Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ Review

0.0
March 27, 2014 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

The new Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ is no ordinary kit lens. Despite measuring just 22.5mm in depth and weighing less than 100g, the world's most compact pancake zoom lens still offers a 3x focal range of 28-84mm. But can it really score highly in the image quality stakes? Read our Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ review to find out...

Offering a 35mm equivalent focal range of 28-84mm, the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ lens incorporates a near-silent, variable-speed electromagnetic zoom mechanism, fast and quiet auto focus, an optical formula comprising 8 elements in 7 groups, including 1 Super HR, 1 ED and 3 aspherical elements, and a minimum focus distance of 25cm. The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ lens retails for £299/$349 in the UK and the US, respectively. The lens is also available in a kit with the new Olympus OM-D E-M10 camera.

Ease of Use

The lens tested in this review was kindly provided by CameraWorld, a real camera shop helping you to make the most of your hobby. Our expert team has many years experience within the photographic trade with knowledge gained over 40 years. Many are photographers themselves and enjoy passing their knowledge on. You'll also find our online service fast, efficient and courteous and you can always call us if you want to talk to a human being! We are dedicated to bringing you the very best in service, choice and price. We're very easy to find, our London store is just off Oxford Street between Oxford Circus station and Tottenham Court Road station. The Essex shop is located in High Chelmer Shopping Centre, just off the High Street in Chelmsford. Visit us and you'll always find a friendly welcome. Our policy is to serve our customers as we would like to be served ourselves, a simple ideal that we try hard to live up to.

The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ is the world's most compact pancake zoom lens, measuring just 22.5mm thick when retracted, less than half the length of Olympus' standard 14-42mm zoom lens, and weighing a mere 93g.

This is an electronic zoom with a lens retraction mechanism that is synchronized with both the power of the camera and the Automatic Opening Lens Cap (we didn't test this accessory). Simply put, turn the camera on and the lens automatically extends to the 14mm setting, where it measures 60.6mm in length. Turn the camera off, and the lens retracts back to its slimmest setting, making it possible to store in a coat pocket when mounted on the E-M10.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ attached to an Olympus OM-D E-M10

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ attached to an Olympus OM-D E-M10, zoomed out

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 used for this test is a great match for the lens, offering a small and compact package, good balance and fast auto focus (but no environmental seals). The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ lens itself is well built, though the plastic outer covering feels a wee bit cheap to the touch.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ attached to an Olympus OM-D E-M10

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ attached to an Olympus OM-D E-M10, zoomed out

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ attached to an Olympus OM-D E-M10

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ attached to an Olympus OM-D E-M10, zoomed out

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ alongside an Olympus OM-D E-M10

The lens comes with a standard Micro Four Thirds mount that is, thankfully, made of metal. Communication between lens and camera body is provided through eleven electrical contacts.

The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ lens features a 37mm filter thread which does not rotate on focus, great news for anyone intending to use a polariser or ND grads on the lens.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 Side of the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 Front of the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 Rear of the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 Front of the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 Rear of the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 The Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ in-hand

Focal Range

At the 14mm end, the diagonal angle of view is 75°, i.e. the same as that of a 28mm lens in a 35mm system.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 Field of view at 14mm

At the 42mm end, the angle of view is 29°.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 Field of view at 42mm

Focusing

With the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ lens attached to an Olympus OM-D E-M10 body, focusing is extremely quick in most situations. It's capable of locking focus on a subject almost instantly, even when alternating between close and faraway subjects. The lens also has the 'MSC' - Movie & Still Compatible - designation, with quick and silent focusing that's perfect for shooting movies.

In extreme low-light situations you may experience some focus hunting at the long end, as the f/5.6 maximum aperture does not always allow enough light to pass through to the sensor.

Manual focusing is done in a “focus-by-wire” fashion, as the very thin focus ring is not mechanically coupled to the moving lens elements. The lens does not feature a distance scale. Focusing is fully internal and the 37mm filter thread does not rotate on focus.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or green fringes along contrasty edges, are quite prevalent, as shown in the examples below.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6
   
Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6

Light Fall-off

There is some light fall-off evident in the corners at both ends of the focal range, plus some obvious barrel distortion at 14mm, but nothing too unexpected for this kind of lens.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 Vignetting at 14mm

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 Vignetting at 42mm

Macro

Although Olympus does not call this a macro lens, with a close focusing distance of 20cm and a maximum magnification of 0.23x, it actually puts up a pretty good close-up performance at the long end, as demonstrated by the example below.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 Close-up performance

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. In the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ, Olympus employed a five-bladed circular diaphragm, which isn't usually conductive to a pleasant bokeh, but in actuality the results aren't too bad at all for a kit lens.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6
   
Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.

Entry Tags

review, wide-angle, lens, test, compact system camera, olympus, micro four thirds, zoom, wide angle, standard, landscape, kit, pancake, power zoom, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 EZ Review, 14-42mm, 28-84mm