Conclusion - Pros
- Small size and light weight, perfectly matching Olympus's compact dSLRs
- Proper manual focus ring and non-rotating front element
- Deep petal-type lens hood included as standard
- Consistently good image quality across all focal lengths, even wide open
Conclusion - Cons
- Some chromatic aberration wide open at the telephoto end
- Limited control over depth of field
When Olympus unveiled the Four Thirds standard as the first purely 'designed for digital' DSLR system, one of their promises was that it would allow smaller and lighter cameras and lenses, enabled by the relatively small sensor size (for those who still think in terms of film, the 17.3 x 13mm frame is almost identical in size to 110). The Digital Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 ED delivers on that promise as a kit lens which, for its angle of view and aperture range, is smaller than anything else on the market. The good news is that it's also optically as good as anything else in its class; resolution is consistently high, chromatic aberration generally low, and distortion and falloff similar to other kit lenses. It's also pretty resistant to flare, helped in no small part by the effective hood which comes as standard. Macro performance is also very respectable, if not quite as good as the Canon or Nikon 18-55mm kit lenses.
The one area where this lens does fall short, however, is in control over depth of field, and this is a direct consequence of its miniaturization. For any given angle of view, the small size of the Four Thirds sensor requires a shorter focal length lens when compared to other DSLR formats, and at any given f-number, this results in a smaller aperture diameter, and consequently increased depth of field. Generally Olympus have compensated for this effect in their other lenses by offering larger maximum apertures, but with the 14-42mm they have chosen to use the same f-number range, in order to reduce size. This in turn reduces the lens's flexibility when the user wishes to isolate the subject from the background using a large aperture, one of the key image controls of creative photography. So not surprisingly, there is a price to pay for the increased portability of this small lens.
That aside, this really is one of the best budget standard zooms currently available, and the ideal complement to Olympus's compact DSLRs such as the E420, where the trade-off between portability and flexibility makes most sense.
|Detail||Rating (out of 10)|
|Ergonomics & handling||7.5|
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Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-F5.6 Review Samples
Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens
for Olympus Digital SLR Cameras
Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Ver. II R, Interchangeable Lens
for Olympus / Panasonic Micro 4/3 Cameras, Black
Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 EZ Lens
Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ Digital Zoom Lens (Black)
with 3 UV/CPL/ND8 Filters + Accessory Kit
Olympus PEN E-PL1 12.3MP Live MOS Micro Four Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera
with 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens & Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 Lens (Black)
Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42mm II f/3.5-5.6 MSC Micro Zoom Lens (Black)
for OM-D EM-5, PEN E-P2, E-PL2, E-P3, E-PL3, E-PM1 & Panasonic Micro 4/3 Digital Cameras
Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 M. Zuiko Lens (OLD MODEL)
Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 Micro ED Digital Zoom Lens
Olympus Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Zoom Lens
for E Series DSLRs - (Four Thirds System) - Bundle - with Pro Optic 58mm MC UV Filter, Lens Cap Leash
Olympus 14-42mm II R, Interchangeable Lens
for Olympus / Panasonic Micro 4/3 Cameras, Silver