Take your photography to the next level and beyond...

  • NEWS
  • REVIEWS
  • INSPIRATION
  • COMMUNITY
  • COMPETITIONS

Why not join for free today?

Join for Free

Your total photography experience starts here


PRIZES GALORE! Enter The ePHOTOzine Exclusive Christmas Prize Draw; Over £10,000 Worth of Prizes! Plus A Gift For Everybody On Christmas Day!

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 MkII Lens Review

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 MkII Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 MkII lens.

 Add Comment

Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II
Price : £199
Rating :
Share :

Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 II

This revised version of the collapsible standard zoom, bundled with Olympus Micro Four Thirds system compatible cameras costs around £230 on its own. It sports an internal focus mechanism and a bayonet attachment for additional wide and macro converter lenses.

The older MkI version is still available to buy separately for around £240, but this optic lacks the internal focus and bayonet attachment of the newer lens.

Panasonic's 14-45mm costs around £230 and also features internal focusing as well as extending the telephoto range by a couple of millimetres. This lens isn't collapsible like the Olympus optics are, so a penalty is paid in the size of this lens.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 MkII: Handling and features

The incredibly small size and weight of this lens suit the compact dimensions of the Micro Four Thirds system perfectly and it balances perfectly on the Olympus E-PL1 used for testing. The lens barrel is constructed from plastics, as is the lens mount which contributes to the light weight of only 110g.
When the lens is not being used, it can be collapsed down to almost half its length when in use, which is perfect for stowing the camera and lens away in a small bag or case. To collapse the lens, a switch located on the zoom ring needs to be pressed forward and the zoom turned past 14mm, which is fairly easy to perform.

Focusing is performed internally and is pretty swift and virtually silent in operation. When compared to the MkI lens, focusing is noticeably faster, with lens hunting around for a lock. The zoom and focus rings are both very smooth in operation and there appear to be no issues with zoom creep. As the front filter thread does not rotate during focus or zooming actions the lens is perfect for use with graduated and polarising filters via the 37mm filter thread, which is a common size for camcorders, and is well supported as a result. The minimum focus distance of 25cm allows you to get quite close to your subject, which is great for shooting in tight spaces, or for frame filling close-ups.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 MkII: Performance

At 14mm and f/3.5, the sharpness in the centre of the frame is already outstanding, and the sharpness towards the edges is fairly good. Stopping down the aperture improves sharpness towards the edges, exceeding good levels by f/4. Peak quality across the frame is achieved between f/4 and f/5.6 for this focal length.

Zooming further into the range, sharpness levels follow a similar pattern to 14mm, with centre sharpness being very high from maximum aperture and the clarity towards the edges catching up as the lens is stopped down. The best compromise for sharpness across the frame is achieved between f/5.6 and f/8, where the clarity in the centre is excellent and good towards the edges.

MTF at 14mm
MTF at 14mm
  MTF at 25mm
MTF at 25mm
MTF at 42mm
MTF at 42mm
 

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on an Olympus PEN E-PL1 using Imatest.

Levels of chromatic aberrations are kept incredibly low throughout the zoom range. At their worst, they just exceed half a pixel width towards the edges at f/3.5, which should no pose any issues, even in large prints or harsh crops from near the edges of the frame.

CA at 14mm
CA at 14mm
  CA at 25mm
CA at 25mm
CA at 42mm
CA at 42mm
 

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on an Olympus PEN E-PL1 using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame may be noticeable when photographing plain subjects at 14mm and f/3.5, as here the corners are 1.3 stops darker than the image centre. Stopping the aperture down to f/5.6 results in visually even illumination at this focal length. Falloff is reduced at 42mm, as the corners are only 0.4stops darker than the image centre at this focal length, and visually even illumination is achieved by f/8.

