Olympus M.Zuiko 8-25mm F4.0 Pro Review - PCMag

A wide zoom with weather protection and excellent optics
The Olympus M.Zuiko 8-25mm F4.0 Pro offers more zoom power than most wide lenses and is an excellent optical performer to boot.
Olympus’ latest small zoom, the M.Zuiko 8-25mm F4.0 Pro ($1,099), follows in the footsteps of the 12-45mm F4.0 Pro in concept. It’s built with all the hallmarks shutterbugs want—weather protection, a manual focus clutch, and metal barrel construction—but it isn’t as heavy or as costly as F2.8 lenses. It’s as good a lens as the M.Zuiko 7-14mm F2.8 Pro, for a few hundred dollars less, and just as worthy of our Editors’ Choice award.
As part of the M.Zuiko Pro line, the 8-25mm F4.0 is built to high standards. Olympus houses optics in a metal outer barrel, and makes it suitable for all-weather use. The lens is safe from dust, drips, and freezing, and it includes anti-smudge fluorine on the exposed front glass. It’s nicely suited for outdoor photography, especially along with an E-M1 series camera.
I tried it with the E-M1 Mark III and the slimmer E-M10 Mark IV. The lens balances well on either—it’s pretty light, about 14.5 ounces. It retracts for storage, closing down to 3.5 by 3.0 inches (HD). It extends and retracts with a simple twist; there’s no need to fumble with a locking switch.
The outer barrel is black aluminum, but the inner section that extends and houses the optics is a sturdy polycarbonate. It includes an L-Fn button, a flexible button that you can set via the camera menu.
A petal-style lens hood is included to protect the front glass and reduce flare. Landscape photographers will appreciate relatively flat front optics and support for 72mm filters—the M.Zuiko 7-14mm F2.8 requires an accessory holder to use front filters due to its bulbous front glass.
Both the manual focus and zoom rings are aluminum, finished with ridges. The focus ring is a clutch—pull it back and it swaps the lens to manual focus. Focus response is linear, a plus for videographers who want to make the same focus pull from take to take. The breathing effect, the change in angle of view as focus changes, is minimal—this is a good lens for video.
Autofocus is quick, too, and quiet enough for vlogs and videos with in-camera audio. Focus is available to 9.1 inches, good enough for 1:4.8 life-size reproduction at the 25mm setting. It’s a little short of macro, but you can lean in and get close to a subject.
Optical stabilization isn’t present, but you won’t miss it. Olympus and Panasonic both include sensor-based IBIS in their Micro Four Thirds cameras. It’s very effective for the wide and standard angles this zoom covers.
I paired the 8-25mm with the 20MP Olympus E-M10 Mark IV and Imatest software to check its optical performance. We’re very happy with its resolution—it snaps photos with outstanding resolution through its range. Edges and corners lag slightly behind at f/4, but are tack sharp at f/5.6.
We’re not as happy with the look of the sunstars. The lens uses rounded aperture blades, so shots with bokeh show pleasingly defocused backgrounds, but it cuts into the definition of sunstars. They’re not as clearly defined as fans of the effect will like.
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Distortion is well controlled, important for a wide lens. Olympus uses in-camera corrections to compensate for any barrel or pincushion effect, so lines that are straight in reality are straight in photos, important for architectural work. The corrections are embedded in the Raw files too, so you don’t have to rely on an Adobe profile if you work in Lightroom.
The lens also sidesteps the vignette effect. Some wide zooms show a serious vignette at the edges, especially when zoomed all the way out. Here the effect is almost absent—we see a little bit of corner dimness at 8mm f/4, but that’s really it.
The Olympus M.Zuiko 8-25mm F4.0 Pro bolsters the company’s already strong line of enthusiast-targeted Micro Four Thirds lenses. Its wide angle of view is appealing to landscape and architectural specialists, and has the weather protection missing from the older M.Zuiko 9-18mm F4-5.6 and Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4.
You’ll have to be a somewhat dedicated photographer to stomach its $1,099 asking price, but it’s not out of line with wide zooms for other systems, and it matches what Panasonic charges for its competing Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm F2.8-4. The extra zoom power means the M.Zuiko can double as an everyday zoom for some.
We’re naming the Olympus as our Editors’ Choice. We haven’t had a chance to test the Vario-Elmarit, but the M.Zuiko 8-25mm impresses on its own merits. Its optics are excellent and it offers a bit more zoom power for the same price.
There are still reasons to spend a bit more on the costlier M.Zuiko 7-14mm F2.8 ($1,399). Its angle of view is slightly broader, and it gathers twice as much light at maximum aperture, worthwhile features for architectural interiors and astrophotography.
The Olympus M.Zuiko 8-25mm F4.0 Pro offers more zoom power than most wide lenses and is an excellent optical performer to boot.
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Jim Fisher is our lead analyst for cameras, drones, and digital imaging. He studied at RPI and worked on the retail side of the industry at B&H before landing at PCMag. He has a thing for old lenses, boneyards, and waterfowl. When he’s not out with his camera, Jim enjoys watching bad and good television, playing video games (poorly), and reading. You can find him on Instagram @jamespfisher
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