Review Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6

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Background
Wide angle options can be very slim for a smaller sensor camera. Micro four thirds has a few zooms, the O9-18/4-5.6, P7-14/4 and the new PRO designated O7-14/2.8. This discussion leaves out the fisheye lens options.

Today we are going to explore the O9-18 and why we chose and love this wide angle option.

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1/1250, f/8, ISO 200 @ 9mm
Olympus PEN-F

Handling/Weight/Size

Out of the three wide zooms, the O9-18 won out. After many hours of research, the IQ difference between the 9-18 and the Panasonic 7-14 were not that great. The Olympus was much smaller, and I only see this as an occasional use lens. There for, the less room it needs, the more likely I am to bring it, "just in case".

The zoom and focus ring are ready to get to and find. The one little niggle that she might have is that the lens has a zoom lock on it. This needs to be unlocked when not in stored mode. There is a small switch on the side of the lens, you push forward and twist the barrel. I don't find it an issue as I just knock it and me it unlocked until I plan on putting the lens away in the bag for a while.

It's a personal preference thing.

The lens weighs next to nothing, and is very first pocketable or can be slipped into a small belt pouch.

The field of view(FOV) of this 9-18 will be equivalent to 18-36mm. A great wide side, plus going down to 35mm FOV can make for an alternative option for street shooting in tight quarters.
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1/200, f/8, ISO 200 @ 18mm
Olympus PEN-F

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1/1250, f/5.6, ISO 200 @ 18mm
Olympus PEN-F

Image Quality
Don't let the small size fool you. While the aprrture range does not make this a first wide angle choice for low light, it is plenty capable and very sharp indeed. The images have good contrast, and distortion is well controlled, with only minor post processing need for what is not handled in camera (for Olympus users).

I'll let the images speak for themselves.

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Olympus PEN-F High-Res Mode

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1/100, f/4, ISO 1250 @ 9mm
Olympus PEN-F

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1/60, f/6.3, ISO 800 @ 18mm
Olympus PEN-F

Auto Focus
As to be expected with modern Olympus built micro four thirds lenses, this is a quick focusing lens. You'll have no complaints from me on its S-AF performance. Also consider that at f4-5.6 and 9-18mm focal lengths, your duty of for will be large anyway.

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1/60, f/4, ISO 400 @ 9mm
Olympus PEN-F

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1/60, f/4.8, ISO 800 @ 13mm
Olympus PEN-F

Bottom Line:
If you need a holy Trinity of Olympus lens, you'll want the 7-14, 12-40, 40-150 f/2.8 lenses. That wood be a great so for me, but I rarely need the very wide end, so convenience and cost are more important than pixel peeping sharpness and weather sealing.

After you factor this into the equation, a used O9-18 was the best choice and as you can see, is capable of making some great images.
 

Gregory

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An underrated lens certainly, which tests well at the wide end for which I imagine most people buy it.
 
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I love the O 9-18mm! It is very compact. The little lever that locks the lens in place can get a bit annoying when you are in a hurry to try and capture something - I wish they had a mechanism more like the Panasonic 12-32, 35-100 f4, etc. where a quarter turn of the barrel extends the lens into shooting position. However, all in all, a great lens.
 
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I love the O 9-18mm! It is very compact. The little lever that locks the lens in place can get a bit annoying when you are in a hurry to try and capture something - I wish they had a mechanism more like the Panasonic 12-32, 35-100 f4, etc. where a quarter turn of the barrel extends the lens into shooting position. However, all in all, a great lens.
They do! The lock is only to close the lens.
 

tkbslc

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That seems like a big gap from 18-35. I just checked Lightroom and that would be 25% of my mu43 shots.
Not if you didn't have a lens in that range. You'd have a lot at 35 and 18! :)

Edit: seriously though, a 12-32 or 14-42 pancake would slot nicely in between the 9-18 and 35-100 and it about the size and weight of a couple oreo cookies, so why not?
 
