I've learned to love the 14-42mm II

Started Jul 30, 2012 | Discussions
sigala1
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I've learned to love the 14-42mm II
Jul 30, 2012

The 14-42mm II is the best Olympus kit lens. The 12-50mm may appear to be good when looking at MTF charts, but the REAL WORLD photos tell a different story. The 12-50mm has poor contrast, especially in the corners. The 14-42mm gives you consistently decent photos at all focal lengths, as long as you know to stop down appropriately. My current rule is f/5.6 at 14mm exactly, f/8.0 at 15mm to 25mm, and f/9.0 for anything longer than 25mm.

Following my f-stop rules, here is a really nice photo of a marina, which appears razor sharp when downsized for web viewing. (There appears to be some shadow noise--it was an extremely high contrast scene, and I probably shouldn't have used -0.7 EV.)

daddyo
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Re: I've learned to love the 14-42mm II
In reply to sigala1, Jul 30, 2012

I agree that the 14-42 is a wonderful lens given its cost, and it's the lens I chose to order with my E-M5 -- and I'm happy I did.

However, declaring its superiority over the 12-50mm is probably hair splitting at best, and maybe pure folly.

Also, if you are basing your aperture choices on some perceived, or real lens sharpness ranges, then you have absolutely abandoned creative control for the sake of technical perfection, which in my opinion is a huge error. But that choice is yours

God Bless,
Greg
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sigala1
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Re: I've learned to love the 14-42mm II
In reply to daddyo, Jul 30, 2012

daddyo wrote:

I agree that the 14-42 is a wonderful lens given its cost, and it's the lens I chose to order with my E-M5 -- and I'm happy I did.

However, declaring its superiority over the 12-50mm is probably hair splitting at best, and maybe pure folly.

Also, if you are basing your aperture choices on some perceived, or real lens sharpness ranges, then you have absolutely abandoned creative control for the sake of technical perfection, which in my opinion is a huge error. But that choice is yours

Creative control over DOF? You don't really get that with the kit lens.

The only reason to use wider apertures is if you need a faster shutter speed. Which you normally don't for outdoors scenic photos.

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daddyo
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Gotta disagree...
In reply to sigala1, Jul 30, 2012

If I'm shooting a close up portrait with the 14-42mm at 42mm, I'm going to generally shoot at f/5.6, because the background will soften somewhat -- at f/9 everything will be sharp.

If I'm out shooting a scenic with the 14-42mm at 14mm, I'm generally going to be shooting at f/9 - f/11 in order to have close foreground objects in sharp focus as well as distant objects.

Somehow you seemed to have misunderstood me, as I never said I would be choosing a wide aperture for shooting scenics.

I believe that is the exact opposite of your stated method -- the reasons for my choices are creative ones, as opposed to technical one.

God Bless,
Greg
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BushmanOrig
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Re: I've learned to love the 14-42mm II
In reply to sigala1, Jul 30, 2012

I agree the 14 - 42 is a great lens also taking in account its small size....

Although you up the Aperture in less critical shots the lens does really well at a constant (f6,3 - f7,1) I found....one could nearly use this range as sweet spot....

Siegffried

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NuFonaut
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Re: I've learned to love the 14-42mm II
In reply to sigala1, Jul 30, 2012

I have first version of that lens and was very surprised to see how sharp it can be at 14mm. At f3.5 the center is allready very good, at 5.6 the corners are fine as well. No complaints. Contrast is ok.

It is good until about 30mm, at 42mm it becomes a bit soft but using f8 or higher it's still alright. Is the II better at 42mm?

sigala1 wrote:

My current rule is f/5.6 at 14mm exactly, f/8.0 at 15mm to 25mm, and f/9.0 for anything longer than 25mm.

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NuFonaut
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Re: Gotta disagree...
In reply to daddyo, Jul 30, 2012

I agree, for portraits it makes sense to leave the aparture more open as ypu can blurr the background to certain extent.

And many portraits benefit from not being clinicaly sharp anyway

daddyo wrote:

If I'm shooting a close up portrait with the 14-42mm at 42mm, I'm going to generally shoot at f/5.6, because the background will soften somewhat -- at f/9 everything will be sharp.

If I'm out shooting a scenic with the 14-42mm at 14mm, I'm generally going to be shooting at f/9 - f/11 in order to have close foreground objects in sharp focus as well as distant objects.

Somehow you seemed to have misunderstood me, as I never said I would be choosing a wide aperture for shooting scenics.

I believe that is the exact opposite of your stated method -- the reasons for my choices are creative ones, as opposed to technical one.

