Brief Encounter with Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 at DCIM 2011

I was so looking forward for this long weekend, that I can finally find more time for shutter therapy. Waking up early Saturday morning, I prepared myself for a street shooting session with a friend and fellow Olympus PEN user, Simon. As I stepped outside the door, the sky poured down like there was no tomorrow, and sadly, the shutter therapy session had to be cancelled. Nonetheless, not all was lost, because there was a significant event happening this weekend, the DCIM (Digital Camera, Imaging and Media) Show 2011 at Mid Valley Convention Center, Kuala Lumpur. After having a light breakfast, we flew to Mid Valley to geek out on cameras.

There were many things to look forward to in this particular DCIM show. Most of the newly released cameras were showcased and available for public molesting, I mean, try-outs. You can just grab the camera, plug in your own memory card, take all the photos that you want and bring home the memory card for your pixel peeping and chimping pleasures. This would be the best place to just drool over that camera you have been eyeing for and wanting to swipe your credit card for due to the valid and forgivable excuse of the holiday season. Come on, its Christmas, show some love yo !!

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Sigma 30mm F1.4 lens.

Pan Mee at OUG for breakfast

GIfts on sale for Christmas in Mid Valley. Still marvelling to the Sigma 30mm's bokeh. Can't get enough of it !!

Tennyson, a PEN Lover we have bumped into. All Olympus PEN users unite !!

Panasonic GX1. I think its pure ugliness. Don't kill me, just my opinion ok?

Nikon babes. Oh yeah !!

Buy one Nikon 1 System camera and you get to bring home one of the girls !! OK that was not a good joke.

To be honest, the NIkon 10-100mm lens... is HUMUNGOUS. Its even bigger than my Sigma 30mm F1.4, not something very suitable for the smaller and lighter Nikon V1 or J1 bodies.
Oh and say hi to Simon !!

Not very inspiring design. For camera design I have to applaude Fuji and Sony, they both usually come up with design more accepted by everyone.

Black and White. I go for black, if I were to get one.

Amongst the newer cameras there were the Nikon 1 system (J1 and V1), Fujifilm X10 and Panasonic GX1. We had plenty of time caressing and harassing the cameras, trying out different lenses and scrutinize the output via the misleadingly inaccurate LCD (maybe some of them were OLED) monitor displays. Oh yes, this was really, really fun, for any photographers. I know many people would argue that photography is not about equipments, and we should concentrate on shooting instead of ogling over new cameras and lenses. Seriously, what kind of photographer who does not drool over new gear? If you do not have the lens/camera lust, something must be wrong with you.

The highlight of the day for me was of course, none other than the newly announced Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens. Yes, you heard that right, two working copies were available at the Olympus booth at DCIM for public testing. I had my hands on one of them, and boy, it was a beauty !! First impression of the lens: very solidly built, yet still on a size very tolerable, not big at all, but not exactly small, just nice for the PEN. Coming from the DSLR background, I do not mind the slightly extra bulk. The weather sealing capability on the lens meant that the construction was very solid, and it was evident on how the lens felt on my hand, very assuringly rugged.

We mounted the 12-50mm on Simon’s Olympus E-P3, and boy, this combination accomplished the FASTEST autofocus in comparison to anything else we found in DCIM, no kidding here. It was really fast, I cannot tell if it was faster than the 12mm F2 or 45mm F1.8, but it has the same blazingly immediate response as you half-press the shutter button to lock focus. Impressive, very impressive especially when the same focusing speed can be achieved at ALL focal lengths !!

Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 !!!!

For a weather sealed lens, the size is just right, and it feels robust and solid on hand.

The standout feature: Macro mode, and it comes with a focus-limiter (the other button) too !!

Trying out the close up (macro) feature of the lens.

Not bad, looking at the results on screen.

Another example of maximum magnification achievable by this 12-50mm lens.

The lens matches the Olympus E-P3 very well.

Perhaps, the feature that stand out from this lens is the ability to do close up focusing. It was labeled as a “macro” function, activated by pushing the macro button and sliding the zoom ring out. I have tested the closest focusing capability of the macro, and it was very close, but nowhere near 1:1 magnification of a true macro lens. Nevertheless, the closer it can go to the subject, the more valuable and useful the lens will be in real life applications. I did not bring home any sample photographs from the lens (the E-P3 was not my camera) but looking through the E-P3’s OLED display, I can tell the 12-50mm is no slouch in the close up shooting performance.

(*hint: I will be getting the lens for user-review purposes soon, so do check back for my coming entries)

I understand the grumbles and noises the online photography community has made about the slow F3.5-6.3 aperture range for this 12-50mm zoom lens. Make no mistake that Olympus has ALWAYS produced superb zoom lenses, probably more superior than its competitors. Olympus DSLR line lenses have some of the remarkable and respectable line up: starting from the Super High Grade 14-35mm F2, 35-100mm F2, then the High Grade 12-60mm F2.8-4 SWD, 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 SWD, 14-54mm F2.8-3.5 down to even the Standard Grade 14-42mm and 40-150mm. All those lenses were GREAT lenses, and they were almost all ranked the BEST in their classes, and have the best value for money. No question about sharpness and technical perfection here. I suspect the main reason for Olympus to adopt F3.5-6.3 in their latest micro 4/3 lens is to cut down the size, so that it matches the E-P3, and possibly the next camera they have planned all along.

Yes, this 12-50mm is a good news. It is a hint of more interesting things to come from Olympus. Everyone is hoping for that new Micro 4/3 pro camera from Olympus, with weather sealing. I am excited and I cannot wait to see how or what it will be like.

Fuji X10, one of the smallest creatures in the enthusiast's segment.