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I have two working feet:)
:2thumbs:Yes I know my zooms make me lazy.
Your combination does sound interesting. I frequently go with a 12-32 and 35-100 (the small ones) when I don't feel like lugging my 14-140 with me. I must admit that the 9-18 intrigues me but I'm afraid that I'd also throw the 12-32 in my pocket and wind up carrying 3 lenses:doh:
 
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Not if you didn't have a lens in that range. You'd have a lot at 35 and 18! :)

Edit: seriously though, a 12-32 or 14-42 pancake would slot nicely in between the 9-18 and 35-100 and it about the size and weight of a couple oreo cookies, so why not?
Why not?! Because it would cut into my cookie allocation! :(
 

pdk42

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I've owned this lens twice! It's very good over 90% of the frame, but the corners never fully sharpen up. However, it has to be said that it delivers excellent images so long as you don't go pixel peeking into the corners. Contrast is excellent and you can't argue over the size or the range. I've moved on now to the PL 8-18 and whilst that is a better lens, it's 2-3x the cost and 2-3x the price; and for 95% of the time it delivers exactly the same results!
 
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hmmm, no opinions vs the FT 9-18mm+adaptor older brother regarding total size, handling and total sharpness across the frame.
I am considering one of the two 9-18mm versions on an E-M10ii - the newer collapsing type seems better suited for the PENs and I wonder if the old FT version+adaptor is of acceptable size on the E-M10ii...
 

Michael Meissner

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hmmm, no opinions vs the FT 9-18mm+adaptor older brother regarding total size, handling and total sharpness across the frame.
I am considering one of the two 9-18mm versions on an E-M10ii - the newer collapsing type seems better suited for the PENs and I wonder if the old FT version+adaptor is of acceptable size on the E-M10ii...
Well technically the micro 4/3rds 9-18mm is newer, but now both lenses are rather old (micro 4/3rds 9-18mm was introduced in 2010, and the classic 4/3rds 9-18mm was introduced in 2008). And after making the 14-42mm (I, II, and II-R) and 9-18mm micro 4/3rds lenses, Olympus seems to have moved away from the collapsing lens design. I kind of like the collapsing design as it allows me to cram more in my camera bag, but a lot of people seem irked that the lens needs to be unlocked before you can use it.

I have both lenses. I originally bought the classic 4/3rds 9-18mm and then I started reading the threads about the problems with using wide angle lenses on the classic to micro 4/3rds adapters, and I bought the micro 4/3rds version, and I use the classic 4/3rds lens when I go out with my E-1.

Unfortunately, I don't seem as drawn to the wider angles. So far in 2019, I have not used either lens. In 2018, I only used the micro 4/3rds 9-18mm 17 times and the classic 4/3rds 9-18mm 12 times (out of 2,240 shots with interchangeable lens cameras). But due to its size, I often times have the micro 4/3rds 9-18mm in my camera bag, but as I said, I'm not as drawn to focal lengths wider than 12mm.

As I mentioned there are various threads in the various micro 4/3rds forums in the past saying that using a wide angle lens (wider than 14mm) seems to be problematical if you are very critical when you look at sharpness particularly towards one side. The consensus is that many adapters are slightly out of spec and it only seems to show up with the wider lenses. Most often it is the cheap adapters that are problematical. In general using the more expensive Olympus MMF-3 (or now hard to find Panasonic DMW-MA1 adapter) gives you an acceptable image. However, I recall one post (that unfortunately I did not save) where the photographer found his/her MMF-3 got slightly deformed and he/she had to replace it, and over time that poor photographer found his/her second MMF-3 also starting to deform.

Here is one of the first threads about the classic 4/3rds 9-18mm on micro 4/3rds cameras:
If you can find a classic 4/3rds 9-18mm for $100 cheaper than the micro 4/3rds 9-18mm, but you have to buy a $150-200 MMF-3 to use it, it might not be a bargin.

In theory, the classic 9-18mm lens has contrast detect auto focus support once you install lens firmware 1.1. In my experience, the classic 4/3rds lenses with contrast detect auto focus support (9-18mm, 14-42mm, 40-150mm mark II, 70-300mm, and 14-54mm mark II) go from being extremely slow at S-AF auto focusing on most micro 4/3rds bodies, to being mostly slow focusing. Only on the E-m1 mark II and E-m1x will focusing be closer to the native micro 4/3rds lenses (and to some extent the E-m1 mark I).

The classic 9-18mm is much bigger than the micro 4/3rds version (plus needing the adapter). One of the reasons for the size difference is in the classic 4/3rds cameras, they did not have any support for image correction, while part of the micro 4/3rds camera specs is the camera + raw converters can correct for image distortion in lenses, which can allow for a smaller lens design. So assuming you have a good adapter, I might expect the pin cushioning and barrel distortions to be better on the classic 9-18mm lens compared to the micro 4/3rds version, but generally the in-camera JPG engine and most of the RAW processors now do this well for the micro 4/3rds lenses.
 
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