When the new 8-25mm f4 PRO lens arrived from Olympus, I was intrigued how it would compare to the amazing 7-14mm f2.8 PRO lens, and why they would release a lens that is very similar albeit slower. Read on for my first impressions…
I have been using the 7-14mm PRO since it was released and being a landscape photographer I am a huge fan of ultra-wide lenses. Have a look at my Gallery and you’ll see why. So why contemplate the 8-25mm? It has a longer reach, very very slightly narrower, and a slower aperture at f4, so surely the 7-14 is going to be better for landscapes? The 7-14 isn’t without fault, that large convex element doesn’t allow filters without an additional adapter like my own 7-14 Adapter, and it is prone to flare, so the 8-25 addresses the first issue, I wanted to see if it would address the second issue.
• 8-25mm FOV 107°-43°
• Constant f4 widest aperture, f22 narrowest
• 72mm lens thread
• Weight 410g
• Extending design-parked position 88mm high
• 16 elements in 10 groups, 7 blade aperture
• Weather sealed as all Pro lenses
• Metal body with plastic extending barrel
• Manual clutch and L-Fn button
Construction and materials are all you would expect from an Olympus Pro lens with metal body, the all important weather sealing, smooth action, and a useful L-Fn button which I actually use for Peaking. It has a manual clutch which I prefer not to use, but many do like it.
The fly in the ointment may be the plastic barrel. The lens features an extending barrel to keep size down, with a click of the zoom ring to unlock. It makes sense to do this, and I personally don’t mind the plastic at all. It may be an issue of dropped, but I tend not to drop my lenses, so no issue.
Size and Weight
There isn’t a huge difference between the two lenses, but I guess that is relative, the 8-25 weighs 411g compared to 534g for the 7-14mm. At 120g difference, it is actually very noticeable, and all that extra weight is in the front element of the 7-14. But weight is really not why you would choose one over the other.
Height is 88.5mm without the hood attached, and for the 7-14 105mm including the hood.
Odd that Olympus would give sizes like this, for a fairer comparison the 8-25 including the hood is 118mm in the parked position. Extend it for use and it becomes 140mm.
What users really want to know is how does it perform?
Real World Experiences
The very first thing I did when the 8-25 arrived was check what it would be like with flare. A very bright sunny day and a quick shot from my back door with the sun in the top right corner. I stopped the lens all the way down to f22, something I would never do, but I wanted flare to be sharp and defined. With the 7-14mm, the flare would have been very strong going diagonally right across the image, and very often resulting in a large red disc of sensor flare. Removing flare is not so easy, often there are details and edges that will be very hard to clone. It is easier to use the finger trick, covering the light source with a finger which removes the flare and taking another shot to blend together. It’s another process to do though, and sometimes it can still be tricky.
Notice the lack of flare here, just a few very small spots towards the centre, and a few spots near the sun burst. These would be very easy to clone out, and what is very interesting there’s no red blob from sensor flare. And the sun burst to me is cleaner and more pleasing.
Olympus 7-14mm F2.8 PRO Lens Flare
Image 1, with flare
An example of the typical lens flare experienced with the 7-14 Pro lens when the sun is in the shot, or at the edge of the shot.
Admittedly it isn’t always as bad as this, it depends on the position of the sun in the frame, the intensity, and the angle of the camera.
There are small yellow flares which would be easy to clone out, much harder are the red flares because of the detail underneath. Sometimes the red flare can be larger but more subtle and perhaps not even noticed until the image is processed, and it can be a devil to remove. There are ways, but we want to reduce processing, not increase it.
Image 2, the Old Finger Trick
Place a finger or two over the light source and the flare will be removed, resulting in two images that can be combined.
One thing to note is that your exposure will change because you have blocked the light source, so if shooting in A, P or M, just make sure to check the exposure is good.
Image 1 has a slightly darker foreground, which doesn’t matter, I am replacing it anyway, the sky exposure is what matters.
And yes, I know there was another photographer in both shots. It didn’t matter because the images were being blended and I knew he would not interfere. Pesky photographers…
Both images are blended and the flare is removed. It is extra work, involving keeping track of the images you shoot, making sure you keep fingers above the horizon, and checking exposures are correct. But it is much faster and a cleaner way of removing bad flare than cloning.
The big question is, will the 8-25mm perform better?
Olympus 8-25 F4 PRO Flare
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