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Olympus PEN Converter Lenses Tested

Olympus PEN Converter Lenses Tested - From 40 these lenses add extra versatility to Olympus PEN kits lenses without forking out a huge wodge of cash for a new lens.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Olympus Olympus Macro Converter
Price : £39
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Olympus Fish-Eye Converter
Olympus Wide-Angle Converter
Olympus Macro Converter
Verdict
Specification

Olympus PEN Converters

Lens converters which fit to the front of the lens are nothing new, and were especially common for use with fixed lens digital cameras to give a little extra wide angle or telephoto range than the fitted lens could offer.

Olympus have introduced a selection of three converters for use with their 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II and 40-150mm lenses, which attach to the front via a bayonet fitting. They offer a budget alternative to buying a specialised wide angle, fisheye or macro lens.

In this review, we'll take a look at how each converter performs.


Olympus FCON-P01 Fish Eye Converter


This converter lens is compatible with Olympus' 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II lens and costs around £130. It reduces the focal length of the lens to 10.4mm when the lens is set at 14mm and produces barrel distortion for a fisheye lens look.

Handling and Features


Weighing 122g, this converter lens is reasonably lightweight, when compared to a dedicated fisheye. As a result is should be barely noticeable when being transported in a kit bag with other camera accessories.

The converter clips to the front of the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II lens via a bayonet fitting, which is secure and makes it easy to fit the lens quickly. Two push on lens caps are provided to protect the glass during transport, which are both easy to remove and replace.

Olympus PEN Fish-eye Converter   Olympus PEN Fish-eye Converter
The fisheye converter is clipped in place via the bayonet mount on the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II lens.   The converter has a shallow built in hood to protect the front element from flare, and also from damage.

Performance


In use this converter doesn't provide a true 180 degree fisheye view, but the wide, heavily distorted view is convincing enough for effect.

In terms of sharpness, images retain impressive sharpness in the centre portion of the frame, gradually getting a little softer towards the edges. Contrast is good across the frame and the converter seems reasonably resistant to flare in all but very harsh lighting conditions. Higher levels of chromatic aberrations can be seen near the corners around high contrast edges which may pose issues if large print sizes are required from images taken with this converter.


Olympus PEN Fish-eye Converter Sample Photo   Olympus PEN Normal Shot
Typical fisheye-like curved distortion can be seen in images taken with the converter.   The same view without the converter shows much less distortion.
Olympus PEN Fish-eye Converter Sample Photo   Olympus PEN Normal Shot
The converter allows a much wider field of view to be captured. Higher levels of chromatic aberrations can be seen around high contrast edges towards the corners.   This image shows the same view without the converter.

With the low price of £130 taken into account, this lens performs well enough to satisfy many photographers looking for a fisheye effect with their Micro Four Thirds camera, without the expense of a dedicated fisheye lens.

Olympus WCON-P01 Wide Converter


This converter lens is compatible with Olympus' 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II lens and costs around £85. It reduces the focal length of the lens to 11mm when the lens is set at 14mm but without as much barrel distortion as the fisheye converter.

Handling and Features

This converter is a similar size to the fisheye converter, but is a little lighter at only 85g. When attached to the camera it extends the length of the lens by approximately 2.5 centimetres. It also attaches to the 14-42 f/3.5-5.6 II lens via a plastic bayonet on the front, which make s attaching the converter very quick and easy. There is no hood to shade the lens provided, although the front element is recessed a little to protect it from bumps and scrapes.

Olympus PEN Wide Angle Converter   Olympus PEN Wide Angle Converter
Attaching the wide converter is very straightforward.   As the front element is recessed, it is already protected from bumps and scrapes, but no hood is included to protect from flare.

Performance

Good sharpness is retained throughout much of the frame, with only a little softness creeping in towards the far corners of the frame. Chromatic aberrations and distortion are both kept to acceptable levels despite the wider view afforded by the converter. Contrast is also good, but the combination can be a little prone to flare in harsh lighting conditions.

Olympus PEN Wide Angle Converter Sample Photo   Olympus PEN Normal Shot
Although there is more barrel distortion than without the converter, it isn't too strong, unlike the fisheye converter.   The same view without the converter shows slightly less barrel distortion.
Olympus PEN Wide Angle Converter Sample Photo
  Olympus PEN Normal Shot
A much wider view can be captured with the converter.   The same view from the same spot without the converter.

With the low price of only £85, this converter represents very good value for those looking to capture a wider view. Although better quality may be achievable with a dedicated wide lens, the results that can be gleaned with this converter in place should more than satisfy many photographers.