God Bless,
Greg
http://www.imagismphotos.com
http://www.mccroskery.zenfolio.com
http://www.pbase.com/daddyo

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Dixa
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Re: Gotta disagree...
In reply to NuFonaut, Jul 30, 2012

something to keep in mind is that in daylight you would need a 1-2 stop nd filter or a polarizer to shoot a portrait wide open with the 45mm f/1.8

NuFonaut wrote:

I agree, for portraits it makes sense to leave the aparture more open as ypu can blurr the background to certain extent.

And many portraits benefit from not being clinicaly sharp anyway

daddyo wrote:

If I'm shooting a close up portrait with the 14-42mm at 42mm, I'm going to generally shoot at f/5.6, because the background will soften somewhat -- at f/9 everything will be sharp.

If I'm out shooting a scenic with the 14-42mm at 14mm, I'm generally going to be shooting at f/9 - f/11 in order to have close foreground objects in sharp focus as well as distant objects.

Somehow you seemed to have misunderstood me, as I never said I would be choosing a wide aperture for shooting scenics.

I believe that is the exact opposite of your stated method -- the reasons for my choices are creative ones, as opposed to technical one.

God Bless,
Greg
http://www.imagismphotos.com
http://www.mccroskery.zenfolio.com
http://www.pbase.com/daddyo

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KwhyChang
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Re: I've learned to love the 14-42mm II
In reply to sigala1, Jul 30, 2012

I've been evaluating my standard zooms.

The 12-50 is a lot better than I thought. I like its range and its sharpness is fine outdoors in good light. It makes the E-M5 water-resistant, does some close-ups, and is good for video.
The 14-42 II is nice, but it offers the least to me and stays home.

The 14-42 that came with my E-P2 is sharper than version II and I use it when I want the smallest standard zoom.

The Panasonic 14-45 that I bought on Ebay is the sharpest and the one I use most often, YMMV.
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3DrJ
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Re: I've learned to love the 14-42mm II
In reply to sigala1, Jul 30, 2012

I use it too, since I already owned it (along with the EP3).

Overall, I'd say it's perfectly adequate, but not as charming as the primes, if more versatile in many ways.

Mainly I use it outdoors, but with the EM-5 can be useful in moderately dim light.

JRA

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NuFonaut
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Re: Gotta disagree...
In reply to Dixa, Jul 30, 2012

True, but i was talking about the 14-42. With the 45 1.8 i often have to close down to 2.8 or more without a filter in daylight. With the kit lens in the sun you can always be open without a shutter speed a problem of course.

Dixa wrote:

something to keep in mind is that in daylight you would need a 1-2 stop nd filter or a polarizer to shoot a portrait wide open with the 45mm f/1.8

NuFonaut wrote:

I agree, for portraits it makes sense to leave the aparture more open as ypu can blurr the background to certain extent.

And many portraits benefit from not being clinicaly sharp anyway

daddyo wrote:

If I'm shooting a close up portrait with the 14-42mm at 42mm, I'm going to generally shoot at f/5.6, because the background will soften somewhat -- at f/9 everything will be sharp.

If I'm out shooting a scenic with the 14-42mm at 14mm, I'm generally going to be shooting at f/9 - f/11 in order to have close foreground objects in sharp focus as well as distant objects.

Somehow you seemed to have misunderstood me, as I never said I would be choosing a wide aperture for shooting scenics.

I believe that is the exact opposite of your stated method -- the reasons for my choices are creative ones, as opposed to technical one.

God Bless,
Greg
http://www.imagismphotos.com
http://www.mccroskery.zenfolio.com
http://www.pbase.com/daddyo

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Richard Schumer
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Re: I've learned to love the 14-42mm II
In reply to sigala1, Jul 30, 2012

I just bought a P-M1 with the R version of the type-II 14-42. Is it optically the same?

It was quite a lot sharper than I expected -- sharper than the kit zoom on my old Pentax K10D. And the P-Mini is less noisy at high ISOs than the older Pentax APS-C, too.

I'm quite happy with the camera. And with a kit lens this sharp, I don't need to fill my pockets with alternate primes. This one can do a great job at nearly anything thrown at it -- except straight lines at 14mm when processed from RAW, which is my preference.

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Dixa
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Re: I've learned to love the 14-42mm II
In reply to Richard Schumer, Jul 30, 2012

the kit lenses that come with these cameras are far better than the kit lens that came with my brothers d3200 or my sisters T3i I can tell you that.

my brother is a nikon nut but not a photographer. my sister saw something cool on sale at the Costco. so i'm the guy at the birthday parties with 4-5 cameras around his neck that don't belong to him O_o

Richard Schumer wrote:

I just bought a P-M1 with the R version of the type-II 14-42. Is it optically the same?

