro Four Thirds review and I will catch you in the next one!