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Olympus M. Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ ED MSC Lens Review

Olympus M. Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ ED MSC Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews this compact Olympus M. Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ ED MSC power zoom lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Olympus M. Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ ED MSC
Price : BUY NOW£277
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Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Olympus M Zuiko 14 42mm ED EZ MSC Lens (2)

This compact standard zoom lens for Micro Four Thirds (MFT) system cameras, sports a collapsible design. The lens collapses down to only 22.5mm thick when not in use, which should make it an ideal travel companion. The lens costs around £250 in a black, or silver finish, which isn't overly expensive. In this review, we'll take a look at how it performs.

Olympus M. Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ ED MSC Handling and Features

Olympus M Zuiko 14 42mm ED EZ MSC Lens (8)
The black version of this lens supplied for review is constructed from high quality plastics, with a glossy finish and the bayonet is metal. It weighs only 93g and only protrudes from the lens mount by 22.5mm when collapsed. The lens is extended ready for use by simply turning the camera on. Zooming is performed via an electronic motorised system, and twisting the zoom ring activates the zoom. The further you twist the zoom ring, the faster the zoom moves, similar to how zooming on a bridge camera or camcorder works. This can take a bit of getting used to though, and the delay between switching the camera on and the lens extending may be responsible for a few missed shots. The small size of this lens should make it perfect for use with even the most compact Micro Four Thirds bodies and it also balances well with the Panasonic Lumix GX7 used for testing.

Olympus 14 42mm EZ Vs 14 42mm Kit Lens (2)

As focusing is performed internally the 37mm filter thread does not rotate, which makes this lens ideal for use with graduated and polarising filters. There is a slim manual focus ring at the front of the lens barrel, which makes manual focusing possible. The minimum focus distance is 20cm, which makes this lens suitable for shooting in tight spaces or for the occasional close up. 

Olympus M Zuiko 14 42mm ED EZ MSC Lens (6)

Olympus M. Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ ED MSC Performance

At 14mm sharpness peaks at maximum aperture, producing very good clarity across the frame. Stopping down doesn't yield any increase in quality, as is often the case with MFT lenses that have a slow maximum aperture.

Zooming to 26mm results in a reduction in sharpness at maximum aperture, although good levels of sharpness are achieved in the centre of the frame. Clarity raises to very good levels in the centre and good sharpness towards the edges of the frame, with the aperture stopped down to f/5.6.

Finally, at 42mm peak performance drops further at maximum aperture, with the lens only producing fairly good sharpness at f/5.6. Stopping down to f/11 results in peak performance across the frame for this focal length.

MTF@14mm
MTF@14mm
MTF@26mm
MTF@26mm
MTF@42mm
MTF@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 a Panasonic Lumix GX7 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are acceptably controlled, remaining below one pixel width throughout most of the zoom range. This level of fringing shouldn't pose too many issues, even in large prints, or harsh crops taken from the edges of the frame.

CA@14mm
CA@14mm
CA@26mm
CA@26mm
CA@42mm
CA@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 a Panasonic Lumix GX7 using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners is fairly typical for a standard zoom lens, and shouldn't pose too many issues. At 14mm and f/3.5 the comers are 1.86 stops darker than the centre of the image and stopping down to f/5.6 results in visually uniform images. At 42mm, and f/5.6 falloff is about the same and the corners are 1.43 stops darker than the image centre and stopping down to f/8 results in visually uniform illumination.

Distortion is well controlled with only 0.983% barrel distortion at 14mm being replaced with only 0.376% pincushion distortion at 42mm. This low level of distortion should rarely require correction, but if it does, the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame throughout the zoom range, which should make applying corrections in image editing software afterwards, relatively straightforward.

No hood is supplied with this lens, probably because there is nowhere to attach it, also it would add to the bulk of the lens. Shooting into the light is no problem for this optic and it proved itself resistant to flare during testing. 

Olympus M. Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ ED MSC Sample Photos

Value For Money

Priced at £250 at launch, this lens is pretty keenly priced. The closest equivalent available is Panasonic's 14-42mm X Vario Power Zoom lens, or the 12-32mm Vario G Mega OIS lens, both collapse down to a similar diminutive pancake lens profile and also cost around £250.

Olympus M. Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ ED MSC Verdict

This lens will make a great travel companion for some of the more compact MFT cameras available, and it is keenly priced too. It may not be the sharpest lens Olympus has produced lately, but it is still capable of delivering decent enough quality results for general snapshots. Photographers who are more demanding of their equipment may be left disappointed though.

Olympus M. Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ ED MSC Pros

Extremely compact
Good build quality
Light weight
Keenly priced

Olympus M. Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ ED MSC Cons

Not the sharpest lens
Delay in lens extending when camera is switched on

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

 

Olympus M. Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ ED MSC Specifications

ManufacturerOlympus
General
Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
Lens
Focal Length14mm - 42mm
Angle of ViewNo Data
Max Aperturef/3.5 - f/5.6
Min ApertureNo Data
Filter Size37mm
StabilisedNo
35mm equivalent28mm - 84mm
Internal focusingNo Data
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Focusing
Min FocusNo Data
Construction
BladesNo Data
ElementsNo Data
GroupsNo Data
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
WeightNo Data
HeightNo Data

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