It was quite a lot sharper than I expected -- sharper than the kit zoom on my old Pentax K10D. And the P-Mini is less noisy at high ISOs than the older Pentax APS-C, too.

I'm quite happy with the camera. And with a kit lens this sharp, I don't need to fill my pockets with alternate primes. This one can do a great job at nearly anything thrown at it -- except straight lines at 14mm when processed from RAW, which is my preference.

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Richard Biffl
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Re: I've learned to love the 14-42mm II
In reply to Richard Schumer, Jul 30, 2012

Richard Schumer wrote:

I just bought a P-M1 with the R version of the type-II 14-42. Is it optically the same?

Yes, it's optically the same and cosmetically different.

This one can do a great job at nearly anything thrown at it -- except straight lines at 14mm when processed from RAW, which is my preference.

Have you used the Olympus Viewer 2 software? In the RAW developer, there is an option for Distortion Correction. It will automatically correct for the lens and focal length you used.

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dave aston
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Re: I've learned to love the 14-42mm II
In reply to Richard Biffl, Jul 30, 2012

I love it, on an EP3 it's perfect for a general day out with the family, a great lense

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sigala1
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Re: I've learned to love the 14-42mm II
In reply to NuFonaut, Jul 30, 2012

or

NuFonaut wrote:

I have first version of that lens and was very surprised to see how sharp it can be at 14mm. At f3.5 the center is allready very good, at 5.6 the corners are fine as well. No complaints. Contrast is ok.

It is good until about 30mm, at 42mm it becomes a bit soft but using f8 or higher it's still alright. Is the II better at 42mm?

Like I said in the OP, I recommended f/9 for focal lengths longer than 25mm. SO yeah, I guess that means the lens is softer at the longer focal lengths.

But I think it's good enough if you stop down. If you make the mistake of shooting wide open at 42mm, the photo will probably appear obviously soft when viewed at 100%. (Although the problem I had using this lens with the E-PM1 was confusing not-sharp lens with malfunctioning IBIS.)

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sigala1
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Can you explain the distortion correction problem?
In reply to Richard Schumer, Jul 30, 2012

Richard Schumer wrote:

I'm quite happy with the camera. And with a kit lens this sharp, I don't need to fill my pockets with alternate primes. This one can do a great job at nearly anything thrown at it -- except straight lines at 14mm when processed from RAW, which is my preference.

I thought that distortion correction info is stored in the raw file, and that Adobe Camera Raw (or lightroom) uses this info to auto-correct barrel and pincushion distortion.

Are you saying that the Olympus JPEG engine does a better job than ACR?

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sigala1
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25mm f/1.4 also benefits from stopping down
In reply to sigala1, Jul 30, 2012

sigala1 wrote:

But I think it's good enough if you stop down. If you make the mistake of shooting wide open at 42mm, the photo will probably appear obviously soft when viewed at 100%. (Although the problem I had using this lens with the E-PM1 was confusing not-sharp lens with malfunctioning IBIS.)

Even the acclaimed 25mm f/1.4 has a significant benefit from stopping down to f/2.0. At f/1.4 it has not-so-great contrast (or maybe that's a "Leica glow").

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Roberto Angelo
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re- learning to love the 14-42mm ONE
In reply to sigala1, Jul 30, 2012

This is a kind of "love the one you're with" post. After having banned the first version of the 14-42 (epl-1) and having bought the primes that cover the essential focal lengths. I find that the 14-42 often sneaks back into my shooting habits.

Just recently I got the Oly 40-150 with a Raynox macro lens, since I needed a fast and simple macro setup. But when I don't have this combination with me, I sometimes remember to try the 14-42. Sure it's close-up, not macro, but it does a good job and often manages to surprise me. I would say that is generally true of this lens, at least in good light.

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Richard Schumer
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ThanQ for the tip
In reply to Richard Biffl, Jul 30, 2012

I'm a little light on Windows machines right now. My youngest one is celebrating its tenth anniversary, so it's in no condition to run Olympus' photo-rendering software with enthusiasm.

I've been using Darktable under Linux on the negs; it allows me to set a custom function for this (or any) lens; I just haven't had time to do it yet, what with the owner's manual missing the most-needed pages (how DO you set the image-magnification level when manual focusing? 10x seems too much to me...)

But it's good to be reminded that Oly didn't leave me hanging with their software.

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