Olympus MCON-P01 Macro Converter


This converter lens is compatible with both the Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II and 40-150mm lens and costs around £40. When attached it reduces the minimum focus distance of the 14-42mm lens by 1cm. With the 40-150mm lens it reduces the minimum focus distance from 90cm to 35cm.

Handling and Features


As this converter is compatible with two different Olympus Micro Four Thirds lenses, it comes in two halves. A black section comes attached to the rear of the adapter for use with the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II lens, which can be removed for use with the 40-150mm telephoto optic.

Weighing only 23g, this converter is incredibly lightweight, and should barely be noticeable stowed in a kit bag ready for when it is needed.

Olympus PEN Macro Converter   Olympus PEN Macro Converter
The macro converter is slim and lightweight.   Removing the black part from the rear allows the converter to be attached to the 40-150mm lens.
Olympus PEN Macro Converter   Olympus PEN Macro Converter
Attachment is simple, adding about two centimetres to the length of the 14-42mm lens.   With the black part removed, the converter is much slimmer, only adding around one centimetre to the length of the 40-150mm lens.

Performance


Using the converter with the 14-42mm lens only reduces the minimum focus distance by one centimetre, which isn't all that impressive, but does allow for slightly tighter composition. Good sharpness and contrast are maintained with no signs of chromatic aberrations becoming more prominent.

The reduction in minimum focus distance with the 40-150mm lens is much more impressive. With the converter in pace this distance is reduced from 90cm to 35cm, which allows for impressive frame filling shots. As with the 14-42mm lens, sharpness levels with this combination are good, although a little red fringing can sometimes be seen around high contrast out of focus edges.

Olympus PEN Macro Converter Sample Photo   Olympus PEN Normal Shot
The converter only reduces the focusing distance by one centimetre when used with the 14-42mm lens.   Taken without the converter, this image shows the slightly looser composition from being one centimetre further away.
Olympus PEN Macro Converter Sample Photo   Olympus PEN Normal Shot
The effect of the converter is much stronger when used with the 40-150mm lens.   This image shows the same scene photographed with the 40-150mm lens at its minimum focus distance without the converter.

The value this converter provides will depend on the lens it is being used with. If you only own the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II lens, then the one centimetre reduction in minimum focus distance may not be worth the £40 to you. If however, you own the 40-150mm, or even both, this lens will allows close up images of acceptable quality to be taken with minimum added weight and expense.

Verdict


All three converters offer a cheaper way of extending the usability of your kit lenses, without adding much bulk to your existing Micro Four Thirds camera kit and they are quite reasonably priced too.

The fisheye converter is ideal for those after the distorted effect, without necessarily needing a true 180 degree field of view and the wide angle converter provides a high quality, well-priced lightweight solution for gaining a wider field of view.

The macro converter is also capable of producing high quality images, but may only seem valuable enough to those who own the 40-150mm telephoto lens, as the reduction in minimum focus distance isn't great when used with the 14-42mm optic.

Olympus Fish Eye Converter Olympus Wide Converter Olympus Macro Converter
Pros
Inexpensive
Lightweight
Good sharpness in the centre
Pros
Inexpensive
Lightweight
Good sharpness over much of the frame
Pros
Very lightweight
Inexpensive
Compatible with two lenses
Cons
Softer in the corners
Chromatic Aberrations towards the edges
Cons
A little soft in the far corners
No hood to shade the lens
Cons
Only reduces the minimum focus distance by 1cm when used with the 14-42mm lens
CA in out of focus areas when used with the 40-150mm lens.

Ratings:
FEATURES FEATURES FEATURES
HANDLING HANDLING HANDLING
PERFORMANCE PERFORMANCE PERFORMANCE
VALUE VALUE VALUE
OVERALL OVERALL OVERALL


Lens specifications


  Olympus FCON-P01 Fish Eye Converter Olympus WCON-P01 Wide Converter Olympus MCON-P01 Macro Converter
Price £130 £85 £39
Contact www.olympus.co.uk
Filter size N/A
Format Micro Four Thirds
Construction 3 elements in 3 groups 2 elements in 2 groups 1 elements in 1 groups
Angle of view 120 ° 89 ° N/A
35mm equivalent (m43) 20.8mm 22mm N/A
Focusing N/A
Minimum Focus 19cm 20cm N/A
Min/Max Apeture N/A
Weight 112g 85g 23g
Size 62mm x 38mm 62mm x 30.5mm 69mm x 15mm
Box contents Lens caps Lens caps Lens caps

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