Olympus Micro Four Thirds compatible cameras automatically correct distortion in camera, so the following won't be noticeable if shooting JPEG images, or if the software supplied with the camera is used to convert the RAW images. It is lucky that this automatic correction is in place, as 7.7% barrel distortion was detected by Imatest at 14mm, which is very strong indeed. Barrel distortion is still present at 42mm but at a diminished level of 0.4%. The distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, so this should be fairly straightforward to correct in image editing software afterwards.

Even when shooting directly in to the light, this lens seems very resistant to flare and loss of contrast. At 14mm, a little flare my appear when strong light sources outside of the frame catch the front element and a little contrast may be lost at 42mm when shooting directly into harsh light. No lens hood is supplied, but one will very rarely be needed.

Wide angle - ISO200, 1/500, f/5.6, 14mm (35mm equiv: 28mm)
Wide angle - ISO200, 1/500, f/5.6, 14mm (35mm equiv: 28mm)
  Telephoto - ISO200, 1/640, f/5.6, 14mm (35mm equiv: 28mm)
Telephoto - ISO200, 1/640, f/5.6, 14mm (35mm equiv: 28mm)
Close focus distance of 25cm is very useful - ISO200, 1/250, f/5.6, 42mm (35mm equiv: 84mm)
Close focus distance of 25cm is very useful - ISO200, 1/250, f/5.6, 42mm (35mm equiv: 84mm)
  Barrel Distortion at 14mm - ISO100, 1/1250, f/5.6, 14mm (35mm equiv: 28mm)
Barrel Distortion at 14mm - ISO100, 1/1250, f/5.6, 14mm (35mm equiv: 28mm)
ISO200, 1/160, f/5.6, 14mm (35mm equiv: 28mm)
ISO200, 1/160, f/5.6, 14mm (35mm equiv: 28mm)
  ISO200, 1/100, f/5.6, 14mm (35mm equiv: 28mm)
ISO200, 1/100, f/5.6, 14mm (35mm equiv: 28mm)
ISO200, 1/1600, f/5.6, 14mm (35mm equiv: 28mm)
ISO200, 1/1600, f/5.6, 14mm (35mm equiv: 28mm)
  ISO200, 1/1000, f/5.6, 14mm (35mm equiv: 28mm)
ISO200, 1/1000, f/5.6, 14mm (35mm equiv: 28mm)

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 MkII: Verdict

As this lens comes bundled with many Olympus Digital PEN kits, it is a lens many will already own. The sharpness of this lens in the centre is excellent, and although the quality towards the edges may be a little behind this lens will still be more than adequate for most quality-wise. Upgraders need only replace this lens is a faster aperture, or more flexible zoom range is required. The MkI version of this lens may provide better sharpness from edge to edge, but the enhanced design and faster focusing make the lower sharpness towards the edges penalty worth paying.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 MkII: Pros

Very fast AF
Excellent sharpness in the centre
Compact, collapsible design
Internal focusing

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 MkII: Cons

Barrel distortion at 14mm (although this is automatically corrected in camera in JPEG images)
Lower sharpness towards the edges than the version it replaces.

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE FOR MONEY
OVERALL

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II Specifications

ManufacturerOlympus
General
Lens Mounts
    Lens
    Focal Length14mm - 42mm
    Angle of View29 - 75
    Max Aperturef/3.5 - f/5.6
    Min Aperturef/22
    Filter Size37mm
    35mm equivalent28mm - 84mm
    Internal focusingYes
    Focusing
    Min Focus25cm
    StabilisedNo
    Construction
    Blades7
    Elements8
    Groups7
    Box Contents
    Box ContentsM.ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 II Black, LC-37B Lens Cap, Micro Four Thirds lens rear cap (LR-2), Operating Instructions, Warranty Card
    Dimensions
    Weight112g
    Height50mm

    View Full Product Details

    Explore More

    Join ePHOTOzine and remove these ads.

    Comments


    Join ePHOTOzine for free and remove these adverts.

    Sign In

    You must be a member to leave a comment.

    ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

    Join For Free

    Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.