Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cry wolf

Today, I had an interesting conversation with an Olympus user on Facebook who had just purchased his Zuiko Digital 9-18 mm f/4-5.6 ED lens.

Q : HI Brandon, i just got my 9-18mm… it seem when in certain condition the focus and shooting seem slow. and can see grainy… unlike my 14-52mm Mrakll… read forum need to update the firm ware… but i just got it 2 weeks back… wondering olympus should have updated it? So am not too happy about the lens thinking paying $x for it…:(
pls advise… thanks

A: don't hope too much for a kit lens. The image quality is good, but give the AF a little break. U haven't splashed  for a Super High Grade 7-14 yet, which also can be a bit laggy at AF !

Q: oooh shit… invested wrong product?? my the other lens… 14-54mm Markll with the same cost… superb :) Speedy… quality… 4 Star… haaaai… may be should have look into Panasonic’s lens. But any idea about the Lens Firm ware? can my camera tell the infor of the lens?

A: you're getting worked up for the wrong reasons. its not the wrong product. the 9-18 employs dual super aspherical elements, and its image quality is very similar to the 7-14, but without weather sealing. many people have it and are very satisfied with it. How can you feel guilty about it when you haven't yet tried it out and produced good pictures with it?

the panasonic lenses wouldn't be any faster. plus you'd be investing at least $x for one. if you want fast AF, try the lenses with SWD, such as the 12-60 and 50-200. Only issue is that Olympus has much to improve regarding the accuracy of its autofocus compared to the speed of their SWD.

if you want noise free pictures, Olympus is the wrong camp. Nikon and Canon would be better options. LOL

Q: ai yo ai yo… i masuk camp salah kah… i told the taxi driver to take me to the best camera camp wor sigh :(…haaai…
hahaha… actually my problem with the lens… I focus, and shoot… and sometime it take a while to Snap the photo… and hear the sound sheak sheak sheak… like refusing to snap the photo i wanted too… and by time it reluctant to capture it… the pretty girls all blur :( so am wondering… is something a miss in my setting or the lens? I set to P mode and compansete the ± to +1.5 or +2… pls advise… thanks


Obviously, I did not continue the conversation. Someone's MSN nick has been ringing in my mind:

Never argue with an idiot.

This user has unfortunately not got his facts right before heading to the store to purchase the ZD 9-18. But before I leave you readers hanging, allow me to have a little say regarding this ingenious lens.

Disclaimer: This is by no means exhaustive and conclusive, but this is a concise review from a number of reputable sources elsewhere on the internet.

In my opinion, the ZD 9-18 is in many respects the little brother to the venerable ZD 7-14 lens. Being part of the standard grade kit of the Zuiko armada, it has a focal length of 18-36mm in 35mm equivalents. Coupling this lens with an Olympus body with Image Stabilisation (IS) will grant you an IS-enabled super wide-angle zoom not found in camera systems with in-lens stabilization, aka. Canon and Nikon.  [Image from]

Advantages of the ZD 9-18 compared to the ZD 7-14:

ZD 9-18 = $ 550
ZD 7-14 = $ 1470
The ZD 7-14 is approximately 2.67 times more expensive than the ZD 9-18

ZD 9-18 = 76mm length, 79.5 mm diameter
ZD 7-14 = 119.5 x 86.5mm
Even from the image above, the size advantage of the ZD 9-18 is quite obvious.

280g vs 780g. Important to consider if you're travelling lightweight for a camping trip.

Technical Image Quality:

The ZD 9-18 has very admirable image resolution values when used at maximum apertures at all focal lengths. Image resolution decreases steadily beyond f8.0, which is a common characteristic of most Zuiko lenses.

This superb edge to edge performance is also exhibited at its corners, as shown by the graph below which is quite admirable for a super wide angle zoom lens. For best results, stick between f8.0-11.0 and you should be fine.

[Graphs from]

I have experienced plenty of issues regarding flare from the ZD 7-14 due to its bulbous, protruding front element, but the ZD 9-18 seems to have solved this issue a little albeit having distinct streaking patterns when being used at f16 or so. Refer to dpreview for more details.

Strong sources of light will inadvertently cause flare issues especially for super wide angle lenses, as evidenced in the top portion of this image.


[Lack of] Weathersealing

For its attractive price point, the ZD 9-18 unfortunately does not include the weather sealed characteristics of the ZD 7-14. If you are a professional photographer who works constantly in harsh environments with high humidity, dust and rain, I'd recommend the ZD 7-14 instead.


Not that its a bad thing, but at 9mm, the ZD 9-18 should generally have more barrel distortion than the ZD 7-14. It would not be very perceptible, but those looking for distortion-free images may have them corrected in Photoshop or play around with the Distortion Correction Feature of Olympus Master software.

Focal length:

The ZD 9-18 is 2mm [4mm in 35mm terms] shorter than the ZD 7-14. Here are some sample images from Fourthirds-user to illustrate this point.

Field of view at 7mm (14mm equivalent)

Field of view at 9mm / 18mm equivalent.

One could argue that you could use a tripod (or a more expensive tilt shift lens) and stitch together several images to make a compelling panorama, but I still prefer the dramatism offered by a super wide angle lens to create images such as this:

On the whole , the ZD 9-18 is a very stellar performer despite its diminutive size , plus it has an attractive price point.

Remember : Don't try to run when you can't even walk. Why bother purchasing gear and cry wolf when you don't know how to appreciate it?




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