Why I LOVE the Olympus 12mm Lens
Hello friends! I thought I would start a new series with you all, it’s a topic I get asked about a lot and for some reason, it’s not something I talk about a huge amount. It’s probably because I get a little bit of imposter syndrome around this topic… I’m talking about Photography! That’s right! I’m not a highly trained photographer and honestly, I get a bit confused when people start jabbering on about f-stops, aperture and all those photography-related numbers. Y’know? I’ve been using the Olympus Pen Cameras for about five years now and honestly, it’s all I use! I have a fair few lenses and I take photos every single day and video content at least 3 times a week. I take a half decent photo (I think) but I’m what what you would call a ‘technical photographer’, if you are like me and you love to shoot a pretty picture, play with new lenses and tinker with light, then this post could be for you. Today my friends, I’m chatting about the Olympus Pen Camera and the 12mm lens… Let’s do this review!
Let’s get right back to basics here, this is a prime lens (so there’s no zoom). It’s made of metal, so it’s high quality and nice ‘n’ sturdy. It’s quite a wide lens, so you can get plenty in the shot without having to stand a mile away and it’s also great for video content. It’s a great all-rounder lens, it has benefits and drawbacks and I’m hoping by the end of this post, you’ll have all the info you need! But in short, it’s great for filming, but it’s also brilliant for interior shots, portraits, landscapes and generally walking around. There’s a tiny bit of distortion which can work for and against you, but it’s got a shallow depth of field so if you love a bit of blur and bokeh, you ain’t gonna get it with this lens!
Portraits With An Added ‘Something’
This is a really fun lens for portraits. It crisp, sharp and get’s pretty much everything in the frame in focus thanks to it’s shallow depth of field. So if you are snapping your outfit in Hong Kong (goals, right?!) You’ll see as much of the city lights and sky scrapers as you will of your sundress. There’s very little bokeh / Blur with this lens, which is a nice change compared to lenses like the 45mm or the 75mm. Also, it kind of distorts the frame slightly, and drags the outer corners of the frame out. If you’ve ever seen a shot of a blogger with long legs and big trainers, it’s possible they’ve used this lens or one similar. Let’s be real, a lot of bloggers use the Olympus pen and pretty much everyone has the 45mm lens. This 12mm lens isn’t such an obvious choice and the way It distorts just the frame slightly will make your photos slightly different to everyone elses… and who doesn’t want that?! Great for those ‘hipster in a stairwell’ photos and travel pics which shows the incredible expanse of of the view!
If you are using your Olympus Pen camera to film video content or a vlog, then you might notice that other lenses like the 17mm or the 45mm create a beautiful blurry background, but also can be very troublesome to shoot with. Mainly because it’s slower to focus on the subject (you might miss the moment!) and also because you will hear an annoying ‘tick tick tick’ on your video. Sure you can take the sound away and overlay music, or use an external mic, but if you are doing a wedding vlog or chatting to your audience or just want to keep things simple, then it’s really distracting to hear weird ‘click click click’ sounds alongside any vocals, music or general background noise. Whilst the Olympus pen kit lens (12-40mm) is good to filming, I lost mine years ago and instead I use the 12mm lens and I’m happy with this than I ever was with the kit lens. It’s lovely and clear, It’s nice and wide angled and not only that, but if you are holding your camera, (either in your hand or on a stabilising stick) then it’s enough of a distance away from your face to just hold it up in-front of you and not have your face completely fill the screen. It also works a treat if you are setting your camera up on a tripod, as you are close enough to the camera for the audio to be clear and a perfect audio level, great for those of us who who don’t want to spend too long on video editing.
This was a big one for me! I love capturing interiors, both for my blog and also to promote my Airbnb apartment and one of the biggest pieces of feedback I used to get from my airbnb guests is how much bigger the space is IRL than it looks in the photos. The reason for this? Originally I shot the airbnb apartment with the 17mm lens and whilst the photos are lovely, it just didn’t capture the size of the space. The 12mm captures all the detail, makes a beautiful image and not only that, gives a really nice wide angle so the room looks nice and spacious. It also works really well for large restaurants where you want to capture the high ceilings and long bars!
Short On Space?
If you have the Olympus Pen camera and the 45mm lens, you will know the struggle of trying to get a photo of your lunch, whilst remaining sat in your seat. It pulls you in closer to the subject, meaning you have to stand up from your table, walk a couple of paces back and then take the shot. Embarrassing, yes. Inconvenient, yes. Worth it, yes. These things have to be done to get the epic burger shot with the perfectly blurred background! However, sometimes you JUST CAN’T get up and walk backwards, you just don’t have the space! Which is where this lens comes in handy, if you are short of space and you need the shot, this is the perfect lens. Plus with the slightly distorted view, it will also give you shot a bit of a hip vibe. Y’know?
OK, so let’s chat price. This is one of the more expensive lenses, on Amazon (which is where I buy most of my lenses) this lens is just over £500, so it is a bit more of an investment. However, if you take your photography fairly seriously, it is a good investment, not only is it great for small space, interiors and outfit pics, but it’s also great for vlogging. I did toy with the idea of buying a dedicated vlogging camera as it’s around the same price, but quite frankly, I LOVE my Olympus Pen and I know how to use it and the idea of learning how to use a different camera just seemed like a pain in the butt! PLUS, this is a beautiful lens which is crystal clear quality and a really lovely look to your vids. So for me, it was the better choice. Plus, with this lens, not only can I use it for videos, but I do love the photos it takes too!
Not Great For…
OK, so the limitations… well, firstly, the price, at just over £500, it is a bit of an investment, but if you are wanting to use it for video content, it is 100% worth the price as no other Olympus lens works as well as this for vlogging. Also, if you are self-employed, it’s worth remembering that camera equipment is a legitimate business cost and tax deductible, which makes it essentially free if you earn a certain amount! However, I’d say the biggest limitation to this lens is the ability to shoot smaller items. If you are wanting to take a snap of a lipstick on a desk, it’s not gonna give you that stunning macro look we all know and love, that’s a job for the 45mm lens. Instead, this lens is more about that hipster-slouching-on-the-stairs-with-big-trainers shot or the Santorini shot where you get the beautiful dress AND the beautiful buildings in focus.
Olympus 12mm Lens review: A Good All Rounder
Generally, this lens is a great all-rounder. Would I recommend only buying this lens? Probably not, however, if you already have the Olympus Pen camera and the basic lenses (the 45mm and maybe the 17mm) then this is a brilliant addition to your kit. I love the wider frame and the way it takes a great interior shot as well as a great portrait. I also love the way it turns my trusty camera into a great vlogging camera AND still takes a cracking photo. The way it slightly distorts the photo is really fun and adds a little ‘something something’ to my photos. I think if I was trying to get a very cool shot, this is the lens I’d use, you can get a bit of a hipster almost 90’s flash photography shot from it. Finally, I love the way it doesn’t blur the background. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of bokeh as much as the next blogger, but it’s sometimes nice to have everything in focus, and because it’s a great quality lens, you get the clarity and definition that you can’t get from an iPhone photo. It’s really hard to describe why this lens is so good, but honestly, I love it and I use it a lot. It’s a really handy ‘walking around’ lens, it’s a brilliant vlogging / video lens, and as a photography lens, it’s high quality, wide angled and gives your photos a slightly more edgy look than any other lens. I’d categorise it as essential for video, great for travel, cool for portraits and more of an edgy lens than a ‘pretty’ lens. Personally, now that I have it, I can’t be without it! And there we have it… my Olympus 12mm Lens review!
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