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Olympus Body Cap Lens 15mm F8 review

July 2013 | By Andy Westlake
Buy on GearShop$49.00

The Olympus Body Cap Lens 15mm F8 was announced at Photokina 2012, alongside the PEN E-PL5 and E-PM2 mirrorless models. It is, in essence, exactly what it says on the tin - a lens in a body cap - but with something of a twist. Because despite its tiny size and low price, Olympus has ended up making something rather more ambitious than you might think. Within its 9mm-thick housing, Olympus has managed to fit a three element lens, complete with a simple manual focusing mechanism that lets you get within a foot of your subject. Compare this to Pentax's recently-announced '07 Mount Shield Lens' for its Q-series mirrorless cameras, which is a fixed-focus single element design that's more in keeping with the fun, 'Toy Camera' side to the Q's personality.

The 15mm F8 offers a moderately-wide angle of view that's equivalent to 30mm in full frame, which means that it's just slightly narrower than the 14-42mm kit zooms that come with most Micro Four Thirds cameras. It has a fixed aperture of F8, which isn't exactly fast, but does mean it offers immense depth of field; when it's set to its 'snap' position, everything from about 1.5 meters to infinity is in reasonably sharp focus. The lens doesn't communicate with the camera in any way, so Olympus owners will need to remember to set the focal length manually for the camera's in-body IS system. And of course there's no autofocus, although you'd rarely need it. This all means that the 15mm goes without the 'Zuiko' branding that Olympus uses on its 'proper' lenses.

The Body Cap Lens is decidedly inexpensive as lenses go (approx £60 / $60 / €70 at the time of writing), but even at this relatively low price, it's not quite an obvious buy. At 15mm F8, it doesn't offer anything that's not covered by the kit zooms that come with every Micro Four Thirds cameras, and Olympus's in particular are already pretty compact. There's also the Panasonic Lumix G 14mm F2.5 ASPH to be taken into consideration - a tiny pancake lens with rapid AF and pretty good optics, that can be bought quite cheaply when split-off from a GF-series kit. In this review we'll see what the BCL 15mm F8 has to offer in comparison.

Headline features

  • 15mm focal length (30mm equivalent)
  • F8 fixed aperture
  • Ultra-compact 'body cap' design: just 9mm thick and 22g
  • Manual focusing down to 0.3m
  • Micro Four Thirds mount for Olympus and Panasonic cameras

Angle of view

The picture below illustrates the angle of view, taken from our standard position. The lens offers a moderate wideangle view, that's slightly narrower than typical 14-42mm Micro Four Thirds kit zooms.

15mm (30mm equivalent)

Olympus Body Cap Lens 15mm F8 specifications

 Manufacturer's product code  BCL-1580
 Approx Price  • $60 (US)
 • £60 (UK)
 • €70 (EU)
 Date introduced  September 2012
 Maximum format size  Four Thirds
 Focal length  15mm
 35mm equivalent focal length
 30mm
 Diagonal Angle of view  71.6º
 Maximum aperture  F8
 Minimum aperture  F8
 Lens Construction  3 elements / 3 groups
 Number of diaphragm blades  Fixed circular aperture
 Minimum focus  0.3m
 Maximum magnification  0.06x
 Focus method  • Unit
 • Manual focus only
 Image stabilization  No
 Filter thread  n/a
 Weight  22 g (0.8 oz)
 Dimensions  56 mm diameter x 9 mm length (2.2 x 0.4 in)
 Lens Mount  Micro Four Thirds

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area


This lens review uses DxOMark data thanks to a partnership between dpreview.com and DxO Labs (read more about DxOMark and our partnership with DxO Labs). DxOMark is the trusted industry standard for independent image quality measurements and ratings. DxOMark has established this reputation with its rigorous hardware testing, industry-grade laboratory tools, and database of thousands of camera, lens and mobile test results. Full test results for this lens can be found at www.dxomark.com.


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

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This article is Copyright 2013 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Comments

Total comments: 8
photohounds
By photohounds (5 months ago)

Lomography, anyone? Easy, click this on.
Of course you can upsample a phone pic.

These are gadgets just for fun like phone cameras, only withr a vastly better sensor (which is a bit wasted on it) .. but hey! Pixels are cheap.

If I find one at the right price, I might snap it up for its novelty.
I'd bet at postcard size you'll have no idea the pic was taken with "almost a lens: ...
:)

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Bartlioni
By Bartlioni (6 months ago)

I love you guys. "Piece of Kit?" Bwaaaaaa But if Yoda was a photographer then this would be his preferred lens. Beware the quiet man who wields a Kodak disposable camera. For his scanned snaps will outlive us all. Bwaaaaaa. I must order one of these immediately yet I am far from humble or quiet.

0 upvotes
Lilianna
By Lilianna (8 months ago)

I adore mine, so fast, so much fun. And better than you might think...

2 upvotes
Rbrt
By Rbrt (11 months ago)

You gotta give Olympus credit for creatively maximizing every nook and cranny.

1 upvote
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (11 months ago)

The lens of the iPhone5 in front of a 4/3 sensor.

Fascinating.

...and cool.

.

2 upvotes
SRHEdD
By SRHEdD (8 months ago)

Good point...AND iPhone pics have already graced the cover of the NYTimes. I love my BCL! No expectations, just fun.

1 upvote
Bartlioni
By Bartlioni (6 months ago)

According to one of the top gear reviewers there's a company that has up sampled and processed i5 pictures and put them on billboards.

0 upvotes
Andy16666
By Andy16666 (5 months ago)

The iPhone 5 lens is actually quite a bit better than this. It's 5 elements, doesn't flare easily, has a bright aperture (f/2.4) and autofocus. This lens is much less sophisticated, and consequently, much less capable.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 8