Gosh, I must admit Fuji makes beautiful cameras. Don't you agree? Seriously, both X100 and X10 are sexy beasts.

Christmas mood

Wow, Christmas is very hot this time around !!

Oh I forgot about Canon. Ooops. There, some nice L lenses.

Cute, but practical?

I am not the only one snapping that little cute thing.

Sometimes, I started to think that the event was not only about camera and photography equipments.

The DCIM has been a fun ride, and it was always interesting to try out new lens and cameras. I have also met a few people who came up to me and said “Are you Robin Wong?”. Now that is something that does not happen very often, but simple things like this can put a smile on my face that will last for a very long time.

To all you beautiful people, Merry Christmas !!!

Have a great celebration with your family and friends, and may you find blessings in everything you do and everywhere you go to. Cheers.


  1. Interesting entry.. though I'm not into m4/3 but the optics are still bearing the Zuiko brand and no doubt it will be awesome..!

    And yes Robin, Fuji does make great cameras... Owned an X100 recently hahaha

    Merry Christmas dude

  2. Hey Capin,
    Long time no see !! Glad to find you here.
    Surely, being an Olympus user yourself, you are the testimony of how great Olympus zoom lenses are. Hence there is no doubt that the 12-50 should deliver.
    Thanks for the Christmas wishes !! How I wish Santa would drop me an X100 as a present. Heh !

  3. Referring to the last model, what kind of awkward pose is that? Looks like a marinated chicken gone wrong.

  4. Jason,
    You must be VERY hungry when you view my entry LOL

  5. Hi Robin,

    most of the time, I use to share your opinions. But I really can't see why you and all so many others think that the X10 is beautiful. As I see it, it looks like a cheap-ish 1970 catalogue-company camera. Okay, the X100 may be a beauty if you are a fan of this this retro stuff. But the X10? Say no more!

  6. Hello DonParrot,
    Don't worry about disagreeing, we all are entitled to our own opinion of course !!
    I just felt that X100 and X10 look and feel like cameras, like, real cameras. Thats just purely looks and design appearance speaking only here.
    I do feel that Olympus cameras are sexy too.
    Canon and Nikon just somehow lack imagination. Sony is a little too ambitious and thinking too far our of the box, but Sony appeals to a newer crowd.

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. Anonymous,
    First of all, please leave a NAME and preferably an email as well. Or else your opinion is invalid and well, sadly ignored.

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. Hey Robin

    Another engaging ramble through your photo head. Interesting thoughts.

    Anonymous is as thick as two short planks, and about half as useful.

    Cheers for Xmas and keep coming at us with your stuff.

  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  12. Helo Geoffrey,
    Thanks for the support and kind remarks. Merry Christmas to you too mate !!

    Well Anonymous,
    You can keep wasting your energy typing and typing, and all I do is, press the delete button and your effort is all down to the drain. Now who is the idiot.

    I do not have to explain myself. My photography work and my blog speak for themselves. If you do not like me or what I do here, I suggest you spend your energy elsewhere. As usual, anonymous comments with no substance will not be tolerated, and be ignored.

    This is my blog, I can do whatever I want here.

  13. Hi Robin,

    I'm one of the PEN users who was a little disappointed to hear the new M. Zuiko zoom was going to be so slow. However, I just learned from your blog that it will have macro capability. Now, that IS interesting. I'm really enjoying the 45mm f1.8, but man do I wish it could focus closer.

    Anyhow, I think you have a bit of a scoop with the information on the new lens - I haven't seen a user report on it anywhere else.

  14. Helo Newzild,
    Malaysia is one of the few places with the pre-production units, and it was a smart move to make those units available to the public for testing. After all, it is a gesture of trust and faith to Olympus users.
    I have not received the lens for testing yet. Hope to get them soon.
    And yes, I will be testing the macro capability, that is for sure. If you have not noticed, I love shooting macro, though I have not been doing macro actively lately.

  15. Hi Robin,
    Damn, I was in Muar that day! I would have stayed up in KL if I'd known about it....
    Mind you, I now have the 45/1.8 on my E-PL1, Muar looks great through it. Thank you for your testing of that lens, gave me real GAS!
    I like the new 12-50 lens, both for what it is and what it promises. Really hoping that Olly can follow through with a matching body. Hopefully by June, when I'm back through Malaysia for a winter in New Zealand.
    Any events in KL the first week of January that you know of? I'll be there from the 2nd to the 7th.....

  16. hello Tom,
    Thanks so much for your kind words, and I am glad you found my review on the 45mm helpful !!
    I am sure you are making tonnes of wonderful photographs with it.
    I am not too sure about events on January 2011, but I usually get my information from online event sites, such as

  17. Dear Robin,
    thank you once again for sharing your experience, this time with the new 12-60mm lens. Impressing results in close-ups. What I like most in your "reviews" is not to discuss theoretical, just go out and shoot pictures.

    By the way: It is mainly your fault that I bought myself a Pen-PL3 :-))

    And herewith I send to you (from Germany) my belated congratulations to your birthday! Many happy returns of the day!

    And I wish you a very happy New Year.

    Greetings by Walter.

  18. Hello Walter,
    Thanks for commenting and your kind words, really appreciate it. I am glad you have found the reviews helpful, photography is after all about shooting.
    Glad that you have got yourself an E-PL3 !! I am sure you are loving it to bits !!

  19. Hi robin,
    Im really curious is that an ep3 or a epl3 your friend is using? Im really digging the read color on that pen. thanks

  20. Aldwin,
    that was an E-P3, with a customized self made skin on it.

  21. Sorry that was supposed to be *red not read hahahaha. Anyway is there an online store where i can get that? Thanks a lot.