Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-6.3 ED M.Zuiko EZ Lens (Black)
The black Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ Lens is a mid-range zoom lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras with a 35mm format equivalent focal length of 28-84mm. This is an ideal zoom range for everyday use, providing a moderate wide-angle to short telephoto perspective. With an aperture range of f/3.5-22 this is an extremely versatile lens.
For enhanced image quality, this lens utilizes three aspherical elements that help reduce optical aberrations and distortion. Also, there is an extra-low dispersion element to minimize chromatic aberrations as well as a super high refractive index element that ensures uniform light transmission and therefore increases sharpness.
During operation, the 14-42mm EZ lens features a Movie & Stills Compatible (MSC) autofocus system for quick, silent focusing. There is even an electronic zoom mechanism for near silent zoom control during shooting. Additionally, this lens has a minimum focusing distance of 7.9" at 14mm and a front filter thread of 37mm for accessories.
THAT AMAZING PANCAKE ZOOM LENS, OLYMPUS M.ZUIKO 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ
This pancake lens is so small and light, I cannot believe it is a zoom lens when I first saw and held it. It is a collapsible design, meaning when you power it on, the lens will extend out, to a length more than doubling it's original length. Not an issue to me, as the lens when powered off is currently the world's slimmest pancake zoom lens, thinner and smaller than what Sony and Panasonic are offering.
Although the pancake zoom lens is considerably smaller and lighter than the original M.Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II kit lens, the optical architecture inside remains the same, and the same glass elements and groups were used, of course with improved and advanced technology and assembly methods to keep the size down. Having similar optical design means that theoretically there is very little if no compromise when it comes to image quality. The glasses inside included multiple ED and Aspherical elements to correct distortion and chromatic aberrations. We are not expecting the pancake zoom lens to match the performance of the now highly regarded M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 or 45mm F1.8 lenses, no that would be too much to ask for such a tiny package. I am more interested to find out how the kit lens performed as a kit lens.
In short, I was impressed. As usual, let's see some photos first.
E-M10 and M.Zuiko 14-42mm EZ, 1/500sec, F3.5, ISO200, 14mm
E-M10 and M.Zuiko 14-42mm EZ, 1/40sec, F5.6, ISO640, 42mm
100% Crop from Previous Image
E-M10 and M.Zuiko 14-42mm EZ, 1/6sec, F5.6, ISO200, 14mm
100% Crop from Previous Image
E-M10 and M.Zuiko 14-42mm EZ, 1/60sec, F5.5, ISO800, 37mm
E-M10 and M.Zuiko 14-42mm EZ, 1/13sec, F5, ISO200, 14mm
E-M10 and M.Zuiko 14-42mm EZ, 1/200sec, F5.6, ISO200, 42mm
The Pancake Zoom lens is reasonably sharp, and I find it a tad bit sharper than what I usually get from the M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3. At wide angle the difference is not that significant, but as you zoom in to the telephoto end, the image quality is evidently better than what you can obtain from the older M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens. In fact, I was very impressed with what the lens can do at longer zoom range, even at full 42mm end, producing a good amount of useful detail. This is fairly important to me because I usually shoot at the longer focal length, especially photos of people. Looking at the images, I also like how the pancake zoom lens renders the out of focus area, creating very smooth and pleasing looking bokeh. The bokeh is actually so much better looking than what I normally get from the M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens.
I generally do not encounter any issues with distortion even shooting wide open (a few samples in this blog). I also do not have issues of Chromatic Abberation, mainly thanks to the Truepic 7 image processing as well as ED elements in the pancake zoom lens.
Close up performance of the lens is mediocre, perhaps this is the only thing that the M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 can do better. For the spider shot above I did attach the new M-CON P-02 macro converter to get closer, but still not as good as a macro lens. The important point I want to highlight is that the macro image was shot via manual focus for pin-point accuracy (it is just me, not that I do not trust the camera, but my own habit of engaging manual focus when I do macro shooting). Considering how small and thin the pancake zoom lens is, thankfully Olympus did not take out the manual focus ring, and it was still good enough for me to do my manual focusing to grab my macro shot. Since it was a close-up shooting, the depth of field was very shallow and it was sufficiently shallow to isolate the subject. Do check out the smooth bokeh behind the spider, though at F8, the bokeh was round and pleasing to look at.
Of course Olympus already has many higher performing and sharper lenses out there, but for a kit lens the new Pancake Zoom M.Zuiko 14-42mm EZ is a class on it's own. It is so tiny, the Autofocus is as fast as any other Olympus lenses on OM-D (still the world's fastest if I am not mistaken, at this time of writing) I just could not think of any reason not to highly recommend this lens to go along the OM-D E-M10, or any other cameras that you want to keep as small and light as possible, including the PEN series (E-P5, E-PL5, E-PM2, etc).
GENERAL CAMERA HANDLING AND THE IMPORTANCE OF EXTERNAL CAMERA GRIP ECG-1
Since the E-M10 is made to be very small, even smaller than E-M5, handling has been a concern for me. I always treasure a beefed up grip for comfortable hand-holding, and adequate size for better camera steadying when shooting. To fully test the OM-D E-M10's handling, I did not just use the pancake zoom lens, I also have brought along the M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 (I just cannot get over how awesome this lens is) as well as the M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro, obviously for some extreme insect macro with high magnification shooting, which is my ultimate test for any camera handling.
E-M10 and M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8, 1/1600sec, F1.8, ISO200